Sonarworks was fortunate to catch up Alawn, with one of the most in-demand writers/producers in popular music. As of today, Alawn has produced and/or written 24 Billboard #1 songs and has earned numerous awards like MNET AMA, MMA, MAMA, and Golden Disc Awards. Some of the artists who have benefitted from Alawn’s contributions include K-pop artists Park Bom, NCT 127, KAI, WayV, IVE, SuperM, and ITZY. His Western credits include collaborations with Flo Rida, Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane, Paul Wall, and Boyz II Men.

Born in France and now based between Houston and Los Angeles, Alawn began his career with an Artist/DJ project signed to Universal Music, Sony Music, and Ultra Records, amassing over 300K fans online. His career took off in the K-pop industry after a successful writing camp with SM Entertainment in Seoul. Producing artists around the world requires constant travel, so he has developed a workflow and equipment choices that enable him to efficiently write and produce whether he’s at his studio or in a far-off location. Let’s visit with Alawn and hear from him about his career and studio choices.

Getting Started in Music Production

We asked Alawn how his interest in music production and songwriting began, and he described how, at 15, armed with nothing but an MPC500 and an insatiable curiosity, his journey started. He spent countless hours tinkering with the machine, learning to make his first beats. This passion drove him deeper into the world of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), starting with Ableton. He eventually enrolled at the SAE Institute in Paris for a year to learn the basics of mixing.

Alawn’s first significant investment in studio equipment was a pair of Barefoot Footprint01 monitors, which still faithfully serve him today. They marked the beginning of his evolving studio setup, which is currently based on a MacBook Pro M1 Max, running Cubase. He describes this as the core of his setup, “I use Cubase for everything, from recording, producing, all the way to mixing and mastering. As far as the audio interface, I use the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII along with a set of converters from Dangerous Music (Convert-2 and AD+) and the Grace Design m900 to drive my HEDD HEDDphone Two. My analog mastering chain consists of the SSL Fusion, SSL Bus+ compressor, and the Bettermaker Limiter.”

We can understand how the MacBook plays an important role for a traveling producer who requires familiar tools at their constant disposal, so we also asked about his use of headphones. Familiar monitors are critical to success and can be a challenge when working in different rooms and Alawn agrees. “Since I’m constantly traveling, I rely on the [HEDD] HEDDphone TWO quite a lot. They sound incredible and are very lightweight for easy travel.” He adds, “Some of my biggest mixes have actually been done 100% on headphones in a hotel. When I’m in my studio, I usually start mixes on speakers and then switch to headphones when I’m about 80% done.”

Regarding how SoundID Reference fits into his process, he says “I’ve been using [SoundID Reference] for 7 or 8 years now and haven’t done a single mix without it. The plugin is always on my Cubase Control Room whether it calibrates my headphones or my room. I also use the translation check and Virtual Monitoring quite a bit to make sure my mix translates well in different environments.” He then added, “… as for future additions to my setup, upgrading my monitors is on the horizon, although I haven’t settled on a brand yet.”

We wondered about his go-to plugins and software tools and Alawn offered “Some of my favorite plugins are from Acustica Audio, Fabfilter, and McDSP to name a few. When it comes to mixing, one of the most important things is to create space for each element to breathe and coexist together, it’s like a puzzle.” As for his mixing and mastering techniques, he shared an important tip we can all benefit from. “On the mastering side, I limit or clip each of my individual sub-groups very slightly to leave more headroom on my mix bus and achieve more loudness. Doing less at different stages multiple times is much better than doing so much on the master with one plugin.“

Atmos and AI

We have been keenly aware that Atmos mixes are becoming increasingly important for labels and distribution platforms, so we naturally wanted to hear Alawn’s take on Atmos.  He said “I’m fascinated by the world of Atmos mixing, and I’d love to jump into Atmos and upgrade to a full Atmos studio. However, currently, I just don’t have the time, as I’m constantly traveling and already busy enough with projects and a packed schedule. Plus the Korean labels I work with tend to have their own go-to Atmos guy, so it doesn’t make much sense at the moment.”

When asked about the advancements of machine learning and AI music programs, Alawn recommended a cautious approach. “With all these new AI tools coming to the market, it can easily become a scary place and I believe that we will need a lot of regulations and new laws. I think for us as creators we need to find the balance between using these tools to our advantage without fully relying on them. There are good tools that help spark inspiration but I don’t believe that the creativity of a human mind could ever get topped by AI.’”


For inspiration, Alawn tries to keep an open mind and consciously limits his listening to other artists’ material before creating his own production. This is not to say he doesn’t find inspiration from others. He studies the styles and techniques of some of his favorite producers and mixers, as he says, “I took a lot of inspiration from Timbaland, Pharrell, and Ryan Leslie. When it comes to mixing, I tend to reference a lot of mixes from Serban Ghenea and Jaycen Joshua,” remarked Alawn.

With his busy schedule and the pressures of delivering high-quality productions, staying healthy has to be at the top of one’s priorities. He says he maintains his health by separating his personal life from that in the studio. In his words, “I start my days early, around 7 am, with a workout to energize myself. Staying hydrated, eating healthily, and taking regular walks are essential. Inspired by a recent trip to Japan, I created a tea station in my studio and enjoy burning incense daily. These small rituals help me stay grounded and disconnect from the digital world.”

Tips for Others

As a tip to aspiring producers, he recommends “trying to reproduce some of your favorite productions. Pick a few of your favorite songs and try to remake them as close as possible. During this process, you will train your ears to hear all the details, learn sound selection, layering, and song structures.” 

If he could go ten years back in time, he would give himself this advice: “I would tell my younger self that everything is going to be okay. I remember how hard it was to leave my family in France and move to the US to pursue my passion. So I would tell myself to trust the process and that as long as you do what you love and give it your all, it’s going to work out.” He isn’t averse to taking risks either. He chose the daunting task of relocating from France to the US, but as he describes it, “With the biggest risk comes the greatest reward!” 

Reflecting on his journey, he sees how each step, from self-taught beginnings to formal education and professional growth, has shaped his career. The gear, software, and techniques that he’s embraced have all played pivotal roles, but ultimately, it’s passion and persistence that have driven his success.

Alawn’s Key Gear
Computer: Macbook Pro M1 Max
Interface: Apollo Twin MKII with Dangerous Convert 2 and AD+ converters
DAW: Cubase
Favorite Plugins: SoundID Reference, Acustica Audio, Fabfilter, and McDSP
Monitors: Barefoot Footprint01
Heaphones: HEDDphone Two
Analog Gear: SSL Fusion, SSL BUS+, Bettermaker Mastering Limiter