I´ve done at least 100 records in different aspects on the music production line.. As an recording, mixing, mastering engineer, or as a musician, drum tech or singer. I know how to make things sound awesome
I´ve had recording studio for 10 years, and lately I´ve focused in Mixing and Mastering. That´s what I love to do the most... I own a studio called "El Ancla" (The Anchor) that was constructed under perfect acoustic planning, and it´s in constant evolution. I sing music from the XV century and also play rock and cumbia as a drummer. Variety is what defines my taste and sounding.
I mix and master, and also "mixtering" (a concept I use when the budget is not that high) and also have 5 boutique microphones that let me do amazing over dubs in my mixing studio.
The equipment of the studio is hybrid, as almost all studios. From 28 analog channels of tube summing with Thermionic Culture Vulture Fat and Little Bastard to UAD Plugins
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Interview with Nico Pestarino
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: For the last two years I´ve been mainly mixing and mastering, but also I´ve produced some complete records. I really think that team working is the only way of professional working, but sometimes budgets are difficult to manage and production of the complete record get´s hard.. I love mixing and love mastering... that´s what I would do every day
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I very much admire Mike Guzauski (a tremendous guy and professional I had the chance to make a 3 day seminar with and learn a lot!), Gregg Wells, Michael Brauer, Bob Ludwig, Pharrel Williams, The Beatles, George Martin and many many others in the world, but also many from my beloved Argentina, which I work with every day but are completely unknown, as Juan Ignacio Serrano, Guillermo Beresñak, Juan Quintero, Andres Mayo, Ariel Lavigna and so on and on
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Based on tube analog summing with the Thermionic Culture Vulture Fat and Little Bastard my studio meets several coherence points in nowadays production way of working. Some analog process 500 series compressors like Smart Research, Elyssia Xpressor, Daniel Ovie boutique 1176 which are hand made here in Argentina, Crane Song Falcon, Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph, Retro DoubleWide, and some EQ´s also, like Crane Song Tube Eq Insigna, API 550A, Elyssia Nvelope, etc.. and of course UAD plugin´s that are so great and get even better when mixed in analog summing. For mastering I use Buzz Audio Mastering Resonance EQ, Buzz Audio Optical Compressor SOC20 and Avalon 747, with Lynx Aurora (n) with their Hilo Converters. But most important of all, I have a very acoustically balanced room made only for this purpose and my EVE Audio monitors with ribbon are awesome and natural.. I really love them... Always pointing the arrow to get better as a professional and with top equipment, I know where I wanna be in 1 and 2 years from now.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When mixing I spend at least 1 hr listening to the song and making the session looks as I like. Color coding is very important for me, and I wanna get into the vibe of the song before opening into the summing and start making decisions. Sometimes mixing get´s even better when having fluent conversation and ideas with the artist, and doesn´t get just to make things sound great, which is awesome, but also gets very much more creative. Then I start to fly around the session trying things for at least 2 hrs, a little chaotically but this is how most of the time greater ideas appear. For Mastering I tend to be more cautious.. I like going deep, but I´m one of those that believe in the non hearable but deep enhancement theory. I´m a drummer, but first I´ve sang music from the XV and all other eras to contemporary, so dynamics are THE MOST important things for me when it comes to mixing and mastering
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Warmth, deepness, "openness"
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: The acoustic world, and live recordings... the ensemble
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Rock, Pop, Reggae, Cumbia
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: My 2 Thermionic Culture are one if they are put together through the "Aux in" in the Fat Bastard, but actually are 2 independent pieces of gear, so I´ve been routing all the rhythmic sections (drums, bass, gtrs, percussion) to one and everything on top of it to the other and back to pro tools in 2 separated busses. That allows me more control of the different dynamics within each section, more control of the low and hi end, and besides full independence of the Attitude in both Thermionic gear. The Attitude is saturation of the tubes by increasing the signal, and generating 2cond harmonic distortion. The process in the fat bastard is within the path of the auxiliar in, so it wont let me be independent of the amount of attitude that I would like to bring up in the little bustard, if I use it the other way.. Besides, though they are similar in sound, they are not quite the same.. so I like to have them separated..
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I´ve discovered Moses Sumney lately and really liked him. I would love to work with him, cause the uses of harmony, space and silence.. he is a talent in that and much more... Other artist I would really love to work with is James Blake
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I always want my client to be happy, so I would do whatever it takes to both have the best working experience possible. My personal style is that one, be alert, be aware, be kind, be cautious.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I´ve opened my first little studio almost by mistake... ha ha! I used to have a rehearsal studio for little groups, and then I started buying some studio things. First a basic mic, then basic monitors, pro tools, and then 10 years after I´ve never stopped buying and selling professional equipment. It´s been 10 years now since I started, and I´ve been always doing records and mixings.. this last year I started mastering professionally, but this is something I know I´ll do even better within the years
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I would choose MONITORS, CONVERTER, UAD PLUGIN PROCESSOR (this is a specific mark, sorry, I cheated, but you know..) my BUZZ AUDIO EQ AND THE KNIF AUDIO EKSA
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I would tell him/her that first I would like to have a good conversation, I really enjoy talking and getting to know people. If you get to have a good feeling and vibe with that person, then everything that comes after that is just a consequence. It shouldn´t go wrong
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: It depend´s on what I´m doing with the client, but if have to mix I would talk about the preproduction, about musicians, who worked, where wast it recorded.. don´t know.. anything to make a hole picture. The same idea goes if I have to master
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Generally talking, thinking that maybe in the next step something will be magically solved. none other step in the chain of production will solve a mistake in the previous one.. that´s proved
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: All clients are different, but nowadays the most common doubt they all have is about loudness war and how digital platforms like Spotify, Tidal, iTunes are dealing with it... my answer, after deep reading of all big names opinions and self experience is that we´ll do what´s best for the song, always for the song, and keeping good care of dynamics which is for me what was most suffered in the so called Loudness War
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I really think that our job is the best job in the world. Our concerns in life is how to make things sound awesome, and every time with every artist is different, I never get tired of doing this. So it´s difficult for me to chose one thing, but maybe if I have to chose is looking for the audio, in the recording or mixing or mastering.. What ever I´m asked for, I wanna listen to a song, several times, getting into the artist mind (or try to) and feel what´s best for that song..
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I will do whatever it takes to make them feel comfortable, accompanied in every step of the process they´ll ask me to do
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: BOTH, together, cause this is the world today... analog has "that flavor" that we love.. but digital is in a level of development that sounds AMAZING and is extremely comfortable. And getting to work fast with a track for a second or third time cause artist needs it, that´s also hearable.. you´re fresh as air. That´s why I choose analog summing with a bunch of analog gear combined with digital. It´s also true that making things sound deep and opened its WAY much easier with analog. Universal audio plugins totally changed this game for ever and for good
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Mix for new songs for some groups in Argentina and New York, and Masterings for Paraguay which are awesome.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Adrian Berra last record, called Mundo debajo del Mundo. We went to the country side to a house for 10 days, and record all the album there.. I recorded and mixed it. It´s the best work I´ve done so far, and I´ll shear it with you.