UNI T Y
Scouting for Girls
TOURING A #1 RECORD
ISSUE 23 | Â£3.95 UK/$6.95 USA/$7.95 CANADA
EVANESCENCE CHECK OUT HEADLINER MAGAZINE ONLINE | HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET
eu se 18 0 e m 20 22 Co E V IS ll 7 a H
Experience the Future Next Generation Line Arrays
Point Source HOPS
Arrayable Point Source
Line arrays reimagined for a lighter, stronger, cleaner, more powerful future.
Making a small speaker loud is one thing. Making a small speaker sound big is HOPS.
Point Source systems have never arrayed well, until now! APS takes advantage of the most exciting new CODA technologies and delivers on the old dream of seamless arrayability in a point source system. The opportunities are endless.
#23 From the Editor
“It's always good for me to make music in the moment, because I'll stretch a different muscle the next time around...” Amy Lee
Welcome to Issue 23 of Headliner, where we speak to pioneering avant-goth artist, Amy Lee, who has fronted mega US rock band, Evanescence, since 2003, and forged an extremely successful solo career along the way with her unique epic pop sound. Amy has been busy in the studio recently with the band, navigating a new sound for the latest record, Synthesis, a fusion of old hits and new material, stripped back, with an orchestral twist. And it’s brilliant. Amy takes us through the meticulous recording process, and talks about her extraordinary musical journey so far. We also speak to BAFTA-winning composer, Michael Price, perhaps most famous for his work on the superb Sherlock TV series. He’s been musically multitasking of late, working on a new movie, album, and TV show simultaneously, with a fascinating hybrid setup of old cassette recorders, classic outboard kit, and state of the art strings libraries. It’s a great insight into the life of a composer at the top of his game. In London, we chat streaming, record labels, and mastering with the very entertaining Scouting for Girls lads; it seems artist remuneration is improving dramatically (at last), and keeping hold of your masters is the way to go for any new recording artist. A fascinating three hours spent in one of Hammersmith’s finest drinking establishments(!). Then it’s over to the MTV EMAs at the O2 to find out how a massive show like that is put together, before descending on the SSE Arena in Wembley to talk to the lighting and production team for Marilyn Manson. Stateside, meanwhile, we’re behind the scenes with leading audio supplier, Rat Sound, who are looking after British rock band, Alt-J, on their current tour. All this and much more inside - we hope you enjoy the issue. Paul Watson Editor
SOCIALISE WITH US: headlinermagazine.net @Headlinerhub HeadlinerHub headlinermagazine
HEADLINER | ISSUE #23
CONTACT Paul Watson email@example.com +44(0)7952-839296
Yerosha Windrich firstname.lastname@example.org +44(0)7804-583457
Artwork Eli Stapleton Eimear O’Connor
Contributors Adam Protz, Rhona Lavis, Henry Sarmiento, Jon Tessier, Robert the Roadie
Contents #23 Cover Story
P30 / Amy Lee 06
MUSIC BIZ ROUND-UP
Adam Protz looks back at 2017, the year when Spotify upped its game, and streaming thrived.
SONIC VISTA INSIGHTS
We chat to River Roots about life on the road, and why they chose Ibiza to record their new album.
RECORDING IN BERLIN Europe’s very own Music City - we descend on one of Berlin’s finest hi-res recording studios.
Musician and producer, Rory Simmons (AKA Harlequiin) takes us through his studio setup.
We head to the SSE Arena to chat to the brilliant production team on the current Manson tour.
We’re stateside with Rat Sound, audio provider for Alt-J’s tour, to find out what makes it all tick.
It’s been a mad 18 months for this Stockport five-piece. We talk hit records, touring, and technology.
London’s O2 Arena was the venue for the 2017 EMAs, and Headliner went backstage.
WORLD CUP 2018
A true insight into the life of a great composer: scoring tips, classic kit, and recording techniques.
It’s almost time to celebrate 52 years of hurt! We take a look at Russia’s World Cup Final venue.
This pianist is like no other. He uses super percussive techniques, and makes great songs his own.
SCOUTING FOR GIRLS
“It’s all about owning your masters,” says frontman, Roy Stride, as we chat remuneration.
Ever tried playing sax on the back of a moving motorcycle? This lady has, and she sounds incredible!
Radio 1’s latest tastemaker is climbing the ranks, and quickly making a name for herself.
What a voice this American songstress has. We talk about her new record, and London’s scene.
The complete pop package: hit songwriter, producer, and a great multi-instrumentalist.
GRUMPY OLD ROADIE
Smart songwriting and a twist of fate put this talented producer, mixer, and songwriter on the map.
COVER STORY: AMY LEE
This pioneering artist burst onto the scene back in 2003 with her band, Evanescence, and has had an outstanding career ever since. She’s been busy in the studio recently, working on the band’s latest record, Synthesis, which is a fusion of old and new material with a fantastic orchestral twist.
HEADLINER | ISSUE #23
This issue, Robert compares a 1960s Bush TV set to the music industry, as only he can.
U LT I M AT E P O I N T S O U R C E
Hello. We are the world’s most compact three-way studio monitors, and the first coaxials without sonic compromises. With uncoloured, detailed imaging and incredible on- and off-axis responses, we allow you to monitor with total confidence, hour after hour. And thanks to the ever evolving Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM™) application, we can adapt to even the most challenging of environments. We’re simply Ultimate Point Source monitors, so please excuse us from not keeping a low Finnish profile. We are THE ONES. genelec.com/theones
Comment Adam Protz
IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR [FOR MUSIC]...
“The IFPI found that in 2017, 96% of all Internet users listened to music that had been fully licensed.”
Words Adam Protz Boiled down to just music alone, 2017 was a bloody good year. There were some killer albums, such as St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION, Lorde’s Melodrama, and Paramore’s After Laughter to name only a few. However, the changing face of the music industry, and the manner in which artists have been remunerated, has long been up for discussion. Streaming has firmly established itself as the singular way we consume music, but its lack of compensation for artists has caused much controversy for companies like Spotify. Yet 2017 was the year Taylor Swift ended her great Spotify boycott, signalling a positive step forward. It was the year streaming came good, as the listening model has virtually replaced all music piracy. Yes indeed, the IFPI found that in 2017, 96% of all Internet users listened to music that had been fully licensed. A staggering percentage, considering that not all that long ago, piracy was absolutely rife. Remember Metallica’s bitter war with file sharing service, Napster? Well, the fact that Taylor Swift had a war of her own with Spotify, the first company to offer a proposed legal solution to illegal music downloading, was a sign of the times. That began back in 2014, and reached its conclusion in June last year. In a Twitter post, Taylor Swift said she returned the entirety of her back catalogue to the streaming service to ‘thank her fans’, following 10 million sales of her album, 1989. Some pointed out that she made this announcement on the same day that Katy Perry released her latest album, possibly to stir their feud. But let’s not dwell on that... Whatever the reason, Swift allegedly lifted her music from Spotify on principle, because it simply wasn’t paying the artists enough money. Surely such a business-savvy woman wouldn’t return to the platform if she wasn’t satisfied that the face of music streaming had significantly changed? Statistics show that even 13-15 year olds are now paying to stream music, whereas previously, teenagers had been the main guilty party when it came to the torrenting of music. What a turnaround.
Music streaming continues to distort traditional models, such as the UK Top 40. You may remember that, once upon a time, the music singles charts would reflect, well, singles. Ed Sheeran’s 2017 release, ÷, was monstrously successful in many ways. Perhaps most noticeably in the way it rendered the Top 40 looking the most bizarre it ever has — in its opening week, the entire top 10, with the exception of The Chainsmokers, was comprised of new Ed Sheeran songs. All 16 tracks from the album debuted in the top 20, in fact; and the fact that a huge number of households had ÷ on repeat meant that its number of streams totally dwarfed everything else. It might seem that we’re trying to break it to you gently that this huge rise in digital consumption is the death knell for physical music. Not so. Because as streaming becomes more ubiquitous, the purchasing of collector’s item records has also increased synchronously. Vinyl has always been seen as the ultimate collector’s item; it accounted for 10% of all physical purchases in 2017 (up from 8% in 2016). 14.3 million vinyl records were sold in the US alone. Wow. A curious new trend also emerged, with music lovers purchasing cassette tapes. At one point, we all thought they were dead and buried, as CDs replaced them, but they are making a huge comeback, with a 35% upturn in sales in the US in 2017. A big boost was the sale of retro-themed soundtracks such as the score for Netflix’s Stranger Things, and The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. So the future is bright then, surely? In a word, yes. After a few wobbly years, 2017 has brought huge promise to a very uncertain industry, still undeniably in a transitional period. It would be foolish to attempt to predict what 2018 will bring, besides an abundance of exciting new music. Instead, let’s wonder where we’ll be in the statistics department in a year’s time, and gleefully anticipate the likes of Justin Timberlake, Nils Frahm, Jack White, and Arctic Monkeys dropping new records this year. Very tasty, indeed.
