Exclusive Interview with SoundsinHD’s Humberto Zayas!

Humberto from SoundsinHD has had a huge impact toward SPF — Actually, if it wasn’t for him, SoundPackFlyer.com would of probably been just an idea, that’s it!


Humberto Zayas - SoundsinHD

Humberto graciously entered his SoundsinHD products into the very first release of SoundPackFlyer while it was still on Beatstruggles.com

With a solid 5 years of designing amazing drum samples for their customers, we’ve been able to get some time with Humberto Zayas, of SoundsinHD.

Check out the review below:

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Where are you from?

I am from Central New Jersey, USA. Not the friendliest or cleanest place but I really feel at home the most here.

When did you start audio production, and making beats in general? (How long has it been?).

I think a craze growing up in a suburban setting so close to many urban settings was trying to be a rapper. I got into production around the age of 14-15 when I realized how bad me and my friends were at rapping! Plus I mean, just the idea that you can sit down and produce music is really awesome and I felt it was more of a thrill and natural to me than writing or rapping. Though I do love to freestyle from time to time. So I am 24 about to be 25 now so that is just about a decade of music!

Did you start with FL Studio in your beginnings as your DAW?

No I did not. I found this demo program of this cheesy DAW. I don’t even remember the name of it. Basically it was like one giant Song/Playlist Mode of FL Studio. It came with this horrible samples but as a kid it was music to your ears. I would sit there for hours trying my hand with this program and having so much fun.

How did you get into audio production? Was audio production popular in your city? Did you have friends involved in it prior to you getting involved?

FL Studio was introduced to me when I met friends in high school who produced as well. It was really like a breath of fresh air because their stock sounds were so much better. Even though I still was very bad I was having so much fun and noticing I was getting better all the time. My current friends were not into music production but I guess God has a way of putting you with people. Music is very popular where I come from with a lot of local talent that still makes great music to this day. I got into production more with the famous FL Keys. I loved to explore the workings of the piano and scales. I basically made up tunes that sounded good to me by ear.

Have you taken any school for audio production/making beats? — Or like most of us, learn off YouTube, and lots of trial and error?

Trial and error most definitely. The most training I had was a high school class for half a semester in Music Theory. We learned about scales, basic chord progressions, writing and reading music and getting better at playing very easy basic tunes. I didn’t even learn off YouTube. I grew up in a time and family where things like Internet weren’t so available. And as a kid being 14 or 15 and not understanding Google or searching YouTube wasn’t something for me until just a bit later. I didn’t even fathom people putting up information as a learning resource on YouTube or their blogs. All I had was my music friends, my ear and my Final Fantasy tracks to be inspired and learn from. I actually learned a lot about music through video game sound tracks and often styled my music to be as good as theirs. Melody, chords, feeling, emotion everything came from Video Games to be honest with you. My favorite Composer is Nobuo Uematsu. He did all the sound tracks for Final Fantasy up until Final Fantasy 11 I believe.

Did you have any placements with artists or TV/Movies before getting into Drum Kit sound design?

Almost simultaneously it was happening. I was hyped up by an A&R for G-Unit Records named Dre Mckenzie. I rather not name drop but he told me and my group we would be placed and really hyped us up. That didn’t work out (I found out at a music conference he often exaggerates lol). But I met a wonderful person, Nicole Sanzio of Indigi Music. I got my music on TV shows like the Real World, some Kim Kardashian show, I Lol’d at this so much, that I don’t even remember the name of and a few other publications. I guess to answer the question I was much more deeper into Sound Design by the time I had a true placement. It is quite the experience sitting in the room with an A&R and having your music played and your sound doesn’t match. It kind of pushed me to more to Sound Design and mixing.

When was the official launch date of SoundsinHD?

5 years ago some late day in November of 2008! We launched and we have been so blessed since.

How many sound designers are apart of your team at SoundsinHD? Are you all on an equal level in terms of roles/leadership?

Currently I am working with 2 others. One is a very new addition and is coming along slowly but surely. It is myself, Keyflo and C-Swag (I hate to use their real names without consent lol). But for 95 percent of it, it has been Keyflo and Myself. Keyflo is very busy with pursuing Music over time, if you asked me his role has diminished a bit but it is picking back up and I feel like our sound and way we carried out SoundsinHD so far has been equal.

What are your thoughts on working as a team at SoundsinHD? Pros and Cons? — It probably allows for quicker releases, but also requires a lot of communication? Does it help that you are all local to each other?

