Hannes Bieger_by_SvenHagolani_portraits1706_06

Interview

Hannes Bieger: Mixing Engineer, Producer And Studio Expert

It's an in-depth conversation about studio work, technology and much more with Hannes Bieger.

| by | Features, Interviews

Hannes Bieger is a name you should want to get to know. A producer for many huge names as well as a mixing engineer coming out of Berlin, he has turned his hand from working with and for others, to his own content. This has led to the release of his new ‘Strato’ EP and it showcases his cross between House and Techno. But Hannes has opened up about how he started out his career, as well as talking in depth about his magical studio, and what he plans for the future. It’s exciting, it’s in depth, it’s something you need to read about.

For those that may not know, you a producer and mixing engineer from Berlin who has worked with some high profile names in the underground dance music scene. What was it that inspired Hannes Bieger to become involved within the music industry?

I picked up the electric guitar when I was 10 and started playing in my first band when I was 14. I think played my first show when I was 16, and around that time it was perfectly clear to me that I wouldn’t want to become a musician, but that I already I was a musician. It was never a question to me what I would do after finishing school, it was more about how I would do it ­– making music for the rest of my life… That said, it was inevitable to become involved with the music industry further down the road. I got in it for the love of music, and that’s still what’s driving all my decisions, but at some point you want to make a living as well.

Berlin is also a city which has a heavy focus on the underground dance scene, a specific spotlight on Techno. How influential has the city been for you in your work?

I can’t overstate the influence, it was huge! I was born in Hamburg, and I cut my musical teeth there. I started out playing in rock bands, and over the 90’s I gradually shifted more towards electronic music. I have loved Pink Floyd and the likes since I was a kid, so I was exposed to Minimoogs and samples and tape loops at a young age. In the eclectic decade that the 90’s were I started playing Funk, then Acid Jazz, and then came Trip Hop. My favourite club at the time, Mojo Club in Hamburg brought in many artists from the UK, Warp Records, Ninja Tune etc., and on Saturdays they played “Dancefloor Jazz” which was actually jazz, but the groovy, danceable variety.

I was heavily into Portishead, Massive Attack and Kruder&Dorfmeister back then – some of my most influential inspirations. But until the late 90’s, when I moved to Berlin, I didn’t care much about the straight bass drum at all. But this quickly changed upon my arrival – you simply couldn’t avoid it. Shortly after I arrived in Kreuzberg I began to produce what was called Deep House at the time, and since then gradually Techno has taken its toll…

I also wanted to talk about mixing and producing tracks for other people. Tell us a little about the work which you carry out? What’s a typical day for Hannes Bieger?

Talk about the “hardest working man in show business”… I usually get to the studio around 10 in the morning. Until noon I might revisit some earlier work, answer emails, take care of my social media or work on an unattended project. Typically I would do an attended session from 12 noon to 8 pm, and after that I wind down the day with whatever came up in the afternoon. And normally I’d do this five days a week – so I spend a lot of time at the studio. I’m still taking care of everything on my own, but I am in the process of establishing to work with an assistant. I am always, constantly, very busy and the hardest thing is to carve out time to work on my own projects – which is why I haven’t done this for so many years.

And some of those names include the likes of Dixon, Mano Le Tough and Henrik Schwarz. What is it like to work with so many other artists and does this provide inspiration for you?

In a way I feel gifted, because it’s a very special situation to have a constant stream of very talented artists and so much great music coming my way. Of course this didn’t start over night, it’s the result of many years of hard work and constantly questioning my every move. If I may put it this way, I am working with a never ending string of case studies: What works? What doesn’t work at all? How can I deal with this issue? Wow, this is a great synth sound! Many of these are technical questions, but there are many musical insights and – of course – inspirations to be gained, many lessons to be learned. After all, I started out as a musician and producer and only later I became a mixing engineer, so my musical ear is listening all the time. Of course I feel privileged that so many great artists trust me with their precious work.

In terms of your studio set up, the images which you share show a complex studio filled with equipment. Can you tell us a little about your set-up and if you have a favourite piece of equipment?

I could – and probably – would have to talk about this longer than most people would want to listen… I started building my studio as my own personal work-space for my own productions, and it still reflects this very personal view, even though I’ve mainly been working on client projects in the past decade. To put it in very broad terms, I love transparency, and in many aspects I aimed to transfer mastering-grade transparency to a fully fledged mixing and production environment. I want a pristine sound to begin with, and I prefer to add all kinds of colouration manually and step by step, if desired in a given situation.

