I record and mix music played on live instruments. I play bass, guitar, piano and sing, and have some experience in helping vocalists free up their voice.
I work with bands here in Haarlem Music City, and help singer-songerwriters put together recording projects. I think a big part of a producers job is making sure the best possible music gets made on time and within budget.
Studios certainly have their place. I prefer improvised recording spaces, though. I have my own recording equipment and enjoy getting interesting and unique sounds in places with character. Old country homes, barns, houses. I read that the first Interpol album was made in a former childrens psych unit. You can hear it, I think. Maybe its just my imagination.
I mix music as music first rather than audio. I listen really carefully for the life in the song and do my best to free it. I mix in Samplitude which has the best plug ins I have ever heard. They are like the Donald Trump of plug in sets. The best! ("Other plug in sets, total losers! Sad!") Still, my approach is dictated by the music you give me and what it says, not by any gadget-of-the-month.
I am getting started in a new town and with a new business, so I'm pricing myself lower than I should be, just for the summer. I'm great value for money, if I may say so!
So, hit me up if you have (A) a record that needs to be mixed with some soul in it (B) want to record here in Haarlem (C) a cool house in the country and want me to record your band there.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Mishal Zeera
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Neither. Both. Doesn't matter. Retro is cool but you have to respect the psychology involved too. A lot of the time you can cut a bit of highs and its exactly what people are looking for. A lot of the time. Not always. Maybe our ears get a bit tired of everything being so bright all the time. I don't like that "everything-bright" sound myself.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recorded a band called Straylings in a country house in England over the summer of 2010. We had originally booked to go into a local studio, but we didn't like the feel of the place. We ended up using this house that had the most incredible sounding front hall. We got some great performances, guitar tones and atmospheres. I think of it as a real accomplishment because every time I hear the record, I go right back in time.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Becoming obsessed with wonderful, live musical moments that are unique to a particular recording.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "Can you compress it and make it sound awesome?" I don't know why, but compression has suddenly become cool to people who arent audio folks. The answer is, "Yes, I can." Naturally. And, I will! Although, having said that, I loathe too much compression or compression without any sensitivity to attack and release artifacts.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That the entirety of the sound is up to me. Really, your instruments, how you set them, how you play them, how you sing - that all comes first. What mic I use is not going to make or break the music, but that stuff will.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: If its a mix project, some references to songs they like the sound of. Something that helps me get into their head a bit. If its a recording project, how many people and what they are playing, in detail.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Pick out a couple of records you really dig, and talk music with me or whoever. You can tell a lot, right away, whether you click where it matters.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: A long time - since I was a kid. Recording for twenty years, mostly my own music. People kept asking me to help with theirs, so thats how I got into it.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Really, the next guy or girl I record. I like to stay in the moment and am by nature very curious. Some of the best musicians I know are totally unknown people.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A really kick ass spoken word rocknroll thing. Very gutsy, live - makes you want to dance. Also, a very sensitive American singer songwriter. Also, a 15 yo kid who makes some pretty raw punk music.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not sure yet.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I do my best, that their best efforts will be brought to light.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A very good old Epiphone Emperor archtop, a Nord C2 organ, a piano, something to record myself singing with that I can add reverb on, a Prophet synth.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Transparent but deeply involved. Careful, careful balance between rawness/spirit and professionalism/audiophile considerations.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Speak your mind but be true to your friends.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Generally, music that can be performed live on physical instruments. Everything from hysterically aggressive punk to very delicate singer-songwriters. I would love to work on more hip hop, so if you're a hip hop artist who wants to make it happen with live instruments, I would be especially into hearing from you.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Helping dissolve the barriers to good music being made right there on the spot.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Passion and determination that the good in it comes out.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: To free myself from the technology trap and think like a musician who is using the tools available. In practise, that means I always adapt to the situation as necessary, and not get hung up on what worked in the past.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Motu 828 interface, Audient pres, TLA/Summit/Grace pres, SM 7B, TLM103, Beyer M88, AEA R84, a bunch of 57s and 58s, oddball mics, Logic and Samplitude.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I like the older generation, Geoff Emerick and Glyn Johns. They had such dignified careers. I can't imagine them tangled up in XLR cables, sweating in panic as they tried to figure out whether a ribbon mic had just blown or the preamp died.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Help with arrangements, instruments and performances, especially good with vocalists. Making sure they get the record they want within their budget. Recording, mixing.