Am1r Cover Photo

An Interview With Singer, Songwriter, Producer am1r

Aamir Shahid, better known by his stage name am1r, is an R&B Artist, singer/songwriter, and producer. In 2013, while producing for local artists, am1r decided that it was time to focus on his own artistry. He started a new YouTube channel and Soundcloud page later that year, focusing on covers of popular songs, showcasing both his vocal ability as well as production skills.

Fast forward to 2015, after amassing a combined 5 million plays online, he is getting ready to release his self-produced debut album through the premiere R&B label, Star Base Music. With an ever growing fanbase as an artist, he is determined to make a lasting contribution to the genre of music that he fell in love with in his formative years.

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I know you started playing piano at a young age, but when did you realize that you could also sing?

I think it was about the age of 9 that I realized I could sing, which was around the same time that I started playing the piano. It worked out nicely I guess.

 

But how did you realize that you could sing? Was it purely instinctual or was it inspiration?

I just started humming stuff and realized that I could sing. I also started singing things that I heard on the radio – it just happened. Singing also runs in my family because my mom can sing so I guess that’s where I get it from!

 

And when you first recorded yourself, did it confirm your discovery that you could sing or was it the opposite reaction?

The first time I recorded myself, I was like 14 or 15, and I hated the way I sounded. In my head, I thought I sounded good, but when I heard it back, it sounded horrible! But in a way I guess it was good because it got me to keep practicing and improving.

From there I started mimicking all my favorite singers like Tyrese, Ginuwine and Boyz II Men. I used to play their songs and record over them in Cool Edit [Pro] and see how I could sound like them. I was mimicking them before I started to develop my sound.

Back in business! #recording #vocals #vocalsfordays #selfie #studioselfie #am1r #rnb #soulmusic

A photo posted by am1r (R&B Artist) (@am1rmusic) on

And how soon after that did you get into producing music for yourself?

It wasn’t until years later, after I finished university. Singing was something I did for fun in high school, but it wasn’t until finishing university that I learned how to produce.

 

Why did it take so long to learn how to produce? If you were already recording, why not learn production?

I don’t know; I guess I just didn’t take it seriously until I graduated. It was always something that was on the side for me to do but not my main priority. It might have been distractions but I just never developed the passion for it until I was finished with my schooling.

 

What gear are you using to produce and record? How important is it to your sound?

For my front-end hardware chain, I’m using a Neumann TLM-102, a Saffire Pro40 interface and an Avalon 737 preamp. I think that those three pieces compliment my voice well and even though knowing how to use the gear is crucial; I also believe that it makes my life easier to have good a good chain to start with.

 

AVALON 737

 

Regarding software, I use FL Studio for producing which I think is the easiest to use and the most workflow efficient. For recording and mixing, I use Sonar, which I have been using for years and have gotten used to it.

I also have a bunch of VST’s and plugins for effects and sounds.

 

How would you describe your sound?

I would say it’s a modern take on 90’s R&B. My writing style is very 2000’s R&B but of course I love the 90’s stuff too. So basically, it’s a mixture of old school R&B with a modern touch.

 

When looking for drum samples or VSTi’s, regarding sound and texture, what do you normally like?

I like a nice bright midrange that cuts through. For kick drums, I like to have a bottom end that cuts through. It has to have a certain weight to it but not so much that it takes over the whole track. For snares, I like them to cut through without being overly loud. So a nice tight midrange with a defined bottom end is what I look for regarding drum sounds.

 

What about VSTi’s?

It just depends on the instrument I guess. For the piano, I like to have something that sounds realistic. For the synths, I like a good midrange that compliments the vocals. It just depends on the sounds and the song. Sometimes I like it to be dark and moody, but I just let the song dictate that to me.

 

And when you first started using modern samples, what were your initial thoughts?

Well the first kit that I started using was Trap Drums HQ, and I liked them right away because they have a lot of the things that I look for; they cut nicely, they don’t take over the whole mix and yet they stand out at the same time. To this day, a year and a half later, I still use them in most of my productions.

Hip Hop Drums Live were an extension of that. They had the same characteristics as TDHQ, but just gave me an entirely different texture with the live sound they have. It just made my life a lot easier, and they hit the ears nicely when they’re in the mix.

 

How often would you say you use modern samples in your productions these days?

Those two kits are my go-to drums; I use them on nearly every track. Not always exclusively but I have also used them solely on some songs. For example, in my cover of Pillow Talk, I used the combination of Trap drums HQ and Hip Hop Drums Live.

 

Sometimes I’ll combine the kits; sometimes I’ll use one, and sometimes I’ll combine them with other kits outside of Modern Samples. But they are a staple in my production, and I use them a lot.

 

Any other new material where you used modern samples that you could share?

I haven’t put out original music in a few months, mostly just covers but my Akon cover (Right Na Na Na) that is using a lot of the Trap Drums especially the hats and the kicks.

 

As I mentioned in the previous question, my pillow talk cover is using a lot of the HHDL as well as TDHQ and in my Justin Timberlake cover, there is a bunch of the sounds from the Lo-fi Drums Collection.

 

Also my newest cover of Pony by Ginuwine, I use a mixture of Lo-fi, Hip Hop and the Trap samples. You could say I use them in pretty much most of my releases.

 

Regarding recording and producing at home, is there any advice you could give to other producer/songwriters out there?

I guess my advice would be to experiment as much as you can. If you’re working out of a home studio, you have to find the best place in the room to record instead of spending all your money on the best gear.

Learn before you spend is what I would say because knowledge goes a lot further. When you can afford a better setup, you can use all your knowledge in combination with the gear to get a better sound.

Other than that, work on music that inspires you rather than chasing trends.

 

Great! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions.

My pleasure, thanks for having me.

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Justin, founder of ModernSamples.com and ModernMixing.com. I'm a passionate mix engineer as well as producer (when I'm needed) whose main goal is to make things sound better.