Ben Lieberman is one of the a cappella world’s young, driven, already-successful rising stars. His entrepreneurial spirit, passion for all things a cappella, natural gift for both performance and production and extremely hands-on approach to recording all blend together to give him the tools he needs to go far.
Lieberman is the founder, owner and operator of AudioGenix, a production company based out of Evanston, IL which caters to Midwestern groups such Voices in Your Head from the University of Chicago and Extreme Measures from Northwestern University.
His career started when he was an undergraduate at Northwestern University (studying economics and linguistics, which may not seem all that creative, but these studies have helped with the business end of running AudioGenix). He was a member of the Undertones, and his first recording experienced proved to be a formative one – for all the wrong reasons.
“It didn’t really go the way I wanted – we were over budget, and it didn’t sound the way I wanted it to sound,” he said. “I decided I would try to do our next album by myself.”
Lieberman set out to construct his own studio, buying the microphones, gear and technology he would need to record his group. And the results proved incredibly prolific, not only for the Undertones, but for Lieberman as well.
“The album started turning out really well, and other groups (on campus) realized I could be doing theirs as well – I ended up recording for most of the Northwestern groups,” he said. “And then I started reaching out to other colleges.”
After graduating in 2008, he began producing a cappella (as well as recording instrumentalists and other student musicians) full time. His location has allowed him to work with a region of the nation whose talents sometimes get forgotten – until he (and other producers) get the chance to help them shine. And over the years, he has developed a deeper passion for both the genre, and for the power and versatility of singing.
“(The human voice) as an instrument can do anything – I would spent time with my group in college finding new sound effects that we could make, (and) different ways to use our voices,” he said. “My goal is to make sounds that are vocal in origin, not in aesthetic.”
He added that, as an a cappella producer, he experiences two primary joys (among the many his work offers) – making recordings that are, as he phrased it, “luscious soundscapes” that are “nearly impossible to do live but fascinating to listen to recorded,” and having the opportunity to first dissect a group to its bare elements, then to truly collaborate with the group to build those elements into an entity and identity that surpass the wildest dreams of the entire membership.
As for the future, Lieberman see himself continuing the work he loves most, and taking on whatever comes his way – occasionally to a fault. But even if he sometimes takes on a great deal of work, he regrets nothing.
“My career is incredibly rewarding, and I see myself doing more of it, and doing it better,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to change a thing.”