The Chainsmokers at the 2017 BRITs.
James Gunn goes retro with Guardians of the Galaxy.
â€œI explored every option, but time and again found myself pulled back towards the sound of the Horusâ€? Jack Ruston, MPG Breakthrough Engineer Nominee
Horus and Hapi converters you deserve merging.com
Sonic Vista Insights River Roots
RIVER ROOTS: A NOMADIC DUO River Roots offer a bit of everything, but most importantly, they sound great. This eclectic duo combine acoustic, folk, and alternative music with reggae beats and diverse sounds to make a smart, uplifting sound. Our friends at Sonic Vista Studios, who have been working with them on their new material, sit down to talk music, technology, and touring the world. We hear you’ve been playing in many countries across the globe... Yes! We developed our live show across South East Asia. Originally, we thought we wanted to keep our music separate, as we were a couple, already travelling together and living together, but it was such a natural progression of enjoying and loving performing together, so we knew we had to be a duo. This was in 2015, during a European tour. We hitchhiked from Holland, through Germany and Austria, then back to the UK, sprinkling our musical vibes as we went. We evolved the music, and cemented ourselves as the duo we are today. Then, over the past couple of years, we have had amazing summers in the UK, as the festival scene is pretty special there. New Zealand’s beauty was second to none, and inspired a new journey of music; and we just love travelling - it shapes the music in new ways. Which festival impressed you most? That’s a tough one... But it has to be Luminate Festival in Golden Bay, New Zealand. First of all, it is on top of a crystal mountain, so as you can guess, the energy feels pretty magical up there. It’s such a beautiful transformational festival with amazing people, music, and scenery. They had an area called tribal zone, which was a 24-hour drum circle with a full variety of house djembes, dun duns, and log drums, and a huge fire for everyone to gather and dance around. It truly was primal, and as its name suggests, tribal, bringing us back to our ancient roots. Luminate is magical... What’s your live setup? Matt sings lead vocals and plays a Freshman AP3JEM acoustic guitar with a dual Fishman Presys 301 System pickup. Blending the two
pickups allows the percussive guitar slaps on the body to really shine through in live performances. Gem sings and plays percussion, whilst using a kick drum pedal on a cajón. She brings tight harmonies that add so much depth to the performance. On some tours, we bring our violinist, Vojta, whose solos and fills cut through the mix and really up the vibes; and occasionally, we have an additional percussionist on djembe or cajón to lift the vibe. There’s a beautiful energy exchange that goes on when on stage. It can sometimes be relaxed and down tempo, whereas other times, the whole place will be dancing to the upbeat vibrations! What brought you to Ibiza? In early 2017, whilst performing at Wanderlust in New Zealand, we met the incredible musician, Elijah Ray. He assured us the place we needed to go was to Sonic Vista Studios in Ibiza. We knew we needed someone who was professional, who could really take our music to the next level. After a successful Crowdfunding campaign to record an album, we called Henry [Sarmiento, Sonic Vista owner]. Immediately after that first phone call, we knew that was the place for us. How has Sonic Vista treated you? Truly amazing. Working with Henry has felt like hanging out with a friend. He really knows how to get the best out of people, and put you at ease in all situations. The studio is a paradise, an escape where you can truly shine, creating an environment that is comfortable, yet extremely professional. Henry really knows his stuff, he’s an absolute wizard; and he always has the ability to raise your vibration to its optimum capacity, making sure you’re enjoying yourself; and that
reflects the overall sound captured. He helped bring our songs to their full potential, for sure. Any advice for any young musician about to embark on their first tour? Just start doing, not thinking or worrying; throw yourself in at the deep end, and things will start to take shape, as new opportunities arise. It’s a very steep hill, but stick at it through the good and bad times. The biggest thing is, be a nice person; be the person that you would want to be friends with. The music business is a small world, and you will come across the same people, and there is no place for ego. All the successful bands we meet are awesome, friendly, and smiley people, and that shows in their performances. People want to see them, and festivals want to book them, which brings us back to enjoyment: always remember why you are doing music, it’s because you love it! And what’s lined up for you in 2018? We just follow the sun! [laughs] We aim to travel through the UK, have a small European tour in the summer, and at the end of the year, we will probably fly south again for winter. 2018 feels like it’s going to be our most important year to date, as we will finally have a recording to be proud of, and spread our music to new audiences. It’s the next important big step, and we can begin to start focusing on creating some music videos for our tracks. There’s so many opportunities opening that even though it’s been a long time building up to this, it feels like the beginning of a journey. @sonicvista www.sonicvistastudios.com www.riverrootsband.com
New from DiGiCo
SD12 SETTING A NEW STANDARD
Predictably Stunning In 2015, DiGiCo launched its compact S-Series, which boasted a modern workflow at an affordable pricepoint; last year, the whole SD Range became much more powerful thanks to the introduction of Stealth Core 2
Software across the board; now, in DiGiCo’s 15th year,
72 input channels with full processing
meet the new and predictably stunning SD12.
36 aux/grp busses with full processing
LR / LCR bus & 12 x 8 Matrix
The new DiGiCo SD12 doesn’t just re-write the book on
12 FX processors & 16 Graphic EQs
compact multi-application consoles, it simply rips it up
119 Dynamic EQs, 119 Multiband Compressors, 119 DiGiTuBes
Advanced surface connectivity with optional DMI cards
UB MADI & optional Optics
and starts again.
www.digico.biz DiGiCo UK Ltd. Unit 10 Silverglade Business Park, Leatherhead Road Chessington, Surrey KT9 2QL. Tel: +44 (0) 1372 845600
Recording in Berlin
RECORDING IN BERLIN
Berlin is one of the greatest musical cities on the planet. Home of neo-classical, a huge electronic music scene, three different opera houses, and seven different orchestras. It has a bit of everything. So it’s no surprise that Gregor Schweiger’s new studio is kitted out for any project. Located in the heart of the city, this engineer, producer, and mixer opened up in March 2017 after a year-long build, has already worked in classical, punk rock, hardcore, EDM, and Argentinian tango(!) The key to his success? No compromising. Gregor Schweiger started out playing in bands at a pretty good level, which, of course, led to making demos in various studios. At a session, an engineer once told him, ‘at a point, punk rock will not pay your living’, and it seems Schweiger took that firmly on board. “I definitely turned my passion into a profession; I got into the audio side of things, studied sound engineering in 2006, finished in 2010, then got an internship at the Philharmonic Concert Hall in Berlin for six months, and got very into classical music, which opened my musical horizons, and gave me a perspective of many things other than punk rock,” Schweiger smiles. He got hold of the rooms in 2016, and worked on them for a year before he eventually opened his studio to the public in March 2017. Because there are so many genres thriving in the bustling German capital, Schweiger says he has to be ready for any project that might come knocking. “Anything that the customer wants me to be, that’s what I am,” he insists. “Recording
guy, someone who takes care of signals, someone who can influence their playing, or the producer. And so far, 90% of the people who record here also end up mixing here, so I mix the record, as well.” Schweiger hasn’t pushed the studio in any direction so far, and as this article’s introduction suggests, that has been a very wise move. “This city is full of music, and besides a handful of studios, the way the music business is now, you really can’t be too picky with one project,” he says. Currently, Schweiger is working on a very cool project called Olga Show. In a nutshell, it’s a female violinist and drummer, husband and wife combo, both of whom are street musicians. They came up with the idea of playing around with what classical composers might sound like if they’d had today’s instrument repertoire at their fingertips. “First, they said everyone would have a drum set, as that was something that was missing 300 years ago, so they rearranged
recording the violin concerto of Mendelssohn, and double concerto of Bach, for low violin, drums, and orchestra; and they want to add synthesisers, as well, as maybe that’s an aspect classical composers might refer to if composing today,” Schweiger explains. “We are working on the synths at the moment. It’s a lot of fantasy, but that is the whole idea. Since there are only two of them, we recorded both pieces live in the studio, with an electronic bass player also, and everything else was overdubbed. “The violinist was eager enough to overdub pretty much the whole orchestra: she did all the first and second violins, and violas, and then someone else came in and did the cellos. Each one was done individually, so it’s a massive project. And that’s the whole idea: Olga Show. Olga is her name, she does everything strings related; everything else is for show.” That does sound like a lot of work! The project started with 11 days of live tracking, before improvisation, then a flautist came
Recording in Berlin
“Get your room pretty much perfect, and you’re winning.” in and recorded some overdubs. Now the recording is done, it’s all about production, the synth sounds, and the mixing. The project is expected to be finished by the end of January.
