Photo (c) Petri Lindroos
If Finnish Metal is your forte, Anssi Kippo needs no introduction. He has worked with artists such as Children of Bodom, Ensiferum, Disco Ensemble, Horna, Impaled Nazarene and many more. He has been working out of his legendary Astia-studio since 1994. We sat down and spoke about positive outlook on life and recording, why analog gear will reign supreme, when to call it a day in the studio and much more! Also includes a link to Astia-studio’s Youtube playlist!
1. What was the thing that got you into Music Production?
As around -93 in my hometown we had no studios, I managed to get an analog 8 track tape machine and a small mixing desk from my parents to record some songs of mine. Within few months all local bands were booking me to make demos and it was in those very first sessions when I realized that I “knew” how to improve their songs; asking them to change the tempo, have a break there and add some harmonies here etc. Soon I had so many bands coming that I had to start a company. That was like 23 years ago.
2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?
I started on analog tape machine and moved from Adat, a digital 8 track system, to computer recording. For many years we had a digital mixing console and I was very dissatisfied with actually not the sound, but feel, energy and especially how present the music was. Some 6 years ago we moved back to using old analog mixing console and there was a huge improvement not only in sound, but especially on the stuff that was missing on digital consoles. We have large format Trident Vector 432 consoles on both A and B studios. 1,5 years ago we went back to recording on analog tape and damn how great it sounded! There was the sound I had been looking for all these years. I am hoping to soon make the transition to analog sessions only.
3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?
One day definitely but not during our life time. At the moment plugins are like a Ferrari, but on a PlayStation. Sure, PlayStation is nice but it’s nothing like a real Ferrari, this hardware Ferrari.
4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?
Evolving as always. Music industry and scene have been through some pretty rough times. It’s great that bands and their fans are going back to vinyls and even c-cassettes as they deliver something that a wav file cannot. I recommend everyone to compare the sound of Spotify or any digital source to sound of vinyl. Even on the cheapest vinyl player that is not a usb version, the difference is huge.
5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?
Otari MTR-90mk2 2” 24 track analog tape machine. This might so far be my all-time favourite! Also Studer A812 1/4” stereo tape machine along with EMT-140 mono tube plate reverb from 50’s. I also have a stereo tube EMT-140 from 70’s but even after recapping I love the 50’s plate more.
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)?
Negativity. People say that bullying in school is wrong and those same people bully not only on internet. Maybe some kind of a positive-vibe machine would be more than useful.. 🙂
7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?
Go analog! Anyone can buy the plugins which are only emulating exactly like a Real Doll, even though tempting and so human-like, but it is still an emulation and pretty far from the real thing.. Go analog and learn the true art of recording and mixing.
8. While recording/mixing, when do you say “let’s call it a day” and what kind of after-hours activity would you recommend for bands/engineers to ensure that the next days session will also be successful?
I used to work 16 hours on daily basis and month after month without any days off. We used to party all night long and got some pretty awesome albums done. Nowadays we work as long as everyone is enjoying and call it a day when we feel like it. Along the years if I’ve learnt something that would be that enjoyment and excitement are part of how music sounds. No-one wants to listen a tired musician unless if that’s what the song is about. Keeping up great mood is an important part of music producer’s daily job. Thank you very much and I wish you a wonderful spring time! 🙂