I wanted to tell you the story of how the HCL Islander came to exist as a plugin. Hope you enjoy reading it!
While HCL Islander has become a staple of mastering compressors, Wavegrove is still just a one man operation run by me, Jussi. I’m a musician and nerd making my money mostly from IT stuff. It was natural to combine my work to my mixing by making tools to help the process. From Vastaus through a few others to Islander. Every plugin was a solution for a specific problem I encountered, or a sound I was after.
Islander on the other hand would have not been possible without my friend Tommi Langen from Tape Over Mastering and his golden ears. To think we got to know each other from me slamming some XLR cables in his DMs.
Before that I had known about him for a decade through his rapping in Ruger Hauer, which was an inspiration to me in how you could divert a genre such as rap, to something completely different, a post-apocalyptic vision of Ukraine. We kept communicating on and off and I ended up lending him my Black Magic Cinema Camera 4K for a few months, in exchange for some mastering work. This led to discussions about the plugins I had made and he later became a massive help in developing the sound of Islander and more.
Tommi has been supportive of my plugins from the very beginning and after Sovereign he came to me with an idea. He had just received a hardware version of Islander from Handcrafted Laboratories in the mail after buying it from Gennadii, a dude I had yet to hear about. He asked if we could collaborate on creating a plugin version of it, I said it sounds like a fascinating project and began working on the UI immediately based on pictures I found on HCL’s website. A few weeks later I had a prototype, which would be the start of nearly a year long process of getting HCL Islander to where it was at release.
Countless hours laboring on tracks and noise I had sent to Tommi to drive through the unit finally culminated in a visit to Tommi’s studio where we workshopped the last features of the plugin into shape. We of course involved Gennadii from HCL, who Tommi has known for well over ten years through his gear, and he gave his blessing for the likeness to be used. As Gennadii is Ukrainian and his hometown was not quite as peaceful as usual, we decided to include a link to get information on the matter. It was the least we could do to help. After we got the hit-rate of him recognizing the hardware vs the plugin to 50-50%, we knew we were close.
Then we were ready to go to beta and Tommi gathered a squad of audio hitmen from his contacts, who after a few rounds of fine-tuning and bug fixes gave their A-OK. I also developed a licensing system on the side and we released HCL Islander in April. Releasing to the masses was a completely different thing of course and messages came from all sides as you can probably guess. Wytse from White Sea Studios released a video on the plugin and off we were. Since then I’ve taken a bunch of feature requests to heart and released them, and of course fixed a bunch of system-specific bugs after which Islander has become a robust product, solving again a problem I had; getting a mix to sit together and setting a track’s level to what I want. I hope HCL Islander can solve your problems too.
That’s it for now. I’d like to thank all of you for all the time so far and hope you have a wonderful time mixing and mastering.