An avid of hip-hop and rap music, currently working on is upcoming single, @Thomas Kumar , one of the first SoundGym members and the man with more than 380 daily workouts under is belt, is this month SoundGym hero!So how long have you been on SoundGym?
Hm, I can't tell exactly when I've registered, though it was due to a promotion from V-Plugs as I'm a Mr. Soundman customer. But I've to be an active SoundGym user for longer than one year, as I've already completed more than 370 daily workouts by now!
What was your first connection to music?
That's hard to say, but besides the usual childhood music contacts (singing children's songs and playing some toy instruments) I've started having classical Guitar lessons at the age of 7,5.
How did you get into singing and producing?
After a short musical break during the beginning of puberty (I was still very excited about listening music), my interest in music production got evoked, as I've stumbled across a very simple "music making feature" of the nero program suite when I was 15,5 years old. At about the same time, I've bought a CD from "Raf Camora", which has a very great sound and vibe for me, and I've found out, that he produced much of the songs by himself. In addition, I've had this prejudice in my head, that it isn't difficult or an art to make music anymore as nowadays music is made by PCs...a huuuge misbelief! ;)
The video for "Kranke Menschheit’ is quite stylish. What were the inspirations behind the video and the song itself?
Oh, thank you! At first, I want to say, that the song title can be translated to something like "weird humanity", as this stands already for much of the content of the song. The lyrics are about events and developments going on in our modern world, which should be reconsidered in my opinion. Anyway, I think, that people should use their own brains and thoughts more to reflect about all the ongoing speeding up proceedings around them. So the whole song should animate to rethink your mindset and maybe even the lyrics self. In addition, the song was written from autumn 2015 to spring 2016, a timeframe, in which I was confronted with bad news headlines in media almost every week, which were for sure some kind of inspiration for me.
An inspirational source for the instrumental was the melodic synth right at the beginning of "Drop the World" from Lil Wayne feat. Eminem, which fascinated me already the first time I've heard the song.
Finally, the video was built around the song in corporation with a local video start-up. It should represent the overwhelming media information and how much I like to release myself from it. Furthermore, I found that amazing location with this awesome view over my residential town, when I went for a walk with my girlfriend about 2 years before. I thought, that this can really good represent something like the view from beautiful nature down on dusty buildings, where most people are living everyday.
So, this was just a short description of my thoughts to this song and video, but there are even more, which would go beyond the scope of this interview. Besides, I always like it, when the listeners are able to build their own meaning out of the lyrics, even when it's a little bit different than it was meant to be originally! ;)
Who have been the biggest influences on you and how do you think they’ve shaped your music?
I won’t say, that someone has had the biggest influence on me, as I’m very open minded and try to gather something useful out of almost everything. In addition, some of the coolest musicians have developed into other directions, which I don’t like so much anymore, etc. But some very inspirational bands and musicians for me are Raf Camora respectively Raf 3.0, Olson, MoTrip, Chakuza, Casper, etc. just to name a few plus Linkin Park, Eminem, Sia, Nelly Furtado, Adele, and so on and on and on..there are really loads of, even classic!
Recently you opened up the New "Mix Critiques" space in SoundGym, tell us a little about that?
Yeah, almost as immediately as I've seen the new community features at SoundGym, I thought about the created opportunity of getting personal mix feedback from sound interested people from all over the world. So I've decided to "ask" the community if they would be interested in such space too. As the feedback was distinct, even from the SoundGym Team itself, I was determined to create the "Mix Critiques" space.
In addition, I've to say, that @Yohai Zilber, a SoundGym Team member, gave me really helpful and polite support during the set-up process - thanks for that! Right after the space's release, some very nice and auxiliary discussions were already going on and I'm really glad about the motivated and polite space members. Finally, I want to invite everybody, who is interested in this topic and haven't done so by now, to join the "Mix Critiques" space for giving and receiving feedback to respectively from other space members - that's what the space is all about!
What have you been working on lately?
I’m currently working on a new single track, which should be released in this spring. That song should spread a little bit more positive vibe than “Kranke Menschheit”. Currently I’m practicing to sing in pitch for this song...
Tell us a bit about your workflow at the studio?
Hm, at first I’ve to say, that I don’t stick to that workflow all the time, but I think, it’s the most common for me. As I’m doing 100% of my music on my own, most songs start with a simple pattern or improvisation I’ve played on the piano or drumpads.
Then my workflow starts to get a little bit diffuse, it really depends on my mindset, how to proceed. When I get some words or phrases in my head in middle of the instrumental production, I’ll write them down on a small memo, e.g. or the other way round.
The next more fixed step is after the vocal recording phase, when I really try to do the technical work (comping, aligning, correcting, etc.) first. Furthermore, I try to make a solid mix, which translates well. Finally, I’m doing the creative work to make everything “shiny” and interesting. In this phase, the most gets done with automation, but it can also be, that I even change the midi-notes of some instruments, just to push the vibe and the feeling of the song to a maximum.
Which is your go-to EQ?
Besides the build-in Cubase EQ it’s definitely Voxengo’s GlissEQ.
What is your go to compressor plug-in?
Voxengo’s Deft Compressor, as for me it’s really nice and warm sounding in addition to it’s adjustable S-curve timing function!
What is your secret plug-in that no-one knows about?
Hm.. honestly, as I'm a student, who got also educated by “The Recording Revolution”, I’m not so much in this plugin hunting thing, you know. I think, it’s much more about your listening skills, techniques and the knowledge of your plugins! So I’ve looked out for some good, appealing and affordable plugins, which I mostly found at Voxengo (due to their excellent sound together with the consistent and lucid GUIs) and than I was going for it, without wasting too much time on checking out every single good-looking plugin on the internet.
So my advice is to really “learn” plugins by reading the manuals (!!) and using them in mixes to get used to them. Just when you’re missing an effect or something isn’t achievable with your plugins, go on the time-consuming plugin discovery till you’ve found, what you were looking for. But, without already investing enough time to be able to say, that it's really worth checking out, I recently found the free La Petite Excite plugin, which I’ve given a try, as I haven’t had a 64bit exciter plugin before. And, of course, for the future, I think about getting some really nice analog emulation plugins from e.g. Universal Audio...
Finally, to show off a little bit of my academic background, maybe some of you haven’t heard about Ambisonics and Binaural decoding, which can be relatively easy done with the free Kronlachner plugins in Reaper, but I’m not using them for my own music productions! ;)
Other plugins that you use regularly?
Most of the time I’m really using something from Voxengo (GlissEQ, DeftComp, Elephant, Trans Gainer, SPAN, …) or Cubase stock-plugins (REVelation, ModMachine, Quadrafuzz v2, Magneto II, DaTube, … I really like them!) and also The Mouth from Native Instruments, which can produce really cool vocal effects.
What does the future hold for Thomas Kumar ?
Hopefully loads of time for making music and even more interested listeners! ;)
And of course, study work for my master degree in electrical engineering and audio engineering.
Last question, What is your favorite SoundGym Feature?
That’s really hard to say. When it’s meant for the whole SoundGym platform, then it’s the fact, that it’s covering very different audio engineering listening aspects and gets always refined. When it’s referred to the “games”, I will maybe say PeakMaster, as it’s bringing you the spectrum, something very fundamental for mixing, a little bit closer while beeing more challenging than those pairwise comparison games.
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