It is absolutely key we are local. I do not know how it could be done otherwise in our cases. I want quicker releases but life is hard and everyone’s schedules aren’t the same. That is disappointing and makes it hard to capitalize on popularity at times. I would say the major Pro’s are different takes on ideas from business to marketing, and style of sound design. The con’s are definitely the conflicting schedules and thoughts about the future of Sounds in HD. I feel it could be a huge powerhouse and it could and has lead to tons of opportunities, like Sound Design for Native Instruments, meeting YOU and Jay Chambers from TheProducersChoice, and so many other awesome connections and people and things. I know it is hard to believe something like Drum Samples could be lucrative but I have seen and lived the potential.

How did you meet Keyflo? When did the two of you start designing together as a team? Was SoundsinHD formed by both of you, or did one of you start it first?

Met in high school lol. My group of music production friends, we were kind of the hot shots of the time locally and he was coming along. We pushed him aside but again things seem to happen for a reason and I have no problem admitting to you he surpassed all of us in Music Production. He is a mega talented producer and it is great to hear his music grow all the time. DRUM DESIGN was kind of my idea in general. I started keeping my favorite drums saved for use later. I told Keyflo about it and we began posting our sounds in the forum of GearSlutz.com. The response was crazy and we both said man we have to see what this is about right here.

Any special story behind naming the company “SoundsinHD” ?

There was a lot of brain storming on what we should call it. Again, at the time we were entering this Era of HD TV talk and high def and all that. One day Keyflo just hit me up and said “Sounds in HD” and I was like…genius. It flows, it sticks in your mind, easy to remember Soundsinhd.com and we make Sounds that are in HD. We kind of just kept running with that concept. The only downside I say is that it’s devoid of any keywords to the internet like “drum kits” “drum samples” etc but I think we did okay so far. I am happy.

What do you think made SoundsinHD really take off in the beginning? — Did your sound kit SHD Vol. 1 have a big part to play for SoundsinHD’s foundation in this industry? (Honestly, SoundsinHD Vol. 1 is still one of my favourite releases from you and your team at SHD!)

People. Producers made Sounds in HD. More directly posting in Forums made it work early on. Kind of like one of those grass roots projects. You go out, introduce yourself, and get to know people. We just went out to forums, tried to make friends, that didn’t always work (looking at YOU FutureProducers Mods) but definitely the people in those forums kicked it off the ground. I mean I get sad now thinking man I can’t remember some of the key people but I am thankful to you. WarBeats, GearSlutz, Rekkerd, if you helped me in the beginning thank you. And people still help to this day like yourself, Jay Chambers and others! Please guys learn about the Web and learn about Google Analytic’s so you can see where people are coming from to your site!

From designing your first few kits, has your approach and techniques changed, compared to now, when you design your new kits? Do you feel your overall thought process, understanding, and techniques have improved?

I feel like I improve everyday. First it was very general but it has gotten really specific. From layering to EQ’ing to more. I feel like I am at a new peak and enjoying it. Every sound is different and should be treated different. The best example are snares. In general the snare’s smack comes in a certain frequency as well as transient. But every snare has a different smack range and just knowing that makes EQ’ing better. Then understanding layering, saturation distortion etc. Less is always more but sometimes you just need more as well.

Any things you “would of liked to of known” when you first started your company?

How the internet worked. I feel like if I would have been more keen to SEO and Email Lists and stuff that goes into being noticed on the web from random people would have helped. Aw man, web design, WORDPRESS holy crap website managing is so much easier with WordPress. It’s alright though eventually things you need to know cross your path and it reveals itself to you. Those things come to my mind the most.

What about marketing? — Have you had a hard time getting your name around to be promoted on other blogs? Or do you think your products have spoken for them self 😉

A Little of both. They speak for themselves in the people who reach out to us and let us know. Man people do NOT seem to want to help or anything to do with Drum Samples. KVR Audio comes to mind but THAT IS a VST website overall so that makes sense. If you read their rules about press releases they basically say go away drum sample companies lol. But for everyone who doesn’t want to help there are 20 more who are awesome to work with. It is definitely a struggle sometimes. I feel like the best promo has been with yourself, Email list building, early on forum posts. Harmony Central has been very cool as well. Drum Samples are what you call a Niche Market. What is awesome about Niche Market’s are is YES they are small but those inside are quality people who know what they want. A quote from my old boss sticks in my head about Niche markets “Small Enough for you to take advantage of but big enough for you to always grow”.

I’m very grateful for you, Humberto, acknowledging my attempt at building a solid market place at SoundPackFlyer.com – What made you want to participate in the very first release of Vol. 1 of SoundPackFlyer while it was still at Beatstruggles.com? (Thank-you again!).