All the Kit
I ask Schweiger first about his sizeable analogue console, which looks like something API would make. “Almost... [smiles] It’s actually a Six Audio console, and it’s the very first and only one; it’s actually based on the API 500 series, and has two 500 slots on each channel, so you don’t have to choose if it’s EQ or compression, you can do both at the same time,” Schweiger explains. “It’s got 64 channels, it’s analogue surround mixable, and maybe the most flexible console I have ever seen.” Certainly looks the part, too. What’s particularly interesting about Schweiger’s setup is, it’s entirely analogue, barring one very important digital component. “We put a lot of work into building the rooms, and built our control room around our [Amphion] speakers, our very fine Steinway grand piano, and this amazing console, so it was too late to save money on the converters,” he smiles. “We had to stay in the same league as every other product in the studio; and actually, converters are something you should never save money on in the studio anyway, in my opinion.” For this reason, Schweiger invested in two
Merging Technologies Horus units. “When I record, I do it at 96kHz, 24-bit... maybe not the biggest considering I have a product as good as Horus, but I like it very much; and we have been recording since the end of September, so it’s probably the biggest project I have done in the studio,” he says. “It’s great becaue you don’t have to worry about the converter: it’s there, and does all it has to, super-duper fast; it comes in, and goes out, and still always sounds the same, so it’s just really convenient. My setup is two Horus combined to 64 inputs and outputs, and it’s superb. They are connected via Audio over IP to the computer.” Schweiger’s recording chain varies, depending on the audio application: “For live recording, I go into the console, then Horus, because it’s the best way of getting good monitoring for the musicians, as I stay all analogue; and for overdubbing, it comes from the Horus, and then into the console; and the stuff that’s been recorded then goes into the preamp, then Horus, then the console. Then, from the console, everything goes together to the monitoring; and when mixing, everything comes from the Horus to the console... If you follow? [laughs]” Just about! Schweiger works in Nuendo almost exclusively, and on 80% of his projects, the DAW is only doing recording and playback, everything else is in the console. In terms of the conversion, it was really all about
achieving true transparency. “I compared the Horus with some other top quality converters, but found colouring in the audio; I have the analogue equipment for that, and many classical musicians don’t like colouring in their recordings, so doing that would put me in a corner right away,” Schweiger says. “And there are preamps in the Merging input cards, so for remote recording, it’s a no brainer: mics, cables, and a Horus. It’s the versatility, the usability, and the sonic quality. “I want it as clean as it gets, and it gives me the most options for when it comes to mixing, and it doesn’t matter what the setup is: a mix project in 44.1 sounds just as amazing as when I work in 96kHz with Horus; and if I open a session in 48kHz, it just changes itself. I don’t have to do anything.” I ask Schweiger to give our readers some pointers to create a top studio environment. “Get your room pretty much perfect, and you’re winning,” he says. “Good monitoring is number two: get used to your speakers, that way, you learn how to react to stuff that you hear, so it works on every other speaker. And thirdly, as producer or engineer, you have to have the ability to feel the emotions, and know how to react. Don’t put the pressure on, but don’t lose your head on days of takes. Just get the musicians into a relaxed situation.” www.merging.com
In 2013, punters paid just £3 to watch Blossoms’ first live show at Night & Day Café in Manchester. What a bargain! Since then, the Stockport five-piece’s rise to the top has been exponential. Their self-titled debut record hit the top spot in the UK Albums Chart, earning them a Mercury Music Prize nomination along the way, and for the last 18 months, they’ve been touring non-stop around the world. With album two on the way, we talk to Blossoms’ lead guitarist, Josh Dewhurst, and the band’s live engineers, about touring life, top kit, and constantly striving for more.
hese past few years have been a whirlwind,” admits Josh Dewhurst. “We’d generated this kind of buzz, as we have always been hands-on with everything; then the album came out, hit number one, we’ve been touring it relentlessly. It’s been pretty crazy!” A good crazy, though, no doubt. The lads have come a long way since the beginning of 2014, when their fanbase was just 200 local fans. Now, it’s on a global scale. But Blossoms won't forget their roots. What’s the key been to this success? “Honestly, we are just five very normal, happy human beings from Stockport,” smiles Dewhurst. “Each one of us is creatively involved: [bassist] Chas is great with photography and design, as well as music; [frontman] Tom writes the songs, brings them to us, and they become Blossoms when we put our own influences in. “Each one of us is a vital cog in the machine, really. We’re still young, but the things you learn yourself when you’re on the road, like people trying to take advantage of you creatively, we have always managed to stay clear of; we’ve always been in charge of the creative process. We have great management and crew, and we have always stayed true.” A wise attitude on young shoulders, five times over, then? “A lot of people are liable to take the foot off the gas when they get a bit of success, but there has never been one end goal for us; we know it’s more fuel to keep us going, and to go further. We are never satisfied, and there are always so many more things we can be doing to improve ourselves.” Dewhurst was the band member that pushed from an early stage to take the audio technology a step further on the road. “I’m nerdy, so that’s what I’m into,” he laughs. “But yeah, I pushed for tracks, and in-ears; I was the one who was keen to try different mics out, that kind of thing, you know? “In the studio, we work with Rich Turvey and James Skelly [of The Coral], and it’s like hand-me-down clothes, as we use a lot of their gear in the studio. Music is one of the best things to unite people, especially music of the north and north-west; the history is amazing, really.” True enough. And The Coral story is an interesting one: Blossoms recorded their first single as a band in 2013 – Blow - in their old rehearsal room with just one mic. It was, Dewhurst insists, ‘dead basic and gnarly’, but it was enough to prick James Skelly's ears. “James stumbled across it on YouTube, got in touch with us through his manager - who is now our manager - and invited us to Hoylake, where they have their rehearsal room; that’s where we started our relationship with James,” Dewhurst explains. “He is what we call a Jedi Master – so, a mentor – and The Coral were a hugely successful and amazing band, so to have someone like him on board with
us is a massive part of our story so far, without a doubt.” So the formula works in the studio and on the road. Where do you go from here, sonically? “Well, we are far from perfect, but relentless touring is a great way to improve your playing and tightness,” states Dewhurst. “To live with five lads and crew together is gruelling and amazing at the same time. So I think we have evolved sonically, and the second album is sounding bigger than ever – we feel we’re on a whole new level now, really. “And when we tour the new album, that’s a whole new journey in itself; and you never know where it’ll take you. We are in such a privileged position as people and musicians, so we need to make the most of that.” Not all bands speak highly of their labels, but the guys at Virgin EMI seem to have allowed Blossoms to be themselves musically, which is great to hear. In control, in other words. “No-one wanted to sign us back in the day! But [SJM Concerts] Conrad Murray and Dave Salmon co-manage us, and they’ve always been our guidance, and very supportive. I remember when Conrad sent the label Charlemagne, which we had just recorded, and that song fast-tracked us the album deal. Down to London, sign the papers, and that was it.” So album two is Blossoms on musical steroids of sorts? “[laughs] It’s definitely us taking on all we’ve learned, and we’ve produced the best album we can, and we are all proud of it, and can’t wait for everyone to hear it. It’ll be out this year, and hopefully the sun will be shining, so... [smiles]”
Two years ago, when working with Viola Beach, Cal Bate did a short stint with Blossoms working monitors. Dewhurst mentioned to him at the time that the band might need a permanent monitor guy in the near future, and three months later, he got that call. This was May 2016. “You have to have a bond on stage, even outside of work, so we all go for meals, and it’s always a family feeling,” opens Bate. “A front of house engineer might have 50,000 people listening to what he’s doing, but I have five people on stage, therefore it’s very personal.” 21-year-old Bate is the youngest in the crew, and has a great relationship with the band. He started his career in audio engineering at just 16, working the desk for the likes of The Futureheads, Carl Barât, and The Libertines, at a venue called Friars Court in Warrington. “It was a great education, and then I went to uni at SSR in Manchester, but came out before the end, as I ended up doing tours; I’d just turned 20 when I started with Blossoms. The course at SSR was in studio and live music production, though Bate admits it was probably only 20 percent live. “If you know it sounds good, you know it sounds good, Headliner 13 Headliner 02
