Slavic Livins has been in the industry for over two decades – moving seamlessly from engineer to producer and back again – and has collaborated with such talent as Keyshia Cole, R. Kelly, Ministry, Avant, Day 26, Snoop Dog, and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk.
Livins was enrolled in a Music Conservatory in Belarus at a young age. Once in the States his appreciation for music grew into a hunger and a drive to be a part of the music industry. After graduating Columbia College Chicago top of his class with degrees in sound engineering and music/artist management, Livins quickly began moving up the ranks. He turned internships at Battery Studios and Chicago Trax into assistant engineering positions followed by production and head engineering positions. While at Battery Studios he worked on Avant’s first album My Thoughts, which generated the Top 40 hit “Separated” and reached RIAA Platinum status.
As Livins honed his craft at Chicago Trax he caught the attention of Vince Lawrence, owner of Slang Music Group, who began sending him high profile projects at which Livins excelled. This led to music composition and production for nationwide commercial campaigns like Jeep, Sprite, Kmart, Verizon, Dominos, and Pop Tarts (which featured Fabulous and debuted during the half time of the 2002 NBA play-offs.) He also engineered a remix for R. Kelly’s hit “Ignition” and collaborated on several other projects with him.
The industry took notice of Livins’ work when he achieved RIAA Platinum status for his remix of Sisqo’s single “Incomplete” and RIAA Gold for his remix of Joe’s single “Stutter.” Wanting to capitalize on his success, Livins co-founded The Milk Bros with Eric Ley. The duo quickly became known for their dynamic, high-energy mixes. With Lawrence as their manager they began to produce remixes for major label clients like John Legend (“Green Light”), Amerie (“Touch”), Omarian (“I’m Tryna”), and Korn’s Jonathon Davis (“Money”). Not one to rest on his laurels, Livins started 8 Mile High Productions with Gene Katsuro at the same time. This project offered him a new challenge in a genre Livins had not worked in before – House. The two began producing house tracks for artists like Felix the Housecat, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Katya and Niki Lynette and had multiple releases on King Street Records and Slang Records.
With the growth of his endeavors, Livins realized he needed his own studio space to do his work the way he saw fit. In 2005 he opened Fragile Music Group (FMG) in Chicago with Tim Grossi and Joey Fernandez – a full service, state of the art recording facility. Here Livins found himself a home and a place to grow professionally. He began to build a loyal client roster that trusted only Livins with their art. Among those are Syleena Johnson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and DJ Ron Carroll aka R.O.N.N. “Slavic is an awesome engineer. Hands down one of the most efficient I’ve worked with. Very Professional,” said Johnson. Their work together culminated in a Grammy nomination for the song “Stonewall” mixed by Livins. FMG’s location on the south side of Chicago helped Livins tap into another genre, Gospel. He started working with artists like Deitrick Hadden and Tye Tribbet and his work with Patrick Hayes and Diane Williams on “Jesus Can Work It Out” won three Stellar Awards for song of the year. During that time he also mixed the radio version of Lupe Fiasco’s smash hit “Kick Push,” engineered several projects for Universal Music Group France, and scored several feature films.
Today Livins continues to push boundaries. Most recently he launched Chicago Audio Mastering – a professional mastering studio specializing in achieving radio quality standards. Seeing the financial struggle of many unknowns in this industry, his goal is to provide an affordable option for the high quality mastering that can only be achieved in the studio. Livins has also made a gradual return to production. His latest work led him to reunite with Avant. Livins engineered Avant’s new album The VIII and produced the track “I’m Not Telling,” which brings a modern twist to the classic R&B sound. He is also slated to start production on Carl Thomas’ album. In addition, Livins is fostering the careers of many up and comers – using his experience to mentor and guide them. He is currently working with Nick De La Hoyde, a singer/rapper from Australia. The first two singles off Nick’s LP Passion, which Livins mixed and mastered, are climbing the Billboard and radio top 40 charts. Livins is also engineering and producing for Chicago’s power songstress, Yemi Marie, and mixed and mastered the Monks of Mellonwah’s newest release Disconnect.
Livins attributes his success and longevity in this industry to his ability to constantly reinvent himself and continue learning. Though he has achieved much he stays grounded and focused on his craft. “Working in this industry is extremely humbling, each new project feels like starting over in a way,’ says Livins.