This week we have an exclusive interview with Adam Zwiazek from Mavooi Studio. Adam is a producer and audio engineer based in Belgium with Polish roots. Name a synth, and it’s in his collection.
Hi Adam, please introduce yourself and your studio!
My name is Adam Zwiazek "MAVOOI". I was born in Poland, but I live in Belgium for over 18 years. As you can see in the pictures, I'm a synthesiser freak :) I’ve managed to transform a small home studio and create a professionally equipped production studio. Over the years I’ve assembled a quite big collection of synthesisers, drum machines and sound processors. I'm composing and producing mostly POP music for artists from all over the world. 90% of the time it’s online cooperation with others. My part is the production process, and the mixing process (sometimes mastering ), and the artist’s role is to provide quality vocals.
How did you get into the music industry?
I was always interested in music and synthesisers. About 20 years ago I started composing on my first workstation a Yamaha EX5 with built-in sequencer and FX. Then around 2002, I discovered Cubase, and I already knew what I wanted to do in my life. I began to learn the secrets of music production and audio engineering. Over the years I created hundreds if not thousands of demos, and I came to quality, which began to attract professional artists. Over the last few years, things have been getting better. I met some interesting people from the music industry. At the moment, I work more and more for artists who signed Record Deals with Major Labels. Last year I also started to produce for a few artists from my home country - Poland.
How long did it take to build a studio like this?
Many years. I started my collection with one synthesiser/workstation Yamaha EX5. Then I bought a Roland JP8000, microKORG, and then there more and more. It took me about 15 years. For several years, I’ve been gradually moving from virtual processors to hardware effects. Extending and updating the studio is a continuous process.
What is your favourite software?
I'm using Cubase Pro 9.5. I've been using Cubase since version 3. I know it so good that I don't plan on switching to something else. It's great for audio and perfect for MIDI. I also use a few Steinberg plugins, the Halion 5, The Grand 3, which are Steinberg's pianos. My favourite VST instrument is probably the Omnisphere 2. I also use some NI Kontakt Instruments: Exhale, Strummed Acoustic 2.
As for the effects, I'm using UAD2 Quad accelerator with dozens of plugins. Shadow Hills, Manley, Lexicon, Pultec, Precision Series. On top of that Waves DIAMOND bundle, SoundToys, FabFilter Pro-Q2, D16 Silverline collection.
I’m trying not to spoil the DAW and keep only the plug-ins that I really need to use.
What is your favourite hardware?
I like my older synths – the Roland Juno-106, Roland JX-10, Korg Polysix. I just replaced my old Roland D-550 with the new D-05, and I'm delighted with his sound. There’s something that attracts me to the older synths, and I use them more often than the modern ones. I recently bought my first Minimoog Model D (Reissue). It sounded so good to me that I bought one more :) I really like them all, but some of them I use less often.
For effects and processors, my favourite is a Strymon BigSky. Great reverbs for everything. I have some great compressors. 2 clones of the legendary SSL compressor. Elysia Xpressor, Warm Audio WA76 which are the clones of the legendary 1176. As for the EQ - Bettermaker EQ 232P MKII. 100% analogue EQ with full digital control and integration with DAW (BTW it's Polish). On top of that Pultec clones from Warm Audio.
I like my dual Sherman Filterbank 2s and Electrix Filter Factory for interesting and often extreme effects. I'm in love with Elektron Analog Heat.
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Why did you choose to focus on the production part?
These are the things that give me the greatest pleasure. I love the whole process of production, sound selection, creating the climax of a story, creating a groove. I also like the technical side of production which is the choice of effects and mixing. Although often, artists are also satisfied with my masters.
How do you approach the process of a production and mix? Are there certain steps that you follow?
Every song is different. In my case mostly everything happens at the same time. I start to mix when I'm adding new sounds and melodies to the song. I'm quite impatient, and I like to hear how the song will sound after the final mix. Therefore, often during the composing, I set some effects on the master bus. I also try to compare between the versions with and without master effects. Sometimes the idea comes from some interesting sound of my synths, sometimes from the rhythm or the artist's demos. I have no permanent and unique way to mix and produce. I try to do what I feel the song need. I like to listen to productions which are better than mine (In my opinion) It always inspires me and gives me new ideas.
What is the most common mistake in an amateur production and mix?
Too much information in one song. You have to make decisions and choices. I often hear songs that are overdone. Less is more! The same for the mix.
Poorly chosen effects and use EQ and compression in a casual way.
Do you have any tips for engineers that are just starting out?
There is no shortcut. If you want to be good, then you have to sacrifice thousands of hours. Even your worst demo can teach you something new and lead you to your goal. I have hundreds of shitty demos that I would not dare to show to anyone, but they allowed me to make some habits and learn a lot about production and mixing. Do not give up and be patient. Earlier or later it will pay off.
If you want more information regarding production – let us know. Also, have a look at the website of Adam