Award-Winning Producer & Engineer Patrik Majer (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)

Posted by The Audio Hunt

Patrik Majer started out in the classic recording facilities of Berlin and proceeded to provide the sound foundation and production advice for a stream of national and international pop royalty including Wir Sind Helden, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Marc Almond and many more.

Award-Winning Producer & Engineer Patrik Majer (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)
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Based in the artsy district of Kreuzenberg, Berlin, Freudenhaus Studio is the sonic playground of renowned German Music Award "Echo" winning producer and engineer Patrik Majer. The studio combines the latest in digital recording with the classic foundation of the analog world - it includes a wide selection of microphones, a state-of-the-art recording console and superb analog tape machines, all seamlessly integrated in a hybrid setup. In between sessions, Patrik takes some time to talk about his newest project to date and shows us some of his secret tools of the trade. 


Can you share with us what you're working on at the moment?? 

Our current project is a Dutch/German duo called Nosoyo - two highly talented musicians, with a bright future ahead. Their second single “Disillusioned” has been released a few weeks back [check out the video] and we are in the process of recording more songs but can’t confirm more details at this stage.


What's your favorite stage in the music production process?

This is a tricky one – I’m in between producing and mixing. Seeing bands and artists going through their artistic development and helping them reach their vision is what I like most. To this day, with almost 25 years on the job, routine never kicks in; every time is and feels completely different, which is probably one of the best parts of my job.


Every artist is unique and that always gets me excited. For me, the entire process is all about emotions, empathy and psychology – as long as I can tap into that energy and work towards retaining and enhancing it, I know I’m on the right track. It’s something that you feel more than something you hear. The engineering part in the end is not higher than 25%, I would say.

On the other hand, I do enjoy mixing, as I’m on my own with my console, able to shape the final sound of a production – a sonic sculpture if you will. Being a perfectionist, I care about all the subtle nuances of a song, but at the same time, I am always focusing on the bigger picture: the emotions and the way the groove interacts with the rest of the song – this is one of the key ingredients of working a song into a record. So I guess, being aware of the whole spectrum, while keeping an eye (or rather, an ear) out for detail is what I like most about mixing.


Favorite piece of gear you’ve used recently? 

Our Studer A827 tape machine is definitely our employee of the month! We use it almost in every session we get. It gives this analog feel to every instrument, hard to explain in words but a pleasure to listen to. Thanks to the CLASP system we use, the tracks are perfectly aligned in Pro Tools and we don't have to worry about latency issues. Even when we get sessions for mixing, we sometimes print the tracks through tape before we start mixing to get some tape compression. Apart from the Studer (which I urge you to try), we love working with our two vintage AKG C12s. They are, in my humble opinion, perfect mics - it's incredible how much depth they can capture, adding a very special type of 3D-feel to every source you record.


Neumann TLM 103, AKG C12, Neumann U47

Let's talk influencers. Any other producers and engineers that you're inspired by?  

When I think about mixing engineers Tom Elmhirst and Manny Marroquin immediately come to mind. It's all-inspiring to see how they work. For them it's all about music and the emotions they’re trying to capture and never so much about the gear. You didn’t hear this from me but this is what mixing is really all about. Thinking of producers, I am a big fan of Flood’s work and Udo Arndt (fellow German producer), who was my mentor back in the days when I started out as an engineer.


How did you first start producing music?

In 1991 I was a tea boy in (West) Berlin just after the Wall came down. First with an internship at Hansa Studio, later at Vielklang Studio where I had the chance to work with bands like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Nina Hagen. So basically, I went the traditional way you had to go through, to become an engineer or producer some 25 years ago.


Name your bucket-list piece of recording equipment

If the bucket is big enough, I’ll take 2 pieces. These would be a Neumann U47fet and an UREI 1176. I see the U47fet as the best all-round microphone. I can't remember an instrument I recorded through it where it sounds bad. It's probably the microphone we use the most here at Freudenhaus. Last week we used it on a harp recording and it sounded absolutely stunning – the amount of detail, clarity and glossy finish feels like heaven. You can't go wrong with this one! The UREI 1176 is somewhat similar. For me personally, it's one of the best tracking compressors, when set up in a modest 4:1setting. I have a pair of vintage blackface 1176s, don't know the revision, but they sound really warm and musical. I use them on almost every production and mix.


Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t producing music, I'd be...

Running a rental bike shop somewhere in the Caribbean. 


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