Artist Interview with Andrea Cichecki
- Gabriel Maceu Faria
We are proud to present the first of three exciting interviews we have prepared for the next few weeks!
We're having a chat with Dresden-based sound engineer Andrea Cichecki, who's been performing as a DJ for the last two decades all over Europe, crafting atmospheric music using modular synthesis in a creative, emotional manner. She will be discussing her indispensable setup of a Tegeler TSM and an EQP-1. If you're thinking of combining analog summing glue and that good old tube sound, look no further: Andrea’s done it and we’re looking forward to knowing her tips!
And that won't be the end of it: on Feb. 9th, you can check our live interview with Lauren Passarelli, a Berklee professor of guitar from Massachusetts.
Finally, on Feb. 25th, we will talk with Marco Alexandre (Marlow Digs), a beatmaker, producer and YouTuber from Viseu, Portugal.
They will all be telling us about their creative processes and how their Tegeler devices have contributed to their workflow – while also laying out future projects, discussing their favorite gear, and sharing their secret tips to get the best sound.
Don't miss them!
Without further ado let's dive straight into the first interview!
Hi Andrea, thanks a lot for taking part in our interview series. Please introduce yourself to our readers!
Andrea: Hi, I am a music producer and artist who creates electronic music. I love everything that has to do with synths, sounds and noise and I specialise in that. My musical journey started as a DJ and about 23 years ago. It's something I still love and do as well. I mainly focus on the deep and rich sides of electronic genres such as ambient, dub-techno and the more organic sounding music. Besides my own music I work as a mixing & mastering engineer in these genres and also as an assistant engineer at Castle Studios in Röhrsdorf just outside Dresden, where I help with recording sessions and social media for the studio.
Please tell us about your audio setup in general and, of course, in which part of your processes our product(s) are most important to you.
Andrea: My setup is small but powerful and very effective. It took me several years before I knew what I needed and it also took a long time to learn all the equipment once I had it. Everything I use now is carefully selected and helps to create my signature sound. Last year, my studio got a complete upgrade in terms of gear, layout, looks – I changed everything. I designed a Eurorack synthesizer that suits exactly the music I compose. My MIDI clock makes sure everything is in sync and I have three synths, two drum machines and FX pedals, the infamous Audios, several controllers and tons of software. All is connected to an analogue mixer on which I can balance and send signals to FX or my computer. The mixing desk was a conclusion from having worked with the Tegeler TSM summing box in combination with the EQP-1 before that. I really liked how analogue summing glued my mixes together and how the tubes can give signals more sparkle, richness, grit, body, openness and width. However, I needed faders to control the different analogue devices and ways to route and send signals and, therefore, the TSM got replaced. However, the EQP-1 stayed as I find, in particular with electronic music, it often gives me the glue and finishing sound I'm looking for. I often use it on top of my mix as well as for mastering. I wish I still had the TSM for the meters though, as they were excellent to determine my levels.
Building an analogue setup is all about creating a signature sound and constantly developing it further. Before you got your Tegeler unit, which changes in tone or workflow did you look for and why did you decide to go for the EQP-1 and TSM?
Andrea: Due to my audio engineering studies at the Abbey Roads Institute, I had the chance to hear Neve, API and SSL desks as well as a lot of different microphones and analogue gear. This imprinted a sonic reference into my mind and I started to understand what analogue can do to sound. Now that I'm working in a recording studio myself, where I'm surrounded by fantastic vintage gear, the analogue bug has bitten me too and I decided to give it a try. At Superbooth I saw and tried various Tegeler Audio equipment and thought this would be a good start for me on my journey. I like the modern sound it has with warmth, depth and width to it. As mentioned before, the glue, sparkle and added three-dimensional feel is something I always looked for and the combination of TSM and EQP-1 gave me that right away. But, I also know gear is not everything and I'm constantly working on my musical, technical and hearing skills. Now that I'm on the desk, I also know a bit better what to do to get a bit of the TSM sound back.
Can you describe the most important aspects of your work in 3 short sentences?
