Hi-fi Q&A Hero

Artist of the month: Mitja2


Almost ten years strong with iStock, Mitja2 has been here for the whole story. Strong themes, built with purpose, mixed with seamless, balanced mixing and mastering make for a deep and compelling portfolio. Mitja2 has charted a course here and has been true to that trajectory, resulting in a collection of tracks that is often the first stop when buyers are looking for solid quality.

You have been with iStock longer than most. Would you share with us how you came to hear of iStock and perhaps give a bit of an overview of your experience in the early days, through iStockaudio's start and up till now?
I used iStock way before the iStockaudio came along. Since I'm also a graphic designer I buy photos from iStock. When I heard about audio starting it made my day (or a year). In the beginning I concentrated on uploading as much as possible, not caring about downloads. It payed up. I think this is still a good recipe.

"Golden rule: less is more. Sometimes just an acoustic guitar and percussion is enough to get a lot of downloads."

Things have changed a lot around here, but there must be some consistent approaches that you have taken in your work to help your success. What ideas would you share that are applicable to the next generations of artists submitting to iStock?
Since I'm also an audio imaging director on a radio network, I have some experience in that field. First thing would be to not to compose music as a song, but rather as a background. That means no lead melodies. Of course that's not always the case, but as much as possible. Another pointer would be to not to complicate too much. Golden rule: less is more. Sometimes just an acoustic guitar and percussion is enough to get a lot of downloads. Last but not least: don't make starts of the songs complicated. Hook the listener in 5-10 seconds if possible.

You have a great balance and presence to your mixes. Of course there is no replacement for time spent mixing, but there must be a few tips you could give to help some of us avoid the many traps that young mixers can fall into?
Compare your sound to a lot of radio played songs. That's what listeners (buyers) are familiar with. Try to analyze it part by part, instrument by instrument. Why is mine not sounding as good as the one being played on the radio?

Learn the most important part of processing really well... that is compression and EQ. Do a lot of research on a specific plugins. Why is one compressor good for one thing and why is another good for something else? For example: LA-2A is great for vocals, LA-3A is great for guitar, Vertigo VSC-2 is great on a piano, Fairchild will give you fat sound.... Learn from presets but try to understand why.

Do not over complicate things. Too much EQ can kill your track!

Put a lot of thoughts in your mastering chain. I have mine set up for years now (10 effects in the row) and I change it very little. But it took me years to get it right.

Know that using two compressors one after another is better then just using one.

Invest money in some state of the art plugins (UAD, WAVES, Izotope Ozone...). It's worth it!

If you succeed to create a good effects chain on a specific channel, for example BASS GUITAR, save it and use it on other songs. Change it a little and learn from it.

And finally: save money for a really good audio monitors. Working on monitors with bad frequency response and no low end will take you nowhere. It took me years to find the perfect ones for me: Dynaudio BM5. Don't trust any article and brand name. You need to find your perfect monitors with your own ears and NOT EYES.

"Don't trust any article and brand name. You need to find your perfect monitors with your own ears and NOT EYES."

If you could only use one microphone, one preamp, one compressor and one effect to create a track, which would you choose and why?
Microphone: Neumann U87 (because it sounds good on every singer)

Preamp: Neve 1073 (best console sound ever made in my opinion. It's warm and harsh at the same time)

Compressor: 1176LN Classic Limiting Amplifier (best ALL AROUND classic compressor. Works great on any given situation)

Effect hardware: Lexicon 224 (amazing reverb unit)

But that's just in the case of hardware which I don't use a lot.

If I would need to pick up only 3 VST effects to create a track I would pick those:

Compressor: 1176 by UAD (you can use it on everything and it will do a great job)

EQ: Cambridge EQ by UAD (my favorite surgical eq. Very precise.)

Space: Lexicon 224 by UAD (famous of it's sound in music production for over 30 years.)

List the albums that shaped your perceptions of music and drove you to find your musical voice. What were the points of interest in these albums for you?
PRINCE: Purple Rain, Parade and Sign'o'times. Pure genius in music, arrangement and production. Still after 30 years. Best male vocal on the planet. No one comes close.

U2: Joshua tree. Warmth and drive at the same time. Very different from anything else back then, but sounding soooooo good. I feel in love with British guitar sound there.

COLDPLAY: X&Y and Parachutes. Pure emotions in rock. I love the unpolished sound. You can learn so much from them in terms of how not to "over do it".

JOHN MAYER: Continuum. Probably the best album in the last 20 years. I could listen to it 24/7. And I also know for a fact that I will never achieve that level of "musicality" which makes it a challenge every time.

If you could go back in history to witness 3 events what would they be?
1. Live Aid 1985 London

2. Dire Straits Alchemy Live London 1983

3. Being on the set of "FRIENDS" while recording for TV (any episode) :)

Listen to Mitja2's Portfolio

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