Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?
I’m Georg Levin, a songwriter/producer/singer based in Berlin. I’ve been making music professionally for about ten years.
What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?
I started writing songs pretty early (as a child basically), played in some bands, had piano + saxophone lessons as a teenager, went to university but I didn’t study music. Since I’m neither a virtuoso on any instrument nor a score kind of person, and since almost all of my favourite musicians are self-taught, I never felt like taking it up.
What hardware are you using?
– Soundcraft Ghost 32-Channel Mixing Console
– Quad Core Mac Pro
– Some Alesis speakers (don’t know which model)
– Fender Rhodes
– A battered Bass Guitar
– Some small and some rack synths (microKORG, Virus, Miniak, SE-1)
– Some outboard effects (Lexicon, TC Electronic)
– Audioscope 2813
– SM7B for quick vocal recordings, normally I go somewhere else for recordings.
What software are you using?
– Logic Pro 9
– UAD-2 Quad. Don’t know what to do without it. To me, most effects like the Neve Plugs, Fatso, Harrison EQ, Roland Echo, Plate Reverbs etc, are the most convincing digital audio tools I know. Like good analogue gear, they just sound great and often don’t need much fiddling around.
– Arturia Synths (especially liking the ARP)
– Some Native Instruments synths (they are ok, I hardly use most of them these days… Battery, Kore, Massive on rare occasions…the modular ones are too complicated for me)
– Izotope Ozone for demos (don’t really like it though… or I’m just too stupid to use it properly)
What would be your dream setup?
A spacious room, teak wood panels on the wall, an SSL mixing console, a friendly and reliable engineer with immaculate taste and a great sense of humour, a tight studio band, tons of great synthesizers plus a guy who programs them for me, a good espresso machine and an intern who knows how to use it, a large and comfortable sofa for all-nighters.
Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?
Always different. Often it starts with a drum pattern, sometimes with a melody, a bassline, sometimes with some chords. It does also happen that I have a blueprint, sometimes two, from which I take the elements that I like. Then, I might have another blueprint for the arrangement or the sequence of events. In the end, it’s totally different from where I took off, but there is no particular formula.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
I get stuff sent, and I buy lots of stuff on iTunes, Beatport, Traxsource or Whatpeopleplay. When I really like something, I order the CD online or buy it in a record shop. Every now and then I buy vinyl, but all these record shops for crate digging for finding samples seem to vanish over here step by step, unfortunately.
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
Two albums I listened to from start to finish on a regular basis this year are Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s “Before Today” (Amazon, iTunes) and Tame Impala’s “InnerSpeaker” (Amazon, iTunes, Spotify), both very lo-fi. Maybe I should go back to 8-track Tape machines? Don’t know. Even my only interesting “find” in the soulful area for years sounds pretty old school and un-crisp: a band called Body Language from New York. They have this awesome track called “Falling Out“.
What’s brewing in your studio?
I’ve been doing some stuff for other people this year and the year before (i.e. with Ben Westbeech, Miguel Migs), either as a producer or as a vocalist. I’ve also been producing music for TV ads. I want to release an EP next year, as well as releasing an EP with another project.
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
Read “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past” by Simon Reynolds, very entertaining, very discouraging at times but very good thinking and a thorough reality check in the age of no barrier to entry into the music market.