Im Interview: Duo Mastering – Songwriting, Mixing, Mastering und die Zusammenarbeit mit Mike Singer, Moe Phoenix & Cro – Teil 2/2

In an interview: Duo Mastering – songwriting, mixing, mastering and working with Mike Singer, Moe Phoenix & Cro – Part 2/2

Today you will learn more about mastering and what it looks like behind the scenes of the music industry from Farzad Rahnavard (Duo Mastering).

Join us on a journey through projects from Cro, Moe Phoenix, Mike Singer and more!

Secret Black Friday Deals 2021 for Musicians and Producers - Free Plugins & More! Reading In an interview: Duo Mastering – songwriting, mixing, mastering and working with Mike Singer, Moe Phoenix & Cro – Part 2/2 13 minutes Next Akai MPK 261 Review 2022 & Comparison to MPK 249 | Functions, alternatives & purchase advice

Part 2 of the interview is finally out! In the first part of our interview we spoke to Tonee Jukeboxx (Duo Mastering) about songwriting, arrangement and his way into the music industry. In case you missed it, here's the link: Duo Mastering - songwriting, mixing, mastering and collaborating with Mike Singer, Moe Phoenix & Cro - Part 1/2

Today you will learn more about mastering and what it looks like behind the scenes of the music industry from Farzad Rahnavard (Duo Mastering).

Join us on a journey through projects from Cro, Moe Phoenix, Mike Singer and more!

Duo Mastering - Interview Part 2/2

Q: Hey Farzad, nice that you found time for our interview today! How are you? Have you already worked on a project today?

You're welcome, I'm looking forward to the interview! I haven't opened any projects today because I'm still a dad and a pharmacist full-time. But actually I make music every day, even if I'm not working on a specific project.

Music thrives on you finding a creative tone, and you have that more often on one day than on another. If I have a melody for a chorus, I listen to it several times a day or I listen to music from other genres, click through and get inspired. That's how I try to get better, because at some point you'll have a pool like a language.

A rapper, for example, knows a lot of rhymes that he can call up in any situation, and it's similar if you, as an engineer, are familiar with many areas. That's also the reason why I'm actually always making music; no matter whether it's a cadence or a chord progression that I'm listening to and think it's super awesome. In between, I sit down at the keyboard or simply record a voice memo and collect new ideas.

Q: Before we start, let's do a short studio tour! Tell our readers where you are right now and what duo mastering is all about.

We are here in the Duo Mastering Studio in Rahlstedt! The studio was created together with Tonee Jukeboxx.

As a family man, I can no longer afford to sit in Bali with Cro and rock songs or to produce an album with Laith Al-Deen in Frankfurt, so I wanted to have a small room in which to continue mixing & mastering can operate. We're just trying to establish ourselves through our existing contacts.

Q: What (outboard) equipment do you have in the studio and how did you treat the space?

Here in the studio I have a lot of outboard equipment, such as the LIAISON from Dangerous Music, which I use to patch my devices. I also have the API 2500 Compressor, a Manley Variable MU and a few other things, but I'll be honest with you: Often it's just one or two analog devices that I use when mastering, otherwise it often quickly becomes too much.

I had the room treated acoustically and, together with Markus Bertram from mbakustik, got the best out of the room. For example, I use a Trinnov system that measures the room acoustics via a measuring microphone and adjusts and optimizes my studio monitors, the Barefoot MM 26, very accurately.

Writing songs and composing melodies was and still is what inspires him. The numerous contacts in the industry that Farzad has collected over the years have helped him to establish himself. In 2018 he founded the Mixing & Mastering Studio Duo Mastering together with Tonee Jukeboxx and works as a lecturer.

Q: We'll come back to producing, mixing & mastering later - please tell us what you think of songwriting and what your intentions were behind the group We'r'Songwriterz.

The intention was to have a team of talented people, just like Max Martin has. We brought in the best people we could get and tried to make a hit out of every genre, every artist and every song !

The supreme discipline of songwriting is not just to produce a hammer track, but to deliver a song that is also best suited for this artist.

For example, when Usher released the song "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love" a few years ago, it wasn't just any EDM track either, but a song specially produced for Usher by Max Martin and his team, which was extremely good suits him!

Who knows where the group We'r'Songwriterz will take us. With any luck, maybe someday we'll be able to knock on Max Martin's door and write some songs with him and Katy Perry in the studio.

Q: You've had some success with the group and Tonee mentioned that you're very active and communicative. Is that perhaps the key to success?

I'm quite sure of that! I think being extroverted is very important, after all I'm an artist myself. I used to sing in a boy band and was signed by Otto Walkes.

I didn't realize how fast it went uphill. Suddenly, at the age of 19, I had a Skype meeting with Billy King and discussed upcoming performances. It was unbelievable what I learned from him at the time, after all I often sat with him in his Hamburg studio.
It was only later that I found out that Billy King is not only really good friends with Dieter Bohlen, but also with them voice in numerous songs for national and international commercials! Although I didn't understand then how powerful these people are, I've always been a humanitarian and have remained warm.

You can also take a good example from the musician Nico Santos. He's not only a good songwriter, but he's also constantly on some TV shows and that's how he made his name!

You always have to stay on the ball and try to top it. There was a legend that Max Martin and his team produced 365 hits in a year, so we just made 369 songs a year. We used to have folders called Usher Raymond like we were friends and we filled the folders with songs. Then one day we met Usher's DJ and played him our stuff. At first he couldn't believe that the sound came from Germany, so we showed him the tracks.

