Bringing Out Dem Feels in Your Music
Hi I'm Sean from Malaysia, working as a head engineer in a local studio called Pulse Soundworks. I might be what most consider as young, but I'm by no means green.
I love the craft of mixing & mastering, and bringing out the maximum potential that a piece of music possess, so that it translates the feeling of the performer to the listener.
My primary genre would be something along the lines of Chill, RnB (think Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei), but not limited to that. I do have a certain amount of experience in doing rock, indie rock/pop, singer-songwriter acoustic stuff, and electronic music as well.
My main DAW is Reaper, however I am also Pro Tools, Cubase & Logic literate. Since I do go around freelancing locally, I have access to a few studios for mixing & referencing, as well as my home studio which is mainly where the magic happens. Hence, I have a series of studio monitors I can reference on. My main pair would be the good o' trusty Yamaha HS7 in my homestudio, followed by Genelec 8040B at a good friend's place, and finally a pair of Kali Audio LP-6 & Alesis M1 w/ Krk Sub at my workplace.
A typical workflow of mine would begin with mix prep the night before (editing, rough leveling), mixing on the following two days, mastering the day after, and referencing on various platforms & systems for the following two days.
Looking forward to be working with you!!
Send me a note through the contact button above.
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Interview with Sean Lew
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I get a lot of recording & mixing jobs. As a young head engineer in a small studio, I have to kinda do everything. I handle recording sessions, acting as the producer as well a lot of times. The projects will be edited either by our in house editor or me, and I'll carry on with the mixing process. For lower budget or more urgent projects we'll typically have it mastered in house, which means I'll be on the task again. For my freelance work it'll not be very different. I love to be involved throughout the different processes of production, for me it gives the music a sense of uniformity.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I absolutely love Warren Huart (Produce Like a Pro), my mixing preference might differ from him but I admire the man's passion and expertise in his craft.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have access to a number of studios locally in Malaysia since I freelance around quite a bit. My main monitors would be a pair of Yamaha HS7 in my homestudio, a pair of Genelec 8040B at a good friend's place, and finally a pair of Kali Audio LP-6 at my workplace. For recording I have the Audient ASP008 preamp, coupled with mics like the Electro Voice RE320, the standard Shure 57's & 58's, Rode NT-1 & NT-2000, etc.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: A typical workflow of mine for a song would begin with mix prep the night before (editing, rough leveling), mixing on the following two days, mastering the day after, and referencing on various platforms & systems for the following two days.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I believe what a mix engineer's job, other than the technical work, is to translate the emotion and passion of the performer through sound to the listeners, as well as crafting a powerful, uniform picture from the song elements.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill would be my musicality. I truly believe that to be a good engineer, you need to be a good musician that has good objective taste and musicality, aside from great technical skills. Objective taste means the ability to recognize the "sound"of different musical styles, and what sounds good and right in a certain genre. Good musicality means the ability to recognize subtle tempo and pitch differences, and the way to correct them musically. I'd say having those skills in my arsenal gives me an edge.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I get to work on a lot of Chill, RnB & Indie stuff because the musicians I'm exposed to locally. However I find myself doing well in genres like Pop, Singer-Songwrite, and Rock as well.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Recording/producing a client : Read the client's mind (body language), feel how he/she is feeling and make them feel at home. Cause it's your job to bring out their maximum potential. A lil bit of confidence and looseness goes a long way. Mixing a song : Gain staging, at all times, in all places. Gain stage even your hair if you can.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd love to work with Zedd, Cheat Codes, top hits producers such as those of Dua Lipa's, Ariana Grande's, etc. Because it'll be a great trip into their thought process producing a song, a lot of craft goes into their work.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My mixing style would be clean and balanced, polished with good dynamics and punch, and a mix that paints a full picture. Very much suited for Pop & various modern styles.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been doing audio for around 4 years now. Starting from recording very small bands in my hometown in Malaysia, to pursuing a career in audio in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. I may be what most consider as young, but I'm by no means green. I appreciate the craft that goes into audio work, hence I'm always studying and improving.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I'd just have my trusty laptop, two great pairs of headphones for cross reference, a good D/A, and my guitar. You can't use monitors properly in an open space like an island. But how do I get power in the first place? LOL
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Always send a reference track, or multiple reference tracks. Hire someone that cares to send a rough mix to ask for your preferences. Because engineers are not mind readers, we would not get everything exactly where you want it without your opinion in the matter, and at the end of the day, it's your music.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What kinda direction do you want this to go? Any references? Pretty much that's it, I send early versions without counting them as revisions for the client to see if things are where they'd like them to be, and to get a grip of where it's going, and we follow up from there.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I honestly do not get much of that... The biggest misconception would be my grandmother thinking that audio engineers record clients with phones...welp...
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The occasions that I get a really great band coming into the studio. I get excitement from mixing good songs.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital for mixing for the post-session recalling & tweaking capabilities. Analog for mastering cause it adds good colour and gives depth to the mix if used properly. However, I'm running fully digital because Malaysian ringgit is unfortunately small and audio gear costs 4 times the price here. :(
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently working on a few acoustic singer-songwriter tracks from talents in Sony Music Malaysia.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: That would be a cover of Jordan Rakei - Wildfire by Silvertongue. My band produced the track for him, which I did some guitars on, in Malaysia, and he recorded the vocals in Seattle, USA. I mixed and mastered the song, which a lot of people appreciated the quality of production and said it sounded better than the original. I loved both versions.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Question : Can you fix this in the mix? Answer : LMAO....sure lol