Should I say that was a huge surprise for me when I contacted Brigitte asking for an interview and she replied: sure, why not? Ask me in year 2000 if I were ever to speak with her - I would never imagine that.
So we have here Brigitte, sound producer, chief of mastering for one of the best Nogu Svelo!'s albums:Box (2000).
Interview withBrigitte Angerhausen is a huge luck for nogu.info. She is a very big producer working with Nelly Furtado, Sheryl Crow, Mark Knopfler, Megapolis, Nogu Svelo and many others!
In the text of this interview we presume that producer equals sound producer equals person responsible for mastering for simplifying the language and readability.
>>>-You were born in Germany, but you’ve studied in Columbia College in Chicago, USA. How did this happen?
Brigitte: This is a funny story about coincidence, luck, and the strong urge to be free and curiosity. After school I knew for sure, I wanted to study sound engineering. To be able to study sound engineering in Germany you need to pass a musical entry test as if studying a classical instrument at a music conservatory. This was all right by me, since I studied classical piano since the age of 5, the only thing was, I did not want to prepare for this test staying at home with my parents yet another year. So the idea came up to prepare at the house of relatives in the U.S. . Once in the U.S. somebody handed me an issue of Mix Magazine, and right in this issue I found a list of all Universities and Colleges in the U.S. to study sound engineering… I got very curious to find out how these studies went and visited a number of places within the U.S. . I loved the american very practical and hands-on approach to this matter and decided to apply for studying at Columbia College in Chicago - thus escaping from home at the same time…I never regretted this decision.
>>> -Can you please tell us about the key dates of your life. When you acted as a producer for the first time? What was your first album you’ve worked on?
Brigitte: Maybe I need to specify a little here. In the first years of my career I worked as an inhouse engineer responsible for the sound for films, then I spent some years in Madrid also working on film sound mixing. Later (around 1991) I returned to Germany and started to work as freelance sound engineer first in the Cologne area, later expanding my territory. In the beginning I was responsible for the sound of the recording and mixing. As a producer, being responsible also for content relevant issues started a few years later. The exact time line was never important to me,
>>>-How did you meet Oleg Nesterov? Or how did he meet you? Can you please describe the evolution of your work together? Are you still in contact with Oleg in 2016?
Brigitte:I remember this as follows, but I am not sure, whether or not I got the order right… I remember working with the singer from Gorki Park, Nikolai Noskov, on one of his first solo projects for Polydor. In these days engineers were booked by the studio manager on a session that was taking place in one of their studio, and they had called me in to record the entire album. Nikolai had invited russian musicians to his recording session. One being the drummer Alexander Filonenko. He later was the drummer on Megapolis „Grosa y Derewnje“ and I think it was through him, that the first contact was made. I met Oleg and Mischa in a Café in downtown Cologne and we had a very good connection right from the start. To me working together with Oleg Nesterov and Mischa Gabolev - wether it was working with them as a producer team for e.g. Mascha y medvedje or Mike Borosow, or working with them on their own musical project with Megapolis - this was to this date one of the most important, joyful, creative and productive gathering in my working history. I simply love working with them. For their creative and unconventional approach on music and life! Yes we are still in touch. We actually worked together again on the two last productions „Supertango" and "Is Gisni Planet" here in Cologne.
>>>-Crucial dates for our interview are 1996: when you met Oleg Nesterov and 1999, when you acted as a producer for Nogu Svelo’s Box album. What happened in between those dates? Would it be correct to say that you worked a lot with Russian musicians during these years or it was still relatively small amount of your work load?
Brigitte: There was this „phase“ were I spent quite some time in Moscow. I think it was the year of 1997 I spent over six weeks in total in Russia, and I also worked for russian bands here in Germany. Quite an intense russian time :-) I even decided to learn how to read and speak russian a little to improve communication in the studio. I think the word started to spread around, after I got invited to work for Alexander Barikin in Moscow, and another band heard about me and my mixing in town, and they asked me to mix 5 of their tracks (Swintsowi Tuman). This in return attracted more bands to ask me to work with them. The outcoming of „Grosa y Derewnje“ also encouraged Oleg and Mischa to ask me to mix the debut album of Mascha and Medwedje, and album I really like up to this day.
