Chris Doss is an American record producer, songwriter, and vocalist from Long Beach, CA. His father was a movie producer in Hollywood, best known for the movie The Exorcist, while his mother was a recording studio manager in Hollywood at West Lake Studios. His uncle was also in the music business and worked at West Lake Studios as a Multi-Platinum Audio Engineer. Although being a musician the majority of his life, did not begin producing until early on in 2011, when he moved to North Hollywood, CA to pursue a career in music production. Chris has worked with the likes of Why Don’t We, Alexandra Kay, Hot a belle Rae, RedOne, Alex Da Kidd, Lexy Panterra, Fueled By Ramen, Interscope, and Warner Music Group as well as film and television music production. He has done sessions at studios such as, Paramount Recording Studios, Record Plant, Conway Recording Studios and Capitol Studios.
- When and how did you get started seriously writing producing music, and did you have any formal training?
Chris Doss: In 2011 my buddy Bret and I had a group called The Union Sound and we would produce the music together. At first it was just him and then I learned and began contributing more. I’d been in bands since I was 16 so I’d recorded a lot and worked with producers throughout and was always enamored by the work. As for training, trial and error primarily. I took some music classes in college, but none of it has translated over.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as a producer, and the transition towards your own style?
Chris Doss: In the beginning I was trying to learn how to make the style productions that fit what was current in the industry. I was behind the curve skill wise and would later find out that emulating current trends only gets you a small window of work. It’s best to understand how to create other styles, but to stay true to yourself. I was always good at writing and creating progressions and structures, but the last to come together for me was sound selection. And I’m still working to get better at this daily. It’s a grind and I love it.
- Which are the key elements you always try and infuse into your music, regardless of which style, mood, tempo or genre you are working with?
Chris Doss: I personally like to add in guitars whenever I can. I started out on guitar and whether it be a lead or just for texture, I find a place for it in many of my productions. Sometimes even in an EDM record, a small guitar part can add more movement or round out the overall sound.
- What were some of the main challenges, difficulties you faced when starting out as a producer and how have they changed over time?
Chris Doss: There have been a few. Often times it’s communication. Clients sometimes not knowing the right vernacular to convey their ideas. So sometimes if you’re working remote, you and the client are on completely different pages. Other than that, it’s that just cause you think a record is great, does not mean others will. Everyone has their own tastes.
- In your opinion, what more than anything else makes you a noteworthy go-to songwriter and producer in a world absolutely overflowing with ‘producers’?
Chris Doss: I actually care haha. I used to be an artist and I know what it’s like to want to bring your vision into reality. I do this because I love it. If I wanted to make a lot more, and a lot more consistent money, there are certainly other avenues. But I bleed for this.
- How strict are you with genres? Are you comfortable working with multiple genres that are outside of your preferred style, if asked?
Chris Doss: I don’t discriminate. My bread and butter is pop music, but I’ve done a ton of hip-hop. I come from a rock background and love to hop on rock projects whenever they arise. I like this little resurgence we’re experiencing currently with rock. I’ve also worked on country music with my friend Alexandra Kay and had a few J-Pop & K-pop placements.
- Do you only work on your own selected projects, or are you open for commissioned work, for anybody who requires your services? Moreover, how much of the writing, recording, engineering, producing and mastering processes are you able to execute yourself?
Chris Doss: I’m always willing to hear any project. I’m at the point in my career where I can get a pretty good read of how a project is going to go pretty quickly. So I’m selective in that aspect. I currently have 3 commissioned projects and two that I’m spearheading personally. As for the second half, I’m able to do all of the above. However I don’t think the mixer should ever do the master. Even with production, I make my own productions all the time,, but I prefer collaboration. Why not hit a broader spectrum of listeners by using more than just one persons input? Flip side of that being, too many cooks in the kitchen. Which can happen when you have too many people in the room.
- Do you only work in a strictly electronic and digital environment, or do you also include analogue and organic instruments and processes in your production work?
