‘Spotlight On!’ : Producer / musician Cesar Benzoni

Howdee folks! Hope you’ve all been keeping well throughout the lockdown and looking forward to a little re-opening of things…!

A little while back, here a KYO, we started a series called ‘Spotlight On!’ highlighting some of the musicians, producers and collaborators that worked on forthcoming album by Maria Shiel. Today we have multi-instrumentalist and chief mixer of the record, adopted Galweigan, Cesar Benzoni. He answered some questions below for us from his gorgeous Galway-based studio Yodel Studio.

Cesar has barely been in Galway for two years and is already a regular on the live music scene and has several mixing and production projects already under his belt. Have a read below and be sure to check out his incredibly priced services right in the heart of Galway city: Yodel Recording Services

SPOTLIGHT ON! : Cesar Benzoni

Who are you?

I’m Brazilian-Italian musician and music producer born in São Paulo, now living in Galway City.

What instruments do you play?

I play electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, pandeiro (Brazilian percussion instrument), a bit of bass and steel guitar.

When did you first start learning and why?

I started learning the keyboard when I was 8 years old but It never really got me. I studied drums when I was 10 but then I moved to an apartment where was hard to have a drum kit, so I started learning a few chords on the guitar from my dad and that really got me.

How long have you been in Galway and what are your favourite things about the west of Ireland and being a musician here? 

I’ve been in Galway for two years now and I love the music scene here, the fact that you can listen to live music everyday of the week if you want. Also the views are incredible and really inspiring. 

What musical styles do you like to play (who have you played with here in Galway and beyond)?

There are a few, but mainly country music and bluegrass. Besides that I love to play Irish trad, Brazilian choro, jazz and rock.

Here I have played with a few bands like Half Mile Down, The Rocky River Bluegrass Show, The Invisible Jug Band, Galway Choro Ensemble, Maria Shiel, Sin a Deir Si, Maia Benzoni and some others. 

What is your favourite song to perform?

It varies from time to time, but I’d say I’m loving preforming the song “Old Train”, by Tony Rice.

How did you get into music production?

I completed my bachelors degree on Broadcast (radio and tv) in 2008, same year that me and my band at the time were in the studio recording our first album. So I could see the musical part that I loved and the technical part that I was learning a bit in the University now together and it was a great sensation that really got me.

What is the one thing every song must have for it to be solid?

A good balance in between vibe and precision. I’m talking more performance than songwriting here.

Describe your working style when mixing?

If I’m recording as well, I like to have it sounding as ready as possible, trying to leave as little as possible to fix later. Before mixing I like to do a lot of preparation, commit with some small eq and compression adjustment and summing tracks that work together into one, like background vocals, for example. Instead of having 10 tracks of harmonies, I often balance them and commit into a stereo track. That type of thing makes the whole mixing phase easier to get creative and get to a better overall sound quicker. Also I do it all in the box, no fancy external gear.

Top 3 records of all time. Why?

Two of them are related to my childhood, that are Beatles For Sale, and Legendary Hearts (Lou Reed). For Sale has a nice blend of the yeyeye phase and the more psychedelic phase of the Beatles. They are writing beautiful and different songs from the beginning but not getting too crazy. Also I listened to this album a lot. Legendary Hearts, same thing, but It is impressive how the fretless bass makes the total difference in that album. The twist is Brad Paisley’s Play The Guitar Album. It’s an album that you can hear he put heart and soul into it, with great play and great songwriting.

Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?

I’d love to work with Sarah Jarosz and John Doyle. They are two of the artists that inspire my guitar playing a lot on the bluegrass and Irish side

What is the most useless talent you have?

Making impressions and doing funny voices. =D Mainly brazilian tv characters and singers, what get even more useless cause nobody knows them here. Also I’m shy to show them off.

How have you found playing and recording music during lockdown?

Yes, practicing a lot, doing boring exercises and recording myself more, since I’m not gigging.

Who is the best music producer working in the industry today?

I believe Quincy Jones is the best alive. But there are so many amazing ones.

We have all had to alter our map of the future slightly with the worldwide pandemic. What are you most looking forward to in the ‘New Normal’ when it comes about ? And what have you learnt during this period of isolation?

Oh absolutely. It can be seen as a disgrace but as a big learning time and self knowledge. I lost my dad in the middle of the pandemic, what made me think a lot of what life is about. Learned about gardening and dealing with plants and life at this time made a huge and great impact on me, helping me to deal with the situation. Makes you think what things worth fighting for in life and if we are picking the right battles to fight.

Whats next for Cesar Benzoni and Yodel Studio?

For me, more music, more content, I want to share more what I do and learn more from people as well. For Yodel, I’m looking forward to bring recordings to new, different and inspiring places, to make the recording process unforgettable for the artist.

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