What do Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Kid Kudi, Jay-Z all have in common? He goes by the name of IRKO. An Italian multi-platinum award-winning audio engineer, who has been the ears and mind behind some of the biggest names and songs in the music industry.
We met up with IRKO to talk about his work, inspiration and client habits.
You were born in Italy and now reside in LA, can you tell us a little bit about the move and how you started in the music industry?
Growing up near Venice was great! My family and I traveled a lot and I got to see the World from a very young age. Music was everywhere so it was easy for me to fall in love with it. When I was around 12 I discovered Hip Hop music and that was it for me! Got started with DJ'ing, producing and eventually opened my first, second and now..third studio!
Even when I was in Italy I worked almost entirely with Americans stationing in a nearby Air Force base so it was only natural for me to move out here, land of opportunity!
Not everything is always smooth sailing in the studio, what is the most frustrating thing you experience in the studio every now and again?
I love Music and I would love to see all great songs I mix to be on the charts, it doesn’t happen all the time unfortunately but at least I get to jump around the studio while working on them!
Thumbs up for the positive attitude! Do you have any funny insider stories you can share with us about a particular studio session with an artist?
For sure. Here’s an example: My Client receives a mix. She sends in 3 pages long note saying more drums, more vocal, more harmonies, more this more that, basically more everything besides the guitars. So I ask: “Should I turn down the guitar?” She goes.. “Yeah that’s it!” [he laughs]
Or another one: Client receives my mix and asks for more bass. I send in the new mix with more bass. clients ask for even more bass. I say ‘Don’t threaten me with a good time!” clients get new mix. Client asks for more bass. So I call him and ask ‘What system do you use to evaluate the mix?’ He goes ‘This Bose system with the sub, oh the sub seems to be off’ [he laughs] In the end we went back to mix one [he laughs]
Sounds very familiar! Let’s talk plugins. We’ve heard that you’re a big fan of the Mäag EQ 4, any particular reason?
I used a nice eq on my master buss for years while working on consoles, when I moved to fully digital mixes I brought some of my analog workflow into the DAW. The Maag eq4 has been on each one of my mixes since. All knobs are very useful, I find myself using the air band a lot, the 2,5k shelf too and the 40hz knob of course – that’s my main man!
What was the last piece of gear you bought?
My recording engineer Stef has been on a shopping spree for recording gear for the new studio, fancy mics and pres mainly. Besides ‘digital gear’ like a certain MEGA bundle subscription [he winks] I’m getting new mains for the studio, boom bap ladies and gents!
Last but not least: Do you have any advice for young budding producers out there mixing in their bedrooms without the perfect space?
If the room is not acoustically designed, cut it out of the equation so that it won’t lie to you. Use headphones and your car maybe?
Also, you can reference other records a lot. If you know this song sits right, try to match it. Look up my mixes for that [he winks and laughs out loud].
Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure hanging out, and wishing you all the best!
Pleasure is all mine, thank you!
Want even more IRKO? Check out his page here: http://www.irko.it