Catching Up With Sergey Zelentsov From Europa Plus – Building…
It has been ages since we have done our first interview and while we created the latest Europa Plus package I had some time to catch up with Sergey. We were chatting about the unbelievable ratings of Europa Plus, new challenges, new findings and of course the new package we created. Sergey still runs the imaging department at Europa Plus. He recently started working together with 3 new producers and creates “Larger Than Life” Imaging for Russia’s No1 Stations. Enjoy my conversation with Sergey!
Sergey, how is starting from scratch with a new team?
Hi Andy. Glad to talk to you again! Concerning my new team – it’s always hard at the start. Every person has his own character and you should find the best way to interact with one. You have to show and explain many things. Everyone has their own habits and workflows they are used to. So one of the main goals – is to involve them in “our production workflow”. To give them maximum comfort and make them feel free to be creative and at the same time not to lose my job if their creativity is “too high”. 😛 So it’s really taking time but the result is worth it. This became obvious inside and outside of Europa Plus.
This year I really renewed my team with “fresh blood and ears”. You know, for me it’s always a new challenge. And the main reason, I think, because you should choose not the good producer but the good producer which will be a part of the team. More so, this is a very important part. We had tons of resumes and demos. However, one of the things which make a difference between a producer and a producer on Europa Plus, is that you have to do much more than other producers do. Here we work with singers, write music, melody lines, scripts, we do live performance with artists as soundengineers. We do great vocal power intros and work in a lot of creative ways and so on…(not counting the fact that you have to pass “Guitar Hero” on PS2 on the hardest level. But later it was decided to exclude this demand).
That’s why it was extremely hard to choose! So I’d made a special test consisting of several different tasks with precise description and examples. This test decreased the amount of applicants extremely! I faced the big problem here: a real lack of good and creative producers. So this 3 new guys I have in my team now – they are the best. And they do a fantastic things!
How difficult is it to create the same kind of culture you had and of course in all changes there is opportunity – what is the biggest opportunity right now for you and your team?
I think it’s not possible (but I’m not sure if we really need that, to be honest) to keep exactly the same culture. We’re always in “Update mode”. The core of a “production culture” are people, and each of them brings something new. So we always learn something new from each other. That’s what makes us grow. We expand our “own knowledge” moving forward. And if changes makes the opportunity – the one for us is to learn, to create something new, to reach next production level and to push Europa Plus ratings even farther.
Do you have any new favorite tools, plugIns, tricks ?
As I mentioned before, every new guy I have has something unique even I can learn from. I saw many new features and new tricks, which work great with our sound. That’s why it is not too easy to choose a favorite plugIn. But let me tell you about the last ones that made an impression on me.
- MVocoder from MeldaProduction – Great vocoder with tons of parameters
- Soundtoys Sie-Q – Although it sounds really good, the drive control creates some kind of magic!
- Soundtoys Little AlterBoy – which allows to play with VO in a different creative way catching up modern sound
- Image Line Harmor – Despite this is a synthesizer, it allows you to process audio files as a vocoder and you can tweak and play with sound in many ways. This one is great if you use a midi keyboard
- Infected Mushroom’s Manipulator – Very crazy thing for your VO to apply! Use carefully! Otherwise you’ll go mad[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”8″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_width=”150″ thumbnail_height=”120″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”0″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show slideshow]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]
What has been the best piece you built this year and why?
This year we’ve made a lot of work. Really. And it’s not so easy to choose something special as long as we try to keep really high level of production. But I’ll show you some elements we can be proud of!
Power Intro – Imagine Dragons – Thunder:
Power Intro – Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault:
Concerning my personal part of production work i have to say that unfortunately this year, I had to act more like a manager than a producer and it took a much time. So I’ve spend producing less than I’d like to. Anyway, one of my favorite elements, which I’ve made, is the TOTH from the “Residance” show package:
But wait a sec… I remembered one episode I should mention! We have a morning show “Brigada U”. And this November they had a trip to United Arab Emirates, Dubai and during one week they were on air from the highest building in the world – Burj Khalifa. They did their show while 450 meters above the ground! It was very important and responsible moment for Europa Plus. And to support one and make strong association in listeners minds we reworked every jingle of the morning show! We made “Arabic” versions of the jingle package. And the result was amazing! Here I should mention that it was possible only because we have a multitrack version of every jingle. It allows us to be involved in process with creative side more and have some fun. It really helps. Here is the result to compare:
BU Jingle – Normal Version:
BU Jingle – Dubai Version:
How important are great jingles for the success of a brand like Europa Plus?
For Europa Plus jingles are extremely important elements! There are a lot of functions they fulfil: the recognition of the radiostation, mood creation, “glue” the songs and elements together and creating a continuous flow on air. Here, inside Europa Plus, they make a good and pleasant workflow for our DJs. Work goes easy when you have modern and an actual jingle package. And of course, because of every years renewal, we have an actual sound which goes along with the best world hits!
Do you like working with Jingle STEM sessions and why?
Working with jingle STEM session is the “next step” in production. For sure. It creates almost unlimited possibilities for producers to integrate the logo and the sound of Europa Plus jingles into many elements which make them unique and “station-recognizable”. This allows you to make from 5 to 8 different length versions of every jingle besides beds, vocal elements and so on. STEM session is easy to adapt to any Holiday, any event that needs a “special sound touch” (for example: Star Wars Day, Halloween, New Years). It’s a really flexible and useful tool that allows you to stay in the listeners mind. “You’re listening to Europa Plus. Number one Radiostation in Russia! And you’ve made the right choice!”
What can people learn from radio in Russia?
I cannot speak for all Radiostations we have in Russia because each station has they own listeners. But concerning Europa Plus – people can just enjoy listening to the actual hits from all over the world, they can make their day better with a positive start to the day with our morning show “Brigada U”. You can win prizes, see movies, travel different countries, see live shows around the world, touch the stars, talk open with hosts of the evening show RUSH. So I think – the main thing they can learn from us – is to make their live more positive. Because here, on our side, we work with great pleasure and a lot of joy. And we love to share that with the 12.3 million listeners every day.
At last, give me your 3 best plugIns EVER!
- Waves L2 – YEAH! Crush!!!! Crush everything!!!!
- Hyperprism Compressor – It’s impossible to explain, but it works like no other with our VO
- Soundtoys EffectRack – I know, I know, I’m cheating here but I started to use it a lot last time. Limitless ways to create something new out of your VO!
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Thanks a lot for answering my questions and giving the world some insight to your ways of producing Russia’s Nr.1 Station!
Sergey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2Sergey.Green