Q: What do you personally prefer to do today? Do you prefer songwriting or mastering?

Actually, I love songwriting! *grins*

There are no compromises and you can control everything yourself.
Mastering is a lot of fun for me when the material is already on point or vice versa, the material is particularly bad. That always sounds like a challenge and drives me on!

Nevertheless, songwriting remains the be-all and end-all for me - I am and will remain a full-blooded songwriter and composer. Where does the next tone have to go? Do I offer a seventh after all, or do I leave it at the fifth? It took me years to understand all this, even though I took music theory as an advanced course and graduated with full marks.It's just my thing!

stages of music production:

  1. Sketch/demo recording
  2. Production
  3. Songwriting
  4. Vocal recording
  5. Arrangement
  6. Mix
  7. Mastering
Q: How did your contact with Moe Phoenix and other well-known artists come about?

The contact to Moe Phoenix came about again, how could it be otherwise, around three corners. We have moved several times with the group We'r'Songwriterz. Because I bought so much gear, I eventually got to know Thomas Römann from Digital Audio Service and we became friends.

He later built his own studio in a studio complex and we wanted to get in there together with a second songwriter group. In any case, nothing came of the joint studio, the other group built their own studio there and We'r'Songwriterz moved into Thomas's studio next door with all the equipment.

The synergies with the other songwriter group continued and when Moe Phoenix was in their studio to record a song, he also came to me in the studio. He asked me if I had something for him and I answered him: No, I can sit down at the piano and start right away.

This is how the song "Bist du Real?" originally came about, with which we even broke Bushido's record on YouTube. You have to imagine that! We write a number and it comes out three years later and that's only because Moe happens to be in the studio with KC and tells him about the song from Hamburg.

Q: How do you get mastering jobs for successful artists like Cro and Ziya?

Often by chance and the fact that you have worked for people before, maybe even in another segment, for example as a songwriter, consultant or composer.

These people will eventually believe and trust you and maybe a friendship will result. Then you mastered briefly over here, mixed the files with it and 'Zack!' you're where you wanted to be.

Without all the steps before that, it's not that easy to establish yourself as a mastering engineer, at least I don't think so. Sometimes you see people on Ebay classifieds or Fiverr who offer masterings for 30 € and no bigger artist comes to them and applies. Maybe they have an order a day, but you can't really make a living from it unless you do a hundred things a month.

Q: What are your first steps in mastering and what plugins do you use?

I have a slightly different approach to mastering. First I try to get the music to a certain loudness so that I can grasp and understand the song better. I would like to know how it works in this loudness. The song should work as well as possible on monitors such as the Yamaha NS-10, MixCubes or Auratones, because if the mix sounds good on a kitchen radio, i.e. a mono box, and I can hear everything, then the mastering is going in the right direction go.

Mastering Quick Tips by Farzad:

  • Use limiter with oversampling, otherwise aliasing effects can occur
  • The loudness war is still going on, just on a LUFS basis.

When you have the solution in front of you, it's easier to reach your goal. Imagine it like this: You are given a few numbers and you are told the result, for example 25. It will now be much easier for you to combine the given numbers and find the right solution than if you didn’t know the solution yet would have said.

The whole thing has even been scientifically proven, which is why I often start with limitations or use them to increase the gain.

Before I do anything on the sum, I make sure that all elements are properly EQed and compressed. So clean the track as you see fit, so that unwanted frequencies and large dynamic jumps are no longer included.

I often use the FabFilter Pro Q-3 for this because it has some smart features. With the built-in analyzer, you can not only hear your frequency spectrum, but also see it. There is also a cool trick that most people don't know: If you move the mouse down, the analyzer stops and shows the peak frequencies.

You can easily pull out excessively emphasized frequencies. In The Box, I often do compression with a compressor, such as the Unisum plugin from Tone Projects, which is very hyped at the moment. With this compressor I can choose different algorithms and use oversampling without having to change the plugin.

Of course, the STEMS are also routed to buses, so I have full control over individual volume levels. In the end I just run the signal through my analogue equipment, but subtly.

So to recap, I start with gain staging and then limit or maximize to a certain volume level. Then comes the digital cleanup and only at the end do I send everything through the analog equipment so that it does what I want and doesn't pick up the dirt with it. With the Outboard Gear I then get the necessary analogue character.

Q: As a musician and mastering engineer, what tips would you give to beginners?

Never give up and listen to a lot of music! To start, use reference songs and make a small playlist. What is also important is that you understand your space and develop a feeling for how it works. Even if your room isn't the best acoustically, you can deliver results that will make your jaw drop.

Exercise your ears every once in a while and play around with your EQ and whatever plugins you have. I often sit at the computer and just test the functions of my tools.

But the most important thing is actually: Take a break now and again - your ears and your files will thank you for it!

Q: Wow, thanks for that insight! Can you tell us what's coming up for you in 2022?

We're currently working on growing, so let's see what the year has in store for us! In any case, the orders are not decreasing and we are still hungry! 😉

Discography by Farzad Rahnavard: Cro, Shindy, Capital Bra, Mike Singer, KC Rebell, Blasterjaxx, Ziya, Mrs. Nina Chartier, Morgen, and many more.

Here is the Duo Mastering website and their contact details:

That was the second part of the interview with Duo Mastering. If you want to learn more about songwriting & arrangement, then watch Part 1 of the interview.



Subscribe to our newsletter & receive exclusive offers and a 10% discount on your first order in the MPW shop.