Just a stone’s throw from the Acropolis you’ll find Greek-born producer John Valasis hard at work scoring, producing and sound designing in his gorgeous home studio. His impressive list of credits include Native Instruments, Ableton, BBC, Amazon Studios, Soundiron, 8DIO, UVI, Virgin and Vice Magazine. We get closer to the action…
Tell us a little about the studio…
The studio is located in the heart of Athens, only a ten-minute walk from the Acropolis and the famous historical triangle of the city. It is an in-house 9 sqm room, which was constructed by faithfully following guiding principles on soundproofing for studios and through the exclusive use of biomaterials for some of its core acoustic elements, such as the absorbers and bass traps. The studio was built back in 2014.
What kit are you using?
- Computers: MacBook Pro (Master), AMD PC (Slave via VEP6)
- Audio Interface: RME Fireface UC
- Studio Monitors: Dynaudio Air-15
- Room Correction System: IK Multimedia ARC 2
- Controllers: NI Komplete Kontrol S61, NI Maschine MK3, NI Maschine JAM, Apple iPad 2
- Preamps-Compressors: Handmade Neve FET Preamp, Handmade UREI 1176 FET Compressor, Audient ASP800
- Microphones: Neumann TLM-103, Sennheiser e845, BSWA Technologies SM4418
- Headphones: AKG K271 Studio, AKG K240 MKII
- Portable Recorder: Sony PCM-D50
- Analog Synth: Moog Mother-32
- Studio Furniture: Zaor Miza Z Desk with Gripracks
- Storage: LaCie 2big Thunderbolt 2 (6TB), CalDigit AV Pro (4TB)
Which DAW do you use and why?
I am a proud Cubase user since the Atari era. I was fifteen years old when I started using it as a MIDI sequencer. Since my professional experience with Cubase spans 23 years, I feel very comfortable producing any kind of music really quickly. I also appreciate its multi-platform architecture as my setup consists of MACs, PCs and tablets. Recently, I was asked by my friends at Ableton to produce and mix several demo tracks for Live 10, so I took the chance to dive into the world of Live. Really excited so far!
Favourite piece of gear?
Native Instruments Maschine MK3! I love the fact that NI finally decided to add an integrated audio interface to that great piece of gear. That helps me to keep my backpack lightweight for live performances by avoiding the need of having an additional sound card—the RME Fireface UC in my case.
How often would you say do you spend in your studio per week?
A few years ago I used to spend the most time in the studio, from 10 to 16 hours per day. But those days have passed with the birth of my second child a couple of years ago. Now, it’s hard to find peace of mind between the madness and the chaos caused by the children. I’m not complaining at all; due to my fast workflow, I’m still able to deliver on time, even if the deadlines are super tight.
How do you use your studio?
I actually work as a freelance composer, producer and sound designer. Therefore, I mostly work alone. I am lucky enough to work for some of the leading companies in the industry, such as Native Instruments, Ableton, Amazon Studios, BBC, 8DIO, Soundiron and more, delivering scoring, production and sound design services.
Besides that, I use my personal music project “Poordream” as a vehicle to freely express my emotions and influences without defining limits and by exploring sound and composition beyond the boundaries of conventional electronic music.
What is next on your shopping list?
A Sound Devices MixPre-6 and a pair of Earthworks TC-20 omnidirectional microphones. I think it would be an awesome upgrade of my mobile recording gear compared to the Sony PCM-D50 that I currently use.
Anything annoy you about your set-up?
Nothing about my setup. I’d just prefer a bigger room in order to accommodate a grand piano and a huge couch for relaxing.
Dream piece of gear?
The new Mac Pro that will be released next year. I would like to be able to run my hybrid orchestral templates without the need of a second, slave computer.
What is your top piece of production advice?
Listen to as much diverse music as possible. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the better!
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Build a place based on YOUR own needs, a place that you would feel comfortable to live in. Be creative and make the most of the gear you have at the moment. Don’t wait for the moment when you will be able to spend thousands of dollars for the high-end equipment that you crave. Let your passion and originality shine!