Episode 111: Matt Ross-Spang

In a relatively short amount of time, Matt Ross-Spang has grown from Sun Studio tour guide to one of the most sought-after producers and engineers in music. Having moonlighted behind the boards at Sun after business hours while juggling high-school, Matt helped bring the historic studio back to its analog roots and eventually stepped out on his own at the behest of Grammy-winner and Nashville studio staple Dave Cobb. This led to Matt engineering releases for John Prine, Jason Isbell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Amanda Shires and Josh Ritter, as well as helming records for Margo Price, Lucero and Iron & Wine's latest collaboration with Calexico. Recently, Amazon even plucked him to produce, curate and debut a unique digital audio series featuring Al Green's first new recording in nearly a decade. To sum it up best, NPR describes Ross-Spang as "a music history geek with a brilliant ear for blending studio precision with spontaneity," while Rolling Stone touts him as "one of the most trusted arbiters of the Memphis sound."

That last moniker rings especially true this month, as Sony/Legacy celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of Elvis Presley's most pivotal years by releasing a massive 11CD box set and 2LP vinyl edition of performances from August 1969 at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. All originally recorded to 8-track and newly mixed to analog by Matt, this string of shows is especially notable for featuring a full orchestra and the live debut of one of the King's biggest hits, "Suspicious Minds." Recorded at Sam Phillips' iconic studio in Memphis, today's interview features Matt's insight on the psychology of recording, examples of records where the room acts as an instrument, his trajectory within the industry and how a career in documenting music has changed the way he listens. Matt's social media and additional information on his work can be found at southerngrooves.com. To learn more about Sam Phillips Recording Service, visit samphillipsrecording.com.

James Laczkowski