I am an award winning Premier Mix Engineer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I've been mixing music for the past 12 years, both in and out of the box. I love being creative with my mixes, and my aim is to bring a simple, clean and creative flair to your music to help it stand out above the rest!
I'm very specific in the tools that I use, and I have an extensive knowledge of the different tones and colors of most analogue and software gear in common use today...which I believe is which is what sets apart top-drawer mix engineers from template junkies. I mix mainly off either an SSL Duality SE console or an SSL AWS 948 console with an array of outboard gear; but I also have access to a Harrisson 32/32 console for mixes requiring a different tone.
My mix philosophy is driven by the statement 'simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.' So I stay away from overly complicating things; I've done away with convention and always aim to use what ever tool sounds best in a mix, not necessarily what is commonly used or believed to be effective.
I also have a keen interest in producing and arranging vocals...generally anything to do with creating music :)
Oh and I love donuts.
Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Riffi Wacho
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: One project I'm really proud of was Ngwana Te off The Muffinz sophomore album. I had always wanted to work with one of my idols, Oliver Mtukudzi, so to mix that record meant a lot to me and I enjoyed every single bit of it!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: At the moment I'm working on a few projects, including MY album (super excited)...some PJ Powers, Zakes Bantwini and a few other mixes here and there.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm still new in these SoundBetter streets! Give me some time and I'll have some recommendations.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. (but Analog > Digital) Analog because the only people who choose digital over analog are the people who've never worked in analog. There's not a shadow of doubt that volts and bolts are better than ones and zeros. Digital because we're not living in the stone ages...there are some cool stuff you can only do in the digital domain. But 'Yay Analog!'
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love taking elements of a sound and merging it together into a cohesive unit. Kinda like building a car using all the different components that work together to produce this BEAST!
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception is that I can make a poorly recorded or performed track sound AMAZING. No. It has to be performed and recorded well for me to take it to the next level...there really isn't a big red button labelled 'Make Dope' that I press and voila!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been a mixing engineer and also a recording artist for the past 13 years. It started out in school, in class on a Pentium3 laptop and Fruity Loops and just built on experience from there...eventually getting my first Mac in 2008 and moving over to a more professional studio that year.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is New Age-Old School (give it some time, it'll make sense hehehehe)
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: There are a few I'd love to work with but top of my list right now is Jon Bellion...simply because his creativity BLOWS MY FREGGEN' MIND!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: It's very important to watch how you mic an instrument or vocal. Mic placement obviously affects the spectrum of sound that the mic picks up...which in turn has varying effects on the sound of the recorded instrument/vocal. In some cases I've gone on to do very minimal EQing on a drum kit in the mix simply because the pics were placed well enough in the recording, which for me is a win because the kit sound most natural with less done to it.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Typically I work on acoustic music and vocal a'cappella music, simply because most of my clients come from that sphere BUT I do mix electronic music as well to just the same level of quality. Music is music to me :)
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My strongest skill is being able to pay attention to the client's needs and to think outside the mental box that most engineers are put into by the advent of 'presets' and 'all encompassing plugins.' Every mix is built from scratch, without the use of any templates or preset structures and in consultation with the client...so every mix gets a fresh perspective. That's what has enabled me to pump out quality mix after quality mix.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring a fresh perspective to mixing...I always believe in being simple and straight to the point in achieving the desired sound, all the while pursuing excellence in what I do. I pay great attention to detail, and my vast knowledge of sonic principles enables me to effectively (and quickly) get the sound to the point of excellence.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When mixing I first get a brief and reference track from the client, and determine if it is possible to get the sound that they want (most times it is, depends on the quality of the recording). Upon agreeing to terms and conditions we get cracking and typically a mix will take 1-2 days per track...then the process normally ends with a series of revisions (unlimited revisions if I might add) to tweak the song until the client is totally satisfied.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I mix primarily off a 72 channel SSL Duality console in studio 1, with a host of outboard gear that is floating between the 3 studios in the building...including some UA LA610s, the Millennia Origin STT-1, a few Urei 1176LNs and LA4s, Lexicon PCM96s & MX400Xs, Focusrite Red 3 Dual Compressors & Pultec EQP-1As.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm largely inspired by the work of Tony Maserati (mix engineer), Al Schmidt (mix engineer), Jacob Collier (arranger/music prodigy), Take 6 (a'cappella gurus), Jon Bellion (producer/singer) & Marcelo Pennel (mix engineer) among many others.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I mostly do mixing jobs for my clients, although in some cases it's coupled with actually recording the material first or even arranging or producing it.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise EXCELLENCE.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "Are you able to make this sound professional?" The answer to that will always be "If it was recorded and performed professionally, without a a doubt!"
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: 1. What is their desired outcome (in terms of sound and reference) 2. What is the timeline on their project (how much time do we have to work on the project) 3. How much creative freedom do we have with the mix/recording
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Look for a mix engineer well suited to your project on a song-by-song basis. If your engineer can put together the entire project alone then awesome, but most times most engineers are more suited to specific types of tracks on your project, so don't be shy to give other tracks to other engineers more suited for them.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1. Macbook 2. Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones 3. UAD Apollo Twin sound card 4. API Lunchbox with 3 mono EQs (550b) and & 2 mono compressors (560A) 5. Solar panel