Artist Interview with David Gnozzi (MixBusTV)

Artist Interview with David Gnozzi (MixBusTV)

  • 03/11/2022
  • Gabriel Maceu Faria
  • Creme
  • Magnetismus 2
  • Interview
Platinum mixing and mastering engineer David Gnozzi, based in Los Angeles, shared with us his career secrets, workflow, and the importance of his YouTube channel, MixBusTV. If you want to learn what is a professional sound engineer's approach to his daily studio work, look no further: this guy will give you all the answers you need!

Hi David, thanks a lot for taking part in our interview series. Please introduce yourself to our readers!

David: Hello guys, thank you for having me. My name’s David Gnozzi, I’m a professional mix and mastering engineer, producer, and founder of the YouTube channel MixBusTV based in Los Angeles, California. I do artist development and I’m the creative director of my upcoming alt-popstar Bella Kelly.

Tell us about your audio setup in general and, of course, in which part of your processes our product(s) are most important to you.

David: My work behind the knobs is nowadays split pretty much 50/50 between mix and mastering jobs. I work in analog, for the most part. I have over 40 channels of analog and too many compressors and EQs to even remember all of them at times. My room is built around my main monitors Eve SC3012, the biggest in their line, which I also pair with a few other smaller monitors. I have extensive experience with both the Creme and the Magnetismus 2 - both units are great. The Creme is a big bang for the buck and it packs 2 classic units in one, with the VCA-style compression and the Pultec-style EQ, all in one box. I like it because while it gives that classic behavior we all love from both sections, it’s also not too colored and that makes it suitable for many uses, not just dual bus. I think it’s a great unit for vocals as well, for example. The Magnetismus is quite a unique unit, I can’t think of any other like it. It gives you all the things we like about both a tape machine and driving gear hard, such a reducing peak nominal level in favor of a better crest factor and density on the material. It has a learning curve, especially for people who don’t have much experience with analog gear, but it’s worth learning it because probably even more than the Creme, it can be used to enhance all kinds of material, from drums to instrument busses and everything in between. You will never know where it could end up in a mix, but it will end up on something all the time.

Building an analog setup is all about creating a signature sound and constantly developing it further. Before you got your Tegeler unit, which changes in tone or workflow did you look for and why did you decide to go for our Magnetismus and the Creme?

David: I got the Creme first, and at that time I was looking mostly for a dual bus unit, a glue compressor, and the SSL style has always been my go-to for most of my mixes. The fact that that one came with a Pultec boost section was something very new, and it packed a lot in 2 rack spaces, which was also a good selling point. The Magnetismus came after when I was fine-tuning both my mixing and mastering rigs to achieve that density and, let’s say it, loudness, without squashing things and adding color at the same time when needed. The Magnetismus offers a wide variety of different clipping modes and sounds for that.

Can you describe the most important aspects of your work in 3 short sentences?

David: 1) Make the client happy.

2) It’s all about the details if you want to beat the competition (because you’re in a market when you do this professionally).

3) Don’t be afraid of being bold - if you don’t have your sonic signature, you’re just following trends and you will always be late to the party.

How did your production/mixing/mastering techniques evolve since you started?

David: They changed quite a bit. My very first experiences were in big studios with full analog boards and walls of gear. From there, I started slowly building my studios (many over the years) and I went from having all I could possibly ask from a computer and one or two analog pieces. From there, I kept investing the money I was making in building a bigger rig. This is to say I’ve been in that place, I’ve been working full ITB, I’ve been where many people are now, and I’ve been working with totally OTB rigs. Going back to full ITB at the beginning was humbling, but it also helped me be open-minded and to make what I had available work. When you are ITB you have to make up with creativity for the lack of “sound”, so to speak, and learn very quickly that plugins don’t do the same things as hardware, not in the same way, not if you try to use them as hardware. So that period helped me focus a lot on building custom effects, something I am told brings a lot of my “imprint” to mixes, so to speak, especially on vocals. I have many courses out and many people come to me for my vocal sounds, among other things. I was always lucky enough to have clients on many different genres, one week I was mixing death metal, the other reggae, then pop or industrial, then producing alternative music. So, I think that genre-hopping became a strength of mine, I could contaminate my mixes with sounds and techniques borrowed by the previous genre, add some grit to pop, some modernity to metal, some softness to industrial in a very organic way. Then, slowly, you refine your taste, and you realize you do need gear to compete at the highest level, or at least that was for me, and it made my job easier, faster, and more enjoyable. I’m lucky enough to work and collaborate with many companies and do consultations for them too, so many times I get units first or some special design or unique piece, but I also learned quickly that you need to discipline yourself and not just pile up as much gear as you can, because that will then become distracting, but only really have what you need and use to make your job and your mixes better.

