MPO. Musicality, personality, originality. These are the three core elements that producer, songwriter, and engineer Derek Hoffman aims to elicit from any recording bearing his fingerprints. “With every performance, no matter the instrument, I want to keep everything as musical, emotional, and unique as possible,” Hoffman elaborates – “to make people really proud of their art.”
Hoffman, who moonlights as the singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Toronto-based pop/rock outfit Brighter Brightest, has been immersed in the record-making process since first entering high school. Armed with a simple 8-track recording rig, he “dove right in” to the art and began producing and recording his own band and others from the area. “The scene in our area was really strong when I was coming up,” Hoffman says, “so I had the opportunity to work with all kinds of different musicians and bands while we all learned from each other.”
Having consumed plenty of energetic and upbeat music during his formative years, Hoffman has honed his ability to naturally capture the natural energy of a performance – a trait that benefits his work in virtually any style.
Among his influences, Hoffman lists Midas-touch produces and engineers like Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind, Taking Back Sunday), Chris Lord-Alge (Deftones, Green Day), and recent collaborator Machine (Cobra Starship, Every Time I Die), with whom Brighter Brightest worked on their 2011 LP, Right For Me. Absorbing and analyzing their work informed and inspired his approach early on; however, he’s since graduated from Seneca College’s Independent Music Production Program and built atop that foundation with his own formulas. “I always strive to put my own sonic or creative touch onto something,” he shares, “but the most important thing is to keep the sonic intent of the artist intact.”
Hoffman’s analytic approach to the art translates well throughout various genres – from metal and punk through to straight-up rock and even pop. “Pop music can really benefit from that extra creative edge,” he muses – “something to help set it apart and really rise above what’s already out there.” It’s a genre in which he’s had much success of late thanks to a keen ear and attention to detail when it comes to arrangement and orchestration.
A special part of the process – and one of the things that draws him to music in general – is the emotional excitement that comes with breeding ideas and building a song from the ground up, layer by layer. “Every time I press play, I wanna be bobbing my head, air drumming, and really just excited not only as a creator, but of the fan of the record I’m producing,” he says, and that’s a goal that extends to any project that will include his credit.