Niklas Neumann is a mixing and mastering engineer from Berlin, Germany.
Engineers have a major role in the creating process. We don’t always mention them but they’re as important as anyone else. We wouldn’t get to listen to those great quality records if it wasn’t for them.
One thing I admire and respect about people in this industry is: the work ethic. I got the opportunity to work with Niklas on a recent project and I can tell he has this quality. He is obviously great at what he does, but he also really cares about the artists and the visions they have for their records. Being an engineer takes a lot of work and patience. At the end of the day, their job is to find the best way to bring the artist’s creation to the best form they can, and I think Niklas does this job perfectly.
Niklas Neumann recently worked on recent projects with German hip hop artists such as Generation Azzlack, Cashmo, Sylabil Spill, the German artist/producer Kolja Dominiak, as well as the r&b English singer/songwriter James Robb.
Introduce yourself. Name, age. Where are you from?
Hi, my name is Niklas Neumann, 25 years old. I am a Mixing and Mastering Engineer based in Berlin.
When did you start getting involved in music?
As with most, everything started with the wish that I wanted to make music myself. I think I was 13 years old and this was the start of my journey…
When did you know you wanted to work in the music industry?
I have tried so many professions, started trainings and canceled soon after. I think I have worked in 6 different branches. On top of that, I always had the dream to make money with music, but I had no Idea how to fulfill it. Then I met Lex Barkey and so my path was paved.
What did you grow up listening to?
The first songs that have really remained in my memory were those by Falco. After that there is German gangster rap, that’s where I’m from!
When and how did you start mixing/mastering? Why did you pick this specific field?
My best friends and I already made music ourselves 12 years ago. We have recorded many songs and at some point I wanted it all to sound better. I started to read and to do research and have tried to implement a few tips. In fact, the sound was better but still far from where I wanted it to be. From this point I was so fascinated by the infinite possibilities that I used my leisure time almost exclusively for learning. I do not know how many hours I have spent just reading at night in front of my Mac Book, but it must behundreds.
Could you describe your work process? What equipments do you use?What plug ins do you use? Any favourites?
I am currently working in the digital domain only. Right now, I try a lot because there a tons of analog outboard that I can work with. My workflow is simple but effective and yet far too extensive to describe it here briefly.
Considering plug ins, I love to use those from Slate Digital and Universal Audio. Their emulations are incredible!
What’s the hardest thing about this job? What do you like the most about it?
I think the most difficult thing is that days are never ending. You always have to be reachable and reliable no matter whether your mobile phone rings in the morning or at night. Maybe this is just my personal work ethic. But on the other hand I am grateful for my awesome customers who appreciate my work and commitment very much. And, of course, the possibility to work creatively and give a song my personal touch.
What are the most important things to do when mixing / mastering a record
Balance, balance, balance … I would say that 70 percent of a song depend on the correct eqing. As well in mixing and, especially, in mastering. Another important part is the correct use of compression, although many other young engineers overdo this, at least in my opinion. I believe that focusing on the perfection of these basic techniques will carry you further then implementing a lot of extra ordinary stuff.
Any advices for people wanting to follow this career?
I’d say: give it all or leave it. To be successful here is difficult and simply impossible without the right contact. I do not know where I would be today if I never made acquaintance with Lex Barkey, who introduced me to the music industry and taught me almost everything I needed to become an engineer.
Could you tell us a little about the music industry in Germany? How would you describe the German music scene?
I think we are in a positive turn. Today the streaming services pay a lot of money to artists and labels. After the sales dips for cds during the last decade, the money returns and everything seems to come back to life again. I firmly believe that a good time awaits us. Beside this, I really appreciate that hip hop is the strongest genre here. Rap has become cool and, above all, mass appealing, which is not a self-evident for our often uptight Germany.
What is your number one goal?
I want to be happy - with the right woman by my side, the job I love and all my dreams I want to come true in the future. I think I am on the right way, for each of these things.
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