“Relentless touring is a great way to improve your playing and tightness...” really,” he reflects. “Lots of people dropped out of my course, as a lot were doing it by reading books, and a lot of the time, that isn’t ideal. I will have my EQ set up, and know my templates, but will never load something and then say, ‘that’s fine’, as it’s all about the ears.” On this recent Blossoms tour, Bate has been working from a Soundcraft Vi2000 console with a UAD realtime rack, and Shure PSM1000s for the band’s in-ears. “We are all on ears, there are no wedges on stage, and that is a massive thing, as it’s totally silent; we have five stereo ears, a butt-kicker for [drummer] Joe, and a new platform for the keys player, which is essentially the butt kicker, but you stand on it! It just gives him a bit more vibe, as the tracks run a lot of sub.” Bate says the Vi2000 feels like an analogue desk in that it’s all set out in single strips. “It’s set up how it should be set up. It’s also nice to have a monitor desk where you have your output slot bang in the middle,” he says. “I also love the fader glow; it’s just built for monitors, basically, and I think it’s one of the very best consoles I’ve ever used, and suits my workflow absolutely perfectly. I can’t see me changing this for a long time.” He has similar views on the PSM1000s, too: “The thing with Blossoms is, there is so much going on in every song, you have to push their mixes, especially the drummer; and with the PSM1000s, you can cram a lot of stuff in there, and they sound better the more you put into them. So if you’re slamming those units, and the pack is on high gain, they sound like you’re in a studio, like they’re coming out of a massive Neve desk. And that’s why we use them. “And the Shure mics are great, as well: we have 52s and 91s on the kick; KSM8s on vocals, which sound really clean, and a KSM313 on Josh’s guitar – a ribbon mic – which is the best guitar mic I have ever heard. So powerful. Josh likes his guitars beefy - he’s not a fan of top end - and I don’t have to touch the EQ, as it gives 14 Headliner
off exactly what the amp is giving him.” What's the key to being a great monitoring engineer, then? “Think in a musician’s way, mix as if you’re playing - how you would want the mix. And keep a close eye on every band member. I won’t take my eyes off the band; I do all my EQ and comps in soundcheck, and won’t touch anything until the show has started.”
OUT IN FRONT
Chris Pearce works front of house for Blossoms, as well as fellow-Mancunians, Inspiral Carpets. He has also worked on various Shed Seven and Happy Mondays shows. A local lad through and through, then? “There’s definitely a spark around this area with bands and stuff,” insists Pearce. “Then again, at the time I got the [Blossoms] call, I had just bought a splitter fan, too, so maybe that was the real deal maker? [smiles]” Pearce’s musical journey began - and quickly took a different turn - when his mum and dad decided to buy him a tuba, as he was playing in a brass band. “I didn’t fancy it, so I sold it, bought decks, and hired a studio where I live,” he laughs. “I bought the rehearsal studios off them, ended up with music practice studios, so I went from dance music to band music; and then Inspiral Carpets came up and rehearsed with us, then it all went from there, really.” Pearce says he has never mixed a band he isn’t a fan of, which is why he sometimes looks like he is Djing when working front of house. He uses a Soundcraft Vi3000, and he's running a Waves SoundGrid. “Every time I used one of those desks on tour, I’d have a great gig on it; it’s simple, and sounds great, and I always came away with a smile on my face,” he says. “I use the internal effects from within the console, and then I rely on the Waves kit to get the sound I’m after. “Even if I took my dream analogue rig out,
I would miss the C6 plugin! I’d probably still integrate it in there somehow! I am using it on my master buss, but the main reason is that it’s almost a dynamic EQ type thing; with Tom’s vocals, he has a biting point of about 3-4k, which sometimes becomes a bit harsh. So when he projects, I like to pull it down a bit to keep the vocals nice and smooth. You have so much control over everything with the C6, it’s just unbelievable, really. “Other Waves go-tos include the CLA-76 on bass, then the dbx 160 I use on the vocals, and the API 2500 buss compressor on the drums for a bit of parallel compression. I will always put the CLA-2A on acoustics. Oh, and actually, the API 2500 is also on the synths as a separate compressor, to keep them all tame. So I don’t just use a few, I use a lot of Waves; and that’s because it’s easy to use kit, and I knew it before I started using it all live. The connectivity is pretty straightforward from the Vi to the SoundGrid, too, which is ideal.” We chat a little about mic positioning, and like Bate, Pearce is quick to big up the Shure KSM313 on Dewhurst’s guitar amp. “That ribbon mic is just phenomenal; all you do is chop 100Hz off it, push the fader up, and it sounds amazing,” he says, adding that he uses a 56a on his snare, and Beta 98a clip ons on his toms. “But when we go back out, we are hoping for an SE reflection shield with a 57 hole in it for the guitar amp as well as the ribbon... See what we can get out of it with that! We’re dead chuffed with the mic package, and the Shure lads are top lads – that’s often what it boils down to, really; they picked up on this band, and they embraced us. And we’re very grateful.” Nice to hear. And here’s to wishing Blossoms and crew the very best of luck with the tour and the new album this year. www.shure.co.uk www.waves.com www.blossomsband.co.uk
DYNAMIC On tour with Blossoms and the new Shure KSM8
“The KSM8 is a really great transition from the Shure Beta 58’s that we’ve used for some time now. It’s very similar audio-wise but when Tom moves his head to the side it doesn’t thin out anymore, which is beneficial for the in-ears. I don’t need to chop any of the usual 250hz like you usually do and it has a great even tone all the way to the top. There really is very minimal EQing required to make the KSM8 sound nice through any PA.” - Chris Pearce, FOH Engineer
KSM8 DUALDYNE™ VOCAL MICROPHONE Wired and wireless options available, with choice of black or brushed nickel finish.
Find out how we did it at: ksm8.shure.eu
Blossoms, Manchester Academy. Photography: Shirlaine Forrest.
MICHAEL PRICE: A HYBRID MASTERCLASS Emmy Award-winning composer and pianist, Michael Price, is a very busy man. Perhaps best known for scoring the formidable BBC series, Sherlock, he is also very accomplished in the world of film, and has a couple of cracking albums under his belt, released on Erased Tapes, one of Britain’s coolest niche record labels. Currently, Price is working on a new album, film, TV show, and some library work. Incredibly, he finds time to sit down with Headliner to talk music making, buying cassette decks for a fiver, and how every facet of his work requires a slightly different workflow. Words Paul Watson
ITH SO MUCH GOING ON IN HIS MUSICAL world right now, I’m not entirely sure where to start with this interview. We decide the new album is as good a place as any, which he is doing for Erased Tapes Records. “We are at a pre-mix stage with that; we have been around six different venues doing location recording throughout the summer, and now it’s all back on my desk, and we’re starting to process them in lots of different ways, making tape loops, using all the outboard stuff that I’ve got here, and sculpting what are existing location classical recordings that started out super-clean, and trying to draw out the best ways to tell the stories in each of these six different pieces,” opens Price. So how does he approach that from a technical standpoint? “Well, technically, that is done by trying to find some way of transforming what’s there, and often that can be trying to use the material itself to generate new sounds rather than adding stuff on top. Sometimes that’s in the box, everything from Paulstretch to changing the sampling rate without changing the time bay, so you’re speeding up and slowing down, yet keeping quite a natural sound to it.” Sometimes this is being done in the digital domain, sometimes it’s analogue: “I have been printing things back
out onto a whole range of different tape machines that we’ve got here, and then manipulating them - actually physically, on tape - and getting into these kinds of processing,” Price says. “The joys of it are that we’re buying cassette machines on eBay for a fiver! [laughs] We’re using broken bits of junk, and just getting them well enough to play through and out of the far side, because there is something about that kind of physical process; all the choices you make are crucial.” Sounds like great fun! “[smiles] For a film score - a quite expensive sounding film score – we once printed quite a lot of the synth sounds to cassette, pulled all the tape out, scrunched it up, and then wound it back in with a pencil, then played that back out again. That kind of distortion, that wow and flutter; no plugin is going to get close, as it’s a physical process.” Fascinating stuff. The album, Price tells me, will be mixed by the new year, and will hopefully see the light of day in mid-2018. We’ll look forward to that.
