Manny Galvez is a lot more than Lil Wayne’s go-to engineer. He’s an observant collaborator whose understanding of Wayne’s creativity has led to him not only recording most of the icon’s songs for nearly a decade but also producing on Tha Carter V as well as the theme song for FOX Sports’ “Undisputed.” The latter was appropriate given the fact that Galvez has seen Wayne approach recording with an athlete’s level of dedication.
“Wayne is no different than LeBron. The studio is the gym for him. You go there every day, work out, and do your thing. I think the way he sees it is when it comes down to releasing something, that’s like going up on the stage and flexing,” Galvez told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer/engineer explains how and why he influenced Lil Wayne to stop using Auto-Tune, the quickest song he’s ever seen Weezy record, and why you always have to be ready when you’re in the studio with the living legend.
Check out the exclusive interview below.
What was the first session where you felt like you made it in the music industry?
When I first started working at Hit Factory, I was an assistant running around, grabbing coffee, and doing everything for everyone. It was New Year’s, and I remember getting a call from the studio manager at 4:00 p.m. that day asking if I was available for a session. I had never got a call for a session before that. He told me it was a Michael Jackson session for his posthumous album. I hauled out to the studio so fast. I got to work there for a couple of days with Demacio ‘Demo’ Castellon, the engineer. Seeing his workflow, seeing him mix those songs, and seeing that magic put together was a great moment in my career.
You’ve been Lil Wayne’s go-to engineer for a number of years now. What do you remember about your first session together?
I started with him during my time at Hit Factory. There are about seven rooms there. Every night, there could be a bunch of stars in there. You’d have J. Lo over here and Timbaland over there. No one wanted to assist the Wayne sessions because he worked too hard. His hours were too long. I would pull up to work, and Wayne would be there. I would leave, sleep, come back, clock in for my next shift, and he was still there. The hours he puts in show he loves his craft. I started assisting and would be in the back of the room supervising. I’d be watching ONHEL and the other engineers. I watched them make mistakes. I watched them do great things. I was there taking notes.
In one session, he said he needed beats. I went home that day, called my friend, and cooked up a bunch of beats. I showed up the next day and told ONHEL, “Hey, these are the beats Wayne asked for yesterday.” He showed ’em to Wayne, and he hopped on two of them that night. That’s how it started for me. Eventually, it got to the point where Wayne would walk in and tell me, “Make a beat like this,” or “Sample this,” or other random stuff. One day, ONHEL went up to Wayne and told him I also engineered. I was very blessed. I’ve been Wayne’s full-time engineer since 2016.
What have you learned about Wayne’s preferences?
You must always be ready to go because he sits there and listens to the song for a long time. So, you must be physically ready as the engineer whenever he is ready because you might’ve been in that studio for 25 hours already. You still have to be ready to record a legendary verse.
How have you influenced Lil Wayne’s sound?
Two years ago, I was having a lot of issues with Auto-Tune and the plugins. We were always on tour, moving around. We always had studios everywhere. And I was having a lot of technical issues with that. Auto-Tune has been a big part of his sound. Personally, I’ve never been too big a fan of it. Once I was having those issues, I needed something that worked. He was on the way to the studio, and it was not working. We still use pitch correction, but I use Waves Tune, Melodyne, and others like those. We were about to cut a new song on one of my beats, and I told him, “I got a new thing that’s different from Auto-Tune. If it bothers you, just let me know, and we’ll go right back to it.” We cut the song, he killed it, came out of the booth, and said, “Man, I love it. From now on, that is our sound.” We haven’t gone back since. That song is still unreleased. That was around 2021.
It’s time to listen to the artists. We don’t want to listen to computers and machines. Artists like Wayne have this passion and energy they put into their art that’s real. Sometimes, we mute that emotion with too much processing. There’s a beauty in imperfection and the pitch not being so perfect sometimes. That shows rawness, and it shows the true art. That’s something I’m striving for. Obviously, it’s not about me; I meet in the middle with Wayne. He has the sound he’s known for, and I subtly try to bring in my swag and touch.
That’s monumental. Wayne’s one of the most productive artists of his generation. What are the most recording files you’ve worked on in one session?
While we were doing Carter V, there were days we had 50 bounces in the folder at the end of the day. Wayne is no different than LeBron. The studio is the gym for him. You go there every day, work out, and do your thing. I think the way he sees it is when it comes down to releasing something, that’s like going up on the stage and flexing.
The fact that he’s still making hits decades in is impressive. Songs like “Uproar” are phenomenal. What was it like working with Swizz Beatz on that?
That was cool because we were working like always, and then Swizz sent the beat over and a few others, too. Wayne instantly got on that. He killed the song, but it had no hook in the beginning. Wayne just laid down some verses. Then, Mack [Maine] set up a session with me, him and Swizz. We were in Hit Factory, and I recorded all the Swizz ad-libs. Swizz and I were there doing some drops on the beat, and then he flew the Wayne hook over. He created that hook for him. That was a great moment for me, too. I was able to be in the room with Swizz and watch his workflow.
What was the fastest you’ve seen Lil Wayne record a song?
I produced a song called “Dedicate” on Carter V. I remember it was the end of the session, and we had done a long session. I already did all the bounces and everything, and then I told him I had some beats. I played the “Dedicate” beat. He loved it. He had his bags ready. He put his bags down, went in, and dropped the first verse quickly. He must have had it in his head or something. We listened to it for a little bit, and then it looked like he was about to go. And then he just ran right back and laid down the second verse. I didn’t know where the song was going, but he dropped that line saying, “It’s Tha Carter.” That’s when I was [like], “Oh, this is going on Carter V?!” It took him no longer than 15 or 20 minutes to record.
Wayne is a huge sports fan. Explain how he ended up making the theme song for Fox Sports’ “Undisputed.”
I recorded the show’s first theme song, but I had no part in the production process. When the show went off the air for a little bit, Wayne told me, “Hey, the show’s coming back on. We need a new song for Skip [Bayless].” I locked in with my bro Swede; he’s an amazing producer. We cooked up a couple of beats. Wayne picked the “Good Morning” beat, went in, and killed it. He sent it to Skip right after he recorded it, and Skip loved it.
What do you have coming for the rest of 2024?
We have so much new stuff coming. You already know Tha Carter VI is on the way sometime soon. That’s the big flagship project. Besides that, I like working with pretty much anybody who’s cool. Good music comes from surrounding yourself with good people. I produced, mixed, and mastered this artist Yung Nation’s album, A Fool In Love. We’re producing a bunch of tracks together and have cool stuff coming up. But, besides that, I’m working every day.