10 years of production experience, nearly 20 years of instrumentalist experience. I have my own releases on Youtube Labels pushing 1 million listens. I enjoy producing (and listening to) all- genres but am geared toward Electronic music, Rap/HipHop, and Rock/Metal if you are seeking a specialist with an acquired taste in one of those genres.
I have been playing guitar, bass, and drums for nearly 20 years. I have been writing and producing my own Electronic Music (Dubstep/Drum & Bass/Atmospheric Electronic/Rap and Hip Hop Instrumentals-Sampling)and Rock/Metal for 10 years and have released music on certain YouTube distribution labels with some songs reaching nearly 1 million plays.
I like to keep a simple toolbox and use mostly Izotope Suite products along with Waves Audio for some specific coloring plugins. Synth plugins such as Nexus, Massive, Serum, and Rob Papen Plugins, for instrumentation. I use Addictive Drums and/or Toontrack when I want realistic drum programming.
I primarily do mixing and mastering but I can help with tracking/arrangement/general production if my taste and skills fit your ideals for your project. I am very analytical with production and will work with you directly to give and receive feedback so we can come up with a perfect mix and master for your project. I can give input and help you with distribution and building a following as well if needed. I also do graphic design and motion graphics and can produce album art and YouTube animations for your songs as well.
Send me a note through the contact button above.
Interview with Andrew Zuli aka Zulishanti
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The project that I'm most proud of is one of my own releases actually. I arranged, designed, and wrote a song, mixed and mastered, and distributed it myself and it has near 1 million views on Youtube, a few tens of thousands on soundcloud, and a couple hundred on other people's pages/YouTube Channels that loved the song enough to share it themselves. I'm proud because it was the first time I proved to myself that something I created could be so well loved, and produced to a standard of quality that would be impossible to pick out from a sea of commercial music. I am looking forward to having things in my future that I'm even more proud of, hopefully this website can be the first step towards this goal.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: This interview! -A Rap song -A Piano+Vocal Cover -Something that I called "Future Bass/Funk/Avant Garde" -A few submissions that will be opened first thing in the morning.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not yet!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Yikes, hmm, pros and cons; Analog Pro: gets you out of the screen and into your ears, which is the correct spot for an engineer. Con: expensive and takes up physical space Digital Pro: it's 2021 and the differences are so hard to tell, analog has a je ne sais quoi, but digital has it's own form of that as well. It's not the 90s anymore, digital isn't as 16Bit as the word digital makes people feel. Con: have to redirect focus to listening instead of reading meters
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We will get something that you're thrilled about. "Okay" is not good enough. I want you ECSTATIC.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Meeting, helping, and connecting with people. I also love to take something and improve it. I am a Virgo after all, if you're into astrology, that's your sign (pun intended). I would want a Virgo mixing and mastering my music!!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How long have you been producing? -10 years, I go a bit more in depth but I did that above What made you decide to do this? -Having learned for myself, and realizing that I can help others. What kind of music does my music sound like? -I try to name any relations I can make, but I remind them that it's their soul, to produce the music that they like, and to KEEP doing what they're doing, because they're great at it.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I'm not even sure, I guess it's that we're superhumans and that it's impossible to ever be as good as us. I told a client recently, I never thought I could do it either. I just learned bit by tiny bit, made a lot of mistakes, and before I knew it- I looked back on a mountain of knowledge.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: How long have you been playing X instrument, what are some of your favorite artists, --how is your day going-- The list could go on and on. Figure out their goals and make a connection.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Find someone who you connect with, we're all very skilled but I think the best work is done when the artist and producer have a connection or a spark.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: HA; A Flint A Hatchet A Tarp 50 Feet of Paracord A Fishing Rod
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I had no career path. I always did music for fun, and was depressed to be writing songs on my guitar alone in my bedroom, so I picked up electronic music because it allowed me to "put pen to paper" and create something tangible. I started producing my own music and learning to mix and master at roughly age 18, I am 28 now (as of 2021) and have come to the point where I realize my true skill lies in my ability to connect with people, and it just so happens that I have an arsenal of production knowledge to help people achieve their musical dreams.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Ha, this is probably the 3rd or 4th time; My style is Transparent, Controlled, and Powerful.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: My heart warms at the thought of literally any artist that comes to mind right now. Musicians (and artists) in general are beautiful people, even (and maybe even especially) the most broken ones.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Do less. Take the change you were going to make and do 50% of it. It will help you create more transparent mixes. Learn WHEN and WHERE to apply heavy changes to maintain control of the audio.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on all types of music. The most common thing I have sent to me, however, is probably Solo-Vocal performances, either on top of rap instrumentals, or with artists instrumental performance (Piano), or alongside the artists electronic sound design.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I love working with people to help their dreams come true. I love imagining their smile as they give me feedback about how great their song sounds when I'm done. My strongest skill is my communication and ability to build a relationship with the client, and this is not to overshadow my technical abilities. My strongest -technical- skill, is my ability to create transparent, controlled, and powerful mixes, as I mentioned in an above section (or two).