Scoring films is a very different art, of course. With this in mind, I ask Price if he works from a specific template, and whether there are any constants within his workflow that he can share with us. “Yes, absolutely,” he says, adding that he
Michael Price A Hybrid Masterclass
“As soon as I get the call, I do a 15-minute sweep of ideas.” can’t release any particulars about the current film he is working on until next year. He can tell us about the process, however: “With a film, you always want to create a one-off world for that particular project, and you have to establish it very quickly, because it’s not a 10-part drama, or series after series; so you need to get in quickly with your themes and storytelling. But also, you’re making something that can reach out into the cinema, so from an audio and compositional point of view, you have the space sometimes to go wider and deeper, and create a sort of a wraparound feeling around the cinema audience, which is different to TV.” So the compositional differences between film and TV are still there, even though the two are merging, to a certain extent? “Yeah, and that is interesting. If you write something that is primarily for the cinema - of course, people will watch it on TV or their iPad later - you’re ultimately trying to craft a sonic experience that is the best it can be, and that relies on two main factors,” Price explains. “One is surround: hopefully there’s a well lined up, full-range surround system around you. And then there’s the bottom end: a lot of the problems that come with the sonics of TV are about dealing with that bottom end, because the majority of the people are not going to be listening on a full-range system, so if you rely on stuff that’s rumbling away on the sub, around 100Hz, best of luck for everyone’s mums and dads watching it when it comes on the box; it’s not going to work!” For his current film project (which shall, for now, remain a mystery), Price says he is trying to create a ‘hybrid orchestral with a twist’ kind of sound world for it. Tell us more..! “We’ll be recording down at Abbey Road in the next two or three weeks, and at the moment,
we’re dealing with the usual drive to the finish of a movie when there are always going to be changes,” he says. “And rightly so, of course. But if you’re working with the orchestra, there is a whole set of preparation you have to do in terms of orchestrator, and music on a stand, so for that one, I have a single computer template, no slaves or additional machines, mostly because I have a few people helping me in various capacities.” Price writes in Logic, and prints everything to Pro Tools. Within his template, he is using a bussing system whereby Logic routing routes everything to eight buses that are then routed to a stereo mix: “And those eight buses have got an in the box version with plugins on the buses. If I’m sat in my chair, I’ve got an out of the box version that uses the I/O plugins in Logic to route those stems via the various bits of outboard kit that I’ve got to warm stuff up. This is because I still feel that there are a few things that the outboard kit does better than the plugins.” Hybrid is the keyword to Price’s workflow, no matter what the project. As we continue to discuss film and TV, I am intrigued if he always works to picture. “It actually starts before that,” he says. “As soon as I get the call, I usually do a 15-minute sweep of ideas, and that’s not to picture – it’s just to get a sense of the sound world. It’s a good way to connect with the directors and producers, and they feel more relaxed; I always say, they don’t have to like it all, or even much of it at all, but something may connect with them before we’re at the stage where we’re watching a particular scene, and you have to say yes or no. I find it’s a good working method.” Then it’s to picture? “Yes, exactly. And you have to get the most locked picture that you can, and that is the
challenge,” Price continues. I ask if timelines can often be an issue. “There is always the ideal, and then there’s the reality! [laughs] The ideal is lots of picture, and six weeks to write, record, and mix; that’s what most composers would think of as a reasonable, comfortable schedule. The reality is, it’ll hit that point when you hope you get locked picture, but you don’t, so you have to make other decisions, often quickly - and you usually just dive in, otherwise you’re leaving it to the last minute.”
Another String to the Bow
Sounds stressful and exciting, all at the same time. Price laughs, which I take as a ‘yes’. Conversation turns to orchestration, something that this gent is a master of. What advice can he give our readers on creating strings parts? “It all depends on what I want the end result to be, but if we take an underscore cue under dialogue, then easily the best way is to improvise on a string pad or piano sound as you are listening really carefully to what they’re talking about. “It almost feels like you’re accompanying a singer, listening closely to the inflections, and nuances of the emotion; and I find often if I do that over again, it becomes clear where the ebb and flow of it is, and what the pace is like. I’ll do that not to click a bunch of times, then I’ll put the click on; or sometimes, I’ll do it not to click, then to click later. [Without click], it tends to have space, tends to be flexible, and responsive – but it’s a terrible way to do a car chase! [laughs]” So let’s say you are doing a car chase... “Well, that’s all about structure – absolutely the opposite,” he smiles. “I’ll start a big action scene or chase scene by doing a bar map, so I’m not thinking about the notes at all. I’ll sit and put a bunch of picture markers in Logic, and
“With orchestral samples, I try to think as clearly as I can about what it’ll look like on paper...”
start creating a tempo map that I know structurally will hit the points it needs to hit. It’s going to accelerate when it needs to, slow down when it needs to, and so on - so I’ll often spend the first couple of hours without sound at all, just working with the click.”
Keep Calm & Orchestrate
Price has many orchestral samples, most of which are by Spitfire Audio. But you have to be careful not to get carried away, he warns me. “With orchestral samples, I try and think as clearly as I can about what it’ll look like on the paper: if it’s going to be replaced by real players, which is what I hope for, or even doubled; maybe if we record 20 strings, but we’re sneaking samples in the background to thicken them out a bit. So my template for this has got violin one and two, viola, cello, and double bass – all as separate tracks – then for woodwind, I have flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon; and the same for the different sections of the brass – the trumpets and trombones, for example. “I try to think in terms of those lines that are going horizontally: ‘what would it feel like if you were the second violinist to try and play this line?’ rather than just holding down 10 chubby fingers, and letting someone else sort that out! If that’s your shortcut, and you’re having real players play the parts afterwards, you will struggle later on.” So Price is ultimately orchestrating his work, right from the beginning. “Yes, exactly. My template at the moment has lots of Spitfire woodwind and brass in there, and I love the sound of the room at Air (where said libraries were recorded). Air and Abbey Road are the places I record at most, anyway, so it all feels very natural,” Price says. “Then there is a mixture of strings: I have all the Spitfire strings, and I use the Chamber and the Symphonic, but I also use the Cinematic Studio strings, as well; the reason is that they feel like a good medium-sized section. “Because you’re often trying to sell your demos, because you want everyone to sign off on them, and the director to love them, at the same time, you don’t want to disappoint them when you come to the final recording; and if you’re using Spitfire Symphonic strings, where there are effectively 40 violins, 12 violas, and eight cellos, and once you’re done, you’re then going to go and record it with 12 people in a little studio, then you’re kind of backing yourself into a corner!” Because the samples will actually sound better? “Exactly! [smiles] So it’s about trying to create an effective orchestral balance, then depending on what your budget allows you to record on top will enhance that, and each time I do a new project, I build a new template for each one, and often that involves changing the strings patch. If it’s small, then the Chamber Strings might be a good way to go; if it’s an all singing, all dancing epic, then you may as well bring in as many Spitfire strings patches as you can – just have all of them!”
