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Berklee Valencia alumnus Kyle Pyke M.M. ’14 scored his first Grammy nomination in the category of Best Engineered Album, Classical, for his work on Fields by Devonté Hynes and Third Coast Percussion. He shares the nomination with Jesse Lewis, founder of Immersive Music Project, where Pyke has been working since 2014.
Pyke said that his wife gave him the news as he was cleaning his office. “It didn’t sink in until later on,” he said. “It’s a huge honor to be in the same conversation as the rest of the nominees in this category.”
Fields was recorded at Chicago Recording Company July 17–20, 2018, and at Electrical Audio October 13–14, 2018. Pyke said it was an “extremely challenging” album to record. “There were only three players but we had 30 stations set up for the instruments, which were going to be at different places at different times,” he said. “That was a big issue that we solved by recording it more like a surround setup or a quad recording that we were then going to mix down to stereo.”
Pyke was responsible for setting up all the microphones, pairing and positioning them with the instruments, as well as all mixing during postproduction. “There was a lot of creative work to be done because it's not a typical classical album that tries to create this realistic stereo image of what's happening in front of you. We got to use a lot of creative processing and things you wouldn't use on a classical record like echo, saturation, distortion...all the creative effects you don’t get to use in a lot of records,” he said.
As a member of the Recording Academy, Pyke was eligible to cast a vote in all the classical categories. Regarding the other nominees in his category, he says he’s “blown away” to be in the same pool as David Frost, who is nominated for Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, Babi Yar by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess by David Robertson, Eric Owens, and Angel Blue.
“There are really heavy hitters nominated and Fields is different from all of those, so that could either help or hurt. Maybe they will see the uniqueness of it,” he said. “If they vote for a standard classical album, then I’m completely honored to take the nomination. The other engineers are phenomenal.”
Pyke, a graduate of the Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program, described his Berklee Valencia journey as a “fantastic time,” highlighting the small class sizes, which provided the opportunity to accumulate a lot of experience in the studio, as well as the one-on-one sessions with the teachers.
“It was a training ground where you can make all the mistakes that you want to make without it being catastrophic because the worst you can do is hurt your grade a little bit. My time in Valencia has been indispensable for my career,” he said.
The 63rd Grammy Awards take place on Sunday, March 14, on CBS.