A lot of reasons. Your genuineness rang super clear and that was an awesome main reason. But if we do not help each other who will? I want to help as many people in life as I can even outside of Drum design. It really sucks when someone doesn’t want to help you or you feel like there is no help. If the talent is there or I feel like they have something to offer and I can think of a way to help, I am down for that.

So, what’s been the biggest challenge from creating a career in the drum kit market? — Sustainability, over-saturation of other brands/companies?

Tough question. Inside of it I would say trying to get your stuff out to the people. I am not worried about other brands because I feel like, and so should they, if they can show people they have something good they will remember you. Sustainability in so many fashions. Budgeting is key for business and personal. Releasing and sustaining your popularity or whatever you wanna call it is also tough.

Do you think there is still a market for a solid income nowadays with all these companies and sound design?

I do think so. I mean there are billions of people in the world. We all haven’t reached the potential we can. Me, you, them, anyone. Rarely anyone in any facet, industry, dealing anything will ever sell something to everyone (Maybe Gas? But that is ending soon). Bill Gates can’t sell PC’s to broke children in Africa, I will probably never reach billions of people. I mean let’s look at these big companies Native Instruments, IK Multimedia, Steinberg all in software. They once were at where we are. I am very happy with the way things are going but I am always looking to grow because I know the reach is so high and why not jump as high as you can I guess. I mean check your visitors, It is not unusual for a site to garner hundreds of thousands of traffic. How would my conversion rate look if I could? (Conversion Rate is visitors to people actually doing something you want them to do ex: Buy something, sign up to your list, download something.) So imagine you have a list of 2,000 people you blast to them something. Only 5 percent of them buy something. .05 times 2000 is 100 people. 100 times what ever you are selling ain’t bad. The internet connects you to millions so 2000 is the sad number not 5 percent. It seems like 5 percent is bad but really it’s your reach. Now keep growing that number. Imagine if the billions of people in the world, 5 percent of them bought something from you. That ain’t bad at all. You just gotta keep growing.

What are your thoughts on Analog vs. Digital? — Do you notice a big difference when using hardware on your sounds compared to high quality VST plugins? — Or is the debate that “Analog is better than Digital” all in people’s heads?

The funny thing is we all consume MP3’s. So no matter what you do it goes to Digital. But I must tell you sitting in a studio using Analog gear to record through you feel a difference in the sound even though it goes to digital. If you ever recorded a synth and played a synth from a VST I mean man the feeling of that sound from your gear is so good. There are also ways to digitally get an analog feel like gentle and subtle amounts of distortion/saturation. Why do you think all the old Hip Hop Drums were clipping. It gives you a feel of warmth fullness from the music. Because sonic wise they are incorrect. Distorted guitars in rock music, it just a way to clip the sound without clipping the master track – it sounds “cool”. Dr Dre and Timbaland drums just bang your trunk because they clip the drum just enough to make it sound full – it sounds “cool”.

Anything you would like to say to your long-time customers, or those wanting to get started in sound design? — Anything to watch out for?

Thank you so much. Even if you never bought anything, if you used free sounds from the free kits we put up thanks. If you just visited and listened thanks. If you are getting into it just take it one step at a time and do not be afraid to reach out to people. Make sure you get your sound out and get feedback. Once you know it’s good don’t let anyone tell you differently.

How can people contact you if they’d like to get in touch with you?

Specifically for business soundsinhd@gmail.com is the best way. I am trying to refrain from non-exclusive distribution deals as I want to keep my main channels very locked down and specific. I check all the emails. If it is more informal twitter is awesome. I love to retweet music and interact on an informal level there. If you feel you have something important email me.

Any big projects coming up that you’d like to mention!?

We are hoping to change the way people go about getting their drum samples. If we complete it you will see it.

Other than that Keyflo and I are heading to LA to meet up with some contacts and maybe talk some business, looking into ways we can donate money in the near future as well! Thanks so much Riley. Always fun working with you.

Contact Info:

SoundsinHD’s Website: http://SoundsinHD.com
SHD Facebook: http://Facebook.com/SoundsinHD
SHD Twitter: http://Twitter.com/SoundsinHD

And There You Have It!

Thank-you so much Humberto for this interview! — As already mentioned, Humberto is probably the biggest reason why SoundPackFlyer is now a website! — Because of their submission, other companies saw that maybe there is potential if a solid drum company like SoundsinHD is taking part, and distributing their high quality kits to SoundPackFlyer!

If you’d like to visit SoundsinHD’s products in SoundPackFlyer, simply Visit their Product Page

If you would like to submit your high quality audio products into SoundPackFlyer, please contact SPF!

Also a quick, and BIG, shout out to Xavier from Xclusive-Audio for mentioning to actually turn SoundPackFlyer into a website. Before it was just on Beatstruggles.com.