Vocal Production Lifesaver - Emre Ramazanoglu
Emre Ramazanoglu refuses to be boxed in.
After starting off as a session drummer and programmer at the turn of the millennium, he soon met Jim Abbiss (Adele, Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and the Stereophonics) and joined his band. Jim introduced him to Pro Tools and when the band decided to call it a day, he went freelance for a few years before being offered lots of production and mixing work. As a result of this, he now spends most of his time wearing many hats across the writing, production and engineering spectrum, working with some of the most exciting artists in the world.
He also does a lot of sound design as well as mixing and compositional work for fashion shows - from full-scale theatrical productions through to sound installations and DJ sets.
We recently heard that you’ve been working with some of the members of Gorillaz?
Yes - I’ve literally just finished mixing the new Roses Gabor album. She was the girl who sung some of the vocals on the Gorillaz releases. Not many people know that she’s also a really good songwriter and has produced a very interesting album with Rowdy Superstar that I was fortunate enough to work on.
"Revoice let me tune a wildly out demo lead vocal (with a great vibe) and then match an equally out of tune double to this fixed lead instantly. It then was very simple to repeat and adapt this process with more bvs AND also generate additional doubles! UNREAL!!! Worked great!!"
I’ve also just written and produced a track with my friend Sam Dixon and a Sia topline for Carly Rae Jepson. We do quite a lot of writing together and it’s been pretty exciting, as I haven’t really written for many big American artists in the past. I’ve also been working Guy Sebastian from Australia and have just finished New York Fashion Week where I was involved in lots of sound design projects for big brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs.
In addition, I’ve just completed an installation project for Gucci in Shanghai. There were various different rooms containing separate soundtracks in each and we had to write compositions for those and then mix and edit them.
I’ve also been working on an alternative rock band called Yak and Steve Mackey who’s a fantastic producer. That’s been good fun and music that I’d not normally do.
Tomorrow, I’m engineering for David Holmes and working with my friend Jeremy Stacey who’s a great drummer so that should be good fun as well.
I also run a sample library company and make sample instruments for Kontakt called Rattly & Raw.
"I don’t really know anyone who only sticks to one area apart from maybe some of the very established mix engineers who got big maybe 15 or 20 years ago."
Now that’s what we call a busy schedule!
Well these days, if you stick to just one area of production, you’re stuffed unless you get incredibly lucky. To be completely honest, I don’t really know anyone who only sticks to one area apart from maybe some of the very established mix engineers who got big maybe 15 or 20 years ago. The reality is that the same production people still dominate the industry. That isn’t a slight on anyone, but there’s not really much room for newbies to rise through the ranks right now. It’s a lot more closed than it ever has been and there’s not as much room to grow. There are generally fewer opportunities on the table and it takes a lot longer to get anywhere.
You really have to work very hard these days, which is why I do a lot more writing because I enjoy it massively and the rewards are great.
In some ways, I actually like the current state of the industry but obviously there’s been a massive hit on fees generally, so this makes it even trickier for the youngsters just starting out who quite often have to undercut their competitors and be even more amazing - just to get noticed. Time-wise, I’ve always been able to work fast and speed can honestly help a lot of people get hired more often.
"Before Revoice Pro, I’d been using VocALign for years although re-pitching across lots of different channels was still an issue so I used to either re-pitch manually or use Melodyne which would take a long time."
Talking of speed - has software such as Revoice Pro really helped your workflow in the studio?
Oh absolutely! I’ve been using it every day on pop projects with stacks and stacks of vocals. I’ve generally been lucky to work with great singers in the past but having access to Revoice Pro’s Audio suite plug-ins in Pro Tools has been the best thing ever! You can quickly capture your audio, flick over to Revoice to choose the process you require, whether for re-timing or pitch-mapping purposes, and really quickly do your rhythm and pitch tweaks all from there before spotting it back over. Revoice Pro is generally fantastic and has been absolutely life saving for me! Often I’ll fix up the Guide track if it needs a small tweak here or there and then apply it to all of the backing vocals or doubles. Also, if I’m working on a more RnB/Urban song which tend to be more vocal-heavy and tight, then quite often I’ll just get one backing vocal right and then apply its characteristics to all of the others. It usually saves me at least a couple of hours across many vocal takes. Before Revoice Pro, I’d been using VocALign for years although re-pitching across lots of different channels was still an issue so I used to either re-pitch manually or use Melodyne which would take a long time.
What are your thoughts on Revoice Pro’s Quick Doubler?
I use that a lot now as well. Previously, I’d do a demo and then a production, but now I’ll do a demo which usually becomes the production so you have to pay a lot of attention when you're doing vocal sessions, as you're essentially doing what is likely to be the final vocal right then. Revoice can be brilliant for that because I might not get time to record a sung double due to spending so long getting the main take! Now I can make a double confidently and when creating them, I quite often just use the Audio suite Quick Doubler without even looking at Revoice. This is generally the same when it comes to snapping rhythms as well. It’s so good that it works perfectly and is super quick. But then again, I’m very meticulous about the bits I select and rarely process huge chunks at once - just small sections. ProTools like Revoice Pro enables me to make more music as opposed to fixing more music and this has been a massive leap forwards for me! Now all I have to do is make sure the original take is right and then I’ve got the option of using Revoice to fix any other takes that might need fixing. Obviously, sometimes I don’t want to snap everything too tight as that might not be what an artist wants although Revoice gives me the option to be flexible.
"Now I can make a double confidently and when creating them, I quite often just use the AudioSuite Quick Doubler without even looking at Revoice. This is generally the same when it comes to snapping rhythms as well. It’s so good that it works perfectly and is super quick."
After working with various well-known artists over the years, what’s the most valuable piece of advice you would pass on to those starting out in your field?
Create your own project studio, learn your gear and software inside out, produce amazing work that is better than anything else you hear on the radio then release it to critical acclaim. That’s the best way to get music production work these days. Anything else isn’t really a viable career path at the moment because most studios employ great people already and have various back-up options on their books consisting of people they know or have worked with before.
If you do manage to get a job in the industry, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. There’s always a lot you need to get wrong to learn to get right. Also, although it’s important to a degree, don’t get too caught up in technique or bogged down in detail; and always figure out whether a song works compositionally and production-wise first before going to the mix-down stage...if you get that luxury!
Ultimately, it’s about how things feel for me. Bottom line - the best producers and those that get offered the most work are those that make music that feels good for everyone involved. Accept any work that comes your way and always deliver without fail. In today’s industry, if you mess something up then it’s too easy for whoever’s in charge to find someone who won’t.
Also, be incredibly nice to be around, especially in the studio environment where it’s quite a tight and close-knit environment. I’m not being nasty but being a stress-head or too introverted doesn’t help. You need to find the right balance of being a positive force but not getting in the way of others throughout the creative process.
The music business has always been harsh in that no-one likes anyone complaining, no-one owes you anything and you are only as good as your last record. Be positive, get on with it and try and do the best you can!
I also run a side business creating sample libraries which has been a fun and rewarding enterprise, so it can also be good to be open to unexpected opportunities!
Find out more about Emre over on his website here.
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