A list of the best music producers in the German-speaking world would not be complete without his name: Patrik Majer. While his list of clients includes well-known artists like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds or Nina Hagen, he's best known for giving wings to lesser-known acts as well. He started in the 90s by shaping the self-confident sound of the all-female Lemonbabies, then moving on to win an Echo award as Best Producer in 2006 with his go-to clients Wir Sind Helden, before proving that mainstream pop music could get across real emotion with Austrian singer-songwriter Saint Lu.
Whatever Majer tackles, he gives 150%. Yet for all his perfectionism, he also has a weakness: Patrik Majer can't decide. But he doesn't need to either. He is a producer and mixer, has his own studio, and is the founder and owner of his own music publishing house and, most recently, his own label. He's built his "Freudenhaus" Empire with patience and a good deal obsession, sitting atop its throne as its sole ruler. Although it seems dictorial, for him it's been more an act of self-liberation. He explains what that means in the interview below.
What moved you to become a music producer. How did you actually start?
Actually it was never a goal of mine to be a producer. I just sorta fell into it. Originally I just wanted to record music and work in a recording studio. Everything else more or less happened automatically.
What are your current projects? What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm producing the debut album of U3000. Along with that I'm working together with a promising new band called Nosoyo. And of course Saint Lu, who's working on her third album. Otherwise I'm doing a lot of mixing, lately on a great album by Joy Wellboy.
What makes someone a good music producer?
That's a tough question, because there are many different types of music producers. But in the end it's always a matter if getting the best out of the artist/band.
As a producer working in Germany, you work with a lot of artis from the Germanspeaking world. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
It's a mix these days. Especially in Berlin, I work with a lot international artists. What's clear is that the aspirations of people from abroad are often a lot bigger and they're not so restricted in their thinking. Also their approach to music is different as well.
What do big music countries like the US or Great Britain have that Germany doesn't?
A culture and a tradition of musical education that starts at a young age and continues years beyond what the average German receives.
What should an artist have to get noticed?
Talent, and most importantly, something special.
If you could create your own band from scratch, the type you'd love to produce, what would they sound like?
Probably awful. I don't believe in "constructed" artists.
And now a technical question. What's your favorite toy in the studio?
My microphone and my mixing desk.
Do you see your role as a Producer to be more that of a technician or that of an artist?
Right in the middle, which fits my personality. In the end though, the technical side is basically grunt work and only 25% of the final product. Emotion, psychology, and other things are far more important.
There's a rumor in acting circles that winning an Oscar is actually a curse, because afterwards one is only cast to do roles in certain categories. You've won an Echo with Wir Sind Helden, a band you both discovered and developed. Was this prize a curse or a blessing?
Because the Echo doesn't have much cachet outside of Germany, it wasn't especially important for me. It's certainly helped in a couple situations, but more important to me is having the image of a musical obsessive who goes his own way and develops new talents above all else.
Along with the Freudenhaus Studio and Music Publisher, on August 1st last year you brought your label Freudenhaus Recordings into the world. What moved you to take this step?
I wanted to give my artists the opportunity to release their own stuff without waiting forever on a label. Most record companies today are unfortunately not in any a position to build new artists from the ground up. They mostly only jump on when a certain level of popularity has already been reached, which inevitably makes the area of responsibility for people like me bigger and more exciting.
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