About

Music we’ve recorded and mixed:

Total Eclipse – “Something About You”

Mike Michael McDonald
Supervising Sound Editor / Re-recording Mixer
Music Producer / Chief Engineer
 
Amid Hollywood film studios and rock clubs is a triple threat industry professional — expert audio engineer, music producer, and film mixer — Michael McDonald. The former UCLA football player has several gold and platinum records on his studio wall. They stand as rewards of his successful career switch from grid-iron to guitar, from tackling to the top ten. “I was breaking and dislocating various joints of my body when one of my fingers went. I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to play guitar if I keep going like this.'”, laughs McDonald.
 
Since 1982, McDonald has engineered for an impressive roster which includes Soloman Burke, Warren Zevon, Sheila E, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Melissa Manchester, Ray Charles, Emmanuel, Wang Chung, Marilyn McCoo, Los Tiranos del Norte, Andy Williams, Billy Preston, The Whispers, Gladys Knight, Martika and hundreds of TV and film projects for Disney, NBC, PBS, HBO, Fox and Dick Clark. In recent years, McDonald was the highly requested engineer for albums by such artists as The Monkees (reunion album), guitar rockers The Hellecasters (his third album for them), legendary jazz drummer Alphonse Mouzon (three albums), poet and composer Rod McKuen and blues singer / actor Jim Belushi. In recent years, Mike’s advanced ears have been contracted for mastering (digitizing and re-mixing) over 400 albums for artists such as Sophie Tucker, Liberace, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mercer.

In 1988, at the beginning of the Soviet Union’s era of Glasnost, McDonald co-produced the first “official” Soviet rock band, Autograf. “That was the year when the KGB was recording my phone conversations while I was hosting the only Soviet rockers to be allowed in the US.”, McDonald quips. Mike later made history as the first American audio engineer to record in Moscow at the Songwriters’ Summit. This landmark collaboration between U.S. and Soviet songwriters (boasting American chart busters Michael Bolton, Cyndi Lauper and Brenda Russell) resulted in the album, “Music Speaks Louder than Words” (Epic Records). For this groundbreaking album, McDonald produced a cut for latin pop superstar, Emmanuel.

McDonald’s talent for recording music of various cultures has allowed him to travel the globe, tracking and mixing for artists like Japanese superstar, Seiko Matsuda (Sony), Czechoslovakia’s top singer Vasho Padejl (Opus), Finnish pop princess Merve (EMI), Argentine rocker Miguel Mateos (BMG) and Australian crooner Peter Allen (RCA). Under his banner MiMac Productions (pronounced “My-Mak”), McDonald produced the self-titled album from the funk / metal band Total Eclipse (Tabu / A&M Records). A band which McDonald describes as, “James Brown meets Metallica.” An R&B artist Mike discovered and produced, Worthy Davis, recently won the grande Prix (top artist, top song and best performance) at the Golden Stag International Song Festival in Romania.

Michael began his guitar playing career in Bakersfield, California (a well-known haven for pure country music) experimenting with his home tape recorder. Along the way Mike became a successful guitar repair specialist, doing work for Jackson Browne, Stephan Stills, Ry Cooder, Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles. He used his income from session work as a guitarist and a successful tour to raise money for bigger and better recording equipment. In 1988, Michael moved to his studio to a multi-room facility in Hollywood. It was there he engineered Martika’s debut album, “Martika” (Columbia), featuring the Billboard #1 hit, “Toy Soldiers”.

A true Renaissance man, McDonald earned a degree in art history at UCLA. This, after he passed the Air Force Academy exams hoping for an eventual shot at the astronaut program. His serious love for science and astronomy is satisfied now with his telescope and long hours creating sound effects for the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Lab and various sci-fi / space movies. In the last four years Mr. McDonald has taken his encyclopedic knowledge of music (from every era and country) into the world of film and television. As a testament to his talent for detail, the Dolby Corporation hired McDonald to mix their presentation music demonstrating their six-channel surround system.

So how does a guy like Mike unwind? Mike’s an obsessive film buff. Beside the numerous television shows and films he designs sound and mixes for, he watches two to three films a week and has an awesome memory for plots and actors’ names. Mike complains, “None of my friends will play Jeopardy with me anymore. I don’t know why they’re so worried. As long as there aren’t questions on science, music, art, guitar building, Rock and Roll, sonics, astronomy, film, football or t.v. they might be able to beat me.” So does Mike McDonald miss football? “Just don’t ask me to record on Superbowl Sunday.”, he chuckles.

 

PictureRobyn Whitney
Studio Owner / CEO
 
Robyn Whitney literally grew up in show business. From an early age she attended The Performing Children’s School as part of her training as a child actor (an elite group of 50 kids taught by stars of stage and screen). Because of their unique education, these children of the theatre were constantly performing in professional ensembles. By the time Robyn was 11 years old she had appeared on stage or screen with Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, John Raitt, Robert Wagner, Rock Hudson, Celeste Holme and many others. Robyn’s first professional job as an actress was when she was two years old.
 
