Roger Cicero was my introduction into professional sound engineering
„Always look left and right, learn from others and remain open-minded to all music genres!“ advises recording and mixing engineer Waldemar Vogel, who among others, has worked with Max Giesinger, Roger Cicero, Jupiter Jones and Chilly Gonzales, young people aspiring to a career in the audio industry. How did he do it? What, in his opinion, is the most important part of a music production? How should you prepare for it? And what does it have to do with Roger Cicero? These and other questions were answered by Waldemar Vogel following his Vocal Recording Workshop at the Abbey Road Institute Frankfurt. Here’s the interview:
What did you want to convey to the participants of the Vocal Recording Workshop?
I held the workshop together with the vocal coach Ronny Lang. We wanted to make it clear that vocal recording is always about two interlocking areas: on the one hand, the technical part, i.e. the selection and the proper setting up of the microphones, followed by recording, editing, mixing and remixing – which was more my part. On the other hand, there is the vocal coaching, i.e. working with the vocalist in the studio. Ronny is very experienced and has been working as a vocal teacher and coach for many years, and has a very human-centered approach. Such cooperation is, of course, ideal since it is all about a good singer performance. The technician should do as little as possible and only as much as necessary. Based on a version of the rock classic „While my guitar gently weeps“ recorded by Abbey Road Institute head teacher Ulli Schiller together with student Michelle Williams, whose vocals were recorded, we were able to demonstrate the collaboration very well in theory and practice. It was fun for everyone.
How did you get started in the audio industry?
Quite typically actually. Originally, I just wanted to program beats, be cool and hang about in the studio. Then I trained as an audio engineer. During this training, I met many other music enthusiasts and discovered all sorts of styles and approaches which influenced me strongly. Afterwards, I did internships in different studios, finally worked as an assistant, learned and was able to take on more and more of my own tasks. This led to better credits and, gradually, more assignments. Among other things, I spent several years at the Loft Studio Cologne, which is very well known for its jazz productions. This influenced me significantly and ultimately, jazz and rock led me to pop.
You also recorded an album with Roger Cicero?
Yes, that’s my personal favorite production. Thanks to his album „Was immer auch kommt“, I was able to acquire entry into the professional league of sound engineers (laughs). Originally, I was only booked as an assistant. This was mainly due to my work in the Loft Studio. But on the second day, the producer Kiko Masbaum stood in front of me and said: „Waldemar, I see you can do it. Then do it now in the way you think is right.“ So, I ultimately recorded the entire album on my own responsibility. A fantastic opportunity. Roger Cicero was an exceptional artist and a great person, which is why this work is so important to me. Since then, I have often worked with Kiko Masbaum, who mixes Max Giesinger and produces „Unheilig“ among others.
How do you approach a music production and what do you think is the most important PART?
Most significant are the project planning and a good team. I always sit down in advance with the artists and we develop a line of course. I see myself as a service provider. First of all, I have to find out where the artist/band wants to go, recognize the respective ID and set a common goal for the production. Then, a good team is needed, i.e. good songwriters, musicians and technicians with the appropriate experience. Because the better that works during the recording, the easier post production will be. What did not work during recording can often only be determined in hindsight and then only corrected to a limited degree.
What do you advise young people wanting to get into the audio industry?
Above all, they should be open-minded and look left and right. Always work with other musicians, learn from others, don’t wear blinkers and only see your own favourite music.
When I think of myself and the fact that I originally only wanted to make beats, I am glad that I was confronted with so many other styles which were eye-openers for me. This led to completely different and, above all, many more opportunities. And no matter what you do, the technical know-how is important. A sound engineer has to be master of his tools. After all, you are booked on the basis of your skills. Therefore, a solid education is very useful. Thirdly, the human component, the respectful interaction with each other, is of immense importance. The positive effect of good communication on the result was very obvious during the Vocal Recording Workshop today. You should always work towards a good result, based on feelings and not primarily on the technical possibilities. These are just means to an end. It’s great that the students here at the Abbey Road Institute have the opportunity for this practical experience.
An interview with vocal coach Ronny Lang will follow shortly.
Live video from the Vocal Recording Workshop on Facebook/Sound & Recording, from August 11th, 2018
Contact Waldemar Vogel: www.facebook.com/waldemarvogelmusic
Text: Susi Schiller Translation: Terri Smith