Expressive sound with character
25 Years of experience from the underground clubs of Germany and Belgium to the hype of Brooklyn and Manhattan, I play mostly tenor sax but also alto and soprano, clarinet and bass clarinet, as well as flute, classical and ethnic (such as the Chinese Hulusi and various bamboo and metal flutes), a little trombone, and I got my ways in treating sound with electronics, playing with samplers and old synths and futuristic apps doing hip-hop beats, edm tracks and instrumental wonders.
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Interview with Paul Meurens
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Typically I receive a song file which is either instrumental or complete, the parts I'm supposed to play may be already played but a synth, or hummed by the singer or producer, they may also just leave a blank space on the rythm track with a time indication for the beginning and ending of a solo or part. Whether I add just one line of sax or a whole section of woodwinds ( I like to double the flute and harmonize the sax), I send back files with a rough mix, a sync point and each parts in high quality audio.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I wasn't convinced by digital until I started working at 24 bits / 96 khz. I still have a really good tape recorder but I rarely use it because of obvious synchronization issues.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I deliver a sound that will make you go Oh Yeah. I moved to New York to get that sound, the supersonic saxophone, fast and mind blowing.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Hell I'm a musician, I just love it.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How long will this take? Depending on your needs (and my availability) 1 to 7 days.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: In the 80's the saxophone was ruined with too much effects, and affect, too many hair in the wind.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Do you prefer alto, tenor or flute as a main voice?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: You can contact me if you have a question. If you want me to start a part right on the first beat provide a click or some kind of precount. If you're not sure I can make a whole song from scratch, or sync music to an existing video
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Awesomely sculptural
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Deadmau5, but I'll settle for Bjork
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Put the horns louder in your mix, instead of turning them down EQ them, and try fades in and out
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop, world music, electro, jazz, it's a vast territory
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I'd like to say creating melodies but in NY we'd just say making up parts.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Life! I love electro but it always sounds better with air.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Before I record a part, I need to be able to hum it so that I become so familiar with the melody that I can breathe it through, which is necessary on saxophone. Of course I am a fan of the first take but I always do the extra one, for good luck. Once all my tracks are recorded I start by adjusting some volumes. I usually leave the effects up to the client unless requested.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Pro Tools HD, some good German mikes and few but well chosen effects
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I learned with studio guys in NYC, learned to make each line a hook, to deliver quickly and sanely in one of the most cut-throat environment. Lately I've been playing and recording with the great Page Hamilton from Helmet bringing guitar recording but also just creation of sound to a whole new level. Also I love the album to Pimp a butterfly, it sets for me a new standard in expressiveness, and the mix of electronics and jazz is the best I heard as it decades of sound by combining the good old acoustic with the most modern HD productions.