Adair Daufembach


Photo: Julio Mendoza

Name: Adair Daufembach
Location: Los Angeles

If we rewind to the very beginning – where did your musical interest came from?

My interest in music started between 1991-1992. I had a friend who was an excellent guitar player on both acoustic and electric, so I asked my dad to get me a bass for Christmas so I could play with this friend. When my dad went to the store to get a bass, the salesperson insisted that the first instrument someone should have is a guitar, so he ended up buying a guitar instead and that’s pretty much how I started playing guitar! Curiously that was the best thing for me since it’s very important for a producer to understand harmony. Of course, bass players would know about harmony too, but the guitar is a more complete instrument for those studies and if you’re a metal producer like me, the best thing is learning and understanding how the guitar works. 

How come you ended up on the path of recording and producing?
I was interested in production and recording right after I got my first instrument. Since the very beginning, I used to record myself on cassette with a regular radio/tape recorder I had, that was a “sign” I think, haha. Also, I was a huge Metallica fan and I’d watch the documentary “A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica” where they show the whole production of the “Black Album.” That was between 1993-1994. It had two parts: One was the studio part and the other one was the touring part, and I watched the studio part probably 20 times more. This was before I even recorded my first album or set foot in a studio. I think that was a sign too! When I had my first studio experience in 1999 with my first band, Eclipse, I still remember the feeling of being in the studio, it was magical! I remember thinking: “I wanna have this feeling everyday.” Around the year 2000, I joined a band which had a home studio with a very simple setup in which we could record as much as we wanted. That was like Disneyland to me! Having that much time available to record my own band blew my mind, and looking back now, I was already taking the producer role and thinking like one before even realizing it.

With tons of awards, features and overall exposure, you have made quite a name for yourself in your native country Brazil. You relocated to Los Angeles, What do you hope the move will bring?
Moving to Los Angeles was not only one thing I really wanted to achieve since I was younger, like having a studio and producing here, but it was also a natural evolution of my career since I was starting to work with some Los Angeles artists, so it made sense. As soon as I got there a friend of mine told me that “everywhere in the world there’s a limit you reach in the music business and that’s how far you go, except for Los Angeles. LA has no limits!” It’s the main hub in the music business and that gave me the chance to work with artists I looked up to when growing up, besides, things move a lot faster in Los Angeles when it comes to music and the music business. Everything is somehow connected to LA, so being here makes everything much easier. I’m living the dream.

What’s the long term plan for you and your career? Where do you see yourself in years from now?
My mission is going to take a long time to be accomplished. I have a long list of artists (heroes) I want to work with and I have to get my Grammy at some point, of course, haha! Looking to the future is important, but I also have to be aware that I am really happy with the life I have right now living in Los Angeles, producing heavy metal and working with artists I admire. I live the dream and I’m a happy person. So, basically, I wanna keep doing the same things I do now, but better and bigger. To be a professional metal music producer is a huge blessing, and unfortunately for a long time I didn’t enjoy that. I’ve been learning to enjoy my life and achievements and I hope the future keeps bringing me more and more artists to work with. So, a Grammy and more of the same in the next three years! That would be great!

What’s the Brazilian Metal scene like these days? Which, in your opinion, are the bands to watch out for in the coming years?

It’s been six years since I left Brazil, but I keep working with Brazilian bands and I hope to keep working with them as much as possible. The main band I think people should check out and follow is a band called Project 46. We’ve worked together for years and they’re very important to me. They’re very talented and I believe in that band a lot. Among the recent projects I’m excited about there’s a band called As The Palaces Burn. They’re from my hometown, Criciúma, SC, and they’re incredible. Also, you should check out Semblant. They’re not a promise anymore, but a reality. They’re under a record label, we just finished the recording a month ago and it sounds amazing. It’s going to be released soon. To be honest, it’s an unfair question because I would like to talk about all the Brazilian bands I worked with, lol, but these are the main ones at the moment. I am also working with a few bands in LA formed by Brazilians, but I see them as international bands, so I’ll stick with those three as the main Brazilian bands among my projects.

