Welcome to the 8th edition of the IMF Artist Profile, a series dedicated to the Indie Music Feedback community. The goal of this series is to take a look at the personal lives of some of IMF’s biggest contributors, giving you a peek into who they are as human beings. We’ll pull back the curtain as far as our guests allow and hopefully we will all walk away with a better understanding of the music these individuals are creating as we learn more about them.
Suhail or Inforkill, as he is known in IMF, is one of the earlier members of IMF and has long been a staple of the community. A prolific creator and an extremely gifted producer, Suhail is known for giving some of the most detailed critiques and really pushing members to put more effort into the mix and mastering aspects of producing. As an artist, Suhail (or S ^ 2) has covered a staggering array of genres. Each track is mixed to perfection and truly shows the love and time Suhail puts into each and every one. Horizon, a Synthwave track, is far and above my personal favorite.
But it’s not all about the music…Suhail, a Senior Data Engineer, lives in Den Haag, Netherlands with his fiance where he practices his passions of music and photography. Born in Palayamkottai, which is part of Tirunelveli City, in Tamil Nadu, India, Suhail moved when he was very young. He then spent his most formative years growing up in Chennai. Today we will get to learn more about Suhail’s life, his views on producing a great mix, and much more.
Now onto the questions…
Baaz: Leader of the Boards, Critique God, Mix-Master…These are just some of the titles you’ve earned within the IMF Community. If you had to drill down into the core of what makes a mix masterful, and you only had 3 principles to choose from…what would you say they are?
Inforkill: Hah, I’m always humbled when I hear these titles. IMF has become more of a family, these titles don’t mean anything to me 🙂 Hmm, 3 principles for a mix to be masterful, let me think…
YES, it is really important, my projects always used to be cluttered, it was so difficult to find which track is where as things start to pile up. In the end, you just end up losing it. It really helps to have the tracks organized into groups and busses, it makes the workflow clean and clutter-free and it helps you move swiftly with your mixing process.
2: Make sure instruments are not fighting for frequency space in the mix.
EQing is such an important aspect of a mix. It helps to clear out all the muddiness and ensures each instrument is occupying its territory in the frequency spectrum.
3: Panning/Stereo Width
There is a place in the stereo field for every instrument in the mix. Don’t be afraid to pan the instruments too far left and right. The best example for panning an acoustic track is to imagine yourself seeing artists play on a stage, where are the drums? where do the guitarists stand? Where is the keyboard player? etc.
Bonus tip: By combining reverb, delays, and panning automation you can create a surreal stage for the listener when making electronic music.
Baaz: What are 3 major things you should never do in a mix?
Inforkill: When it comes to aspects of music-making there is nothing like ‘you should never do like this’. Try what you feel, if it clicks you have learned something from it, if not you move on and you don’t lose anything.
From my perspective these are the 3 things I tend to avoid in my mixes:
- Making sure not to cross the magical 0dbfs line (Clipping)
- Adding FX plugins without really understanding the consequences of it in the mix.
- Picking multiple instruments or layering tracks with different instruments that occupy the same frequency spectrum.
Baaz: As a producer who has tackled so many genres, what is your favorite to produce and why?
Inforkill: I would have to say any Electronic Music genre, there are just so many sub-genres to it that the learning and enjoyment are never-ending, it’s just impossible to get bored. And I love tweaking analog and digital Synth knobs 😀 if I really have to be specific my current two favorites are Synthwave and Trap. Synthwave takes me back to the good old times and Trap music makes me stay present and allows me to experiment futuristic type of beats.
Baaz: Tell us a little about Den Haag, why did you choose to move there? Do you see yourself staying there?
Inforkill: Den Haag is very quiet and peaceful. That was my first impression when I landed in the city and it still is, the only difference is I have started enjoying this silence a lot more and it just offers such a pleasant vibe. Not too touristy like Amsterdam, Airport is close by and you have a Beach as well. So what’s not to love? 🙂 and the Netherlands is quite a small country, so traveling between cities doesn’t take that long anyway.
