Sky Van Hoff embodies the modern Renaissance man of media production. He has his hand is music production and engineering, cinematography, composing and directing musical productions of all sizes. His roots are as a guitarist in the metal band Machinemade God, where he wrote and produced their projects. Recently he has been the production force behind Rammstein and Emigrate and The X-Factor. Sky has built a production company in Germany that can provide music recording, production, mixing and mastering services as well as video production services for music videos, films and multimedia. We fired off some questions for Sky to answer between his jumps around the world.
Q. You have such a diverse field of work, from a wide variety of musical productions to video productions. Media production today involves so many disciplines. How did you get into audio and video at such a deep level?
A. I used to be in bands and wanted to be able to work on our audio & visuals on my own while desperately trying to get my point across the whole time so I guess I took the autodidact path, sat down and put in the hours in between school and everything else.
Q. What artists, producers or engineers have shaped your vision of current and future productions?
A. Rick Rubin, Butch Vig, Timbaland, CLA, Ken Scott, movies, documentaries, places…
Q. Where do you do most of your work these days? I hear you are mixing while on the road.
A. I do most of my work in my own place but have been working in different studios outside of Germany as well, since I produce all over the place. For instance, I’m currently on tour with “RAMMSTEIN” and have mixed several productions in many different hotel rooms. I have a pair of headphones from Sonarworks, which came with a custom profile. I’m extremely happy with these since they give me a lot of freedom and don’t chain me to the studio. I just put the Reference plugin on my master, sometimes adjust the controls a bit and go for it.
Q. What keeps you excited about each new project and what do bring that’s special to each project?
A. I just love the gig, I guess. You never know what’s coming and when creativity is gonna strike. Plus, I make good sushi—promise!
Q. How do you manage all the projects? Do you have a team that supports your production company or do you take on the bulk of the workload?
A. There’s more time for creativity when you don’t have to worry about editing, also if you work with the right people the production will benefit from it for sure. I’m mostly working with Marco Bayati, who, since his internship two years ago, is pretty much on every project I do. It depends on the project, though. Sometimes I go places with two or even three additional engineers/techs who work with me.
Q. Favorite studio monitor?
A. Neumann KH 310 A, love the Kii Threes very much but only was able to try those for a while.
A. Currently the Sennheiser HD 650 + my Sonarworks Reference 4 custom profile.
A. Avid Pro Tools, always.
A. Shure SM57 because it can be used for ANYTHING—and it also might survive a nuclear winter!
A. Avalon AD2022, Neve 1073 and 1081
A. All my WAVES Audio plugins are always with me.
Q. Where do you see the studio world in 10 years and then where do you see yourself in that world?
A. Advanced, even more tools that’ll take care of the “artists” job, hopefully studios will stop dying out at some point though. There are still too many places going down at the moment where I would have loved to work.
Q. Any words of wisdom for those just starting out?
A. Trust your gut, never ever give up and put in the hours. Be hungry for knowledge and hungry to try new things and new ways. Change the approach. Change the outcome. Always remember – sh*t in sh*t out.
Q. Words of caution for the veterans out there?
A. I can’t even imagine, cheers to you guys who keep going!
Q. Any last thoughts?
A. There. Is. No. Spoon.