Audeze chats with composer, producer and mixer Nicolas Btesh

July 11, 2023

Nicolas Btesh is a Composer, Producer & Mixer from Buenos Aires, Argentina with more than 15 years of experience producing all kind of pop songs with an organic modern sound, always focusing on the artists vision for the song. His home @estudioelmar is a boutique recording studio where most of the Argentine new music scene work (Lali, Wos, Conociendo Rusia, etc..).

Nicolas Btesh in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

"Audeze headphones make my life easier when I’m looking for sound details… I can understand the compression, the low end and the space of the fx in a way that I‘ve never listened to. Is like a restart for my ears."  - Nicolas Btesh
Here's our chat with Nicolas:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I feel very proud of my work on the first album by Conociendo Rusia (2018). I love the freshness and honesty that it has. We made it with so much enthusiasm and the need to have a new project and get on stage as soon as we could. I believe that making a first album is something very special. It’s like an adventure into the unknown and we’re always trying to discover wtf we are doing and who the artist is.

I’m also very proud of recording/mixing The Whitest Boy Alive single “Serious”. They were in Buenos Aires for a couple of days between two concerts and they came by to record one new song. It’s been many years since they got together in a studio and we recorded it live (very special moment). The mix that I’ve made as a reference bounce of the end of the day was almost the final mix that is now online.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My main role on most of the projects is like a bridge between the artist and their songs. As I work as a producer/cowriter on pop/rock songs I always try to understand the vibe of the song first… how the lyrics dialogue with the melody and the chords, how the groove of the words feels and how I feel that energy as an audience. I like to start easy, just one instrument and the vocal… I really focus on the composition and try to emphasize those feelings into the arrangement of the song.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed? Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

My father is a music lover. I was born surrounded by tons of records and instruments in 1990, I also grew up with his “passion” for the Chill Out/Café del Mar explosion (2000s). The combination and remixes of “world music” songs with house loops. Maybe that combination has inspired me to be a “combiner”, an arranger, a mixer.

I got my first guitar for my 2nd birthday and I completely forgot about the party. I was hypnotized by those 6 strings on a piece of wood. Then I did piano lessons between the ages of 7 and 10. After that, I threw myself into the electric guitar when I was 13 and it was all about guitar solos… AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, S.R.V., Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin… And most of those records were already at home but I needed to figure them out by myself. The record that changed my life was Ahi Vamos by Gustavo Cerati. I started writing my own songs and recording them at home with an M-audio fast track and never stopped.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

Lyrics are still one of my “frustrating” moments when working on songs… I give so much weight to them that sometimes finding the perfect words could take me weeks, even months… I find that writing with more people in the room makes everything easier and more attractive. Two “yeses” are better than one “no”. Reading is also important! :).

Any idea worked should take you to a song. Not finishing the work is also one of my frustrating moments. I’ve found that the importance of the foundations and structure of a song are the key to avoid losing the battle.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I love gear and I love plugins. As a producer/engineer I am committed to capturing the sound that I want to hear. I like to mess around a lot with eq and compression while tracking. I reaaally like the Harrison Eq... it's my sound shaper… specially on drums and guitars. I also love my Wurlitzer. It’s my partner and it is in most of the songs I’ve done.

When I’m mixing most of the time I use a hybrid set up with to chains of hardware processing for commit some tracks and a “MOJO” master bus with SSL FUSION, API 2500 & CRANE SONG HEDD conversion.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

If you want to work with someone then ask them and offer to do it for free! Don’t wait till somebody calls you.

All of Rick Rubin’s quotes are better than anything I could say.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

Headphones are one of the most important tools in music. EVERYBODY listens on headphones. Hardly anybody has a 10K pair of speakers and a custom room, but if you do have one, you can’t take it on a trip with you. The details are in headphones… And listening to music while walking, biking or even laying on the couch is an immersive experience.

While I’m working I use them a lot in mixing… specially checking the low end, reverbs and panning.

Also I love to use them when recording vocals... I want to hear the same that the singer hears.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

Audeze headphones make my life easier when I’m looking for sound details… I can understand the compression, the low end and the space of the fx in a way that I‘ve never listened to. Is like a restart for my ears.

I am currently finishing an LP with Mariana Michi and Ezequiel Kronenberg, also finishing the production of Francisca y Los Exploradores LP, doing some singles with Chechi de Marcos, and starting a new project with Jaze.

Nicolas Btesh's Audeze LCD-X headphones