This month’s cover represents quite a departure for Mix, and it’s pretty striking. Half a face, black and white, no console or room. One person. One profile. We are not trying to be Esquire or Men’s Health, or change our mission, and next month there will be a big Harrison console in a big room at Sony Pictures Studios. But there are a few reasons we did what we did on this cover.
First, while the professional audio industry is fueled by technology, tools and techniques, it is driven by people. It’s only been over the past decade that we started putting people on the cover, most often an engineer or producer paired with an artist, typically in a studio environment of some sort. Our first was way back in 1999 with George Lucas and his sound crew for Star Wars Episode 1. Since then we’ve had more than a few memorable ones, from Lenny Kravitz at his REDD console, to Jack Douglas with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, to Tony Maserati with Jason Mraz, Alicia Keys, John Legend with Dave Tozer, and a two-page foldout of Nashville’s finest at Blackbird Studios, followed a few years later by a version of L.A.’s finest gathered at Capitol Studios. People make records. It’s that simple.
Second, the media industry has changed rapidly. Mix was a fat 200-plus page monthly magazine not that long ago, filled with product news and technical information. Today, that type of information is available with one click, on demand, from dozens of sources. While we still do include product reviews and announcements, along with techniques features and technology trends, we also aim to be a magazine that people read and look forward to. Mix has access to some amazing people, and we want to tell their stories, whether it’s how they made a record, mixed a show, designed a sound effect, or, in this month’s case, put together a widely varied and meaningful career in audio.
Which leads to the final reason for this month’s cover: Chris Pelonis. He’s a true Renaissance man in the modern recording world, and very few people outside of his circle know about it. He’s one of those rare talents in our industry who lives a life in balance between his left brain and his right brain, able to design a world-class studio or an accurate and true monitor, while stepping up to play an incredible guitar solo or take an award-winning photograph. He is largely self-taught in everything he pursues, and he is quick to credit those he has learned from. If somebody tells him that something can’t be done, he finds a way to do it. That’s what drives him: making things better. He is a most talented and interesting man. He is also quick to point out that he is as flawed as anyone else.
I have known Chris for nearly 15 years now. When we started talking about featuring him on an upcoming cover, he had a vision in his head of what the cover might look like creatively. That’s what you see. It’s a selfie. Because Chris took it, it’s not an ordinary selfie. He used a Sigma DP3 Merrill with Foveon X3 sensor, 46 megapixels, with the equivalent to a 75mm lens on a 35mm SLR. He shot from an arm’s length away, incorporating white stucco and opposing light, balanced by diffuse waning sunlight through the foliage of a meditation garden in Encinitas, Calif. F2.8 through a 75 mm lens at 20 inches. Technical and creative. In focus. At the top of his game. That’s why this month’s cover looks the way it does.