Max "Emil" Hurlebaus
Mixing & Creative Inspiration
I'm a Bachelor degree Music Producer and Recording/Mixing Engineer with a passion for groovy music, with loads of fresh ideas and a taste that leans towards the past and the future simultaneously.
I offer mixing of single stems/voice-overs/tracks/ep's/albums, recording, editing, music production and mastering on conservatoire niveau. I've worked with singer-songwriters, rock and metal bands, jazz combo's, electronic artists, bossa nova guitarists and world music groups – always with fun and fascination for each genre. Personally my taste in music is rooted in reggae, dub, soul and electronic music.
When I work band and artist recordings, I want to bring out it's own highlights without overdrawing or adding too much artificial glamour to it. I mix with what is there and what was played when they recorded it, so that's more of a purist vision on things. Anyways, that doesn't mean I can't spice up things or add instruments and effects to make a song to be more than a recording - because when the music speaks to me, I can imagine responses that I can give to it by means of arrangement, sound, melodies, ....
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Max "Emil" Hurlebaus
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm most proud about having provided some music for the german documentary movie "KOKOLAMPY", because it was my first very official music production job. I created soundscapes and peaces of music.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm recently co-working with a new format called Rooftop Sessions in Berlin as a mixing engineer
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Unfortunately, the one mastering engineer I want to recommend is not on SoundBetter.com.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I'm working in the box for flexibility and mobility. Some day I will buy a Midas mixer and do Dub mixes forever.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will be honest but not disrespectful!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The music, the inspiration, the creative output and the contact to other musicians. Being busy with sound until the smallest details, and then zoom out again to listen to it and say "yes, it sounds great!".
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I cannot do too much "cosmetic repairs" and I am not able to make any recording sound like a chart hit. This is actually because I don't want to. I want real music.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What's the production goal? What's the deadline? What are your reference tracks? Do you trust me/know my work or do you need a review quite quickly? Can I give you feedback about the music/arrangement/recording or speak out my ideas?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: First you need someone who understands your music and is passionate about it. I think this is independent from how expensive the studio is - I noticed that some studio productions always sound the same because the engineers are running their mixing program on every incoming song. Then you need to know where you are going production-wise: Is it going to be a video clip? Live performance video? Is it for your Mom or for listeners all around the globe? Do you need someone else to be satisfied with the sound or is it for you? And the third important thing: Send ordinary files with ordinary names.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: From what I have in my studio, the first thing I would grab is my MD421 mic, that would go into the Electro Harmonix loopstation, as well as the Microkorg synth and a bass guitar and a delay pedal. I would be making dub jams on that Island all the time and die in eternal peace!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started to play bass when I was 12, taking lessons when I was 13 until 18 years old, at the same time I had my first band (ska, reggae, soul). Then I studied "MediaMusic" (music production) from 2012-2017, did a lot of recording and mixing projects at that time, made music for a documentary movie, produced an audio drama and a lot of music.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: "Alive". Meaning I take what is there in the recording and try to make that sound as good as possible, not putting too much glitter on it. I need some dirt and dynamics and character - because I find most modern productions sound flat and too tidied up.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love to work with the reggae band Groundation, because they have fantastic arrangements and a big setup with percussion and horns which I love!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Yes, I have a great tip for when you're stuck: Don't make music. For a while at least. Do something else. Take a few weeks or months break from writing/singing/playing/composing/mixing. Your creative brain will be thankful for this pause and your subconsciousness will be sucking inspiration for music out of your environment. Don't force yourself to make music. Then some day, you will grab your instrument without thinking too much, and magic will happen like the first time you touched an instrument :)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: There is no "usually" here.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Communication, I'd say. Former clients always told me that it was a pleasure working with me because I react to their requests quickly and I always give them information about what I did mix-wise when they asked for changes, so they can comprehend what I did. Since I'm musician and artists myself, I understand how sensitive it is to talk about your own music as if it was a thing or a raw material. Depending on the artist and the production goal, this can be hurting and disappointing. So I can promise you: I'm always honest but never disrespectful!
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: My creativity as a musician, my taste as a mixing engineer. If you want to get to know my "tone", visit my homepage or soundcloud account to get an impression!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: After a first listening impression I organize the session and start to do editing when needed. Ideally I don't start with the mix at all, but do the mixing in my head prior to the actual work. That gives me a kind of map of the mixing process that I can work with. Then at first I want to get the groove and the timing right - levels and balance are not the thing that I work on immediately, because they tend to change all the time through the mixing process. While listening to the song there are usually some instruments or sounds where I instantly know what I'm gonna do to them. In general, for me it's first "fixing and repairing" and then "colour and taste". When everything has its place and sound and the mix has its own dynamic and progression, or when I can't think of something else that needs a fix, I will send it to the customer for a first review. But only if I'm sure where to take the mix - in cases where I don't, I will make a sketch and send it to the client asking "is this going to the right direction"? For me it's important that the customer knows everything he needs and wants to know (that means I also know what is unnecessary information for her/him) and that the communication is clear, honest and respectful.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: For mixing I'm working mainly in the box (Logic Pro 9). For monitoring I use the JBL LSR 305 and some cheaper Samson A6, and I know both of them for a long time now. When it comes to production, I use my musical toys and processing gear such as the loopstation EHX 45000, RNC 1773 compressor, ART Tube Preamp and optical compressor, Synthesizers, Samplers, Drum machines and delay effects.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Mixing Engineer Andrew Scheps is a big inspiration for me regarding mixing philosophy, and also Ian Shepherd's insights about mastering impressed and influenced me.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The most common type of work I do are pure mixing jobs, but I also get consulted for arrangement issues.