That’s why I am working with a Speck Electronics Lilo 24 console, it’s really a blank canvas with headroom for days, it’s much wider open than even an SSL, and for the same reason I am capturing the mixes with a Lavry Gold A/D. Everything else fills in this bigger picture at some point. I love discrete transistor gear like my API and Electrodyne EQs, I love all-valve processors like my different types of Pultecs, the Pendulum OCL-2 compressor, the Amtec 099, the Rockruepel Comp.One and the likes. The idea is to have short and very high-end signal paths, and we haven’t even begun to talk about stuff that normally gets overlooked, like mains power filtering and distribution and things like that. But I am not overly dogmatic when it comes to “analogue vs. digital”.

There are great software tools and great plugins out there which play a huge part in what I am doing. Probably my studio would look a bit different if I hadn’t begun to build it at a time when digital certainly wasn’t an alternative for quality results at all. Of course I do have some desert island pieces like a vintage blackface Universal Audio 1176LN and my Minimoog, which I love dearly. But the corner stone of my “creative” setup certainly is the Moog Modular, which is a thing of its own, providing sheer endless inspiration…

Now after so many years of working with others as an engineer, you have ventured into your own studio productions with the release of the ‘Strato’ EP. What changed for you to begin to produce your own music under your own name?

To cut a long story short, it was about time! I have produced a lot of music in my career, culminating in two albums which were released in 2005 and 2006. After that I had exhausted all my creative ammunition and I needed a break from production, so I happily picked up the mixing work that came my way as a result of putting out my own productions. People approached me because they inquired about the sound engineer behind it, and all I could do was telling them that I did it myself. So out of this situation – and out of my long-term friendship and affiliation with Calyx Mastering – I became a mixing engineer.

I didn’t plan it this way, but in the end what was considered a short production pause kept me way too busy for the next decade… many friends, like Frank Wiedemann, who probably tried to bring this up the most, have persuaded me all the time to focus on my own stuff again, but I never did it. When I got the Moog Modular last year it was probably the final missing link, the critical mass was reached. I always worked on projects, in collaboration with vocalists or other musicians and producers, so I never released stuff under my own name, it was always bands and projects. So finally, this was fixed, too.

Is this the start of something for Hannes Bieger, the start of more productions and more music?

It certainly is! I have a bunch of unreleased tracks almost ready, and I am constantly working on new stuff, all be it still at a slower pace than I’d sometimes wish. On many days I am sitting in this candy shop that my studio is but I have work to do – which I certainly enjoy as well. But I am getting enough material and all the gear together for a live act, and if all goes the way I plan it, I’ll be ready to play shows in spring 2018! I would never give up my studio work, but I can’t wait to perform again. It’s way too much fun to make music, and I am really happy that I finally managed to break the ice and start making my own stuff again.

In terms of the ‘Strato’ EP, where did you find the inspiration to make the tracks, and is this the sound we can expect to hear over the coming months?

The Moog Modular played a pivotal part in making both “Strato” and “Rhyolite”, as well as some other tracks of this period which haven’t seen the light of the day yet. The sound of this beast is just as important as the working process, the physicality that this huge machine brings into play, with the big knobs, the cables and the three hardware sequencers. It’s very refreshing to create synth lines and whole arrangements without ever staring into the computer screen. It’s hard to tell from my own perspective, but I think my tracks are sitting right between House and Techno, and I can imagine that the Techno side of things will slightly come out on top in the future. I like melodies though, so it’s a moving target, and it’ll be fun to see how it evolves.

On an overall note, what can fans expect to hear from Hannes Bieger for the rest of the year? Is there any other exciting projects set to arrive?

Of course I will continue my work at the studio, both on my clients’ and my own projects. There is still a lot of work to do if I want to be able to present my live set early next year, and I am putting the finishing touches on a bunch of new tracks at the moment. In November I will do a couple master classes in Argentina, in Buenos Aires and Cordoba, in collaboration with my friends at Insound Academy. There will be classes on both mixing/production as well as modular synthesis, and last thing I heard is that even people from Brazil will attend the workshops. This is a very exciting thing for me. Besides, there are a few very interesting client projects, I can’t mention names at this time, though, until Christmas, and I really need to get back to the work bench to prepare for next year, so to speak.

You can download the ‘Strato’ EP here. For more information on Hannes Bieger:
https://www.facebook.com/hannesbieger/
https://soundcloud.com/hannesbieger
http://www.hannesbieger.com/

Hannes Bieger_by_SvenHagolani_portraits1706_06

Hannes Bieger.