Do you think that gaining experience in audio production/engineering primarily benefits technical skills or does it also affect creativity?

David: I think knowledge is ALWAYS the way and always a good thing. Knowledge can never be enough, that’s why I consider myself a student still. I used to be a musician, signed with Universal Records first, then Danse Macabre, and my years as a songwriter and musician definitely helped me be a much better engineer. It goes without saying that a basic understanding of audio engineering will help any musician to be a better musician. Not only he/she will be able to communicate with the engineer better (and half of an engineer’s job is translating their ideas into sounds), but it will also allow them to perform better, because performing for a studio recording is a whole different ballgame than performing live, and we you do know a little bit of how a mic works or simply what can (and cannot) be done in mixing opens up new ideas and possibilities for the musicians. I’m not a fan of the whole “do it all by yourself” though, kind of an unpopular opinion it seems nowadays, but if you look at the greatest records, they were done by a team of people and that’s for a reason. Specificity of training is important, experience is everything and an artist should focus on being an artist and have a team who enhances their art as opposed to trying to be a jack of all trades because that very rarely works.

The effects of the still ongoing Covid pandemic are a hard hit for society. We think it's important to keep up a good spirit. Did you experience any subjectively positive side effects of the pandemic? Did you spend more time in the studio?

David: Unfortunately, we live in very strange times, to say the least, because of the pandemic, and I have seen many friends and colleagues going thru the hardest times because so many had to cancel tours, shows, events, and so on. On the other hand, though, I feel a bit “bad” so to speak, because I’ve never been so busy and booked as in this time because many musicians went back to the studio, not being able to play live, and more people than ever started or went back to do music because they forcefully had more time on their hands. So, from my perspective, I’ve seen so much new music and project and new collaborations between musicians, and I’ve seen many new possibilities for new musicians to be heard because people listen to music now more than ever and they’re hungry for something new. Eventually, we’ll go back to normal and I think we’ll see many of these new artists and new works bloom.

Are you currently planning on changing your hardware setup?

David: I have a lot, and every time I say “this is it”, something new shows up at the door. The truth is analog has seen massive improvements in the past years. One of many is a digital recall on analog, which is definitely the future. Things like Flock digital patch bay which was one of my latest acquisitions, truth is, is not only plugins that get better, analog gets better. Right now, though, I’m very happy with my system, which is quite large and people would probably say “yeah I bet you are” but you never know. This is not just my job, but also my passion, and we never stop looking for something new.

How satisfied are you with our products and would you modify them in some way if you could?

David: I think Tegeler did a great job with these two units, I’m sure the Creme must be a best-seller because, as I said, it offers a lot in a small and affordable package. I also have experience with the reverb unit (Raumzeitmaschine) which is amazing. I don’t think these units, Magnetismus included, can be improved, other than the digital recall which now the Creme has, I think new units instead should be the focus. I think right now the market calls for versatile boxes, especially aimed at the home studio guys who want a centerpiece to get them going, and that is also expandable to a bigger system in the future.

If you could have our team of experts design your dream analog gear, what would it be?

David: I’m known for my saturation tricks. I think my dream unit would be a super versatile analog saturator, it would be great if I could put all my knowledge and experience with basically almost every saturator on the market and get the best of them all, and then add some features that haven’t been implemented before. But I can’t tell you which ones or I’d give the idea away, and someone is gonna steal it :D but it would definitely be the ultimate analog saturator with many different stages and color options.

Last but not least, what are you working on at the moment? Any projects that will be released shortly?

David: Aside from many mixes and masters for clients, my main focus right now is my artist Bella Kelly, which has been for the past 2 years or 3 at this point. She is an incredibly talented artist that I discovered 3 years ago, and for the first time decided to go the incredibly hard route of developing an artist then try to “break them to fame”, even though fame is not the reason for me nor her. She and her project take most of my time these days and it’s my priority, she has all the cards to be at the top and it took me probably less than one minute to realize that when I met her the first time and she said “hi” to me with the voice of a fairy. We released her first single “Throat” a year ago, and it was an unexpected success. It was supposed to be a “let’s put this one out first”, because the song was so different than anything else she writes, but the single was a success, sitting now at over 700K views and many magazine covers and features. A few weeks ago, we released the second single, “Heartbreak Motel”, which is definitely the style to be expected from her in the future, and we couldn’t have been happier to see this one go even better than the previous, with over 600K after only 5 weeks, featured on big-time press and webzines, and it’s just the beginning. She is on her way to becoming a superstar, and me and the entire team are working very hard on this. Me and Bella then got engaged this year, so I guess another project is to plan our wedding but that has nothing to do with studio stuff! Thank you for having me!

Thank you very much for the talk, David!

End your inner battle between digital and analog.

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