Tony “Jack the Bear” Mantz is the owner and founder of Jack the Bear’s Deluxe Mastering.
He also founded his own company “Jack The Bear Productions Pty. Ltd.” (1995)
Mastering has taken up the majority of his career since starting work in the music business in 1981. He’s had a stint at recording and mixing, and here’s a take on Imposter Syndrome as it relates to creatives.
One of the things that plagued me for a majority of my working / professional life (nearly thirty years) was feeling like a fraud or imposter as a mastering engineer.
As I have been sharing more of this with others it has become abundantly clear that a surprising number of these people (some with waaaaaaaay bigger profiles than me), still hold this view about themselves.
This is not exclusive to the Music Industry at large but seemingly quite a universal phenomenon. These revelations have inspired me to write here in the public domain in the hope somebody may get solace knowing they are not alone. Hopefully (as I have), they will now take ownership of it and realise in many cases it’s a complete fallacy.
So how did i get to this line of thinking? …Well as a mastering engineer my fellow peers and contemporaries made a name for themselves by entering the industry via a pathway of doing a lengthy internship at an established studio.
They also were people who had some level of proficiency with at least one instrument and had a scope of technical knowledge along with the prowess to back it up.
I was not a product of the traditional studio model. My musical skills are virtually non-existent and i couldn’t solder two wires together if my life depended on it. So as you can see this makes it hard to feel like you’re “one of the boys”.
My path was rather unorthodox, …I simply worked all kinds of sh!t gigs to raise funds to travel overseas to meet with the engineers who were my heroes.
If there’s one thing Americans and Canadians admire it’s anybody bat sh!t crazy enough to travel half way across the galaxy and land without a pot to piss in because they are in pursuit of a dream. An Aussie accent for some mysterious reason proved to be helpful in more ways than one when it came to opening doors.
Some have called me brave, ….the jury’s still out on whether it was a stroke of genius or the most delusional scheme ever hatched. I guess at the end of the day this rather non-linear journey helped get me to where I wanted.
Somehow some of these heavy hitting A-list bunch did take me under their wing by availing themselves and maintaining some communication with over the years. Their input along with what was mostly a self-taught endeavor, became the genesis for forging a career where at the 35 odd year mark has me working out of what is my current digs. Looking at it now it’s hard not to see myself as “successful”. Come this April I will be celebrating 15 years at Deluxe Mastering
On top of that I (along with my team od Adam Dempsey & John Hooves Clayton) have been bucking the trend of downsizing and working from home.
Some engineers have done so by choice and others didn’t have that luxury, but I can see how this model has so many advantages especially in the current economic and industry climate.
Today I feel relieved to have stopped the narrative of “I’m an imposter and/or fraud as a mastering engineer.”
Until you’re ready to see yourself and your achievements objectively and be willing to accept you have made a real contribution the curse of feeling like an imposter or fraud will haunt you forever and a day.
There’s a difference between being self-effacing and self-deprecating.
Know there will be times you will experience self-doubt, feelings of unworthiness and “imposter syndrome”. When you know in your heart of hearts you’re putting in the hard slog and it’s obvious there’s results to reflect that, you’ll never ever have to a victim of this insidious concept.
Go and make some beautiful art and have fun while doing it with the knowledge you’re worthy of holding your own.
Brought to you by Team ‘Oddy Jay‘ from Lagos, Nigeria