What else should a budding composer watch out for when they have a palette like this at their mercy? Any other dangers, so to speak? “Well, in each individual snapshot, these libraries feel supremely real, because you are effectively playing some audio of real people playing beautifully in great sounding rooms. But what there isn’t – and I think this is my issue with samples in general – is any musical intelligence connecting one note to the next. “So when you are working with amazing players, like we have in this country, when they’re sight reading, they are always a line ahead, and it astonishes me. If you’re sitting with a really great rehearsal pianist who’s sight reading some ridiculous thing, and you’re turning pages for them, they nod their head about eight bars before you’ve got to the bottom of the page. How do you do that?! And consequently, with really great musicians – even when they’re sight reading – each note exists within the context of the note before, and where it’s going to go; and that is really hard to program, however well you might try and do it. “So superficially, I think sample libraries are extraordinary; creatively recorded, lots of texture. But if it’s going to be your final product, you need to get as much intelligence into how they go where they go as you can, or you’re left with a weird animation where each frame looks beautiful on its own, but together, something is missing. That’s not how we make music.” Another trick he’s learnt is not to get the real players to play too loud: “With up to 12 players, they naturally want to play out like soloists, but that doesn’t blend well with the samples at all. What does blend well is the sense of each player playing as if they were halfway back in the section, so you have the phrasing and musicality and intelligence moving note to note, and not trying too hard or projecting too much. Effectively, you have that realness, and intelligence, and it blurs nicely with the samples.” Finally, I ask Price if he has become a better composer over time. “I think I’ve got... different! You’ve got to take your own ego out of the equation as much as you can, and find what is at the heart of the story musically that brings it to life; and sometimes it’s something really simple. It may be two notes on a distorted guitar, or two little bell sounds – and if that’s what the picture needs at that time, that’s what you do. But as musicians, we all have a unique way of moving from one note to another, and that thought process is baked into any cue I write. That becomes the signature, and it’s hard to break it down in words.” A fascinating insight into the world of music composition from one of the finest in the biz. Headliner looks forward to welcoming Michael into the recording studio in the new year, for a mix masterclass! www.spitfireaudio.com www.michaelpricemusic.com
ARGENT | KINKS | ZOMBIES
The Piano Man
PETER BENCE: THE PIANO MAN
If you want to see for yourself just how epic a musician Peter Bence is, type his name into YouTube, and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor. This Hungarian-born pianist and songwriter has a style all of his own, and has made a name for himself by putting his stamp on a whole manner of famous tunes. We chat to him after his sell-out London show about online growth, live performance, and his upcoming album. Words Paul Watson It’s very easy to use, and indeed overuse the word ‘unique’, but when you watch Peter Bence perform, take into consideration the percussive elements in his playing, and the type of songs he makes his own, it’s pretty difficult to find another word for him. A typical Bence set will likely fuse Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Michael Jackson, and even Sebastian Bach. In other words, eclectic. So how did it all start off? “[smiles] Well, I started listening to all kinds of different music pretty young, especially soundtracks from John Williams and Hans Zimmer; and that was the reason I wanted to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston,” opens Bence. “At the time, I thought I was going to be a film composer or a sound engineer, or even a music producer, because I was very interested in making arrangements and writing songs, but then I developed a passion for making music videos, and uploading them onto YouTube.” And that’s when things started to get really interesting. “The first videos I made were film music covers, such as the Star Wars theme, but at
that time, I was also listening to a lot of pop music, and I felt the connection with Michael Jackson in particular: his grooves, his melodies, and his chord - it was just something that I connected with.” So Bence set about making Michael Jackson’s catalogue work on the piano, which was exciting, as well as challenging for him: “I worked with the arrangements of hits such as Bad and Smooth Criminal, the latter of which was the first of my videos that went viral; and since then, I’ve been just making covers and also writing lots of original songs, most of which are not published yet, because I’m saving it all for the new album, which is out in the spring.” All of the original compositions will be accompanied by a music video, of course – and to give you an idea of Bence’s popularity in that medium, some of his tracks have had more than 10 million views, and he has more than 315,000 YouTube subscribers. That is a huge number. “And the interesting thing is that [making these videos] was really only in the back of my mind,” Bence laughs. “I was really always
interested in the idea of making something viral, and I have to say I was obsessed with it while I was at Berklee; I wanted to know what the secret was. So I thought, ‘OK, what makes a great video? What makes it engage with people?’ And, of course, I cannot know for sure, but I think it’s a lots of things that have to work together at the same time.” And it is working, clearly. But it’s not just YouTube that’s proving successful in the world of online videos. Facebook may have overtaken, Bence believes: “Things are constantly changing; YouTube was the thing when we started out, but I think Facebook is taking over. It’s huge, and with its own video engine, you can upload so easily. And Facebook has more exposure, and a greater organic reach than YouTube nowadays, which is pretty crazy. For example, for the first video, the Michael Jackson one, we uploaded it on YouTube, and it wasn’t successful for two days. Nothing happened, just a couple of hundred views. Then we decided to upload it on Facebook as its own video, and that’s where it all started; so actually, Facebook was the first platform it went viral on, and then
The Piano Man
“Peter Bence definitely has a knack of bringing his classical style to contemporary pop songs...” YouTube picked up, as well, and since then, I’ve been making these covers, and the fan base is just building up and up.” It’s actually exponential growth, too. Over the last year, Bence’s likes have risen from 200,000 to almost a million on Facebook. “We now sell out shows just by using social media,” Bence insists. “Pretty crazy, really!”
Making the Music
On stage and in the studio, Bence uses loop pedals, his MacBook, and an interface; the Mac triggers sounds when he plays live, and he uses it to record his songs into Pro Tools. “I’m still learning the technology, but I started with the Loop Station, and I knew that I had to incorporate this element into my music,” he says. “I have some pre-recorded Loops, which I did in my home studio; and the other thing is that pianos are expensive, so I cannot kick them or harm them in any way, therefore I use the effects and loops for the percussion parts, mostly.” Another major element of Bence’s live performance and studio work are his AudioTechnica microphones, which he swears by: “We made contact [with Audio-Technica] in Hungary, and then we discussed a couple of things, and we were really excited to to get on board together, so we started trying out a number of different bits of kit: some mics, headphones, and their in-ear systems; and it was all just amazing sounding to me. I only
use Audio-Technica equipment to capture my live shows or to record in the studio. “It’s definitely about the depth of the sound, and engineers are starting to notice when I go to shows. They might not be very familiar with the brand, but when I bring out my own microphone, normally about 20 minutes into the rehearsal, they’ll say, ‘oh my god, that mic sounds amazing!’ [laughs] The brilliant thing is how well they capture the tone of the instrument: the ATM350a and AT4050 are a very good choice for miking the piano, be it live or in the studio. It also keeps a consistency in sound, of course, so that’s great, too.” Unsurprisingly, Bence admits he is obsessive when it comes to his piano sounds and effects, particularly when it comes to creating reverbs: “I am a big fan of the Waves R-Verb [plugin], which is great; and the Waves TrueVerb is just incredible; I have this obsession with the piano sounds in that it needs to sound really, really good and full, and the reverbs definitely do that. They allow me to experiment with amazing sounds and textures, which is great, and it’s all very easy to use. You get used to what you like in the studio, so now when I’m mixing, I am always working with the Waves reverbs, and also several of their compressors; it’s all part of the production process.” At mix position, Bence has Yamaha HS7 monitors, and a set of Genelec 8030Bs. “I have to say, since I got the Genelecs,
they’re all I use,” he smiles. “For me, it’s the trueness of sound, and when you mix with them, you always know what you’re going to get. I am getting the truth, if that makes sense? I can only say good things about Genelec; I even listen to music through them when I’m not working because they’re so natural and nice sounding.” Sounds like Bence is more than content with his setup. So what can we expect from the new album, The Awesome Piano? If it’s anything like the sell-out London show, we’re sure he has very little to worry about. Despite some technical difficulties, he performed an eclectic set which kicked off with Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River (in the style of Bach), then he took us on a journey through his favourite songs, from Ed Sheeran to Jacko, Sia to Queen, and a bit of Star Wars thrown in for good measure. Peter Bence definitely has a knack of bringing his classical style to contemporary pop songs. A couple of highlights for us were Queen’s Somebody to Love, The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun, and we did get a taste of a few of what’s to come with his original composition, Loop Song, where, as the name suggests, he used his trusted Loop Station. One to watch for 2018. www.audio-technica.co.uk www.waves.com www.genelec.com @bencepeter
LIVING THE STREAM 01 Headliner
