This week, we had the chance to catch up with Lars Deutsch, film composer, producer, and mixing engineer. He has produced artists such as Amiena and Paloma Rush and composed over three hundred film scores, as well as scoring commercials for Adidas and Volkswagen. Lars took a break from his busy schedule to talk with us about how he uses Newfangled Audio’s plug-ins in his mixes.
Your productions are clean, crisp, and energetic. When did you first become interested in audio production and how did it develop over the course of your life?
Thank you. Clean and crisp was an issue for a long time. Doing film music, I used messy reverbs and a diffuse sound to get the emotion. Also sometimes to hide the fake classical instruments. Working more on pop, it took me a while to unlearn this approach. I still catch myself using too many tracks or enjoying my “mud” too much.
It took me a while to realize how much of the production is the storytelling. When I moved to the US I started to work with Irko—who is a great engineer. Irko also mixed the last album for me. He has a very clean sound, so I used that as a benchmark and fused that with other elements I like. I mix all my own film work; I do a lot of audio post production; I mix some of my productions; and also mix for other people. One of the things I really enjoy is when I get an “ok-mix”, with everything technical in place, so I can just focus on blowing it up and carve out the emotion. Almost like a remix.
Over the years, which projects have been your favorites to work on?
I love scoring big images. Commercials, show themes, audio logos. I also love writing with two guitars in the room with an artist. I recently scored The Passenger, based on a Stephen King story. I had a lot of freedom on that. There is a subtext of perception out of line, so I created these out of sync swells out of reversed violin bow taps around clicking sounds that fit nicely around someone using a tire iron to “take care” of someone.
You’re currently working on an album with Amiena. How did you two connect?
She was playing a show the same night as an artist I was developing. I played guitar at the show. She liked the material and felt her music needed an update.
While working with Amiena, did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your collaboration at all?
We “music quarantined” together and returned to work after a longer break. It works for and against you. It gives you the feeling you have more time, but Amiena obviously wants to play these tracks live as soon as possible.
Your work with Amiena heavily features Newfangled Audio’s Elevate. What drew you to this plugin?
I won the Elevate Bundle at an Eventide event with Rafa Sardina at Westlake in Toluca Lake. I went home, installed the bundle and I immediately liked it. I have used it on one project in the master bus—but I use it all the time on individual tracks or groups. I use both Punctuate and Elevate on short strings, prepared pianos and drums. I have a send to Saturate set to a pretty drastic distortion.
How do you use Elevate on different tracks on the album?
We have a song called “My Blood”, which is an unusual hybrid. It is like ‘70s rock, but instead of guitars it has a string section. I liked the riff and I was happy with the strings and the drum beat, but making it all unrealistically tight and crunchy was the missing ingredient. Amiena’s voice is very smooth, so I use Elevate and Punctuate to create sharp edges / maximum contrast.
Do you use any other Eventide plug-ins or hardware in your songs?
What are the most important items in your studio, hardware and software?
I am all set up for writing and total recall—so not much outboard gear. Antelope Audio Zen Studio Synergy Core, the new MacPro and SE Munro Sonic Eggs. I am on Logic. My room is not ideal, so I am very happy that my Focal Clear Pros translate really well with what I hear in other studios and the rest of the world.
Where do you stand on using hardware versus software; and acoustic instruments versus digital ones?
For a lot of what I do total recall is king. I like the digital workflow and I am ok with just a good mic and preamp. I love real players and the expressiveness of a real performance, but ideally on a project where I know that I will not have to re-record something or I am the last person that has to approve. I think I am an analog romantic that is too pragmatic to go down this route. One big eye opening experience was when Barry Rudolph showed me transformer boxes he built. This was a sound I was looking for—analog, kinda heavy and polished—but without the usual side effects. I use a lot of transformer emulations now. To go down the hardware route would mean no more offline bounce—which is not really an option for my work.
If we were to open up your music library, what would some of your most-played songs or albums be?
I usually listen to whatever I need for the next project. In my case that can range from hip hop to atonal classical music. To check the Amiena mixes I A/B with the latest Grammy nominated female artists. I always feel like I am failing to catch up as I work with audio all day. I think of releases in the last couple of years, I would say Beyonce’s Lemonade got played a lot, in the past a lot of U2, I probably have watched Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” video fifty times and when I go for my annual run it is still System of a Down and Rammstein. I like Arvo Pärt to wind down.
I am excited to score and sound design for a flying theater / ride that is currently being built in Beijing. 23.1 sound and we will do the final mix in the theater. Great images and nice people to work with. 2021 will also see the release of the Amiena album, and hopefully the implementation of alarms and soundscapes I created for a big hotel chain. Like everyone, I am looking forward to normal sessions and shows!