Sound, the often overlooked yet incredibly impactful aspect of storytelling, has the power to elevate narratives to new dimensions. In this insightful interview, we delve into the world of audio post-production with a seasoned mix engineer, audio editor, and sound designer whose expertise brings stories to life through the magic of sound. Haziq Bin Ahmad Farid specializes in music and podcasts. You can hear his work in albums including Music for Pixie Grit Circus by Ellen Warkentine, as well as Psychopath from Li-Anna Kong, Zeke AFR, and Jayce Payackapan. On the podcast frontier, Haziq serves as the Editor and Sound Designer for Immigrantly, and is the Mix Engineer on 99% Invisible. Haziq is also the Audio Editor and Sound Designer for Color of My Voice. Even outside of work hours, Haziq surrounds himself with sound. He is constantly finding inspiration for his sounds in music, podcasts, and films, and encourages aspiring audio post production experts to do the same, and explore the sounds around them in the world.
We spoke with Haziq about the many jobs he has in the world of audio post-production, an average day in the life of a sound expert, and what the strange sounds in film that have inspired him.
If you could simplify what it is you do as a mix engineer, audio editor, and sound designer into one sentence, what would that sentence be?
In simple terms, I’d say a mix engineer is akin to an orchestra conductor, an audio editor is a book editor with a red pen, and sound designer is a painter who paints with sound.
How have you secured projects for yourself? Is it a networking effort?
It’s definitely a business built on a track record and relationships that began with cold calls, emails and text messages. For someone starting out it may seem very daunting but just remember that even the greats had to start somewhere. Be sincere, honest, and humble and what you’ll find is just how helpful people are.
Can you take us through an average day in the life of an audio post production professional?
A typical day for me starts around nine am. I kick things off by checking emails for anything urgent, and reviewing where I left off on ongoing projects. Then I begin diving into the heart of those projects–either cleaning dialogues, crafting sounds, and really bringing things to life. During a lunch break, usually around noon, I may take a breather by catching up on news or stepping outside. As the afternoon rolls in, I switch gears between experimenting with sound effects and balancing different audio elements like dialogue, music, and effects into a cohesive mix. Towards the evening, I’m wrapping up each project, ensuring everything’s polished and good to go for the producers or writers. And though some days may stretch a bit longer, I’m all about balance. After work, I wind down by either watching a movie, listening to music or my favorite podcasts–still keeping that audio vibe alive. I like to take notes of what I like about a particular mix or sound design of a movie, music, or podcast, and experiment with it in each project I’m currently working on.
What is the very first step in tackling any project?
To me the first step is having a deep understanding of what the vision of the project is. In order to do that you need to take time to speak with directors, producers and writers. Since every project is unique, it’s crucial to tailor your work to their specific needs and bring their visions to life.
How does sound influence our experience of a narrative?
To me, it deepens the immersive experience of the story. If we’re talking about podcasts specifically, as it is being entirely auditory, each person will visualize it in their own way, which is really fascinating to me. Having the right sounds is akin to providing the listeners with more colors on their palette as they paint the narrative in their minds.
Can you recall the first time you noticed sound in a project, and the impressions it gave you?
A movie that really stood out for me was A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski. It’s a science fiction horror where the characters have to stay silent in order to survive. Sound became this unspoken character that took center stage, shaping how you felt which added a whole new layer of engagement. In A Quiet Place, it flipped the usual script — where silence often signals impending doom, here it became a symbol of safety. It wasn’t the first time I noticed sound in a project, but it was definitely the most memorable.
For those looking for artistic inspiration for their sound design, where should they turn to?
In looking for artistic inspiration, the best advice I got is to avoid going for the obvious. Embrace thinking outside of the box. Some of the most iconic sounds in film came from unexpected sources. The blaster sound from Star Wars? That’s Ben Burtt hitting a guy wire. The sandworm swallowing sound in Dune? That was Mark Mangini putting a microphone down his throat. Oh, and the sonar clicks for the monster in A Quiet Place? That was Erik Aadahl, and Ethan Van der Ryn tasering a grape. I know, crazy, right? But that’s the beauty of it, experimentation often makes the coolest and memorable sounds. So, grab a recorder and walk around the city, you never know what sounds may inspire you. By the way, if you’re keen on hearing stories from the sound design pros themselves, definitely check out the Tonebenders podcast, hosted by Rene, Teresa, Timothy, and Mark. It’s like a backstage pass to the sound world of our favorite films!
If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring podcaster in terms of sound quality and production, what would it be?
I’d say, nail your recording environment. Find a quiet place, invest in a suitable mic–a dynamic mic for minimal noise or a condenser mic for crisp sound. Remember to keep the mic at a consistent distance from your mouth, and don’t forget a pop filter to avoid the plosives. Grab a pair of closed-back headphones to catch any audio issues while recording. When you’re editing, cut out mistakes and long pauses–be aware of the overall pacing of the narrative. Keep your setup consistent across all episodes for a uniform sound. It’s all about trial and error, so keep testing and tweaking to find what works best for you. Take time to dive into plugins like compression, EQ, and noise reduction too, it’ll be well worth the investment.