Studiotalk with Sasse aka Freestyle Man and Stelios Vassiloudis

  Studio collaborations between full time musicians and performers can be hard work. Chiefly because of the time restraints caused by 2 busy schedules being forced to "sync" but also due to the amount of compromise and cooperation necessary to achieve great results. While 2 heads are usually undeniably better than 1, it doesn't help when one is based in Athens and the other in Berlin. Somehow though, Stelios Vasiloudis and Sasse make it work. "We're pretty used to working on a tight schedule and bouncing projects back and forth so if there's any argument or dispute we usually tend to resolve it quickly and with the track's best interest in mind-rather than dwelling on a bruised ego" says Stelios from his Athens home studio. He's gone to great lengths to professionally soundproof and treat a room in his house and has settled on a tight, minimalist DAW centred around Mac and Logic. "I'm more a musician than an engineer so I much prefer composition to tweaking and EQing stuff-although I can see and appreciate the beauty in that. Just leave me with a guitar or a synth and I'll be happy!" says Stelios of his writing process. Projects usually get started on the Athens end before making their way over to the renowned Blackhead studios in Berlin where Sasse plies his trade. A serious synth and gear junkie, Sasse's original, remix and collaborative productions have earned him serious accolades from the community at large and a reputation as a quality soundsmith. "For the collaboration with Stelios we use Logic for our sessions, which actually is a little bit tedious as Ableton Live is for example is better suited for ftp based work. But Logic has some good features and we have the same kind of setups, so adding new sounds and plug-ins to a sessions works pretty well. So my work is usually the mix down which I do outside the box using my analog mixer and summing unit. I tend to keep things pretty straight forward in the computer, using mostly UAD plug-ins and then go for analog processing for the 2-bus duties. It's a good mixture and I can re-call sessions very easily, which for a professional recording studio like ours is the most important thing." Options and Futures, for Steve Bug's revered Audiomatique imprint was a typical Stelios and Sasse collaboration. "I started working on the initial groove and those classic stabs and just thought to myself… This needs that extra magic touch, the outside perspective. I find it really easy to accidentally digress and go into formulaic territory so having a sounding board AND a good kick in the ass through a collaboration keeps me inspired and on my toes". Sasse promptly obliged and saw the potential to enhance the tune with his own input and that's that: back and forth, nipping and tucking, adding and subtracting, sculpting and finessing. "When I got the initial session Stel had the bass and the main chords already in there and most of the drums were classic Stelios. He's super tight with programming so there's like 20 channels of different percussion, shakers and hi-hats. So after going thru all the sounds and cleaning some low-end issues I laid everything on my summing device. I go normally 16 out to some outboard, but on big sessions I can use 24 out as well using my vintage desk. Usually a mix takes half a day, and a few corrections and extra tweaks the next day. I tend to be fast in mixing as I think if you go into a song for more than 6 hours, you´re lost. You need to nail the groove and then add stuff and get the depth sorted out. Then I send the premaster to Stelios and we play it out a few times and come back for the final corrections.

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