Adam Matza of Magic Ears Mastering: Infidel Interview #66

First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about where you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

My name is Adam Matza and I’m the founder and owner of Magic Ears. I'm a little more than a week away from turning 50 and I live near Miami, Florida. I’ve been mixing and mastering music since 2003, but my involvement with music has been a lifelong love affair. My early training was as a trumpet and baritone player in middle school and I’ve created and fronted bands since the early 1990s. Known as a poet, a music journalist, a spoken word artist and most recently an experimental, improvisational ambient soundscape and noise musician, I’ve never stopped recording, mixing and mastering since the first time I sat in front of a DAW (it was Cubase) with absolutely no clue what I was doing. After making and learning from my mistakes, I know my way around a DAW now, as I have become effective with Pro Tools and other DAWs, including Auria on the iPad. Since 1997, I’ve released seven albums as both a solo artist and with my ever-changing band, The Weeds. I see mixing and mastering as a collaboration and a highly personal relationship, and I am a resource you can tap if you get stuck or just want to bounce an idea.

Interview continues after music streaming!

What inspired you to start up your own home business?

I was living in Asheville, North Carolina for eight months in 2015 and couldn't find a job in public relations, which wasn't the end of the world because after 25 years doing it, I was over it. My roommate had some songs and I mastered them. He was blown away with the results, telling me I have the magic ear. I had only mixed and mastered my own music up until that point, but had worked with the audio for radio and television commercials from 2013-2015. It seemed like a good idea to start my own business. It wasn't easy to get Magic Ears off the ground, but a lot of hustle and hard work laid the groundwork and here I am almost two years later making a living from mastering and mixing music from all over the planet.

Did you have prior experience working in a studio beforehand, or are you self taught?

I started in 2003 by working on a spoken word/music album called "In Between Stations," for my band The Weeds. I pretty much did everything on it, including the mixing and mastering. In the years that followed, I evolved into an experimental musician and continued producing my own music, which was quite noisy and challenging. In 2013, I started mixing and mastering audio for radio and television. I'm self taught, having spent a ton of time researching the subject. I never stop learning and improving.

What have been some of the biggest obstacles you have had to face in setting up your studio and business?

Getting clients. It's the most challenging part of getting any business up and running. Everything is highly competitive in 2017, so you have to be good at what you do and you have to work your ass off to get the word out about what you do. You have to be aggressive and shameless in self-promotion and marketing. As time moves on, it gets a little easier. But in the beginning, it's just you, a bunch of equipment and not much else. Magic Ears was an idea one moment and fledgling business the next. Between then and now, I have hustled for every client I have gotten.

What have been some of the most interesting, or technically challenging, projects for you to mix or master?

They are all interesting and they are all challenging. The biggest challenge is working with less-than-stellar mixes. I wind up having to mix a mix, which isn't what you want from a mastering engineer. If I can make suggestions about the mix, it is always better for it to be fixed there. People are monitoring on all sorts of sub par equipment, so it helps when I can listen through my Genelecs and Focals and provide an objective opinion about a mix. It's one of the most important elements to my job, and it seems to help improve everything that comes across my audio desk.

I just finished a rather rewarding project. It was a tribute album to a South Florida songwriter named Jim Wurster. It was 17 songs recorded in several studios and mixed by five different engineers. The double CD is called "3 Chords & A Chorus Of Lust," and getting everything to sound consistent was a fun challenge, as was bringing out the best in each mix.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?