I've been mixing and mastering music for over 15 years. I have amazing Solid State Logic Super Analogue Mixing & Neve Mastering equipment. My studio, The Social Club, is where my last few albums, Dearly Departed & Sincerely Yours have come out of. I also mixed Block McCloud's "4 Walls" album.
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Interview with Von Hertzog
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I tend to find myself mixing and mastering more often than not. I have been known to provide sound design or soundtracks for video games and I also have a few feature length films under my belt. But mixing and mastering songs is typically the standard request.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a rack mounted Sweetwater Creation Station PC optimized just for the studio. I use Cubase Pro 8 for mixing and mastering duties. As for hardware, I use a Solid State Logic Nucleus for preamps, monitoring duties and control surface. The Nucleus controls the inputs to the Solid State Logic Sigma Summing Rack. That is where the magic happens. Outputting 32 channels to the Sigma and returning a mixed 2 track is where it really comes together. Literally. For monitoring I use Yamaha NS-10's with a Yamaha Amp and an Infinity 12" subwoofer. It's the same setup Chris Lord Alge uses and I've learned over the years why. It's great for full range. I also use a 1990 Panasonic Cassette Boom Box as a consumer grade reference. Finally I take a ride in the car to test on my Bavsound System to listen for anything that fell between the cracks. This setup has served me amazingly well.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Once I get the song loaded into Cubase, I start will all the faders down and start bringing them up to make sure I don't overload the mastering buss. I get levels just about right in my first session. Then I usually step away and come back with fresh ears to see if anything stands out. If it does I rein it in and continue. Before long, I have a track ready to show to the client and start the rounds of feedback.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: A highly trained ear for quality and space. It's taken a long time to train it, but they're working great for me right now.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Synth based music or hip-hop have been my bread and butter.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Betamaxx. I think I could open his music up even more via mixing.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: My musical career path started in the mid 90's as a DJ. I began producing music in 1999 and continue to this day. I've been mixing and mastering since 1999 as well and that definitely took priority over DJing. Over the years I got a chance to work with platinum artists as a producer and mixing engineer.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: SSL Sigma, SSL Nucleus, SSL AlphaLinks, Yamaha NS10s, Yamaha Amp
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you'd like me to mix your song, please have your stems ready. Ideally I like to mix with 32-bit 48khz stems, but if you have higher resolution I'll take it! If you're looking for me to master your song, please get it to me at a minimum of 24-bit or preferably 32-bit. Sample rate should be a minimum of 48khz, preferably up to 96khz.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you looking for the song to sound like? Do you have any references of tracks you really like as a baseline of what you're looking for? If so, I take those into account and start working. Are you OK with my NOT squashing your master within an inch of its life? If so, I'm your guy.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That a computer plugin could do it for you. Mixing and mastering is an art and despite whatever new plug-ins are claiming, they're not able to make artistic decisions like a trained human ear can.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Every project is like a new puzzle. How can I get the best possible sound out of this song? To me it's fun to dig into a song and get to really flesh it out and help it become all it can be from a sonic standpoint.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will use all my equipment and experience to the best of my ability to get you the cleanest, clearest song around. I'll make it as loud as I can without losing quality or distorting. I won't push it into a territory where sound quality suffers, over here, sound quality is king!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I use plenty of digital plug-ins but for mixing, it always has to be Analog Summed. There is a magic that still exists in the Analog Realm that I like to tap into. Every song I do gets run through analogue gear/circuitry. It imparts a characteristic we've all grown to love but can't quite put a finger on.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm currently doing a few remixes for artists. I'm currently mixing & mastering songs for a few artists too.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm especially proud of my own two albums, Dearly Departed & Sincerely Yours. Dearly Departed was my first solo album which was also pressed onto 180g Limited Edition Vinyl. My second album which just came out this May, Sincerely Yours, has a Limited Edition Cassette Tape. Both albums were all written, performed, mixed and mastered by myself. I think they stand as prime examples of my mixing / mastering chops. Give them a listen. I don't like to squash my masters so if you're looking for a 2x4 wave form, keep moving on. But if you want clean, clear music at the perfect volume, I'm you're engineer.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Chris Lord Alge is the mix engineer I admire most. I love how he manages to get a lot of volume out of his mixes without sacrificing dynamic range. I modeled my monitoring setup after him.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Fresh ears, a light hand on the faders, and an attention to detail. I don't gloss over a track, I put thought into the moves I make and why they're beneficial to the song.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Use a frequency monitor! Make sure your sounds all fit without blowing out one frequency band. Try and make sure you used a nice balance of sounds.