Coffee Break Club: Ermin Hamidovic

Coffee Break Club: Ermin Hamidovic

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Ermin Hamidovic, also known as Ermz is a recording/mixing/mastering engineer based in Melbourne, Australia who has worked with such bands as Animals As Leaders, Devin Townsend Project, Periphery, Feared etc.
He has also written a great book called “The Systematic Mixing Guide”. Check out Systematic Productions here. We talked about analog vs digital, current state of music production, memes, why weekends are kinda difficult for audio engineers, lack of sleep etc. Get your cup of Dunkin and go read:

1. What was the thing that got you into Music Production?

I was in some IT class in high school, and while finding the most effective ways to waste time on the internet I stumbled upon an ultimatemetal.com forum called the ‘Andy Sneap Board’. I had no idea who he was at the time, but I was having some troubles getting my guitar tones sounding good back at home, so I delved in. That basically began the life-long journey into this profession.

2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?

There’s a place for both. As with most things in life, the truth is often somewhere in the middle. There’s not much point in being a purist for either platform, when hybridizing and using both for their respective strengths is going to give you the best results.

3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?

In many ways it already has. There are a great many things you can do in the digital realm that you can’t with hardware. People are too caught up on *emulating* hardware with digital that they often forget to capitalize on the platform’s own inherent strengths. When it comes to the emulation end of things, we still have a long way to go in many respects, and it’s why many of us keep an arsenal of outboard gear and guitar amps on hand for the things that we can’t quite do with digital yet.

4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?

There are a lot of different aspects to touch on there, but the most relevant might be the ever-increasing home studio market playing a role in high-end productions. One of the biggest issues I experience as an engineer lies in bands recording their own material. My role as a mix engineer often becomes that much more difficult when I’m being sent tracks by people who aren’t familiar with recording techniques, don’t know how to maintain consistency across sessions or simply don’t have the gear or environment to record music at the level they’re aspiring to present it at the end. My goal is to bridge this gap with another book – this time focused on the art of recording – but you’re never going to completely encapsulate years of practical experience and transfer it to someone who doesn’t pursue the art for a living. We need to bring holistic quality control back into the process, and the only real way I can see that happening is if the music industry bends with the times and contorts some way of making music profitable again, so that it’s actually viable for artists to work with a producer from the ground up.

5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?

I’m a dinosaur on this topic. I stopped keeping up to date with gear years ago. I found a lot more came from investing my time in refining the way I used the gear I had, instead of continually searching for a new ‘magic bullet’ for my mixes. That being said, in terms of newer releases, Pro-Q 2 has got to be the most utilitarian plug-in out there. It’s by far the single most used plug-in across any of my sessions, and as far as I’m aware is the best all-round digital EQ that’s been made to this point.

6. Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?

If they could make a plug-in to fix bad guitar playing technique, that would just about improve my life tenfold. As anyone who specializes in metal knows, one of the very hardest things to do is derive power and clarity from distorted guitars – not to mention attempting to get solid bottom end and mid presence from bass guitar. Without the raw ingredients of a good performance we’re screwed from the outset, so if they somehow found a way to mute errant string noise, tighten up chords, improve intonation and increase strumming power our lives would be immeasurably easier, because very few people out there understand the level you need to perform at for a world-class release.

7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?

Be prolific. Nobody is going to hand you anything on a plate. Identify holes in the market and attempt to plug them with your approach. Offer people something that nobody else does, and they’ll have no choice but to work with you. Make it more expensive for them *not* to work with you than the converse.

8. We’ve all seen the meme “this is what I think we do/what my friends think I do” but what’s actually the
most common illusion about audio production amongst engineers and non-engineers, or is that meme right on the money?

Something that’s hard to encapsulate in a meme is the years of 12+ hour sessions, skipping sleep to meet delivery deadlines across the world in different time zones, making sacrifices with your friends, relationships and life in general to elicit a full-fledged career in this industry. It’s healthy to have a sense of humor about it, but I think a lot of the things we have to do in order to create and sustain a career in a profession of love and passion like this is downright tragic. Probably less tragic than your average 9-5 in the grand scheme of things, but it doesn’t change the fact that the average person won’t understand why you’re not available on weekends, or you’ve woken up at 2pm and are running a session until 6 the next morning. The memes that show the engineer as overworked, and underslept are generally on the money!

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