An Interview With Acclaimed Music Producer/ Songwriter Rami Yacoub
July 24, 2018
As part of a new Dirac Blog Series, we’re interviewing members of the audio and technology community about their lives, inspirations, and their passion for all things audio-related.
In our first installment of this series, we’re speaking with acclaimed music producer and songwriter Rami Yacoub. Rami began his professional career working with his Cheiron Studio’s production partner Max Martin on acts such as Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and more. He has since collaborated with many other artist, including One Direction, Nicki Minaj, Tiesto, AVICII, and Madonna, amongst many others.
In 2008, Rami launched his own Los Angeles and Stockholm-based production group, Kinglet Studios. In 2017, Rami joined forces with Dirac Research as an investor, music industry consultant, and a proud advocate for the advancement of audio optimization both in the music production industry and beyond.
1) How did you first get into music production? Describe the moment in which you first knew that producing music was what you wanted to do as a career.
I first found my way into music when I was 14 years old. I played bass in a local Stockholm-based band, and often wrote my own songs. We eventually purchased some recording equipment and from there quickly added on samplers, synths, and other production equipment. I quickly fell in love with the entire music production process – and specifically with creating something from nothing.
However, at no point did I ever think I would end up working as a professional music producer and songwriter. There was never a moment where I realized “a-ha, so now this is my job!” I just loved the music creation and production process, and thought I should give it an honest chance. One project led to the next, one relationship created three more, and eventually I started getting paid for my work. I followed my love for music and it led me to where I am today.
I’ve always been very stubborn, even as a kid, and have never considered failure as an option. I’ve no doubt faced my fair share of challenges and obstacles throughout my career; however, I’ve never allowed them or anything to get in the way of doing what I love.
2) Who influenced you growing up and what did you learn from these mentors?
My parents worked hard to give us a good life. They were amazing role models. Music-wise, I listened to The Beatles, Prince, and even some Tom Jones, haha. But for an era I was very much into heavy metal. Motley Crue, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, to name a few, had a huge impact on me.
The late, great Denniz PoP, who was my and Max Martin’s music industry “Godfather” and personal mentor, taught us a very important lesson – one I still think about as I produce today. He taught us to “Kill Your Darlings,” which basically means that if it’s good, yet not great, kill it and start over.
Merely good music is often more dangerous and destructive than bad music, because there’s likely enough there for you to deceive and convince yourself that it is, in fact, great music. However, deep down the difference between “good” and “great” is always very clear and that which is good always needs to be “killed.” I’ll forever be grateful to Denniz PoP for teaching me this invaluable lesson so early in my career.
3) What is it about Sweden and its culture that has made it such a hotbed for music production creativity/ talent over the past few decades?
This is a hard question to answer, and one that I get asked a lot. I think it’s a mix of our days being so dark most of the year, as well as having great music education. Also, once Sweden produced its first wave of successful music producers and DJs, they acted as inspiration to our next-generation of younger producers/ DJs, who realized that music industry success for Swedes was, in fact, a highly-attainable goal.
Swedes are also humble people, which I think helps create not just successful music producers but also successful people in general, regardless of the profession. When it comes to music production, the music, not the producer, must come first. The same is true of acting, athletics, entrepreneurship, and more; the work, not the individual, must take centerstage in order for the performance to achieve greatness. When I’m in the studio, it’s never about me and always about the music.
4) How were you introduced to Dirac Research and what about the company intrigued you most?
I work with a financial advisor who assists with investments in various stocks. Personally, I think it’s all relatively boring since I don’t know any of the companies I invest in, but I trust my advisor to make the money grow!
Recently, though, I mentioned that for once I would love to invest in something that I actually understand and believe in, and can also contribute to. When I was first introduced to Dirac, a Swedish company that’s literally inventing the future of sound, I knew it was a no brainer. The guys are geniuses and what they are doing with sound optimization is pioneering and something I knew I had to be a part of!
As Dirac grows, I look forward to implementing their solutions in a lot of what I do from a music production perspective. In fact, I would love to see Dirac as the default in all sound interfaces out there. Their technology is just that good and it would be a game changer for the industry. Headphones are also something that we’re looking into. When people hear the difference that Dirac’s tech makes, they are blown away!
5) Devices like the smartphone and music streaming platforms like Spotify have resulted in major shifts within the music industry. How do you envision music consumption and the consumer listening experience continuing to evolve in years to come? Where do we go from here?
These are all good questions. However, there’s a big difference between the general music industry and music creation and production. I produce music almost non-stop, and I do it instinctively and from the heart. I made a choice at the beginning of my career not to cloud my head with things I can’t affect – and macro industry trends are certainly one of those things. By focusing only on that which I can affect – the music – I’m able to remain laser-focused on what I love and only what I love. I’m able to stay within my zen.
6) What projects are your working on now?
Demi Lovato and Foster the People are a couple. The rest I guess you will have to wait to hear!