Audeze interviews producer, engineer and DJ Sarkis Mikael

Sarkis Mikael is an LA based music producer/DJ, audio engineer, and half of electronica duo KOAST.
When he’s not making his own music he is mixing/mastering or producing at his state of the art studio FinalTone.

 Sarkis Mikael in his studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

"The sound accuracy of the Audeze LCD-X headphones has been a big help when I mix and master." - Sarkis Mikael
Here's our talk with Sarkis:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

2 of my favorite works are Light and Water from my new duo project KOAST.
 #lofi and #downtempo beats with ethereal vocals.

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

When I am working on my own music, I view my role as a storyteller and conveyer of emotions.
When I am wearing my mixing and mastering hat, my role is to help make the artist’s sonic vision come to life while sounding as clean as possible.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

Music has always been a big part of my life, but I didn’t start creating my own music until I was fifteen. I was inspired by a guitar performance from a local band I saw, and I asked my parents to buy me an electric guitar. I spent every moment I could playing that guitar and learning about music.

At my early ages I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, then U2, Radiohead Depeche Mode, Muse, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd…
I went through many phases and got into a variety of genres from heavy metal to electronic dance music to jazz and more.

Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Discovering that Bono was a philanthropist and used his fame to help people in need was a big inspiration. It made me aspire to be in a position where I can also make a positive impact on the world.

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?

Finding inspiration to create can be challenging sometimes.
At times I’m in a complete flow state and make a lot of progress on a track in a short amount of time. Other times I may spend hours on a track and it will amount to nothing.
Whenever I’m feeling a creative block, I try to take a step back, and get back to what I’m working on when I feel like my creative juices are flowing again.

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

For production I enjoy using my Dave Smiths REV 2 synth, Moog Sub37 and my guitars.

For mixing I like the Fabfilter ProQ3, Soundtoys stuff, Valhalla Reverbs, Logic Pro’s built in compressor!

For mastering I run my tracks through some analog gear. I am now using the Manley Massive Passive (Mastering Version), Manley Vari-Mu compressor, Goly Porter Grinder EQ, Wes Audio NG compressor and SSL fusion.
On the digital side, Elysia Alpha compressor, Knif Audio Soma and others.

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

Stay true to yourself and the music. Follow your dreams, always keep learning, and enjoy the process!

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

I’ve been working with headphones since I started production around 2007.
I use them as a second reference in the studio, for tracking, and for Djing.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

The sound accuracy of the Audeze LCD-X headphones has been a big help when I mix and master. It is also a real joy to just listen to music through them and get inspired.
I have high end monitors and a treated room, but if I miss a certain frequency on my mains, the LCD-X is there to guide me.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I’ve been working on new KOAST songs and some collaborations, including one with Sebu from Capital Cities.
I’ve also been referencing mixes and masters on the LCD-X for my clients at my studio Finaltone.

Sarkis Mikael's Audeze LCD-X headphones in his studio