It’s been 10 years since Scouting for Girls’ selftitled album went to number one in the UK, shifting one million copies, and spawning several hit singles, including She’s So Lovely, and Elvis Ain’t Dead. Album two went gold, and peaked at number two, but frontman, Roy Stride, admits Scouting lost its way a little on album three, as he was beginning to develop a parallel career in songwriting and music production. A fourth album followed, and now, to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary, there’s a fifth, which comes with a twist, and a UK tour. I sit down with the band in a West London pub to find out more about the Scouting journey, songwriting, the pivotal changes in the music industry, and why keeping hold of your masters is most definitely the way to go. Words Paul Watson
couting’s new record, Ten Add Ten, is a doublealbum, half of which is a reissue of 10 of their best tracks, the rest is made up of new numbers. Inspired by listening back to their first record, they’ve attempted to recreate something just as good, as a worthy follow-up, to commemorate their 10th anniversary. That can’t have been easy, I suggest, to frontman, Roy Stride, and bassist, Greg Churchouse, both of whom are sat opposite me in West London’s Brook Green Hotel bar. “Well, my kids are eight and six, and Freddie was playing Posh Girls [from the first album] on the Sonos, and I thought, ‘that is so fast, way faster than we’re playing it’,” opens Stride, with a smile. “So I sent a group text to the band, saying, ‘Pete [Ellard, drummer], how fast do you think you’re playing this?’ And I found a live take, and it was a good 10 BMP down!” “It’s not often you go back and listen to the actual record: we were all, ‘Christ’,” laughs Churchouse, supping on an IPA. “When we realised that a lot of our big hits were so quick, it kind of inspired us to take that approach with some of the new material,” Stride explains. “So the new album is pretty eclectic: some stuff is stripped back; and a few of the tracks were us trying to be very 2007 Scouting for Girls - they were the ones I wasn’t sure about on the record, but so far, are people’s favourite songs! [laughs] They’re happy and fun, ‘unapologetically pop’ songs!” Churchouse nods in agreement: “You can almost get away with it after 10 years; if you try and do that right after your first album, then no, but on album five, with a 10 year gap... Yeah, that’s OK!” It’s been a case of finding those little creative start points for songwriting, Stride tells me: “Because I now write for so many different projects, it’s easy to
get lost. During album three, in particular, we kind of lost who we were, as I was writing so much for other people.” Back in the day, Scouting got signed off the back of a huge Myspace following, which brings a smile to all of our faces. “There was us, Kate Nash, and Lily Allen,” Stride recalls. “We were smaller than them, but I still remember having a conversation with Sony, telling them we didn’t need Facebook or a website because we had Myspace. [laughs] I should never work in digital...” “And the guy said, ‘but what if Myspace isn’t around one day?’ and we were like, ‘as if that will happen!’,” laughs Churchouse. “But we did sell lots of CDs, and at this time, we saw labels crash through piracy, and lack of CD sales; but labels are in a really good place now, which is a positive,” Stride explains. Because Churchouse was such a Pearl Jam fan, and Eddie Vedder and co. were on the US label, Epic, when Scouting were asked what they wanted to call their own label, they picked the same name. “We were Epic for the first three albums, but our A&Rs, Nick and Joe, left after the second album to start London Records, so we had that classic thing that happens to bands when you lose your A&R person: it took a long time for people to come in, and then to ‘OK’ our record. So the third record was recorded in 10 different studios with five different producers, whereas the first two were recorded with the same producer in the same studio. That was a learning curve, and then we put out a compilation for Sony, which fulfilled our commitment.” “Then we recorded the next record ourselves, and shipped it round to a few labels, saying we had the finished product, and would they like to put it out,” explains Churchouse. “I had a studio, so we made it there. We were managed by Modest - one of the biggest in the world – and once they liked Headliner 23 Headliner 02
“I always thought of myself as a songwriter, not a producer...” the record, we met a few different labels, and decided to put it out on Warner ADA. We licensed it to them, and we will get those masters back, eventually. “The money is definitely back in the masters. As artists, it’ll be something we consider for the next record: maintaining our own rights, keeping our own masters. If you’re an artist, and you can create your own record, you don’t really need money from a record label to make a record now. And if you have a large catalogue, you’re talking good money - it’s about £4,000 per million streams, if you own the masters.” Scouting are still getting four million streams per month, which seems pretty phenomenal to me. Keeps the wolf from the door, surely? “[smiles] Well, the brilliant thing is, a great song will always out, eventually. And I genuinely think what you can do now on a laptop in a bedroom can be as good as using Air Studios - if you have a great song, and it’s in the right genre, that is. If you want the best instruments and the best studio kit in the world, then of course you go to Air! But if you’re making a grime record, for example, you can do that in a bedroom, and have a massive hit with it. We have seen all that change from when we first started out.” Churchouse recalls a time when people at major labels would ‘almost be crying’ when they found out that punters were downloading their artists’ music for free: “Seriously! We would go into Sony, and there would always be someone clearing their 24 Headliner
desk out. It was really hard times for the labels, wondering how they would make money. And it’s kind of the opposite now.”
TEN ADD TEN
The new album has been recorded mainly at Stride’s studio, which is a purpose-built facility in Horsham, Sussex. “We’re in the middle of the woods, and the studio is basically next to my house,” Stride explains. “We also went to the Lightship studio to do drums, and have a few beers on a boat!” This is Lightship 95, a professional recording hub on a 550-tonne ship, which is permanently moored at Trinity Buoy Wharf, East London. Stride runs Logic, and works largely in the box, with a 16-track interface. When it comes to plugins, he relies heavily on Waves kit. “I have the full Waves package – the Mercury bundle,” he says. “A friend of mine has even more plugins, and I do think when you have everything, it can just become a bit overwhelming, as a compressor is a compressor at the end of the day; some have different sounds, and I think it’s all about using a couple of good ones, really – finding your go-tos. “I use the Logic EQ, just to stick a low pass filter on everything, then I will probably go to the standard Logic compressor for a lot of things coming in. But when it comes to my vocal chain, it’s always Waves: the De-Esser, and the CLA Vocals, which I absolutely love. I also love Waves because they do so many great tutorials, and I have always been a fan of Chris Lord-Alge’s mixes. Oh, and I use the H-Delay a lot – that’s on pretty much everything. Then as a limiter, I’m always using the Waves L2, just to squash everything!” Stride’s studio is built around his trusted Korg Kronos master keyboard. “The Kronos is an amazing piece of kit,” he says. “I originally got it for live work, but it’s so good, I won’t let it out of the studio! It’s my MIDI controller, and the keyboard is beautifully
weighted, but it’s the sounds that really make it my centrepiece. “They just feel more real than most other samples out there, from the synths to the instrument emulations. And the exciting part is, I seem to learn something new about it every time I use it.” When it comes to monitoring, Stride has created his own workflow. “I have a pair of Yamaha NS10s, but my main monitors are my Genelec 8040s, then I also have some stereo hi-fi speakers on a switch,” he says. “What I used to try and do, even at the very start, was import a couple of songs to reference from, but now I have Spotify in the background, I have an M-Audio MIDI mixing desk with automated faders, so I can play my mix, press stop, and spacebar, and Spotify opens. It means I can go straight between the two songs. That has really improved my mixing. “You have to be careful with NS10s. At one point, I just mixed on NS10s, and I thought I was getting the best mixes I’d ever had, as they are so brutal... But you can’t, as there is no low end! [laughs] So I would play them in the car and go, ‘aargh! What is this?!’” Stride came across his Genelec 8040s when he did a monitor shoot-out of sorts, in Guildford. Pretty random location. “[laughs] There is a very good audio shop there; they have a room with all kinds of monitors, and you can try them all, and I chose the Genelecs there and then,” Stride recalls. “I love the sound, they’re very true, and I am going to get the Genelec sub soon, too. I don’t want a fat sub bass, I just want to hear a bit more of it. And it’s often good for the vibe of the room, if you’re writing - feeling the bass that bit more. “I do long sessions on the Genelecs, and I never get fatigue. I am half deaf in one ear from touring, mind you, but... [smiles] I mix at fairly low listening volumes, so I don’t crank it. “I always thought of myself as a songwriter, not a producer, and Andy Green, who produced
“You don’t need money from a label to make a record now.” our first record, was always my producer. I could never get into the head space of production, as it’s a different thing. Andy studied astrophysics at university, and I think the great producers have an element of science behind them.” Now, of course, production is a large part of Stride’s life – and not just for Scouting. His first ‘pitched’ track was picked up by One Direction, and he’s since penned numbers for Union J, and Five Seconds of Summer, to name a few. “I still have the email from Simon Cowell, telling me he thought the One Direction track was a hit, but it never was. It did make the album, though, so I was very lucky with that first pitch! I had always done production on our B-sides, and my work gradually got better and better, and more work came as a result. The band I am most proud of is Seafret – they’re on Columbia. They’re coming up to 100 million streams on Spotify, and they’re a kind of acoustic/indie sound. Jack’s an amazing vocalist, and Harry is an incredible acoustic guitarist, and they’re both very young. Literally you stick a mic there, and it already sounds amazing. As I learnt from doing a lot of productions, I only try to work with good people. Steve Robson produced most of the record, but I wrote three out of the four singles with them: Oceans, Atlantis, and Be There. It’s probably the best stuff I’ve ever done.”
