He's a minimal maestro who believes two production ideas in a record is enough. Florian Meindl spills the production beans on mastering, making beats, and why he would always forsake analogue kit in favour of a well-treated studio.
Born in a village in rural Austria, Florian Meindl was infected with electronic music at an early age, DJing as support to Sven Väth and Ricardo Villalobos as a teenager. In 2005 he moved to Berlin, where he released on labels such as Resopal, Trapez and Session Deluxe. With close friend Oliver Koletzki he started Flash Recordings in 2006, releasing primarily their own music but later tracks from Lutzenkirchen and Daso. Internationally renowned as a leading DJ on the minimal scene, he takes time out of his schedule to chat with Sounds/To/Sample.
What's your musical background?
After finishing high school in 2005, I worked hard on DJing and honing my production skills to get my first international releases and gigs. In 2006 I moved from my native Austria to Berlin for a while to gain other influences. Following that I moved to London to study music technology at university, which I'm just finishing.
Who's currently rocking your world as a producer?
Do you mainly use analogue or digital soft synth sources? Do you think analogue really makes a difference?
I don’t use analogue synths, although I do use some outboard compressors and exciters. That said, I do think analogue gear sounds nicer: not necessarily better, just more pleasant to listen to. Digital synths tend often to sound the same and seem to lose expression in the final mix. When it comes to buying new kit though, I think it makes more sense to invest in room acoustics and treatment before splashing out on high-end analogue gear because you won't actually be able to hear the difference otherwise!
How do you see the dance music industry developing over the next two years?
There will be a growing number of new labels and a bigger gap in terms of sales between successful and less successful labels. There will be a growing number of digital stores and the bigger portals will lose some revenue and perhaps have to drop their prices. Music will lose some of its worth, because it will be available ever more cheaply, but there will always be outstanding productions that will enjoy great success. Ultimately it will become even harder to be successful and more work and effort will be needed from producers than ever before.
What is the key ingredient to a great track? Breakdown? Style of production? Bassline?
I think it is the musical feeling that you express in the track. This can come from many things, but it is important to have a combination of a funky rhythm, good arrangement and dramatic breakdown. In my experience, the best tracks are the simplest: I don't think the human brain likes to focus on more than two key elements - like groove and melody - at a time. Show off your production skills through subtle details and nuances.
When building a track how do you normally work? Do you start with the beat and build your way up from that?
Yes, I do. I start by building a groove consisting of percussive elements (kick, snare, percussion and hi-hat). Then I will add bass tones and spot fx, which can be modulated - like reverb on certain drum elements or occasional delays. In the past I've tried to start tracks with a melody but this has never really worked for me.
Any advice on monitoring? Quiet? Loud? Do you prefer flat and boring speakers, headphones or big, phat and chunky monitors?
The best advice I can give is to have proper room acoustics and three different sources of monitoring, namely:
- a big pair of main monitors with a solid bass response, which sound good and are fun to use
- a pair of 'boring' speakers - like the classic NS10s - with a very flat frequency response, and
- headphones - so that you've got a third alternative.
How important do you think it is to have your music mastered commercially? Can you do it yourself as effectively and what tools would you recommend?
Yes, I can do it myself quite professionally, but I always leave the final job to the label's mastering engineer. It is of paramount importance to have a second set of ears on the mastering, as you can get both complacent and used to the sound of your track if you have been close to it from the outset. I would always advise giving some example material or hints to the mastering engineer so they can A/B against that, because lots of tracks at the moment are over-compressed and the musicality of the track compromised.
Loops or programming your own beats from single hits, and why?
I always program beats from scratch, but I use loops for background detail or for certain elements of the beat. A good method, which I find myself using increasingly, is to take a loop as inspiration, throw it into the sequencer, start building melodies etc above it until the track is really overfilled, and then take the original loop away at the end.
What is the secret to being a successful producer?
The ability to express yourself musically in the best way possible and match that with the demands of customers. You need to be up-to-date all the time, developing yourself as a producer, having broad tastes, a long-term plan and good industry contacts. And always remember that while success can come overnight, real success is long-term success.
More from Florian: www.myspace.com/florianmeindl
(c) 2009 Sounds/To/Sample