Hannes Bieger is a name you should want to get to know. A producer for many huge names as well as a mixing engineer coming out of Berlin, he has turned his hand from working with and for others, to his own content. This has led to the release of his new ‘Strato’ EP and it showcases his cross between House and Techno. But Hannes has opened up about how he started out his career, as well as talking in depth about his magical studio, and what he plans for the future. It’s exciting, it’s in depth, it’s something you need to read about.

Hannes Bieger.

For those that may not know, you a producer and mixing engineer from Berlin who has worked with some high profile names in the underground dance music scene. What was it that inspired Hannes Bieger to become involved within the music industry?

I picked up the electric guitar when I was 10 and started playing in my first band when I was 14. I think played my first show when I was 16, and around that time it was perfectly clear to me that I wouldn’t want to become a musican, but that I already I was a musician. It was never a question to me what I would do after finishing school, it was more about how I would do it ­– making music for the rest of my life… That said, it was inevitable to become involved with the music industry further down the road. I got in it for the love of music, and that’s still what’s driving all my decisions, but at some point you want to make a living as well.

Berlin is also a city which has a heavy focus on the underground dance scene, a specific spotlight on Techno. How influential has the city been for you in your work?

Hannes Bieger.

I can’t overstate the influence, it was huge! I was born in Hamburg, and I cut my musical teeth there. I started out playing in rock bands, and over the 90s I gradually shifted more towards electronic music. I have loved Pink Floyd and the likes since I was a kid, so I was exposed to Minimoogs and samples and tape loops at a young age. In the eclectic decade that the 90s were I started playing Funk, then Acid Jazz, and then came Trip Hop. My favourite club at the time, Mojo Club in Hamburg brought in many artists from the UK, Warp Records, Ninja Tune etc., and on Saturdays they played “Dancefloor Jazz” which was actually jazz, but the groovy, danceable variety.

I was heavily into Portishead, Massive Attack and Kruder&Dorfmeister back then – some of my most influential inspirations. But until the late 90s, when I moved to Berlin, I didn’t care much about the straight bass drum at all. But this quickly changed upon my arrival – you simply couldn’t avoid it. Shortly after I arrived in Kreuzberg I began to produce what was called Deep House at the time, and since then gradually Techno has taken its toll…

Hannes Bieger.

I also wanted to talk about mixing and producing tracks for other people. Tell us a little about the work which you carry out? What’s a typical day for Hannes Bieger?

Talk about the “hardest working man in show business”… I usually get to the studio around 10 in the morning. Until noon I might revisit some earlier work, answer emails, take care of my social media or work on an unattended project. Typically I would do an attended session from 12 noon to 8 pm, and after that I wind down the day with whatever came up in the afternoon. And normally I’d do this five days a week – so I spend a lot of time at the studio. I’m still taking care of everything on my own, but I am in the process of establishing to work with an assistant. I am always, constantly, very busy and the hardest thing is to carve out time to work on my own projects – which is why I haven’t done this for so many years.

Hannes Bieger.

And some of those names include the likes of Dixon, Mano Le Tough and Henrik Schwarz. What is it like to work with so many other artists and does this provide inspiration for you?

In a way I feel gifted, because it’s a very special situation to have a constant stream of very talented artists and so much great music coming my way. Of course this didn’t start over night, it’s the result of many years of hard work and constantly questioning my every move. If I may put it this way, I am working with a never ending string of case studies:

What works? What doesn’t work at all? How can I deal with this issue? Wow, this is a great synth sound! Many of these are technical questions, but there are many musical insights and – of course – inspirations to be gained, many lessons to be learned. After all, I started out as a musician and producer and only later I became a mixing engineer, so my musical ear is listening all the time. Of course I feel privileged that so many great artists trust me with their precious work.

Hannes Bieger.

In terms of your studio set up, the images which you share show a complex studio filled with equipment. Can you tell us a little about your set-up and if you have a favourite piece of equipment?

I could – and probably – would have to talk about this longer than most people would want to listen… I started building my studio as my own personal work-space for my own productions, and it still reflects this very personal view, even though I’ve mainly been working on client projects in the past decade. To put it in very broad terms, I love transparency, and in many aspects I aimed to transfer mastering-grade transparency to a fully fledged mixing and production environment. I want a pristine sound to begin with, and I prefer to add all kinds of colouration manually and step by step, if desired in a given situation.

Hannes Bieger.