Chris Doss: I try to use analog whenever I can. I have analog gear for processing and try to use live instruments whenever possible. The majority winds up being digital, however.
- Do you only create and work in your own studio, or do you also find time to work in diverse settings if requested?
Chris Doss: I go where the work is. If an artist wants to rent out a bigger studio for the day, I’m in. If I need to fly to where they are, let’s rock. I do prefer my own setting just cause it’s where I’m most efficient.
- Which, thus far, would you consider as being your most important, or favorite completed projects?
Chris Doss: That’s a hard question. The records I did for my friend Alexandra are pretty special and she’s taking the country music scene by storm. It’s wild. Blessed to have been a part of those and to have worked with such a great talent and amazing human. Also, any projects I’ve gotten to do with friends. I did an album for the band Call The Cops! that I was also a member of for a bit, and that was a blast. It’s my least favorite project sonically cause I was green, but it was awesome spending so much time with two close friends doing what I love.
- Could you tell us something about any significant project you are currently working on or planning to complete in the near future?
Chris Doss: There’s a few I can’t unfortunately, but one I can. I’m working with this incredible artist named Paris Simone. She has pretty awe-inspiring raw talent. I’m really excited for people to get to hear that project.
- How much do current popular songs from the radio or club scene influence your music, creative approach and/or production decisions? Is it something you pay attention to, or do you only follow your own template?
Chris Doss: I study the trends but don’t always apply them. Currently due to short attention spans and replay-ability factors, people like the sub 3 minute song. I give in to that trend pretty regularly. But as far as chasing trends, I try not to. Only time will tell how that’ll work out for me though.
- Do you have a favorite piece of hardware/software in the studio right now which you love working with, or is most vital to your sound?
Chris Doss: My TL Audio PA-1. It’s ancient and sounds incredible. For vocals and guitars!!
- What has been the most difficult thing you have had to endure in your career so far?
Chris Doss: Finding a good management team. I have a great creative team, but I’ve been through the ringer with some… interesting characters. Whether it be bullshitting a bit or just not working.
- On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Chris Doss: Feeling comfortable in my abilities. Primarily to mix and master. I could always produce, but the production needs to sound right. You can’t just send demos anymore and hope A&R’s can hear the potential. They need to hear it as close to how it would sound “radio ready” as possible. Once I was able to attain those levels in production, the game changed for me for sure.
- In your opinion, as a producer in the current day, is it more important to have a good musical theory background, or to be extremely tech savvy?
Chris Doss: A good understanding of music. The tech savvy part comes into play more on the engineering side. However, every producer should be a great engineer nowadays. Have to be a Jack of all trades and hope you’re a master of at least one.
- If you were given the opportunity to write and produce for any of today’s most successful international recording artists, who would you choose to work with, and why?
Chris Doss: Demi Lovato. I think she has one of the best overall voices in music. The range, the power and the diversity. It’s boggles my mind how much power she has. That’s my main bucket list artist for sure.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Chris Doss: It’s not mine but “Comparison is the thief of joy”. A quote by Teddy Roosevelt. It’s so important in music to not constantly be thinking “Why did so and so get that cut?” “Or why is so and so signing that deal and not me?”. It does nothing for you and will just lead to unhappiness. Just love what you do and do it to the best you’re capable of.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? Do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Chris Doss: I really do find joy in helping people chase their dreams. And selfishly, it’s just great to make art. I love that something can be an idea in your head, and later that day a tangible (for lack of a better word) product. A Rosetta Stone for the mind, that allows others to be able to understand what you were thinking in the depths of your mind. In the near future, I’d really like to try and get bigger cuts, but who wouldn’t want that? I’d love to try for a Grammy. Huge goal of mine. Should be a goal for anyone in music.
- Finally, what is your favorite pastime or hobby when you aren’t writing / producing / recording music etc.?
Chris Doss: I love to workout and train. I box 3 days a week and try and train kickboxing with my friends who are FAR better at it than me, any chance I get. I think there is beauty in that level of one on one competition. I don’t care for the violence of it, but the art.