What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started playing violin as a 10 year old kid. Too late to become a serious classical musician. So I went the other direction and got into engineering/producing/mixing, mostly pop and rock music. That has been my career for the past 10 years. Throughout these years, I have been fortunate to work alongside the best musicians and producers in the business. For many years, I was working as an assistant and engineer for one of Europe's most accomplished solo violinists who regularly works on multi million dollar Hollywood blockbusters. That's where I really learned the in and outs of how to arrange, record and eventually perform actual real strings. Sometimes just with one player, playing a whole orchestra. It works, and I learned how to do it, from the best in the world.
So, besides some smaller movies, I ended up working on Madagascar 3 and Sherlock Holmes 2, definitely the highlights of my career as a professional sound engineer. I tracked almost all the solo violins for Madagascar 3 (you can hear them very prominently above the orchestra throughout the whole movie). On Sherlock Holmes 3, I worked closely with composer/violinist Aleksey Igudesman and Hans Zimmer scoring the famous waltz scene at the end. Also I am very proud of having spent some time in the studio with Hollywoods most sought after composer, mostly trying to look confident, getting out of the way, making coffee and buying cigarettes.
What's your strongest skill?
My strongest skill personally is mixing music, especially string music. Arranging for strings comes naturally, because I love good string arrangements and I have learned how to do it, but the strength of 24violins definitely lies in a good mix. There are many great string arrangers and players out there that do a fantastic job, but the files you get usually need to be mixed by a professional mixing engineer. That can be quite a challenge with a full orchestra and hundreds of Tracks to mix together. I deliver everything mixed and mastered (in separate stems if needed), ready to go.
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
The first string arrangement I have ever done was for one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard, written by singer/songwriter Agnes Milewski. That was 12 years ago. She recently told me that she started to cry when she first heard my strings and it inspired her to write more beautiful music, to this day.
What are you working on at the moment?
Because we are ready for you within 24 hours but not every day is full of bookings, we always have other exciting projects going on. Currently in the works: a 12 track CD with inspirational string music.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
1. 24violins will always be 100% real strings within 24 hours for $240.
2. My highest priority is to make my clients happy, so I will try everything to do just that. If you really don't like the results you will get all your money back, no questions asked. I have been offering 100% Money back from the very beginning and so far not one client has actually asked for it.
What do you like most about your job?
Hearing a real orchestra come to life. That is the most exciting thing for me, every day.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
1. How much does it cost to have a full string orchestra on my track?
Answer: $240, if you already have some string arrangement ideas, otherwise $420 if it needs to be arranged as well.
2. I can't afford that, is there a cheaper option? I might have more songs in the future as well.
Yes not a problem, just ask. Send me your song and we can decide together and work with your budget. There is always a solution. A very common solution is to have a smaller ensemble instead of a full orchestra. Or do two songs for the price of one if there are not too many too complicated string parts in each song.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
24violins brings you a realistic sounding orchestra sound that is played 100% by real musicians, using no samples or any other kind of fake strings. That being said, unless our bookings exceed a certain number per day, we don't actually have a full 32 person orchestra in the studio. Instead, there will be a few musicians overdubbing as many takes needed to get to a full orchestra sound. Our system is based on 32 voices (8 fist violins, 8 second violins, 8 violas, 8 cellos). So, depending on the amount of bookings per day, there could be 32 people playing your song once or 1 person playing your song 32 times or anything in between. You won't notice the difference, I promise!
(Btw. all sound examples you hear on this page have been performed by only one person - and yes, 32 times!)
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
The first thing I do is ask you to send me your song so I can listen to it and decide what other questions to ask.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Just ask, even if you don't "talk music". The whole point of 24violins is to make a real high quality string orchestra sound accessible to everyone, especially beginners and hobby music producers.
How would you describe your style?
lush, romantic, big strings.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
You. Honestly. I have worked with the biggest names in the business but at this point I care more about you.
Can you share one music production tip?
This is the most important tip in writing and arranging for any kind of strings or orchestral instruments.
1. Divide your section (stringsection, brasssection, horn-section, woodwinds etc.) into 3 or 4 parts, ranging from low to hi. For strings this would be: 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos.
2. now treat each one of these parts as it's own instrument that has to play a melody that makes sense on it's own and doesn't jump constantly.
What type of music do you usually work on?
The styles of music that I have been fortunate to contribute to with 24violins range from all different forms of pop songs to Hip Hop, Soul, Dance, Film Music, Epic orchestral Intro's, Heavy Metal, Singer-Songwriter, Classical... pretty much anything you can think of. If you would like to hear an example of 24violins work on a track in your style just ask for it, chances are high that we've already done it.
What do you bring to a song?
If you send me your song as an mp3 and attach a Midi-File of whatever string ideas you have, I will load these into Pro Tools and split them up for the different orchestra sections; essentially, the first violins will play the highest notes, the second violins the second highest, the violas the second lowest and the cellos the lowest notes, roughly. If you just have one melody idea in your strings (even if it is just doubling the vocal lines) we will add the rest on the spot, without extra charge.
If you don't have string ideas, or a midi track, or you don't even know what MIDI is, not a problem! Just send me your mp3, that's really all I need.
What's your typical work process?
24violins is all about eliminating old antiquated processes for recording orchestral music to make it available within 24 hours and affordable for everyone. There is no conductor, no librarian and no sheet music. I am the center of the puzzle, overlooking the session as an engineer and arranger, feeding notes and instructions via Pro Tools directly to the musicians, in real-time. The recordings are being edited and finalized on the spot. Working with the newest software technology available to date makes the session fast and efficient.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I would love to tell you about all the expensive microphones, preamps and other professional tools I use to get the strings to sound the way you like them, but, honestly does it really matter? I have never been hired for the fancy equipment I use. People hire me because they like what they hear and trust me in selecting the right gear for the job.
(That being said, I always include an extra print of our reverb mix, in case you don't have access to the worlds best reverbs for orchestral music. You're welcome!)
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Inspiration goes a long way. I grew up listening particularly to non-classical orchestral music, the great big pop ballads and film scores of the 80's, 90's and 00's. Just to name a few who have influenced practically everything I do: Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), John Williams (Star Wars and many other soundtracks !), Hans Zimmer (Gladiator and many other soundtracks), James Horner (Braveheart, Titanic), George Martin (The Bealtes - Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby etc.). I absolutely adore scoring mixer Alan Meyerson and the work he does for Hans Zimmer.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
The whole idea of 24violins is to make it possible to get an incredible sounding string orchestra with 32 real strings for an affordable budget. Accessible to everyone, no advanced musical preparation needed.
I have started 24violins over 10 years ago. Now I don't always play violin myself, there are other people who are better than me. What I do is provide everything that you need to get a really good sounding real orchestra sound within a day. Over the years I have developed a system that is quicker and more efficient than a typical orchestra session. But most importantly: It is easy to do and specifically designed for pop, hiphop, rock, dance etc. music.
No elitist classical musicians who try to understand pop music. Most of my accomplishments are as a producer, engineer and mixer in pop, rock, electronic and film music, for the last 10 years, in Europe and Los Angeles.