Jakob Herrmann runs his day-to-day operations from the top floor of Stora Teatern, a mid-17th century building just off one of Gothenburg’s busiest streets. In here, you’ll either find him recording, mixing or producing a new record, maintaining his arsenal of gear or touching up his collection of drums – if he’s or not on the go to somewhere else in the world, that is, for another one of his many international audio missions.
Name: Jakob Herrmann
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Raised Fist “Anthems”
Evergrey “The Atlantic”
Cyhra “Letters to Myself”
Vildhjärta “Måsstaden under vatten”
You started out playing music already at the age of five. How come you finally ended up behind the console as opposed to on the stage? Where does the interest for recording come from?
I was always interested in recording and most of all producing. My first band did very DIY-type recordings in our jam space. After that I went to music school as a drummer, and there happened to be a studio where I spent every single moment I could spare for two years. After that it was basically “all systems go” for sitting in the producer’s chair instead of on the drum throne. I’ve never been much into songwriting, but I’ve always found it fascinating to record other people’s music and make it the absolute best it can be, and that mindset hasn’t changed one bit.
You have a true passion for drums and particularly for recording them. What’s so great about drums?
I love all instruments, and I actually started out as a piano player. But drums just makes my heart beat a little faster. Ever since I got my first drum kit, I’ve been obsessed in understanding how to make certain sounds and what it is that makes drums sound the way they do. I know it’s a bit excessive to have 30-40 snare drums in a studio (as opposed to my 10-15 guitar amps, haha!) but to me it makes perfect sense! The drum kit is the perfect instrument, and I think there is nothing more satisfying than a well-produced drum sound.
In fact, your drum room is known for its great acoustics. What, in your opinion, makes it stand out?
The drum room, as my entire studio, is located in an old theatre from the 1850s, but the actual studio build is very modern. It’s got very high ceilings, and it’s got the perfect balance between a short controlled sound and a full and rich decay. For anything rock and metal, it’s an amazing room.
You have a pretty impressive collection of snare drums and cymbals, tons of which were recorded for these EZXs. What was the selective process like? What sonic qualities did you go for?
Selecting drums for this wasn’t easy. The two kits in the Duality packs are my two main studio kits, so that was a no-brainer, but narrowing down the snares and cymbals was hard. Ultimately, I went with a very wide palette, to cover everything from old-school muffled sounds all the way to wide open and ringy sounds that take a bit more space and have a given place in modern productions. Some of the snares were easy to pick, like the snare that Adam in Vola refers to as my “secret weapon” snare, but sometimes I also had to choose between two favorites, which wasn’t easy. I also asked Alex to bring a snare or two of his own, one of them which I knew from the start I wanted in there.
About engineering and recording, you’ve said that it’s your job but also your passion. What is it like having a career in a field which is also your biggest passion?
Very life consuming. I’m in my studio basically every day of the week, and I don’t really have any other interests. I love my life, and my life is built around me being a producer, not the other way around. This is basically what I’ve been working with my whole life, and with it being my not only biggest but really my only passion, there is really nothing else I can see myself doing.
Walk us through a regular day “in the life of Jakob Herrmann”!
I wake up, I pet my dog, I go for a workout and then I’m off to the studio. At the end of the day I go home, and at night I usually look at my calendar to see when I have a small gap between projects so I can travel somewhere. Then it’s all rinse and repeat.
What’s the one project you haven’t yet done that you absolutely love to do? What’s at the top of your bucket list?
Oh, I don’t know, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some artists and fellow producers and mixing engineers that the younger me would have never thought possible. And having recorded with everything from international superstars like Anthrax and Machine Head, to big local pioneers like Dark Tranquillity, Evergrey and In Flames, as well as working with some of my personal childhood heroes, I’d say for me it’s already hard to top that. At the same time, I enjoy working with bands and artists on all levels. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing, and be thankful as long as I’m able to do it.
You used a mid/side (M/S) microphone placement technique for this project. Explain a little more on the background of this technique and its advantages. Also, please walk us through your general philosophy for the Duality EZXs.
I chose to add M/S mics because to my ears it adds focus to a wide drum sound. It was invented by Alan Blumlein in the early 1930s, but is still a micing technique that has a lot of use even in modern metal productions. If the kit sounds huge but lacks definition, the M/S micing can help add some “closeness” in a fantastic way. The mid microphone acts as center, while the side microphone adds ambience and stereo spread, and the balance between the two can really make a kit sound huge. In some of the presets I’ve used it on only toms, but in others the whole kit is included. My vision for the Duality EZXs was to give the user endless possibilities within the same basic kits. For example, it’s possible to add or take away or phase shift all four kick mics in different combinations. And having separate controls of the ambience mics, the M/S mics, the different distortions, parallell compressions and reverbs make it an extremely versatile kit. I’d say the basic guideline for me going into this project was always making a very lively and natural-sounding EZX but with lots of control.
Finally, listening back to the finished sounds and working with the products – what’s that like? Did they come out as you had envisioned?
Yes, very. It was fun to be allowed to do my own vision without any restrictions for two drum libraries, that are similar but at the same time very different. And choosing Alex as drummer for this was obviously the right choice, as he’s just as picky with good drum hits as I am with good drum sounds. I’m very proud of my Duality packs and I can’t wait to see and hear what people do with them!
WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE.
Check out the two Duality EZXs here: