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Track & Trace: Martin Snel

“When the idea and concept of a project come across in the best way possible, I know I’ve done a good job. As a mixing engineer and sound designer, it’s important to amplify the artist or brand’s message. The sound design should not only enhance the visuals but should also be tonally and sonically nicely balanced. It must be recognizable and clear, but also contain a certain quality, which I take great pride in contributing to. The art of mixing is giving all elements the right place in the spectrum. To do this successfully, there’s a toolbox at your disposal: the technical resources, our knowledge, creativity and experience, of course. But also our Foley pit, where we create sounds with different props. No project is the same, so neither is the approach. As a sound engineer at Amp.Amsterdam, I deal with many things, from recording voice-overs to sound design, mixing, and mastering. Our team feels like a family, with everyone having their own specialty. We complement each other well and are constantly learning from each other.” 

Martin Snel

“Sound has to be exactly right for me. If something is one decibel too loud, it can already sound off. I love when something is tastefully produced, but it triggers you at the same time. Producer and mixer Tchad Blake, who has worked with Pearl Jam and The Black Keys, is very good at that. He experiments a lot and sees how far he can push certain elements. He creates problems on purpose and uses them to his advantage. Or, for example, he overdrives an element in the music, making it stand out and sound more interesting. I love when music doesn’t play it safe. Like with Reignwolf. Take, for example, the track ‘Wanna Don’t Wanna.’ If you analyze the sound of this track, you’ll find a waveform that’s completely square from the distortion. It is completely ludicrous and still sounds good and coherent over the speakers. Only one decibel of extra distortion would make the whole thing fall apart. It’s a fine line between music and noise. Testing that boundary is what triggers me.”  

My father introduced me to Pearl Jam, Limp Bizkit, and Pink Floyd. I am a fan of Eddie Vedder; his voice, full of warmth and emotion, is phenomenal. So one of the first concerts I attended was Pearl Jam, with the Black Keys as the supporting act. I went there with my dad. Besides my dad’s love of music, he also passed on his love of film to me. My dad always had the newest Macbook because of his work, so I used to get his old one. It had Garageband and iMovie, which kept me busy for hours as a seven-year-old kid. I made my first video in sixth grade:  a single shot of my friends and me faking fights. On the computer, I put ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ by Carl Douglas underneath it. More videos followed. I soon discovered I enjoyed working on the sound effects and music more than editing the videos. After school, I scoured YouTube and music forums, searching for information about mixing and producing. I started making music and mixing and producing for numerous artists with a friend who now also works in the music business. Still, it took some time to realize I could make a career out of this. One day I had a studio session with an artist I was making music for. Afterward, the studio owner asked if I wanted to work there full-time. And so it happened.”

Listen to Martin’s favorites: