Instagram | Twitter | Facebook social networking site | Youtube | spotify
Having made his debut on the electronic music scene as a teen in 2008 and descended from a musical family, Amr Hashisho Al Qatari has always been surrounded by music. The bedroom producer, better known as AMR, had early backing from the likes of Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond and Tiësto for its trance productions, and recently had success on the Monstercat and Anjunadeep brands for its deep and progressive home trails. His movie 2018 EP fruit garden Set the tone for his new journey into a more introspective vocal area.
Read more: “Musically, I can do whatever I want. There are no external instructions”: Boris Brigsha on “minimal high-tech” and working only with software
He is now preparing to release incompletewhich, despite the name, is a carefully crafted track with precise vocals from Lumynesynth. Overwhelmed with lo-fi tones and brilliant synthesizer work, incomplete Dreamy, sentimental. We walk into AMR’s humble studio and learn how he makes his signature textured sound without an extensive list of gear, how he knows when to incorporate vocal lines, and he tells us why Genelec monitors have become his best friend.
Oh Amr! good job incomplete. This track has some lo-fi elements, especially in drums. What prompted you to this method?
I remember listening to some lo-fi playlists at the time which encouraged me to lean a bit more in that direction. I tried blending the sounds to sound crisper and smoother because it’s always good to have contrasting sounds in a song – it creates more clarity and balance in the mix.
incomplete Features vocals from luminescent. What made you approach her for the track?
When I spoke to Jacob, the director of Monstercat Silk, to get his thoughts on who would be a good fit for this track, the one who stood out to me the most was Lumynesynth. Her vocal style aligned well with what I was trying to achieve, and it was very easy to work together. We were usually on the same page when trying to reflect ideas off of each other, and that’s what made this collaboration so seamless. I am grateful that I worked with her on this because the result exceeded all my expectations.
You have collaborated with a lot of singers in your music. How do you know when a track needs an audio line?
It usually depends on how much I go down the track. A crowded arrangement with a lot of elements may interfere with the sound you put there, especially if there is already a major element in the mix. So, I usually make this decision halfway writing to see if there is enough room to add sound or if the mix sounds strong enough to continue without any vocals at all.
Can you tell us a little bit about the studio?
This is a new studio space for me, located in my hometown of Qatar. I recently got married and moved into a new apartment a few months ago, so I’m still working on getting it fixed.
The new studio layout is much more efficient at work as everything is closer to me and easily accessible. Unfortunately the small nature of the room has its drawbacks when it comes to acoustics, but I’m currently treating the room with some soundproofing that I bought from GIK Acoustics which helped tame things a bit more.
How do you use your studio?
Almost everything is done here in this room. Although it may not be the largest area to record, I have a few solutions that help mitigate unwanted sounds and echoes. As for the design, I really like that everything is so compact and close to me. I’ve noticed that it helped with my workflow because every knob, dimmer, or switch is out of reach. My last studio had a lot of dead space because the desk was meant for more equipment, but now things seem to blend in better.
What atmosphere are you trying to create in the studio?
Every producer wants their studio to feel comfortable and inviting so they can spend many hours working on the music, and this is the exact environment I wanted to create for myself to help me get inspired. The thing I really like about my new studio is the window to my right, which lets in lots of light and looks out onto a small garden outside. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s nice to have the option to easily change the mood to something brighter.
What audio platforms do you use?
FL Studio is the digital audio working platform (DAW) I’ve used since the beginning of my career. Although there were moments when I wanted to switch, I always thought I’d come back to FL because I love the workflow and understand how to use it very well. FL has also seen great improvements in recent years, and I’m really satisfied with the development of the software. The thing I also love about FL is the free lifetime updates which are a huge plus for any product.
What is your favorite piece of gear?
Honestly, I’m happy with all the equipment I own, because each serves its own unique purpose. But my Genelec 7040A is probably my favourite. I bought this a few years ago and in my last studio it didn’t add much value because the low end on my monitors works well with that space. After moving into my new studio, there was a clear drop in lows when using the screens alone. The moment I connected my branch it was like night and day difference and it got rid of most of my low issues.
What composition or influence can be heard most on the unfinished?
I’ve used distortion and saturation frequently on this track, more so than in some of my previous work. Part of the reason was to get a rougher Lo-fi on some pads and drums and also to add more hiss to the vocals to create some contrast.
What is the biggest investment in your studio? Was it worth?
My studio monitors were the biggest investment and they are definitely worth every penny. I have been using Genelecs for many years and they have been a critical asset to my mixing process.
Your studio is very simple. Is this intentional, or are you aiming to build it in a larger space with more equipment?
Yes, it is very simple. Part of the reason is that I prefer using software tools because they are more convenient for me and I didn’t want to invest in a lot of equipment, which might build up dust over the years. As a producer I also have to work with the space I have so my current setup is definitely temporary until my wife and I move into a bigger house where I can build my dream studio.
How do you make sure the acoustics are appropriate in your studio?
Running a few familiar paths usually helps identify the kinds of problems you’re dealing with. In most cases, you will find that low is the main culprit, and that was the case for me. Tackling the first reflections and adding bass dampers is a good way to start most studio layouts. Smaller studios, like mine, tend to have more bass issues, so I’m gradually working to fix them.
What is your dream piece of gear?
I would love to own a Roland Space Echo someday. I spend a lot of my production time creating and recording atmospheric pads using plugins like Echoboy, so it would be really nice to improve this a bit with one of the most popular tape delays in the audio world.
If we left you on a desert island, what item would you take with you to enjoy music forever?
In order to be fun, I would take a cello. Hopefully, if I’m stuck there long enough, I’ll learn to play it.
What is the top of your production tips?
Try listening to a variety of music that you can draw inspiration from. It’s common to hear artists of the same genre use the same sounds and production techniques in their tracks, but having a wider palette will allow you to create something more exciting and unique.
What is the only advice you would give to someone starting to build a studio?
It’s easy to get caught up in buying a lot of equipment, but sometimes, a little can be more. Try to avoid crowding yourself with things that might end up gathering dust in the future and focus on getting the things you really need to make music.