The common stereotype of engineers, mixers and producers is that they are frustrated musicians. By contrast, even as a teenager, Mark Endert already felt called to work as a producer and mixer, rather than a performer.
“The weird thing is, I never wanted to be a rock star,” recalls Endert, who grew up north of Los Angeles. “I was more a fan of records and the record-making process, rather than a die-hard fan of bands. I had a Jupiter 8 and a Juno 106, and played keyboards in bands during my teens, but I would follow producers rather than music groups. I’d wait for the next Mutt Lange-produced record to come out and I would buy that, regardless of who the artist was. Even when I was very young I wanted to work in the behind-the-scenes part of record making.”
So single-minded was Endert in the pursuit of his aim that he moved to LA the day after he finished high school, at the tender age of 17, and knocked on the door of The Village Recorder studio. In front of an apparently very impressed studio manager, he rambled off a list of all the legendary records that had been recorded there, from Supertramp’s Breakfast In America to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, and was hired on the spot for the usual beginner’s role as a tea-boy.
Endert’s career since then has followed a steadily upward curve. In 1992 he was involved in setting up Sony Music Studios in Los Angeles, where he eventually became chief engineer. His breakthrough came when he recorded and mixed Fiona Apple’s debut album, Tidal (1996) there, which resulted in his phone ringing incessantly, and him going freelance. He engineered and mixed a number of songs on Madonna’s 1998 Ray Of Light album, an experience he still cherishes, as it gave him the chance to work with one of his heroes, producer William Orbit.
Endert recorded two more albums for Madonna, and has also engineered artists such as Shawn Colvin and Melanie C. Over time he gradually moved into production, working with Vertical Horizon (#1 song "Everything You Want"), Ours, Gavin DeGraw (#1 song "I Don't Want To Be"), Savage Garden, and Maroon 5 on their multi-platinum debut. Then, around 2003, the mixing side of his activities began to take precedence, and he has mixed recordings for Five For Fighting, The Fray, Howie Day, Collective Soul, Good Charlotte, Hoobastank, Hot Chelle Rae, Anna Nalick, Anastacia and countless others. “Producing became less interesting for me,” he comments, “and I really fell in love with mixing, especially on tracks that I had not produced. You haven’t heard the song 50,000 times before, and you can have a fresh perspective. This is better for the artist, the producer, and the mixer.”
In 2005, Endert moved from Los Angeles to Florida, because he felt that the Sunshine State was a better place to raise kids. He’d been the main customer at Scream Studios in Los Angeles, and when he informed the studio’s owner/manager of his plans, the man gave a new dimension to the already unashamedly deferential American approach to customer service: he moved Scream Studios, including its huge SSL 9072 J-series desk, to Florida, close to his main customer’s new home. The new facility was laid out exactly according to Endert’s wishes, and proudly boasts 105 square feet of hurricane-proof glass from which he can see the Space Shuttle lift-off from nearby Cape Canaveral.