Hagay Mizrahi, also known in his stage name ‘Gemini Muziq’, is an American-Israeli musician, record producer, and songwriter. At the age of 6, he traveled with his family to Taiwan due to a mission from his father’s workplace, where he began to study piano on the Yamaha method. After four years the family returned to Israel and Mizrahi continued to study piano privately until the age of 18. After his military service, he enrolled in the Rimon School of Music for composition and conducting. During his studies, Mizrahi traveled to Kingston, Jamaica where he got his first experience in a musical production in collaboration with musician Russ Daniel and producer Yossi Fine. After completing his studies, he turned to the industry and began to work as a music producer with many Israeli artists including Eyal Golan, Arkadi Duchin, Subliminal, and Shotei Hanevua. Mizrahi’s credits include Mario Barret, Poo Bear, and Justin Bieber.
What do you use on your template for new sessions?
For effects, I start with Dverb set to ‘long hall’ as my first reverb and VSS3 by Tc Electronic set to ‘gold plate’ as a second. I find that when I want to get deep and long effects setting the gain on the VSS to +12db works really well, it gives me a really huge impact on the whole mix. For delays, I find H-delay by Waves to be easy to function with one set to 1/4 and the second to 1/8d. My last send effect is MicroShift by sound toys which for me is one of the best choruses around. I like to emphasize pads, background vocals, and anything else that could use a larger stereo image.
What are your 5 most used plugins or current favorite plugins?
Nebula n4, Fab filter pro q2, Clariphonic, Sonnox limiter, and H delay
What are some of your favorite VSTs?
Serum, Vengeance avenger, Nexus 2, and Sylenth
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Remind myself that I need to pay my bills.
What’s the best tip you could give about recording vocals and guitar?
Get the best vocal chain possible in the session. For me, the vocal is the first and most important instrument in the song. When the vocal is recorded right, everything else sounds great. Find the best combination of mic, preamp, and compressor to get the best setup that fits the artist’s voice. My preferred vocal chain starts with a Sony c800g mic, Bae 1073 pre, and TubeTech Cl1b compressor. Never failed me!
Do you prefer to engineer your own sessions when you are producing?
Depends on the song and the client. (Original photo by Elaine Courtney)
What was one defining moment in your career?
I was working in a studio called Pacifique Studios in North Hollywood for three years, at that time I recorded with many artists such as Mario barret, Christina Aguilera, Lil Wayne, and Poo Bear. Me and Poo Bear worked on various songs but there was one night when we worked on a piano riff and I had no clue which artist it was aimed at, Poo came up with a magical melody on it and it the hook said, “you give me purpose”. We finished the session late at 4 am. The next day at the studio Poo Bear said Justin [Bieber] loves this song he’s going to use it on his album! We were in shock. It ended up being the title song for an album that sold 4 times platinum! It was one of those moments when I just knew I was in the right place at the right time.
What’s your favorite song that you’ve mixed, written and/or produced?
Poo Bear ‘Blessing and a Curse’
How do you know when a song is done?
A truly finalized song takes time to finish up. A song for me is like a sealed bag with water. If I move the bottom of the bag the top of the bag moves as well. Meaning, if I low cut a hi-hat, it affects the whole mix, so I need to find the perfect balance between the tracks. It can also be timing adjustments. One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t trust my ears after 3 to 4 hours of work on a song. I need to take a break for a day and come back to it with fresh ears and do another pass.
For me, it takes 3 to 5 passes or days to really get everything on point. You need to keep digging at the song till you get to a place where everything sits in the right spot and it sounds great on any system .
What’s your process for finalizing songs?
Listening in various speaker setups including the car, earbuds, and studio monitors.
How do you stay focused and productive?
I think about the next grammy I am going to win.
Do you have any tips for upcoming engineers?
Working with Poo Bear taught me that to make yourself a great engineer you literally need to predict what the artist, writer, or producer wants to do next and be ready to perform in a split second. Don’t practice at the session, practice at home!
Always use markers as you go, it makes it easier to find your way around the song when you need to fly vocals, guitars, drums etc. The idea is the artist, writer, or producer needs to feel like there is no engineer in the room and that everything flows without any glitches.
For example, when tracking vocals if you are at the first verse and the writer is going to have you go back and forth until he gets that first line in the pocket, at times he will ask to use the third word from the second take and the second word from the first take; that needs to happen very quickly on the spot, making sure you’ve cleaned the crossfades, and more importantly you must be able to detect timing issues and fix them right after the selected take has been chosen. All that comes with practice but these are skills that you will need to master.
Where do you get inspiration?
Listening to other music that inspires me.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Usher and Guns & Roses made me believe in making money out of my talent.
What are you listening to right now?
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?
Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?