Michael Marinelli is a co-founder and heavily booked (bordering over-scheduled) mix engineer at NYC’s Union Square-based audio post boutique Sonic Union (www.sonicunion.com) with a repeat client list longer than his college hairstyle.
With his heart set on being an audio engineer in music recording, Marinelli entered SUNY: Fredonia as a music major in hopes of bridging his way into what was then one of the few sound recording technology programs. After being rejected from the program, he reluctantly returned sophomore year as a general education major and dove headfirst into the school’s TV station after being tipped off by classmate (and current Sonic Union co-founder and managing director) Adam Barone that the cute girls were plentiful there.
After graduating, Marinelli took a brief gig with a former professor in Buffalo, NY, wearing nearly every technical hat possible for a documentary project before realizing that he’d have to go east or west to get his foot in the door in post production. He drove out to Los Angeles in 1987— with still-friend Barone in tow for the ride —and flooded local post shops with resumes while performing in bands and squeezing in any time possible as a session player. After no responses for months, he finally received three calls for interviews in one day, ultimately landing at The Post Group due to a fortuitous lobby meeting with another SUNY: Fredonia alum who recommended the shop to get his start in the industry.
Barone and Marinelli
He started out as a production assistant, typing tape labels, and quickly moved up to daily operations manager while befriending the recording engineers and taking every off-hours opportunity possible to shadow them and learn the craft from some of Hollywood’s best.
In 1990, he became an assistant engineer at The Post Group and by 1991 he was in the mix chair, with an already faithful following of clients from his time as the studio’s operations manager. After a successful start there, he headed east to New York City to follow an opportunity to take his career to the next level.
As one of the few engineers savvy with Solid State Logic’s proprietary digital systems at the time, he partnered with a boutique editorial shop and opened Buzz, serving as both its manager and lead mixer. When the studio’s growth called for the addition of a third room in 2001, Marinelli brought in Barone as a consultant, and to eventually manage the studio once the project was complete.
With a serendipitous journey together, Barone and Marinelli teamed up with veteran mix engineer Steve Rosen to launch Sonic Union in 2008. He now reflects on his entrance into the industry as being more focused on working for a company he believed in, rather than just a position.
“I receive at least five resumes a day from a student at a recording school listing all the machines and software that they know how to operate, looking for a job as a mixer,” says Marinelli. “They think that we will be able to hire them and provide them with work, and that’s just not a reality. Over half of our staff work as support players, with possibly no aspirations of mixing or even assisting with sessions. We always like to move people up from within. I may have started out typing tape labels, but it was from doing so that I was able to learn from the best by aligning myself with the most talented people all along the way.”
Additional photos by Juan Patino Photography