Back Talk: Sandy Vee


Sandy Vee considers himself a “plug-in geek.”

Photo: Anna Weber

If you charted the progress of French producer/songwriter Sandy Vee''s career, you''d see that during the past couple of years, it''s been on a remarkable upward trajectory. Last year alone, he had Top 10 Billboard hits with Katy Perry, David Guetta, and Rihanna. He also recently produced Pitbull featuring T-Pain, Nee-Yo, and Taio Cruz. Vee is booked solid with projects for months to come.

He gets involved in all parts of a production, from songwriting through the final mix. “I''m a musician first,” he says, “and what I love to do is songs.”

He''s also a gear aficionado, a self-proclaimed “plug-in geek,” with endorsement deals from companies such as Waves, GForce, and Softube.

Vee moved from Paris to New York City in 2010, which has helped spur his career growth. “It''s like a rebirth,” he says about living and working in New York. “It''s like a dream, really.”

Talk about your studio in New York.
I''m really lucky because I got a really huge loft in Soho. I built a big, big booth; it''s totally soundproof. So I''m very happy for now; it''s great in the booth. Next year I will buy my own apartment and build a big, big studio.

What DAW do you use, Pro Tools?
I use Nuendo 5. I have Pro Tools 9 for the compatibility. Here in the U.S., everybody is on Pro Tools. What I like in Pro Tools 9 is that I can open it on my laptop, and I can connect everything, all the audio. Then I export AIFF, and in my Nuendo arrangement I have all the parts. And then I can start to arrange, tweak, add, and mix. I feel like Nuendo is so powerful and so stable—I really love it.

What kind of plug-ins are you using?
For mixing, I use two UAD Quad cards with all the plug-ins. They''re really great. Also, I''m endorsed by Waves and they gave me the Mercury [bundle]. I love those plug-ins. I''m also endorsed by a company that I love, Softube. They''re amazing; they do some great, great, plug-ins. Rob Papen is a really cool guy. I''m working really close [with his plug-ins]. I love SubBoomBass and Predator. And the last one I''m testing for the last few months for my friend Dave from GForce is the ImpOSCar 2. I was just crazy with the ImpOSCar 1. But with ImpOSCar 2, it''s the big next step in plug-ins.

Typically, how long does it take you to mix a song?
It depends on the song, but it can be between three and five hours, generally three to four hours.

Do you ever get to the point when you''re mixing when you say, “I can''t tell anymore, I''ve got to take a break and come back to it?”
Generally, when I finish a mix. Let''s say I mix a song in three hours. I stop and then I want about three days off [from it]. I won''t listen to the song for three days. And then I listen to the song and generally don''t spend more than 20 minutes [doing final tweaks].

What''s the music scene like in Paris?
France is a small country. We have some great talent, some very talented people with good vibes, but the market is really down. A friend told me yesterday that in a week, a Top 10 single in France sells just 500 copies a week. That''s just crazy. It''s very different working here.

Do you like being in New York?
The first time I arrived in the center of Manhattan, I said, “This is the place I want to live.” And today, I couldn''t go back to France, I couldn''t go back.