Meet Aryan Marzban, he’s a 32-year-old sound engineer with some impressive credits to his name already such as Swedish producers Stress and iSHi, American hip hop artist Pusha T, producer, DJ and record label owner Steve Angello – not to mention Tinie Tempah and John Martin then there’s Swedish recording artist Robyn and let’s not forget songwriting for Rihanna.
by Mehdi Benkirane
So how did Aryan’s career begin, what motivated him? He tells how from an early age he was constantly listening to music at every opportunity. At school he would take the chance to rap on stage. Little did he know that this would lead to career in music production and later as a sound engineer – working alongside international stars.
His meteoric rise through the music industry began at SAE Institute Stockholm. Aryan recalls, “My career has spun off very quickly, I started studying at SAE Stockholm, I enrolled in 2008 and I was done with my diploma around 2010”.
He was under no illusion that it would take hard work and dedication to achieve his goal in the music industry, but despite his first break when he was offered the position of Audio Supervisor at SAE Stockholm.
Highlighting the challenges he faced in those early days and the importance of being able to have enough money to pay his bills Aryan tells how he found employment distributing newspapers at night for the morning, “I though that was a good gig for me as I was awake, I’m a night person. I stayed there for one year also distributing magazines and working with music at the same time.” – 18/19-hour days were not unusual for him.
His first big breakthrough came in Sweden working with big name Swedish producer Stress, who is signed Jay Z’s Roc Nation label – “I was able to work with him with our big Swedish artists which enabled my name to be established here in Sweden.” he added.
Now the name Aryan Marzban is much respected within the music industry working with all the rappers, Timbuktu and of course international recording star Robyn all of which has brought him contact with other producers and in particular iSHi, the guy behind Tinie Tempah’s first hit Written in the Stars.
Aryan explains,” I started working with iSHi because he wanted the same thing that Stress and I had been doing. Basically an engineer, just a phone call away to sit down and fix stuff locally instead of doing Skype mixes. So to my first international release which was the second single of Tinie Tempah called, Children of the Sun with John Martin. This is the song that established me myself outside the boarders of Sweden”.
Despite his undisputed talents, it’s interesting to hear just how he sees himself. He’s not big on “labelling” and considers himself an engineer period, even though most of his work is mixed based. Aryan adds, “I always take on jobs as recording and also of course mastering, I’m not the one directing, it depends on what my clients want me to do – basically I’m an engineer period”.
So when Steve Angello a Greek-Swedish disc jockey, record producer and record label owner and member of Swedish House Mafia wanted to do a remix compilation of his latest hit he contacted different producers, one of which landed in Stockholm with Tinie Tempah’s producer which Aryan mixed for him.
Adding American hip-hop recording artist Pusha T to his credits – another result of his collaboration with Tinie Tempahs’s producer. Pusha T’s latest song was recorded in the United States and sent to Sweden for mixing then back to the States for mastering.
Then there is song writing for Rihanna, how did that come about? Aryan explained, “That one came back to the producer Stress and his affiliation with Roc Nation. He spends a lot of time working in the United States – the atmosphere there is kind of different if you compare to here. There you have song-writing camps where they actually rent the whole complex and then bring a couple of writers in and they get a couple of songs to write.
He wanted to set a couple of tracks to the Rihanna release just to see if they would make it or not, so he rented the studio complex, gathered some of the top name song-writers here in Sweden and gave them a studio.
As he knows me he reached out to me and asked if I could take charge of the recording and technical parts in the studios. So what I did was contacted my SAE lecturer colleagues who all went along and assisted with the different studio sessions.
Something that I love about the atmosphere at SAE is that it’s very important that the lecturers also actually work outside; I believe it brings a kind relevance to it. For instance as soon as a song gets released I always go to the session with the students so that’s the relevance part of it.
Aryan’s success is quite phenomenal, since his graduation from SAE Institute, and the fact he was able to impress one notable person with his professionalism has “opened the door” to working with other producers and influential people in the music industry.
And what sound advice does he give students studying at SAE Stockholm where he is currently Audio Programme Coordinator “What I always say to my students is that one of the most important things in this business is connections, and you have to start off somewhere, you have to put in the work until you reach someone who receives something from you that you can expand on. I’ve found it always works like that – personal relationships with people are 40% of the job.
Aryan hinted, “There is one project that I’m really looking forward to working on and as part of a disclosure agreement I cannot say which artist it is. I’m going to be a mixing engineer for that specific song and its I think its going to be in the summer 2015 and I believe that song is going to be fun to work on and I believe its going to open up a couple more doors for sure!”
Asked if there was one artist he’d really like to work with given the chance, he was quick to reply “Everyone has there own ‘wow’ moments, I would love to work with Rihanna for sure, she is one artist I followed from the beginning and really like the things she does and of course you cannot forget Beyoncé. I don’t know if I will be able to reach that far up but – hey, you can always wish for it
What was his overall career ambition if he could snap his fingers and have that dream position on a daily basis? He replied, “I love the practical sense of the things I do. I’m not looking to place myself at the head of a company – that sort of thing; I like getting my hands dirty. That’s my ambition being able to do the practical stuff as long as I can and depending on everything from my health to my ears. You know. That’s my main goal, but having said that I believe it’s very important to me to now that I can work twice as hard just to build the foundations that I’m standing on so becomes solid. That’s basically it.”
Aryan had some sound advice for aspiring music professionals. He continued, “First, my advice for both guys or girls who ambitious for a career in this industry is that you must be very open minded as a person. Every time someone comes in contact with you, they must know straightaway that it’s you they are dealing with – not a façade!
Secondly, its really important that you put in the time, even though in the beginning it doesn’t pay you anything or it doesn’t pay well, you always have to put in the time that’s why my days were 19 hours. My first job didn’t pay but I still had to take care of my bills, so I worked at a second job at the same time – you know anything you have to do time wise just to bring it up to speed – you always have the dark years.
You must always be open for criticism, that I found very difficult because all the feedback I was getting was – you don’t know what you’re talking about my thing is the best.
Take that feedback, take criticism and turn into something positive. For example, if someone tells you something make sure that person doesn’t tell you that twice. This is always one of the most important things to remember.
I also believe myself, that you must never stop learning your craft because as engineers technology is constantly changing – even though I’ve been lecturer for 3 years at SAE, I still consider myself a student, there are still a lot of things I have to get up to speed with. For example, new software programmes that become standard – always spend time to learn new stuff because that is really going to help you”.
Aryan had some interesting views on pro-bono work, under charging to get paid for gigs and when is the time to present you to the industry as an aspiring professional.
His answer was succinct and to the point, “I only say that I believe it comes to you naturally –and for me it was when my phone started ringing. When I could see that people are contacting me, getting my number from other people that I hadn’t met before, in others words recommendations. You can tell by their voice when they contact you. They say, hi are you the guy that did this recording? Well, I have an album here how much do you charge? So that was the turning point for me.
I had established the most important thing in my career and that was my NAME so now is time for me to step up. You will start sensing when it’s your time – if that’s a good answer!
There are a lot of famous names, I like the old tracks of Steve Angello, especially his track Freedom with its acid sound. And we can talk about Swedish House Mafia for hours, their very first track I heard was Antidote, then it sounded absolutely on all radio stations. Very interesting biography. Thanks you for your work!