Robyn’s intensive study of ballet and jazz dance revealed a talent for choreography. The dance school she formed to help pay her college tuition grew into a 100 member dance company that qualified for membership in the prestigious National Association of Regional Ballet. It was during this time that Robyn received 4 consecutive annual scholarships for National Endowment to the Arts Choreography Conferences, placing her in an exclusive group of terpsichores to study privately with the great ballet masters of the era. As part of this work, Robyn staged recitals, performances, and fundraisers for the company, starting her down the path to produce special events.

After winning a number of beauty titles, she lived for several years in New York City acting and dancing in clubs, tours, and on Broadway. She was trusted to create the first cheerleaders for the pro soccer world — the New York Cosmos (Warner Brothers), and played Wonder Woman with a touring company. The pinnacle of her career on the Great White Way was when the late revered choreographer, Bob Fosse, saw her in a rehearsal for another revue and hired her away to be his choreographic assistant. Her years in the Big Apple were during the height of night club Studio 54’s fame, allowing her to create special events on a fantastic scale.

Growing up in TV, film and theatre taught Robyn versatility she would use forever. As she retired from dancing, Whitney found herself knee deep in special events of all kinds. She formed a public relations company that was responsible for fundraisers for the New York Parks & Recreation Department, events for charitable foundations, entertainment for the United Nations Social Club, special evenings for Studio 54 nightclub, aquatics shows, parades, and country club socials. Robyn’s education in Television Production paid off as she also produced a prime time television special for Global TV Network of Canada.

To study the inner workings of the business she had been raised in, she took a position in an entertainment management firm that handled the rock group KISS, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, and The Isley Brothers. Her duties included examining the documents relating to Miss Ross’ career. This turned into a major fascination about the power behind the dollars in the entertainment industry. That knowledge has given Robyn a unique perspective on creating lucrative events for her clients.

In 1984 she returned to her home town of Los Angeles to help organize special events tied to the ’84 Summer Olympic Games. After the athletes went home, Robyn took over the management of a recording studio and audio post complex, Private Island Audio in Hollywood.

Many of Robyn’s close friends are famous songwriters. So in 1988 when Glasnost burst forth in the Soviet Union, Robyn took a truly huge leap of faith. She gathered together 25 of the United States finest songwriters and a documentary film crew of 50, and took them to Moscow. For two weeks these brave musical crusaders collaborated with the best Russian tunemeisters to create the first songs ever co-written by U.S. and Soviet artists. That historic group, which included Michael Bolton, Dianne Warren, Brenda Russell, Desmond Child, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Mann, Kelly and Steinberg, and Mike Stoller was dubbed “The Songwriters Summit”.

The album of songs from that peacemaking endeavor, aptly named “Music Speaks Louder Than Words” (Epic Records), featured Roberta Flack, Anne Murray, Earth, Wind and Fire, Phoebe Snow, Patti LaBelle, and Latin star Emmanuel. As Executive Producer of the event, the documentary film, and the record, Robyn was presented the prestigious “Spirit of American Creativity Award”, by BMI, the international authors rights agency.

Robyn is now the owner of the successful audio post house and recording studio complex, Private Island Audio. Over the last 25 years she has recorded stars from every genre of music including Bone Thugs N Harmony, Ben Vereen, Gladys Knight, Solomon Burke, Warren Zevon, Michael Nesmith and the Monkees, Francisco Aquabella, Andy Williams, Louie Bellson, Flea, Martika, Jim Belushi, Ray Charles, Forever Plaid, Natalie Cole, George Clinton, and hundreds of movie and TV scores. Her business also creates sound design, and mixes for feature films, video games, cartoons, and documentaries for the Discovery Channel, A&E, The National Geographic Channel, the History Channel, and all the major networks. Private Island Audio is proud of an Oscar awarded to one of their clients for Best Short Film 2006 (“West Bank Story”). She says, “I’ve always been comfortable with accomplished Directors, Producers, and actors, so this is not a job, but a real joy.” Ms. Whitney has also volunteered as an Arts Council Member of the Hollywood Neighborhood Council.

In developing her television programs, Ms. Whitney has formed her own production company called, “Robynopoly.” Her agent, Bob Rosen of RLR Associates, is hard at work packaging magazine format and reality shows she has created. Robyn likes to say, “Reality shows fall into humiliation shows or human potential shows. All of my programs are about the best of human potential, something I feel very strongly about.”

Robyn currently serves as one of a select group of civilian advisors to the United States Air Force Entertainment Industry Liaison Board, where she interfaces with producers, directors, and development executives in order to offer the USAF’s assets to the film and TV industry. Ms. Whitney is the immediate past president and organizer of the Doo Wop Hall of Fame. She laughs, “I can’t sing a note, but my life has always included the greatly talented folks who can. It was a challenge to organize, publicize, brand, and coordinate a charitable organization based on the Arts.” Robyn is affiliated with The LIFE Choir, (Aretha Franklin’s backup group), who sing to raise to funds for charitable purposes in Los Angeles. They provide everything needed for the HB Barnum Adopt A Senior organization, a charity to help local seniors in need.

From dance recitals to synchronized swimming shows, to record company events, red carpet fundraisers, night club extravaganzas, to holiday parties, funerals, and sporting events, Ms. Whitney has created and produced professional level special events since her pre-teen years and plans on doing it until someone stages her final performance.