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Audeze speaks to mix engineer, producer and artist Mathias Schober

Mathias Schober is a Berlin based mix engineer, music producer and artist in his own right, with a string of releases on his co-owned label LOSSLESS and other genre defining labels. Over the years Mathias lent his fine hearing for original and remix productions for influential artists like Âme, Solomun, LCD Soundsystem, Depeche Mode, and Dixon as well as being part of Eurovision Song Contest contenders.
 
"My Audeze have not necessarily changed my work, they’ve set me free in a way... I feel super confident adding them to the arsenal." - Mathias Schober
Here's our talk with Mathias:
Can you pick out any favourites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Ahead of picking a favourite I have to say that I love most pieces of music that pass my studio as each of them questions your workflow and your work. Music is as diverse as human beings.
Some of the music that I really enjoyed working on was:
- LCD Soundsystem - I Used To (Dixon Retouch): I always enjoy the view into other people's workflows and stems and these were particularly delightful all the way.
- Probably too early to name the track and artists involved, but let’s put it this way: Two industry spearheads worked on a remix for a Canadian pop artist. The original vocal was quite a performance that worked great in its own right but was hard to implement into the remix structure, the vocals just wouldn’t fit or would simply drown other parts as they were quite heavily nested in huge reverbs. It made me try out a few things in order to put the vocal into position and I love it for the fact that it forced me to try a few different routes.
- BOg - Jahar (Mathias Schober Remix): A remix that I did under my name. A track that ended up being played up and down all over the world, a ”hit" so-to-say. Writing this was an ease, it all fell into place. It’s a super simple melody that wasn’t part of the original but it’s so catchy.

What's the best place for those new to your work to become familiar with what you do?

I have a Spotify playlist that I update from time to time that includes a lot of the tracks that I’ve been working on. It shows up on my Spotify artist page: Mathias Schober

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

I’d like to see myself as a part of the project in a pre-mixdown stage. I don’t want to guide people but I think it’s really helpful to get a different view on your work, chatting about decisions you made, maybe even question certain things without trying to put too much of your personal taste into account.

The psychology of creating is a funny beast that can lead you in all ways possible, not all of them are in the direction you want it to be, which can be good or bad, but it always helps to get someone involved in order to see where you are standing with your creation.
So, if I have to define this as a role I’d say “I’m the guy that takes your project home while you left it at 90% simply because you were too distracted by all those details” a.k.a. your objective friend with the mixdown skills.

How did you get started in music/audio production?

It all started for me when I was 13 years old going record shopping. I spent all my money on vinyl and begged my parents for a turntable and a DJ mixer. It all got me started and from there it took me right to my first AKAI sampler and Fasttracker on MS DOS. This led into the first attempts of making my own music and to learn more about music theory and recording. I got all the books I could get about studios and recording, then started a first job at a studio and studied parallel. There was no turning back.

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

As aformentioned hitting a wall is part of creative work. What really helps me getting past those obstacles is to work against the clock. I set myself alarms and a goal that I want to reach in the given time. It takes out the fact that you question your decisions all the time and forces you to deliver. What the work in the computer and these high-tech tape machines a.k.a. DAW brings with them these days is amazing but it also leaves you with too many options. A time cap for me is a great way to work around these obstacles that you put yourself in the way.
If you’re an artist you constantly face frustration, it’s also a force that moves you to create something “better” next time. I think you have to live with it and learn to use it for your own good. Although that’s easier said than done.

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

My studio itself is my favourite piece of gear. It’s super important to feel comfortable in your work surrounding. I need to rely on my monitoring (be it in the studio or abroad on headphones) and I can definitely do so with the gear that I run on.
As for favourite tools I’m a big fan of saturation / harmonic distortion in general and I can’t live without my beloved Space Echo. Thinking about it I would probably first turn to an overdrive unit than to an EQ, haha.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?

Do it because you love it, not because you admire others. It’s a tough road that puts you through a lot of mental breakdowns but when you get past those it’s really rewarding and you get used to those breakdowns.

How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?

I never worked without headphones simply due to the lack of proper monitoring. Today I wouldn’t go without headphones as they will simply reveal more details. Editing a vocal is much faster and tweaking the decay of bass drums or the attack/release of a compressor is pure pleasure on headphones. I’m amazed by the quality of headphones these days and I can finish a full mixdown on headphones if I have to.
My process in the studio varies, I sometimes do the prepping for a project on the road and then end up fixing the low end of a mix. The next day I would check it in the studio and see how it translates or it’s the other way around. Headphones are a huge part of my mixing work and I couldn’t do without.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

My Audeze have not necessarily changed my work, they’ve set me free in a way. I can now be sure to have a pair of trustful  „speakers“ in a well treated room with me wherever I need them and I love it. I feel super confident adding them to the arsenal.

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

I’ve used them in quite a few projects I’ve worked on lately including a few originals by Âme for Innervisions or remixes for Solomun amongst others. On some of my latest projects I did the heavy lifting while being on the road. Back in the studio there was no doubt in the decisions I’ve made on the road. That’s a gamechanger for me.