Interview with Ermin Hamidovic
Ermin Hamidovic is an Australian engineer, author, bassist and co-founder of SubMission Bass. He is known for his mastering work for Architects, Devin Townsend, Periphery, Animals As Leaders. He is also the author of the Systematic Mixing Guide.
How and when did you get started?
You could trace it back to when I played guitar in high school. I plugged my guitar into the back of my Soundblaster card and started asking the question: "why does my tone sound so crap?". Lo and behold, 10 years and one audio engineering career later, I eventually got my answer.
What have you been working on lately (that you can divulge)?
Lots of amazing projects this year, though some of the biggest I can't divulge at the moment. Just of late I've been lucky enough to work on the new Plini & Northlane material. We recently finished the Four Seconds Ago record, which is a side project by Misha and Jake from Periphery. Awesome electro music. It was very fresh for me because I love electronic music, but so seldom get to work on it. Nolly and I recently wrapped work on the upcoming Haken and L1BERA records, which both sound stellar on account of his mixing. Earlier in the year we had the awesome Bleed From Within and Bury Tomorrow records. At present, I'm working on a number of things, but one that really stands out is a radio rock band from Israel called Walkways. Really taking me back to that 2005 commercial nu-metal type vibe.
Aside from the day job, I've been working very hard to launch SubMission Bass in Q3 of this year. The reception to our first library has been stellar, so we're following up rapidly and developing our future releases now. In among that I still try to find some time every now and then to add more content to the upcoming Systematic Recording Guide. That's maybe 60% written at present!
If you were the age that you originally started today, and you had to start again from scratch, how would you approach things?
Similarly, though I would try to work smarter rather than harder. I made so many sacrifices in my life, which looking back now seem so needless. I'd spend less time obsessing over the perfect mix, and more time developing contacts and forging relationships to work on high caliber records. Good quality work follows good working conditions - not vice versa.
What is the most important part of a song for you?
The one that hooks me in and moves me, whatever part that may be.
What is your favorite project that you've worked on?
It's hard to lock down a single project, but both Abiogenesis' 'Visualize' and Periphery's 'Juggernaut' records have a special place for me because they were defining in their own ways. 'Visualize' is still largely seen as my best mix (owing largely due to the extraordinary circumstances around the band/song itself) and the Juggernaut records are without a doubt the tipping point, which launched my career as a mastering engineer.
Who is an artist you would like to work with but haven't been able to yet?
Meshuggah. They've been a favourite band of mine ever since I was a teenager. My unofficial remasters of their old records are what inadvertently led to me working with Periphery in the first place, so it would be super poetic if we ended up working together at some point. I would love that.
Are you a big plugin user? If so, name some of your favorites!
FabFilter Pro-Q 2 has to top any plug-in list. It's the desert island plug-in. As far as utility alone goes, it's basically the best plug-in ever made. Aside from that, I've been enjoying Brainworx's new SSL 4k E channel strip plug-in. They've really raised the bar with that one. Sound Radix Drum Leveler and Oeksound Soothe are also pretty amazing when used to effect. Aside from that the Acustica Audio EQs still do something no other plug-ins seem to.
What is one thing that you can't get your sound without? Hardware, software or whatever else.
My GSSL. There's such a distinctive sound to mixing into a hardware compressor. I've been doing it for 10 years now, so I would struggle to go back to software. I still find the hardware compressors often handle complicated program material more elegantly - especially if you're squeezing in excess of 4dB.
Who are some of your favorite producers & engineers today?
I'm honoured to say that my favourite producers are largely colleagues these days. Adam Getgood, Henrik Udd, Mark Lewis all do amazing work. There are also some great up and comers like Simon Grove, Adam Bentley and Asher Ally. Then there are the guys we owe our vocation to like Randy Staub, Andy Wallace, Andy Sneap, Colin Richardson, Fredrik Nordstrom, Daniel Bergstrand etc.
What advice would you give to those new to the game?
Find your point of difference to the competition and exploit it. The scene is very saturated these days and you need to find a way to stand out. Whether that's due to your physical location, the gear you bring to the table, the unique way you process drums, the way you bring energy out of your clients etc. Find your thing and hustle it.
Outside of your day job, what music have you been listening to lately?
Mostly Carpenter Brut's 'Trilogy'. It seems generally accepted that it's the holy grail of synthwave records. I usually try to get a bit of a rest from metal in my down time, so I'll be listening to electronic, classical, soundtracks etc. Anything to help me center myself and not lose myself down any singular rabbit hole.
Big thanks fo Ermin for answering our questions, you can check out his production and mastering work in the Spotify playlist below, and watch one of his Systematic mixing tutorial videos.