In a mix, where do you usually start? Drums, guitars, vocals or something else?
I usually start with the drums. Like Lars says in the Metallica documentary, drums are the song’s foundation, so there’s no way I wouldn’t start there. Then I mix the guitars, then bass and I leave vocals, effects, keyboards and details for last. Another thing I do is I start paying attention to mastering details as soon as I have drums, guitars and bass done. It’s not a common thing, but it helps with the mixing process and the sound quality adjustments for the final master in the end.

Is there any instrument you generally struggle with more than any other in a mix?
Not really. I would have that problem in the early stages when I was learning, but unless somebody sends me an exotic instrument I never mixed before, I have a good workflow on every instrument.

Name a few productions from your catalogue that you feel particularly proud of and why?
My best works are usually the latest ones I’ve done. The first one that comes to mind is Kiko Loureiro’s “Open Source,” elected Best Guitar Album in 2020 by Guitar World Magazine. It was an honor to work with Kiko. When I started playing the guitar he was my hero, so it’s really important to me. Also the three Tony MacAlpine (who’s also one of my heroes from the early days) albums I’ve mixed, especially the Live at EMGTV one. I really like the sound of that record because it’s live and the vibe is incredible! I also mixed and mastered three songs for the game Fortnite, which of course is a very well-known online video game, so that blows my mind as well. I’d include Project 46 again because they’re a very important band in the Brazilian metal scene and in my life as a music producer. They started their career almost at the same time as I did, so that’s really special. Another piece of work that’s very important to me is Cadaver’s “Edder and Bile,” released in 2019 via Nuclear Blast Records and featuring Anders Odden (Satyricon) and Dirk Verbeuren (Megadeth). Speaking of Dirk, we’ve also worked together on “Instagrind” which is the latest release by his own project Bent Sea. The project is going to be released on vinyl now, but it originally came out on Instagram and all the songs are one minute long or less so they could fit the format. Of course, I’d like to include many much more, but these are some of the most important productions for now.

Name a few all-time favorite albums that you did not work on where you think performance, sound and feel all come together in perfect balance.
Like I said before, the “Black Album” would be one of the main ones. It still impresses me and it really sounds timeless. “No More Tears” by Ozzy Osbourne. I love the guitar tone on that record and it still sounds great. Produced my one of my favorite producers, John Purdell. I’d also include “Metropolis Part II” by Dream Theater because it’s such an amazing record…and “Balance” by Van Halen. The latter is not one of their classic records, but one of my favorite ones.

You’ve become an avid user of Toontrack’s products, in particular Superior Drummer 3. How do you utilize our gear in your productions and how does it help in the process?

I started using Superior Drummer 3 basically because of the pandemic. I record with Dirk Verbeuren all the time and, because of the situation we couldn’t work. The studio we have was closed and we were afraid of getting out, just like everybody else. But, obviously the show must go on. He uses Superior Drummer 3 and told me about how incredible it is, so I decided to give it a shot. He recorded the MIDI on his e-kit and I spent some time tweaking Dirk’s sound on the software and, boom, that was it! Since Dirk is really is an amazing drummer and knows a lot about his e-kit I managed to achieve a result where the drums sounded just as real. It basically saved us on that project! After that, it became part of my workflow. There are a few artists that, for different reasons, are not able to record in the same room with me, or with whom it’s just impossible to record acoustic drums. When that happens we work with a good e-kit. I always keep the original dynamics and Superior Drummer 3 makes it super authentic. I have to say that it’s really impressive. Another great use with Superior Drummer 3 are the MIDI packs. I’ve been using them a lot on pre-productions. They’re practical and great for the workflow. When I’m working with a band in a pre-production process, trying different ideas with Superior Drummer’s MIDI packs are amazing because you are in the very early stage of an album and everything already sounds huge, haha. Not only its super fancy to work like this, but also useful because it gives you a really good idea of how things are going to sound in the end. That’s been an incredible tool for the work I do.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working in Finland on new material with Kiko Loureiro as well as Cadaver’s new album. As soon as I get back to Los Angeles, I’ll start working on the new record of a band called Red Devil Vortex which is a great band and I’m really excited about. I am also finishing the mix for the new Sembant album that will released by Frontiers Records, between many other records, haha. I’m busy and I like it!

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