Audeze catches up with DJ, producer and engineer Alex Gámez
November 03, 2022
Audeze catches up with DJ, producer and engineer Alex Gámez
Alex Gámez is from Barcelona and has been involved with music since 1995, firstly as DJ, and later as artist, sound designer, producer, mixing and mastering engineer. Since 2005 he signs his artistic works under the moniker Asférico.
In January of 2006, Alex founded Störung, a platform focused on electronic and experimental music and visual arts. Alex directs this project, which seeks to promote and support a variety of creative tendencies of the electronic music field, providing live performances, radio programs, and releases, to make these musical and artistic tendencies available for the audience to hear and enjoy.
In 2010, with the experience and knowledge accumulated through the years, he started Störung Studios, which he leads as chief engineer with more that 100 different projects, not only of electronic music, including work done for Murcof, Federico Albanese, Alina Kalancea, Origamibiro among many others artists. Störung Studios works according to the idea of Gámez of processing with the greatest care and precision all music and sound to reach high quality levels, while following the goals and deadlines requested by the customer.
"Since I worked for the first time with Audeze they have been always my first choice on headphones when checking details, mix/master translations at the studio or listening to music in a proper way. - Alex Gámez
Here's our talk with Alex:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?
Murcof’s music is always both a pleasure and a big responsibility to work with, both ‘The Alias Sessions’ (which is a double album) and being able to re-master amazing works that are nowadays classics, such as ‘Remembranza’ and ‘Cosmos’ are probably some of the most complex works I have done. On the other hand, the most intense and personal works have been maybe the ones for Alina Kalancea, since on those occasions I don’t only run the whole technical process as engineer but also the production. The work is mostly done on the analog domain with constant use of unique vintage synthesisers and reel-to-reel tape. A lot of hand craft in those works, maybe the antithesis of fast-food, short-deadline “music.”
Some other works, released in the past on Denovali Records, are also worth, in my opinion, of a deep-listening.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?
Basically as an artist producer and sound engineer (recording, mixing and/or mastering engineer). But it depends on the nature of the project, the needs of the client and the team behind.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
During my childhood, as I guess many people of my generation, I listened to a lot of radio, then started recording tunes on cassettes trying to understand how that music was done. Creating my own collages/mixes from radio, sometimes even using my voice or some friends in between the snippets, was a great learning process and very exciting. From the music I could access in my location, electronic music was the one I liked most at that time (even if most of it was not of quality, but was the one then available). When I was 13, I got my first turntables, mixer and some records, soon I started DJing in parties, radio stations, recording sets, and after winning some DJ awards everything became more serious, playing in clubs and events.
The next step was clear for me, producing my own music. I was listening to more and more music coming from abroad. I spent a lot of time in record shops in Barcelona looking for vinyls which really taught me new things. In my opinion, listening to music is at least as important as experimenting or playing your own stuff. The development of my artistic project continued, getting to experimental music after a long journey through many more standard types of music. Any, but especially good electronic and experimental music needs great engineers and technical skills, so that’s why, at that time, doing music was not enough for me to get proper results. The knowledge was not only about music itself but also about the physics of the sound, one of my great passions. I guess it has been all a natural development and that’s why I’m also running Störung Studios since 2010.
Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
Without any doubt, at first, the DJ world influenced my life. I was always listening to sets and going to clubs to meet those DJs that were on top of the scene. This made me also understand some other sides of the music world, its life-style, contacts and the organisation of events. Many electronic artists of my time influenced my sound, like the early Monolake albums, Plastikman or Maurizio/Basic Channel among many others. The more music I listened to, the more rich my sound-world was, so from Bowie to Vangelis, passing through Sade, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode or more experimental stuff as the Miles Davis or Herbie Hancock free-jazz era, sci-fi soundtracks or “musique concrète”; anything from field recordings, minimal sounds to complex musical compositions. It is always a pleasure trying to discover something new for me that also helps in the endless process of improving my technical and artistic skills in some way.
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?
Just one? :) In the world of music/sound there are plenty of moments of frustration, especially if you take it seriously like I do. Passion is needed to keep going for years and years and I think being a musician/artist/engineer is forever, from the moment you cross the no-return line in which living without tones of music/sounds around is not possible for you anymore. The frustrating moments started quite young when I noticed that being good (or better than others) was not enough to achieve a certain position, work or recognition. I think, at first, you suffer more from society due to that kind of things, in my case, the lack of family support. Once you learn to protect yourself from all those “superfluous” problems, like what others may think about what you do, the main frustration comes from trying to reach perfection in the things you do (in music/sound). Since this is a concept impossible to realize it is always by my side and I learned to live with it. In short, what you really love is what can really make you happy but also can hurt you. Knowing to live with it is a big part of the learning music process.
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 don’t consider myself a good instrument player. I always say that my ‘instrument’ is the mixing desk. It opens a world to any kind of music and great part of the magic of a song/album happens there. Synthesisers are also extremely necessary for me when I do the sound design for the projects I work for. It is one of the ways of enhancing the personality of an artist or project. Not just another factory preset…
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
I wouldn’t say wisdom, but as I said earlier, to stay on this scene/industry/art you must have passion. The path is usually hard for most of us. Being able to pay the bills with this kind of career is difficult, doing great and serious music/sound is very difficult, but doing both at the same time is…
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
Headphones have been always with me. Headphones have been always the cheapest way to have good sound anywhere. I have used different types on different periods and phases of my career. Closed/isolated for DJing and listening while I was traveling… and more open designs when I started to listen in proper spaces and working in the studio.
How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?
Since I worked for the first time with Audeze they have been always my first choice on headphones when checking details, mix/master translations at the studio or listening to music in a proper way.
I have being working especially with the LCD-MX4 for ‘The Alias Sessions’ by Murcof and ‘Pròfugs’ Soundtrack by Landry Riba, with excellent transients and low-frequency precision. Nowadays, I’m working in the new albums of Alina Kalancea and Fogh Depot with the LCD-X, which we own at Störung Studios. I also worked in some past projects with the LCD-XC, which are useful in certain situations.