>>> -Do you remember who was the first person to contact you with request to be the producer of Nogu Svelo’s album?
Brigitte:I believe Oleg Nesterov made the first contact to present the band and their idea of the album „box“ to me, the rest was then talked between the singer Maksim Pokrovsky and I directly.
>>> How long did they have to wait until you had a free spot in your schedule?
Brigitte: no idea…, I hope not too long ;-)
>>> -Tell us a little bit about the moment when you first heard music of Nogu Svelo. How did this happen?
Brigitte: I heard some rough mixes, and all my attention was directly drawn to the voice of Maksim. There was so much strength radiating from his voice. I immediatly thought this is a very special singer and person, without having met him personally yet. There was something very powerful and something very vulnerable at the same time about his singing. Later I had the chance to see him live in Moscow - he was amazing as a frontman and performer on stage! In the studio, working on his vocals together I was amazed by his skills, intonation, phrasing, timing etc. never a problem
>>> -Box sounds completely awesome, a lot of people were shocked in 2000 when it was released. A lot of people are shocked now when they listen it. It’s so much a complete thing, but it also sounds very different to all other albums of the band. Have you listened previous albums of Nogu Svelo (Haru Mamburu, Siberian Love, Happy Cause I’m Pregnant (blue, green)) prior to start working with new material for Box album?
Brigitte:wow, this is a very interesting information for me, because nobody ever told me this. Fans in shock! People in shock? Do I have to worry?
No you don't! Box is one of the most loved albums of Nogu Svelo!. If you would ask Nogu's fans about best album, 50% would name Box. I think what you did is you have found a mature sound of Nogu Svelo! They were energetic and powerful on previous albums, but the sound didn't always reflect that. Especially there was a huge difference between them live and album records. So Box was a huge step forward, people were shocked in a good way - like wow, what a sound, what a NoguSvelo!.
Brigitte: Yes I listened to Haru Mamburu and other songs previously released. But it was also clear Maksim wanted something different sounding in these days. Something powerful and somewhat hard. There were bands out like "Rage against the machine“ or „Placebo“, and „Kraftwerk“ was a very big idol of theirs. all creating a harder sound with guitars and keyboards, yet a relatively „soft“ material as far as composition is concerned. I had the impression this will be the „new“ Nogu Svelo, they set out to change. Since I did not follow up on their further development I never realized „box“ was different to everything else...
>>>-Have you noticed anything in particular you would like to change in how those previous albums sounded? Like “I won’t let happen xyz on Box”. I mean here that maybe you heard on Nogu Svelo's past albums some mistakes in mastering, mistakes of the sound produccers, so you would say to yourself: I'll avoid doing *something*, I'll do *something*differently.
Brigitte: To be honest: i have a hard Time answering to this.I have no idea what was the reality for neither the artists nor the Producer nor the Mastering engineer. Room Acoustics, Budget , time, Equipment available ??? Etc . All of These factors Play a considerable role for the final Sound. So its sort of too easy to have an opinion afterwards...
>>>-Can you explain us what was the flow of your mutual work with Nogu Svelo? How everything happened in particular? Musicians recorded instruments in Moscow and then bring it to Germany on… professional audio cassetes?
Brigitte: yes the album was basically recorded in Moscow and we mixed in Germany (at Skyline Studio in Dusseldorf). except the vocals. (I think most of the vocals we rerecorded at Skyline). (Vlad...Now here my memory fails. I am not 100% sure, but I want to believe we worked with ProTools, so the band brought in their hard discs).
>>> -What about your personal relationship with Max Pokrovsky and other guys? What’s your attitude to them both from a professional point of view and a personality point of view? Anything that you enjoyed in them or maybe vice versa something that you didn’t enjoy at all?
