Getting To Know… Sherif el Barbari

This week, director of L-ISA Labs at L-Acoustics, Sherif el Barbari, takes the hot seat for our Getting To Know interview…

How did you get into the industry?
Failed musician… surprise, surprise. Basically, because I was a mediocre musician, I realised at an early stage in my life that I’m not gonna earn my living by playing drums in a rock band, which was my dream career at the age of 18. My love and obsession with music drove me to seek my vocation in mixing instead of playing.

What was your first job?
During my uni semester-break, I earned a few extra Deutsch Marks by jobbing for a local promoter. I was very fortunate that my talents were very quickly appreciated by one of the major touring sound rental companies in Germany. This ended up with me working for the most prestigious national and international artists and bands from day one.

What does your working day look like?
For most of close to 30 years I was constantly on tour. This meant, wake up in the morning in a bunk of a tour bus or in a hotel bed, go to a venue, load-in a PA, soundcheck, do a show, load-out and get back on a tour bus or to a hotel… day in… day out.

In between, some food intaking and occasional sleep had to be fitted in, too. Nowadays, under the current circumstances, I have swapped all the above almost for non-stop video conferencing with our L-Acoustics team. Only the food intaking and occasional sleep remained.

What is your favourite thing about the pro audio industry?
To me it’s like a big family. We all are in it because of our passion for music. Being part of a group of human beings, unified in a process, creating an enjoyable experience for an audience, is extremely satisfying and rewarding. And once all parts click together perfectly, it is just magical. I truly believe that’s what we are all striving to experience. It is a very healthy drug, if you ask me.

What is the achievement/project you are most proud of?
Let me put it this way: I’d say that luckily there are many occasions in my life that have been emotionally very fulfilling. It is unfair to try and ‘weigh’ amongst them. One thing I cherish thinking of is mixing the London Symphony Orchestra during the Concerto for band and orchestra with Deep Purple for the 30th anniversary of the original concert. Maybe I should add that Deep Purple were my absolute idols during my youth, and it was more than just a dream come true when I toured with my idols for three years.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time with my wife at the seaside, or strolling through foreign cities, enjoying nice spicy food, or some ‘light’ hiking in the mountains, nothing too crazy. And in my free time I enjoy listening to audio books a lot. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are great to switch off and dive into their fantasy worlds. No dramatisations though! These keep my brain occupied with analysing the sound… haha!