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Student Recording Competition Finalist and Award Winner: Pouya Hamidi

We are happy to post some interviews with the student recording competition winners of the AES133 in San Fransico. Congratulations again!

silver award winner of category 2 (traditional studio recording): Pouya Hamidi


SDA: Tell us a little bit about you.

Pouya: I moved to Toronto, Canada from Iran at the age of 12 to pursue my composition and piano performance career. I got a Bachelor's degree, double majoring in Composition and Piano Performance at University of Toronto. During my studies at U of T I composed the music for a number of independent films, some making it to international film festivals. I also founded an 8 member rock/electronic group called Sacred Balance similar to Radiohead and Massive Attack, composing and arranging the music for it with the singer/songwriter Chloe Charles. I also co-founded a quartet called Ladom Ensemble, inspired by Persian and Balkan music consisting of accordion, cello, hand percussion, and myself as pianist and composer.

At an intersection in my life, I chose what path to focus on: sound recording at McGill. It has become a passion and a real educational journey being at McGill University's excellent graduate sound recording program. I've done some projects and research on 22.2 surround sound and started an audio/video series called Audiolens ( that aims to have studio quality sound with live video performances.


SDA: Tell us about the production of your competition entry. How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry? Stories? Inspirations?

Pouya: The recording is my first entry in the AES student competition. The recording was done by contacting my good friend Maneli Jamal ( who lives in Toronto to see if he was interested to have his songs recorded and produced by me at McGill university. He is a super-talented finger-style acoustic guitarist who makes sounds from the guitar that seem impossible to do with two hands. One of the sonic focuses of the recording was to capture the diverse playing technique that involves making percussive sounds by hitting the body of the guitar and using both hands to play melodic content. As a producer I worked with Maneli a few weeks before the recording at his home in Toronto, going through all of the songs that we were going to record, working on things like phrasing, dynamics, and form. I find the pre-production meetings (before stepping inside the studio) had a very positive influence in the outcome of the recording.


The recordings were done during freezing winter nights in Montreal. We could only get the studio during the overnight slot from midnight to 7am. Staying focused and sane was critical! The temperature in the studio would fluctuate session by session and, as we know, this not only puts strain on the acoustic instrument but it also affects the positioning of the microphones. So every session we had to use our ears to make sure we matched the sound of the other songs we were recording.


SDA: What initiated your passion for audio?


Pouya: My passion for audio was initiated by listening to a lot of music. I was always fascinated by the way sounds were translated to electric signal and reproducible in speakers. Also I liked the way it is a creative art where there is no one right way to record and it can be individualistic.

SDA: How did the AES help you on your way of being a successful audio engineer?


Pouya: A big part of being a successful audio engineer is being influenced by other inspiring audio engineers. The conventions are a place to see this in action and hear about the latest technological advances in the audio world. AES also has a wealth of resources that can be easily accessed on their website. Their competitions also provide a great opportunity to get useful feedback from world renowned guests and also to be motivated and rewarded for our efforts.


SDA: What are your highlights of the AES133 in San Francisco?

Pouya: The many informative lectures and the student competitions. Meeting many other people who have the same passion for audio. A highlight was especially having the privilege of playing a mix I did in 9.1 as part of a presentation of other surround mixes and getting inspired by other people's effective approach to this medium.

SDA: What was your funniest experience as an engineer so far?


Pouya: When an artist in the studio was too hot (the temperature wasn't adjustable) and had to take off their pants to compensate.


SDA: Can you tell us your biggest mistake you made during a production?


Pouya: When I set up all of the studio for an overnight session then realizing that it was the following night!


SDA: What is the best recording of all time?


Pouya: Very hard question to answer. It's like what is the best composer. Every good recording has a special flavor. I like Mark Spike Stent's work on Bjork, Muse, and Massive Attack albums.


SDA: Do you play any instruments?


Pouya: I play the piano, violin, and other keyboards.

SDA: Any other hobbies?


Pouya: I'm into watching films, especially a lot of documentaries recently. I also enjoy bicycling. Last summer we did some bicycle camping. And I like camping and mountain hiking.

SDA: Where do you want to be in 10 years?


Pouya: I would like to be part of a studio that records diverse artists. I also like to be a producer that works with various bands and collaborate on live and studio projects.


Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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