Andrea: For me the most important things are focus, creativity and flow on one side and communication, determination and balance on the other. Balance is really important because you often work long hours, it takes years to build a musical career and you need determination to try again when things don't work out the way you expected. However, creativity, working with people and being in the flow make it all so enjoyable.
How did your production/mixing/mastering techniques evolve since you started?
Andrea: At this point in my life, I produce and mix on a daily basis, for long hours and, because of that, I can see that I have evolved a lot compared to my beginnings. The process of creating sounds and making music, tweaking it and finalising it to a final product is fantastic. To me, the most enjoyable part is when I can make other people happy, either with my own music or by helping them with their mix or master and then seeing them grow because of that. Music is such a universal connection that so many people can relate to. I find it very inspiring and I'm very grateful that I'm able to have this life.
Do you think that gaining experience in audio production/engineering primarily benefits technical skills or does it also affect creativity?
Andrea: Yes, totally! It really helps a lot to also learn technical skills. When you understand how your gear works, you can get in a much better flow state of mind, where you can just be productive without interruptions. Because of my acquired audio engineering skills, I'm usually able to handle my gear well and solve problems if something is not right. This knowledge also helps me to arrange songs better. For example, I can choose to place a sound in a range where I need more or less EQ, depending on what I want to achieve in the song. As a result my mixes get better too, it all goes hand in hand. That's why I still practice, read, watch and learn from books and tutorials all the time, it just never stops.
The effects of the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a hard hit for society. We think it's important to keep up a good spirit. Did you experience any subjectively positive side effects of the pandemic? Did you spend more time in the studio?
Andrea: Before Covid, I was in the studio the whole day and that's still the same, nothing has really changed for me personally. It's actually quite the opposite as there are fewer distractions and I can stay focused even better. When it all started, I found it positive that things slowed down, consequently felt less pressured and, because of that, I also got more focused, creative and tried a lot of new things in my studio. Of course, I can also see the effects here at the studio and know how the music industry has been affected heavily but we find our ways and I'm positive it will pick up again. Lastly, I also deliberately chose to focus on the positive things and block the negative influences as much as possible.
Are you currently planning on changing your hardware setup?
Andrea: Always! At least I'm always thinking about it. Right now, I'm very happy with how it is but, of course, there is always something else that I would like in order to achieve something specific or to improve the existing setup. Especially, my Eurorack modular is constantly evolving and so is my synth and beat section, where I can see more things coming in. However, for now, I keep it as it is and learn the depths of my current gear before getting the next thing.
How satisfied are you with our products and would you modify them in some way if you could?
Andrea: As mentioned, if the TSM would have faders, I would still use it. :) I think a good upgrade would be insert points for the master though (ideally switchable from the front) and, potentially, also for the TRS inputs. That would give more flexibility with outboard gear during mixing. The EQP-1 is still my favourite piece of equipment though and I just love what it does to the sound. I tested it many times in A/B and it never disappointed me. It's great that it has stepped knobs and I'm even considering getting a second one. If there was one for the mids, I'd consider that one too.
If you could have our team of experts design your dream analogue gear, what would it be?
Andrea: It would be great to have a little desk for live performances, that has an awesome sound and is not too big and heavy, so that you can take it easily with you. Or a nice little limiter / EQ box for producers that perform live and are on the road, for a reasonable price, would be interesting as well. Of course, Eurorack modules, e.g. a limiter, a compressor, a multi-band EQ or a distortion module would be fantastic.
Last but not least, what are you working on at the moment? Any projects that will be released in the near future?
Andrea: I'm working a lot on my own music at the moment and, for 2022, I already have five different releases signed with labels that I love. In January and February two new podcasts will be out as well and I'm very excited about those too. Besides that, I'm finishing a project that I started last year, continue to work on my album and will release more music videos and tutorials on my YouTube channel. Last but not least, depending a bit on Covid, I also plan on giving workshops at Castle Studios, the place where I work at. The studio is located in the countryside just outside Dresden, in a medieval castle, with 600m2, quite big. I think it'll be an excellent place to invite people to make music and learn from each other.
Thank you very much for your time, Andrea.