Meet Mike Kuz >> Head Mixing Engineer
Since his 2010 move to NY, he has spent time in some of the city's most notable studios, contributing to works by talent like Walé, J. Cole, OnCue, Just Blaze, Slaughterhouse, Common, Teyana Taylor, DJ Mustard, Ratking, A$AP Mob, Young Guru, Carnegie Hall, Mick, Terry Urban and more.
What is your typical “day in the life?”
Every day holds time for production, mixing and if I’m lucky, eating. Most days also include recording, sound design, mastering, file maintenance or other wild cards. When I have time I like to go to the gym, see friends and catch up on sleep.
What separates SweetSounds from other studios in the city?
The space feels very exclusive. It’s easy to be in here and feel like you’re in the privacy of your living room, even when there are other sessions going on. Of course, the feeling of being in an “official studio” is great, but I think there’s something to be said for the mental clarity clients get to experience while they’re here. Also, you don’t get nice big windows in the vocal booth everywhere you go.
How do you approach a new project?
I like to talk with the artist about what their vision is and I like to hear the material untouched (which happens anyway if they’re recording with me). Hearing music raw allows me to think about all the things I could do with it, talking with the artist tells me what I should do with it. At the end of the day, I’m the liaison between their ideas and a finished product. I need to preserve the integrity of their concepts while supplementing them with the things I specialize in.
What are some of your favorite recent projects? Why are they special?
I’m working on a project right now with Harlem rapper, the I.S.A., who is a close friend of mine as well as a long-time collaborator. [It’s special because] We haven’t been able to connect on a body of work in awhile and it’s always a good time when we’re in the studio. It’s also coming out really good, which is making the experience that much better.
I’ve also been working on a project behind the scenes with another talented Harlem artist, Slim Dollas. I’m not gonna give details yet, but I’m expecting to have good news about it in the future.
What are your “go-to” plug-ins?
Waves CLA-2A & Center, UAD Bax Dangerous Master EQ & Lexicon 224, Valhalla Room, Propellerhead Pulverizer & Audiomatic, Softube Classic Channel, Soundtoys Decapitator & Crystallizer.
Any advice for new clients coming into the studio for the first time?
Don’t be timid on the mic. At the very least, sound like you believe in your performance. This can be a difficult hurdle when you’re new to recording, but it tends to go away with practice and conscious effort. The differences are often subtle but very detectable to listeners whether they’re able to pinpoint it or not. If you sound like you know what you’re doing, people will likely put more faith in what they hear.
Also, know your material when you come in. You don’t want to spend money to practice in the studio when you could’ve done it for free at home.
Anything we can look forward to hearing from you in 2016?
Lots. I’ve already got records with OnCue, the I.S.A, Slim Dollas, JoeyG and a few other artists that will be coming out sooner than later. I’m going to be releasing a couple of instrumental tapes this year and I’ll be teaching/participating in some producer workshops as well.