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring experience, and if I don't have the experience, I bring an open channel for the artist's creativity. I try to mix and master as transparent as possible to let their work shine. I bring wisdom, conversations about music and even life. I bring tips for the artist to improve their own productions, esoteric AND literal. I give mixing advice, I give plugin suggestions. I listen, to the artist, and to the music. I make a connection between their artwork and their soul, and I feed that connection.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Listen to the client's demo first, then get to know the client and their goals. I ask questions about how long they've been writing/performing. I ask what some of their favorite music is. I get a shape of what their goals are and how they make their niche in their creation of their art. I get comfortable with them and hope to get them comfortable with me. This process alone is almost more vital than the engineering work itself. This opens up wide and clear avenues for feedback and reciprocation later on in the production process. I let them know my expectations and figure out what theirs are. Then we get down to the nitty gritty. I tailor every mix and master to the vibe of the music. I always strive to be as transparent with processing as possible, but sometimes I make processing decisions that emphasize the vibe of the song. First I'll organize the tracks of course. I then make all "surgical" adjustments; gain staging, proper bussing, dynamic control, and low frequency cuts. Then I go back and do a thorough gain staging, which includes some comping, routing, some compression, some direct audio edits such as fades. I then go through once more and make sure all coinciding tracks complement each other instead of competing. I make sure every part, or group of tracks, are clear to the listener and have their proper space in the dimensions of Stereo Image/Volume, Modulation, and Duration. Finally I go through and essentially "Master" each group, Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Synths. All coinciding and complementary tracks are treated as a bus to promote cohesion in the final track. Only then do I finally do the mastering. The EQ Curve is adjusted to represent reference tracks of similar genres and loudness measures. In some case I'll apply a mild saturation to the mid and upper bands to further promote cohesion, so that the separate tracks sound as if they're coming thru the same "membrane" or that they're all the same "brand". In MOST cases, I'll apply saturation to the -clean- low frequencies to promote audibility on small speakers such as cell phones and laptop speakers. And absolutely finally, as far as the engineering goes, I adjust the final limiter to reach appropriate commercial loudness standards for that genre (or similar genres). --I present the final to the client for feedback. I tell them how I personally feel about it, any changes they could make to help me improve it, and most importantly, to ask for their input and suggestions or direction for their goals. This part, and the first part of my work process, are EXTREMELY important to my workflow, and to the final product.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I am 100% in the box but WILL OWN at least some rendition of a UA LA-2A at some point in my life, which will surely be a slippery slope into a lot more spending on other must-have hardware. I use Yamaha HS8 monitors and Akai Studio Heaphones. My go to swiss army knife is Izotope. Izotope is extremely well renowned in the -modern- music production ecosystem. I use Neutron 2 and Ozone 5 Dynamics, Imager, and Equalizer on almost every track. I also use the Ozone 9 Suite Plugin for their EQ curve referencing, dynamic EQ, and mostly their SUPERPOWERED Limiter. And their Exciter Plugin's Warmth-mode has been unmatched by any saturation I've used to date. I love the power of Izotope's Multiband capabilities, and I treasure them in my strides to make transparent, controlled, and powerful mixes and masters. I recommend them to anyone and everyone who dabbles or is fluent in audio engineering/production. I also use Waves suite, specifically for their API emulations, their LA2 and LA3 plugins, their puigtec emulations, and SSL emulations. I use Native Instruments Massive and Serum for pure sound design, from white noise, to clean sub bass. I use Nexus for atmospheric synths but mainly for their gorgeous strings, piano, brass, and vocal chorus emulations. I also use Rob Papen Blade and Predator for atmospheric pads as well. Finally, I use Toontrack and lately, AddictiveDrums for when I want realistic, quality drum programming.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: TOO MANY TO LIST! Kaskade DENM Above & Beyond Nappy Roots Camo & Krooked Slightly Stoopid Busta Rhymes Wilkinson Linkin Park Tantrum Desire K.O.A.N. Sound Rise Against Zion I John Butler Trio Deadmau5 Children of Bodom Rammstein Zero 7 Sia The XX Big Wild Rebelution Stick Figure Bright Eyes Phoenix Pendulum Avenged Sevenfold Soilwork Feed Me Sub Focus Araabmuzik Dr. Dre Tribe Gramatik Sevendust Wu-Tang NERO Aesop Rock Incubus Periphery Eminem Chevelle Noisia Trivium Korn A Perfect Circle Skrillex Atreyu Mobb Deep Red Hot Chili Peppers FC Kahuna Killswitch Engage Groove Armada Deftones Miike Snow All That Remains Atmosphere The Neighbourhood Slipknot Peter Bjorn and John Matrix & Futurebound Warren G K.Flay CunninLynguists Logistics Bitter:Sweet Yeah Yeah Yeahs Staind Kanye West Common Souls of Mischief Dimension Pharcyde Blackalicious Sir Sly Erick Sermon Robert Delong 10 Years The Strokes Revivalists Empire of the Sun Big Data Sneaker Pimps Arctic Monkeys Foo Fighters Thievery Corporation Two Door Cinema Club Gorillaz M83 Bring Me The Horizon Armor for Sleep In Flames Netsky Living Legends Afro Celt Sound System Tears For Fears Knife Party STS9 Tool Breaking Benjamin Ronald Jenkees Taken from my Pandora-Thumbprint Radio because I could truly never list them all, and the list would go on.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I do all facets of production. Some recent examples are: -Adjusting Vocals or other instruments to sync better with tempo -Processing Dynamics, Stereo Width, and EQ on all tracks -Routing tracks to proper busses for group treatment and consistency between tracks before final mixing and mastering, including proper gain staging -Modifying song arrangements -Using effects processing in a Musical way to emphasize or accompany the artistic goals -Mastering final audio to genre correct loudness standards (LUFs/RMS) and file type/format/quality -Giving and taking feedback to most accurately accomplish the artist's goals (LOTS of back and forth conversation, I like to get to know my clients!)