Gussie Miller is one of many home studio owner/operators in SoCal, but possessing high-end recording equipment and knowing how to use it doesn't necessarily pay the bills. Consequently, this 44-year-old single father of two has been “out there doin' it,” seizing every opportunity to make use of his wealth of technical knowledge and “schoolboy tenor” with its four-and-a-half octave range. That's nothing new for the Columbus, Ohio, native, who came to L.A., like so many others, for the myriad opportunities the showbiz Mecca has always dangled so tantalizingly.
Back in Columbus, Miller was a local TV celebrity at age 12, and started singing jingles in a local studio soon thereafter, where he caught the tech bug at the first sight of a Neumann mic. He's been bouncing between these two overlapping realms ever since, getting his music and vocals into several TV series while doing tech support and sales for companies such as Tascam and Westlake Audio. But his momentum was interrupted 12 years ago by a bizarre accident. “I was drumming in a Lion King event at Disneyland,” he recalls, “when I got crushed between a parade float and a fence and nearly died. My back was messed up, and I started my studio with the workers' comp money.”
Along with running his West Valley studio, Ars Musicai — outfitted with a G4 and a Focusrite ISA 110, running Nuendo 3 and Reason 3 — Miller has made use of his expertise to snag gigs like helping bring Mike Post's private studio in Burbank back online, while assisting on projects for Post and Aussie band Sick Puppies, while continuing to serve as Marcus Miller's go-to tech expert at the bassist/producer's Hannibal Studios on the West Side. Since Marcus Miller heard Gussie's glass-shattering voice, he's made use of it for the CW animated series Everybody Hates Chris, the Chris Rock film I Think I Love My Wife and the bassist's upcoming album.
Gussie is working on a solo album with writing and production partner Alex Alessandroni, which will feature contributions from Marcus Miller, David Sanborn and other high-profile players with whom he's crossed paths during the years. Along with a number of “irons in the fire,” as he puts it, Miller has been chosen as a contestant on the NBC karaoke reality series Singing Bee. “The prize is $100,000, and brutha needs funding for his record,” he says with a laugh.