Brigitte: Not all of the band had the opportunity to come to Germany to be with me while mixing. So my closest contact was with Maksim. We would talk about the song. I would ask him, what the lyrics are about, what is the atmosphere of the song supposed to be, so I could implement some of these energetic elements into the mix in terms of reverb or directness of certain elements. I liked recording vocals with him, because he really opened up to me, and allowed me to guide him a bit. But the major trust was into my mixing. Once the vocals were recorded he would let me do my job, and I would ask him to come back to the studio later to present him my first version of the mix. We then worked together on the final touch of each mix. Somehow I remember his keyboarder being there for some part of the mixing session. He would also bring in his ideas, being very helpful, too, because he had a good sensation for the entire band sound, not being focussed on vocals.
>>> -Album was released in the beginning of year 2000. But when all your work with the band was? How many weeks or month it took? How many times you’ve met the musicians face to face?
Brigitte: I guess, we worked together in 1999 to have the album released in 2000. The mixing did not exceed two weeks much. Maybe two and a half. Usually it is one day per song, and since we rerecorded some vocals, probably a little longer. I remember this session as very intense. In order to get all mixing details into their place it takes time. And sometimes we noticed, we headed off into the wrong direction, and it takes time to find out, what ist not working correctly and why, and correct it.
>>>-What songs took the most effort? What was the most in this work?
Brigitte: I don´t remember
>>> Did the band argued with you much or they accepted everything from the first revision?
Brigitte: There was no arguing in the true sense of the word. It was more a team effort. Together we tried to find the right sound for the music. Follow the music to where she wants to go.
>>> -What song is your favourite one and what song are you most proud of?
Brigitte: The song that touches me the most by the way Maksim is singing it : „Sem Planet“ (wonderful vers melody!!) and „Chasiki“ (I like the Chorus melody) The song I like most for it´s different atmospheres and the special rhythm: "Posledni Tango“ In „Chervi“ I still like the atmosphere of the bridge in the middle of the song, and the drive to it all. „Klyasma“ is the most exciting and strongest song as far as composition, arrangement and singing is concerned (with the distorted keyboard sound and the „shouted“ vocals), and the „funny“ breaks. My favorite!
>>>-A question from one of the fans: Box is a great album which sounds incredibly powerful and interesting. The sound design could be called “compressed” and slightly “muffled”? Why have you decided to implement such sound design?
Brigitte: The all over sound is a result of my questions and the bands answers as far as the basic idea and direction of each song was concerned. To me around the time of the recording of this album, there was a lot of eruptive energy within the band (and maybe the atmosphere in Russia theses days). In order to express this powerful energy a somewhat compressed sound and yet in certain parts very open and wide sound was needed.
>>> -Were you following Box’s success and sales performance? Brigitte: no
>>> -Could Nogu Svelo! be popular in Germany if they sang on Deutsch language? Brigitte: only god knows ;-)
>>>-Brigitte, you are both a musician and a producer, that’s the reason why you would probably be capable of answering the following question:
What is the difference between the personality of a musician and a personality of a producer?
Brigitte: I see more the combining and linking aspect. As a producer I am also composing, composing sound elements. As a musician I am composing musical components, chords, instruments, notes, melodies...
Brigitte: Let me answer you like this: After having studied the classical piano for so many years as a child and carrying on with it way into my adolescent years, I noticed I started to miss playing my piano pretty much around 2000 being in the studio for so many years and many many hours. I still love being in the studio, and mixing is still one of my favorite aspects of sound producing. Times have changed, also in the studio, technically speaking. In most studio computers are the heart of it all, but they have a tendency to distract us from what we really wanted to do... The thing I love about my piano: I open the lid, no updates, no computer crashes, no emails flying in, I press a key, I hear the sound immediately… maybe tuning once a year. If I have an creative idea, I can express it right here and now, I can hear the sound very directly, it brings me in touch with myself, the piano can even tell me in what mood I am in today… ;-) My focus for the near future? There is a new release to be expected this November. A Recording with my Trio „Puente" Cello, Sopranosaxopone/Bassclarinette, and me playing the piano. And there is a new/old very fine analogue console that moved into my small little studio mixing setup ;-) The idea is to live in the best of both worlds.
all the best to Nogu Svelo info
and hearty greetings to Moscow,
Nogu.info thanks Brigette Angerhausen for this interview, for amazing work on Box album and for wonderfull music.