That’s why I am working with a Speck Electronics Lilo 24 console, it’s really a blank canvas with headroom for days, it’s much wider open than even an SSL, and for the same reason I am capturing the mixes with a Lavry Gold A/D. Everything else fills in this bigger picture at some point. I love discrete transistor gear like my API and Electrodyne EQs, I love all-valve processors like my different types of Pultecs, the Pendulum OCL-2 compressor, the Amtec 099, the Rockruepel Comp.One and the likes.

The idea is to have short and very high-end signal paths, and we haven’t even begun to talk about stuff that normally gets overlooked, like mains power filtering and distribution and things like that. But I am not overly dogmatic when it comes to “analogue vs. digital”.

Hannes Bieger.

There are great software tools and great plugins out there which play a huge part in what I am doing. Probably my studio would look a bit different if I hadn’t begun to build it at a time when digital certainly wasn’t an alternative for quality results at all. Of course I do have some desert island pieces like a vintage blackface Universal Audio 1176LN and my Minimoog, which I love dearly. But the corner stone of my “creative” setup certainly is the Moog Modular, which is a thing of its own, providing sheer endless inspiration…

Now after so many years of working with others as an engineer, you have ventured into your own studio productions with the release of the ‘Strato’ EP. What changed for you to begin to produce your own music under your own name?

To cut a long story short, it was about time! I have produced a lot of music in my career, culminating in two albums which were released in 2005 and 2006. After that I had exhaused all my creative ammunition and I needed a break from production, so I happily picked up the mixing work that came my way as a result of putting out my own productions. People approached me because they inquired about the sound engineer behind it, and all I could do was telling them that I did it myself. So out of this situation – and out of my long-term friendship and affiliation with Calyx Mastering – I became a mixing engineer.

Hannes Bieger.

I didn’t plan it this way, but in the end what was considered a short production pause kept me way too busy for the next decade… many friends, like Frank Wiedemann, who probably tried to bring this up the most, have persuaded me all the time to focus on my own stuff again, but I never did it. When I got the Moog Modular last year it was probably the final missing link, the critical mass was reached. I always worked on projects, in collaboration with vocalists or other musicians and producers, so I never released stuff under my own name, it was always bands and projects. So finally, this was fixed, too.

Hannes Bieger.

Is this the start of something for Hannes Bieger, the start of more productions and more music?

It certainly is! I have a bunch of unreleased tracks almost ready, and I am constantly working on new stuff, all be it still at a slower pace than I’d sometimes wish. On many days I am sitting in this candy shop that my studio is but I have work to do – which I certainly enjoy as well. But I am getting enough material and all the gear together for a live act, and if all goes the way I plan it, I’ll be ready to play shows in spring 2018! I would never give up my studio work, but I can’t wait to perform again. It’s way too much fun to make music, and I am really happy that I finally managed to break the ice and start making my own stuff again.

Hannes Bieger.

In terms of the ‘Strato’ EP, where did you find the inspiration to make the tracks, and is this the sound we can expect to hear over the coming months?

The Moog Modular played a pivotal part in making both “Strato” and “Rhyolite”, as well as some other tracks of this period which haven’t seen the light of the day yet. The sound of this beast is just as important as the working process, the physicality that this huge machine brings into play, with the big knobs, the cables and the three hardware sequencers. It’s very refreshing to create synth lines and whole arrangements without ever staring into the computer screen. It’s hard to tell from my own perspective, but I think my tracks are sitting right between House and Techno, and I can imagine that the Techno side of things will slightly come out on top in the future. I like melodies though, so it’s a moving target, and it’ll be fun to see how it evolves.

On an overall note, what can fans expect to hear from Hannes Bieger for the rest of the year? Is there any other exciting projects set to arrive?

Hannes Bieger.

Of course I will continue my work at the studio, both on my clients’ and my own projects. There is still a lot of work to do if I want to be able to present my live set early next year, and I am putting the finishing touches on a bunch of new tracks at the moment. In November I will do a couple master classes in Argentina, in Buenos Aires and Cordoba, in collaboration with my friends at Insound Academy.

There will be classes on both mixing/production as well as modular synthesis, and last thing I heard is that even people from Brazil will attend the workshops. This is a very exciting thing for me. Besides, there are a few very interesting client projects, I can’t mention names at this time, though, until Christmas, and I really need to get back to the work bench to prepare for next year, so to speak.

For more information on Hannes Bieger:
https://www.facebook.com/hannesbieger/
https://soundcloud.com/hannesbieger
http://www.hannesbieger.com/

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