I feel incredibly honored to have been chosen as a SoundGym hero. During this process, I had the opportunity to speak with the amazing team at SoundGym about my musical journey and experiences. The full interview can be found below.
Music producer and Audio engineer specializing in genres of Hip Hop and R&B, currently from a small town in the south of Germany, Andi Herzog is this month's SoundGym Hero!
Who are you, and where are you from?
I’m Andi Herzog, 33 years old and from a small town in the south of Germany. I live here with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. I was born in Russia and came to Germany with my parents when I was 5. I write, produce, record, and mix music, mainly in the genres of Hip-Hop and R&B. Music is my passion and side business. I work in marketing at a local newspaper as my main job.
How did you get into music?
I've come into contact with music production through my father, who used to be in a band when he was younger. Because of this, he bought some simple music software that caught my attention when I was around eight. These simple loop-based programs (Dance Machine, Dance eJay, Hip-Hop eJay) were simple enough to reduce music making to just fun for a child like me.
This fun spiraled into a passion for music production over the years. I switched to Magix Music Maker at some point (when I was 14 or 15) to start recording vocals and a simple groove box (Zoom SB-246). That was a great experience and drew me into music production, recording, and mixing. I was working with a cheap Behringer podcast set (mic, mixer, and interface), which was right at the time. I didn’t have money for anything else, really.
I enjoyed producing beats a lot and switched to FL Studio next. For a few years, I continued to make beats (but stopped recording) and even sold some online. I’ve gotten to know a local artist with whom I get along very well, so we’ve decided to work together. That’s when I bought a new mic (Sennheiser MK4) and got back into recording and mixing vocals.
Producing and mixing beats helped me a lot with getting better at mixing, but mixing vocals was a new and challenging task. It kept me busy, and my mixing improved so I could offer recording and mixing services to local artists. This enabled me to buy new gear, software, and educational content.
I’ve been doing this for a long time now and still feel like a beginner sometimes. Most of the time, I enjoy the never-ending process of learning new things and constantly improving. Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating since I compare myself and my work a lot to others. But that’s part of the growth process and helps me get new motivation and drive to keep improving.
It amazes me how much more tools and technology we have now as creatives in music. Tools like SoundGym, new mind-blowing plugins, and the insane amount of helpful content on YouTube and the internet are simply amazing. The older I get, the more I understand how each step of my journey has helped me grow in music and as a human. And the original goal of becoming commercially successful has changed into just enjoying my passion and continuing to grow, wherever this may take me. Becoming a father has tremendously changed my perspective.
What do you like to do for fun outside of working on music?
I like spending time with my family, gaming, watching movies, and riding my bike and motorcycle.
My family is the most important part of my life. I love seeing my daughter laugh, and I’m trying my best to make her happy.
I love riding my motorcycle because of the feeling of freedom. I can experience my surroundings differently. There are a lot of great spots and tours here in the south of Germany. The Alps are close and have some amazing landscapes to offer.
What's your most useless skill or talent?
I’m decent at some video games. This skill is not useful other than for fun and entertainment.
What inspires you to keep making music?
Two things give me the most joy: the process of creating a song and the moment of finishing a project after spending a long time working on it.
I enjoy the feeling of creating something new. Normally, that is the stage where I’m most hyped and happy about a song and have the highest energy level. It’s a magical moment where the song's outcome or any direction is irrelevant because it’s all about feeling and fun. This is what keeps me making music.
Finalizing something I’ve put a lot of effort into perfecting is very rewarding for me. It’s a feeling of accomplishment to know when something is done (even though for us musicians this is usually a distant goal as we’ll constantly find new "mistakes").
I’m trying to perfect the songs I’m working on as much as I can while not trying to overthink them and accepting my limitations. I’m happy with this approach so far because I can finish projects in a relatively short amount of time and be happy with the results.
If you could sit down to a session with any artist, who would it be?
Dr. Dre. He is an exceptional artist, producer, and engineer at the same time. There is so much to learn from him and his approach that, for me, he would be the perfect artist to be in a session with. And because he is a hip-hop legend of course.
Any habits you have before starting a session?
Preparing the session to make the session run as smoothly as possible This includes cleaning up the studio, setting up the Pro Tools project with the right template, setting up the mic stand and headphones, and getting water and coffee.
When the artist arrives, we usually have a chat about all kinds of things to get to know each other and create a relaxed atmosphere. It’s important to me to make the artist feel at home and not in a rush. This makes the recording process a lot smoother and the results better.
If you could pick one, what would be the theme song of your life (And why)?
I think "Summer Jam" by The Underdog Project. This song had such a big impact on me when I was young; the positive vibe it creates just fascinates me.
What is your favorite piece of music gear you own?
I love working in the box, and digitally, so I have a few controllers. My favorite would probably be the Maschine Studio, as it is so well designed that you barely need your mouse or keyboard to produce a beat. Second place goes to my stream decks (I'm up to three now).
Controllers have changed the way I work and greatly improved my workflow. They help me reduce the repetitive and boring parts and focus on the creative parts.
What is your favorite SoundGym feature?
The gamification concept is fantastic and keeps me motivated. The daily workouts are my favorite feature, as they get you going immediately instead of choosing games for a long time (like drum sounds or plug-ins).
What does the future hold for Andi Herzog?
Personal growth: trying to become a better person than I am now by learning new things, getting to know new people, and helping others as well as possible.
And of course, a lot of new music with great artists, having as much fun as possible while creating it.