What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What are you trying to achieve with this production? Is there a certain story behind it, or some special background info that I should be aware of? Who will be the audience? Which medium is this being produced for? Who is in charge of making creative/artistic decisions (is there a producer/are you the producer/do you want me to (co-)produce)? What is your budget? When is your deadline?
Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
In 2016 I worked on a record as a recording engineer, mixer and mastering engineer. So I was really involved all the time. The singer of the band produced it very creatively and made me rethink a lot of things. I got a whole new perspective on the recording and mixing process. We made decisions I would never have made alone, we tried out really unconventional techniques and some strange makeshift instruments. And we didn't use reference tracks at all, nor did we even care about what labels or the band's audience will think of the results.
And now in the beginning of 2017, shortly after finishing the record, the band got an amazing record deal with one of Germany's biggest independent labels. Without even asking for it. They got recommended by someone, the people at the label listened to the record, absolutely loved it and signed them on the same day. Can't wait for the release date! As soon as it's out, I will of course update that answer with band and record details. ;-)
What are you working on at the moment?
Being the best engineer I can be. Finding authentic artists and exciting music. Always.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Of course! Alex Adelhardt, Jan Kerscher, GKG Mastering, just to name a few. Pretty sure there are more great engineers I know here at SB.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Q: How long does it take you to produce/mix a song? A: On most projects 1-2 days for recording + editing and about a day for mixing.
Q: Do you prefer getting DAW-sessions or exported WAV-multitracks for mixing projects? A: WAV-multitracks. Because I can work quicker if I import the files to my mix template and use my preferred routing, groups, VCAs, etc.
Q: Should we print effects, track with EQ and compression, etc. or should we just try to get good, clean, dry signals? A: If it sounds good, it is good. There are no hard rules. If you like the sound of a certain effect and you want it to be part of the production - record it! Just make everything sound as good as you can from the beginning, no matter what it takes. If you're not sure about a certain effect or how it will fit in the mix, record one track with all the stuff on it and an additional dry one for safety. Done.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started recording my own bands and bands of friends when I was about 16 years old. After a little while, people began to pay me for it and when I left school I already had a lot of local clients and a small home studio. I had a day job for about a year after school and then went to college to study "media technology". But as more and more people started to book me for their recording and mixing projects, I decided to drop out of college and go full-time in 2012. So, basically I am self-tought and have been spending as much time as I could learning, reading and of course practicing since about 2004.
How would you describe your style?
I always try to serve the song. Of course I have a personal taste but I try not to impart that too much unless I am asked to. The goal is always to understand the artist's/producer's intention and make the song sound as good as possible, while retaining it's unique character.
Can you share one music production tip?
Gear is just tools. Learn as much as you can about it and use it carefuly! Understanding how your tools work, what they can do, and when to use them gets you way further than purchasing new gear. In the end you shouldn't have to think about it too much. Just move quickly and intuitively.
What's your strongest skill?
I'd say my keen sense of hearing, feeling and understanding the music as well as the client's and/or artist's intention. I can adapt to different situations very quickly, which enables me to make the right decisions and to deal with almost any kind of material pretty confidently.
What do you bring to a song?
The least I can bring to a song is an enhancement of it's original vibe, making it sound just like the artist intended it, but "better".
Depending on the material and the client's idea behind it I can make things sound punchier, deeper, wider, bigger, fatter, warmer, more Hi-Fi, dirtier, more "vintage" sounding, whatever suits your song or record.
And of course I can get creative and try to improve your arrangement, composition or performance, if you want me to and let me do this.
Analog or digital and why?
Both. Depending on the desired workflow and results you have to decide what is best for you. After all, it's just tools.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise that I will always do the best I can to satisfy my clients and to help them reach their goals with their music. And I will always respect their art, be aware of what their music means to them and therefore try to serve their songs.
What do you like most about your job?
I make records and work with amazing artists full-time. What's not to like about that?
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
The one I can make the best possible record with.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I think, that the most important parts of any setup are your brain and ears, but in the right hands good gear can definitely make a difference. So here you go:
I'm running a hybrid setup, meaning I use the best of both the analog and the digital domain. I work on a Mac Pro with Cubase and mix with both plugins and outboard gear. AD/DA conversion is performed by an Antelope Audio Orion 32 that is connected via MADI to a RME HDSPe FX PCIe interface. For monitoring I use a pair of ADAM A77X, various smaller systems and quality headphones.
I use microphones by: Neumann, Shure, AKG, Sennheiser, Heil Sound, Audix, Oktava, sE Electronics, amm...
I use preamps by: Lake People, SSL, Thermionic Culture, Warm Audio, Presonus
I use outboard gear by: Thermionic Culture, Empirical Labs, Tegeler Audio Manufaktur, ART, Warm Audio
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Inspiring artists: Converge, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, Have Heart, Kurt Ballou, Greg Bennick, Dave Grohl, Fugazi, Nirvana, Audioslave, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters and many many more...
Inspiring producers/engineers: Kurt Ballou, Steve Albini, Chris Lord-Alge, Butch Vig, Jay Maas, Andrew Scheps, amm...
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
The biggest misconception is to think that I can make poorly recorded tracks or crappy performances sound just as awesome as (insert band name here). I can improve almost everything, but it always takes a good song, performed by a good musician, recorded carefully to really produce something great that will get the listeners attention. We're engineers and artists, not magicians!
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Listen to their work and, just as important, find someone you trust and who you think is easy and fun to work with. The connection and communication between the artist and the engineer can make or break a production experience.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Neumann U87, Thermionic Culture Rooster, Empirical Labs Distressor, a Computer with Cubase, any good converter
What type of music do you usually work on?
I do a lot of band-based projects with real, acoustic instruments. I don't do edm, house, techno, dubstep and stuff like that very often.
My favourite genres: Heavy music (Hardcore, Punk, Metal, Stoner, etc.), all kinds of Rock music
What's your typical work process?
First I talk to the client and try to find out as much as I can about his/her intention, talent, budget and expectations. Then I calculate the time and effort necessary to satisfy the client and deliver the best results possible. I'm always willing to assist and coach the client before the actual session to help him/her get the best out of his/her abilities and make the session a more relaxed and fun experience, leading to better results.
When the actual tracking-/mixing-/whatever-session starts, I don't follow a certain plan, but will try to make the right decisions and use the right gear and techniques for each project individually.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Most of the time tracking and mixing. Sometimes "just" engineering, sometimes also creative producing. I work in my own studio as well as in other studios, whatever place is best for the tracking/mixing sessions and the clients budget.