Why did I choose to move? I don’t know, things just happened. I was in Tokyo for about 3 years when the major earthquake hit on March 11th, 2011. It was on my birthday, lol. It was a life-changing experience. Then my family started really getting worried. So they gave me an ultimatum to move out which I was really reluctant to do as I loved living and working in Japan. But then I couldn’t put up with the continuous emotional torture so I started looking out and got the opportunity to work in the Netherlands. I had always wanted to visit Europe for work or for pleasure and this opportunity was a dream come true. So I just latched onto it.
Do I see myself staying here? I never know how to answer this question, I’m a guy who just goes with the wind, I don’t mind staying here but if life gives me other opportunities to try out I surely will 🙂 ‘Account for variable change’. One of my favourite movie quotes (21, if you have not watched it check it out) that became more of a life quote for me.
Baaz: Growing up, what influenced you the most that you recognize today? In other words, what has stuck with you over the years that you apply to your life even now? Describe any individuals who have helped to shape who you have become.
Inforkill: Family, Friendship, and Music. Three of the major things in my life that have influenced my growing up and still influences me to this day. Family wise, even though coming from a religious Muslim family my parents never really forced me into their whims or fancies. I was given the freedom to make my own choices. I think it really helped me be who I am. Friendship — I have this group of childhood friends, we always catch up once a year and have an amazing time together. I feel I’m really lucky in that aspect to have such wonderful friendships. We have learned a lot from each other right from childhood days to this moment. Whether it’s studies or way of life, I have learned a lot from them. In Den Haag as well I have a pretty close-knit friend circle, and of course my girlfriend, we started as good friends and ended up dating. She has been a major influencer as well for all the good things in my life.
One other important person from a career perspective would be Mr. VBS Manian. He was one of my early days’ project manager. The seeds he sowed in my early career life is what has taken me this far. I was a fresh mechanical engineering graduate who had no idea about the IT industry. I used to travel in office bus along with him and in those journeys is where he taught me SQL (programming) and nuances of the IT industry. He is a great mentor and guide, to this day I’m very thankful to him.
And Music what can I say, I don’t think I can describe in words what music has given me in this life, I would leave it at that 🙂
Baaz: From our previous conversations, I’ve learned quite a bit about how your job takes up a large portion of your time and can be extremely stressful. For some of the younger members who are looking at starting a new career outside of music production, what is the best advice you can give on how to prepare yourself? How do you balance the job and making music?
Inforkill: Life is a balancing act ain’t it? Yeah, I think work-life there will always be ups and downs, some days are too stressful and some days are just a breeze. But then when you get back home (nowadays when you shut down the laptop or workstation :D) and spend some time making music that you love, you just forget everything. It really helps to start the next day at the office with a fresh mind.
I consider Career/Job very important in life, irrespective of the type of career/job, it teaches you to be regular, teaches you to be dedicated and teaches you to bring order into life and keeps your mind engaged and provides stability.
From personal experience, what I have learned is when we are starting new in a position, We are trying to impress people with our skillset and are always too eager and end up making mistakes. We try to provide solutions without understanding what has happened in the past and what type of people we are working with. My friendly advice would be is to take things slow, get to know the environment, get to know the people working with you, listen before you talk. This would help you set up a nice atmosphere at work and make your work life much more enjoyable.
Next important thing is to make sure you treat work as work and not let it interfere with personal life. There will be ups and downs but in the end, it is work. It starts at 9 and ends at 6. Don’t make it personal, don’t take anything that happens at work personally. It will help you, in the long run, to stay sane.
Regarding balancing a job and making music, well if making music is what you love, you will definitely make time for it, sometimes it is good to take a break when it becomes really stressful, Mind and Body needs to be sane and healthy to pursue your dreams :). Self-discipline is the only thing that will ensure you have a good balance in any activity you choose to do outside of working hours and on the weekends. Try practising it, or even try forcing it if you find yourself slacking (this is where I find myself mostly :D) until it just becomes a regular habit. When I find myself not leaning towards making music, I just put on some video tutorials, it does two things: helps me to sleep (you would be amazed to know how much gets registered in your mind subconsciously when you are in that sleepy state) or triggers my creative juices to go make some music 🙂