To achieve the right continuity in sound with the new Scouting record, the guys opted to get it mastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy. “I never even knew much about mastering, as we had always used Sterling in New York, and you obviously don’t go to those sessions,” Stride smiles. “So they did the first couple of albums, I don’t know who did the third, for the fourth album we used Bump, but with this one, Sony said they would pay for the mastering, and sent through a few people for us to choose from. “When we saw Barry’s discography, we realised that pretty much every amazing
sounding song that has ever been recorded was on there! So half the reason we went with Alchemy was so that we could meet him! “Eventually, we had to leave, because we chatted so much, and Barry wasn’t doing any work; and really, after working on it for a year, having mixed most of it, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to it ever again! We did a couple of hours with Barry, another hour in the pub next door, then we went off to Lords.” And in those few hours, what did they gain from the experience working at Alchemy? “Well, the great thing about mastering this album is that it wasn’t designed to be an album just yet, but the label came to us and said, ‘do a best of ’. We didn’t really want to do it, and we had half a record of new songs ready, so we went and had a listen, knew they were good, and were Scouting songs, but we had all the big ones on there, too. So we just wanted to just get it out. “Through mastering at Alchemy, we were able to achieve a consistency to the record – it now has a sonic balance to it. When you consider that so much of the material was recorded and put together in so many different places, that is pretty amazing. It’s a real art, in fact.” I ask Stride if he believes people still want albums, considering the current mix tape trends. “I think a band always wants an album, and the fans of bands do, too,” he declares. “As a songwriter, I have always been very much in that hit record mentality; I grew up listening to the Best of the ‘60s volumes, so that will always be the primary objective. And if fans still love an album, it allows us to put out our story, and do a tour - do what we love, basically. For our next album, it’ll be about finding that amazing tune, and then putting an album around it. With developing artists I work with, that’s what I do.” As Churchouse arrives back from the bar, beers in hand, I ask him if he thinks this record could mean a new lease of live for Scouting. “It literally is living the dream,” he beams, carefully placing a pint in front of each of us.
“We don’t take much for granted, and we have been friends for so long; we started making music when we were 13, so we’ve actually been together nearer 20 years than 10! And we like hanging out together, which keeps us together.” “And we’ve always been active,” Stride adds. “This year alone we did Isle of Wight, V Festival, Cornbury, Glastonbury, and a good 10 or so boutique festivals, but also Cambridge and Oxford universities. We even did a wedding! Some bands will do corporate shows with that ‘close your eyes and think of the money’ attitude. Not us. We get people up, and singing; and not only do we get paid for it, it’s free beer, too!” “We had a tour manager once that said, ‘the one thing you’ll never tire of is the free beer.’ And he was right,” reveals Churchouse. In December, Scouting completed a six-week tour, in support of their anniversary, and the new record, in which they raised £10,000 for the Alzheimer’s society. Bravo, lads. “We set ourselves 10 challenges in 2017, which started with dry January, which was very hard,” laughs Stride. “Then we did the Silverstone half-marathon, and the London Marathon; Greg did that in seven hours with two gin and tonics and a pint on the way...” “One guy had a shandy in a can, I couldn’t believe it,” Churchouse says, shaking his head. “But we want to double that number. The industry does a lot for young people, as that’s what pop is about, but we want to help the generation getting old now, who lived through the ‘60s, when it was really great. We want to get a streaming-based system with Spotify in every care home in the country. That’d be fantastic.” And with the help of Barry Grint at Alchemy, who came up with the initial idea, this is already starting to come to fruition. Great to hear, fellas. www.waves.com www.genelec.com www.korg.com www.scoutingforgirls.com 25 Headliner
Content is King
GRACE KELLY: CONTENT IS KING
Grace Kelly is an artist who does everything herself. This super-talented songwriter and saxophonist has 10 albums under her belt already, and is building her fanbase entirely organically through some savvy social media management. Who does that for her? She does, of course. We catch up with Grace to chat live performance, collaboration, and the importance of a great wireless system and microphone, so she can perform at her best, even in the most high octane environments. Words Paul Watson “I’ve realised that content is key,” opens Grace, as I ask her about a recent video I saw on Instagram of her playing amazing saxophone while on the back of a Yamaha motorcycle. Are you crazy? “[laughs] That was a lot of fun – and again, it’s unique content that people engage with, which is why it got shared, and why we got thousands of views. I am always trying to think of new ideas, putting it out there, and sharing it.” Although her background is jazz (she studied at Berklee), Grace’s influences are eclectic, which helps make her the artist she is. “I feel like I’ve always been an artist that has been influenced by so many musical styles, growing up with jazz, and heavily influenced with theatre and Broadway when I was young, and then applying classical music to pop, and rock and roll,” she explains. “I grew up singing, acting, and dancing; and then later, the saxophone came into my life [when I was 10]. I got into the jazz when I started the saxophone; my teacher at the time introduced me to all these great saxophonists.” Since then, Grace’s musical journey has
centred around the saxophone, though she is also an accomplished singer, and songwriter. “Over the last 10 albums, I have constantly moved forward articulately, trying to create this melting pot of the knowledge I’ve learned from my teachers, and some of my greatest jazz mentors: Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, and so on,” Grace explains. “But I love pop music of today, and I love pop culture, video content, and that theatrical or dangerous element, even – playing sax on the back of a motorcycle, for example! [smiles] “And sometimes, jazz gets a bad reputation, as people often need to be educated about it to ‘get’ it, so as a result, they might leave scratching their heads, and not understanding what just happened. But I have always thought of it as an art form, where improvisation is at the core, and from a young age, I have loved to make up stories, so making up the notes in the solos is a very creative thing for me.” Grace is very much self-made – she has built her own team of people, developed her own sound, and style. It was important for her
to add her own twist to the genre, and she has certainly done that. “I think the good thing about being a young artist today, and having so many musical loves, is that I always let the music lead me, never because it’s a trend,” she says. “The name of the game is creating music and content from a place that feels really authentic, and whether that’s merging in the best beats while playing some be-bop over it, or in an EDM kind of soundscape, it all works. It’s also pretty natural to me, as that’s the music I listen to; and that’s my job going forward as a young artist: to do something different than my mentors and the older generation have done, because you can’t do what they did, as they already did it!”
We chat a little more about social media, Instagram in particular, where Grace’s engagement is often in the thousands. That is simply not easy to do organically. “There are obviously tricks, and some people buy ads, but I don’t do any of that,” Grace insists. “And what I have noticed is,
Content is King
“The name of the game is to create music and content from a place that feels really authentic...” if you put out amazing content to people, they see it, and they share it; a lot of those internet videos can reach 25,000 views and more on Insta, and it’s all organic. “I have worked out which ones take off more than others, and that is essentially me learning about my audience, and constantly trying to create better content because I realise that is the secret. Users are inundated by posts, so they can see through all the BS. I know I can when I go through my social media. So the good stuff always gets shared.” Smart thinking. And speaking of smart, Grace is equally savvy in music technology. Being such a musical talent, when she is delivering her performances – particularly her epic saxophone solos – she needs something rock solid, reliable, and bang on the money sonically, to get her music across. “I need to be wireless, because I move around a lot, and I remember I had some issues many years ago with various manufacturers’ wireless kit – I would pick up police radio, and all sorts of other stuff,” Grace smiles. “I needed something way better, which is what turned me on to a Lectrosonics and DPA combination, which has been brilliant for me for the last 10 years. “It started when I was working with a sound engineer early on, and he was like, ‘Lectrosonics is the best!’ It also makes me feel really good when I walk into a venue, and the sound guys are so impressed with my kit! Ultimately, because I like my acoustic sound
so much – which already changes when you amplify it, of course – I need something that best replicates its natural sound, and using my Lectrosonics and DPA setup absolutely makes me sound like my acoustic self; it’s the most non-compressed, beautiful, clean signal and sound.” Grace has the Lectrosonics R400A system, with the UHF receiver, and uses a DPA 4061 microphone. “What’s also great about my setup is, it’s so small! And that makes so much of a difference. The Lectrosonics equipment is built very well, and it has never let me down; and the same goes for the DPA mic: I absolutely love it. The mic and the wireless system is so great for travel, and it also kind of brings out the best in my performance. So this combination is unbeatable for me.” Grace has been doing a lot of touring of late: all over the west coast, some shows in St Louis, and even a trip Moscow, Russia. Next, it’s time to make some new music, she tells me. “I am working on my next band album – some standards, but updated; it’s kind of EDM meets jazz world, and my sound has moved a lot more that way in the last six months. My keyboardist is a great EDM and pop producer, so the band’s sound and dynamic has definitely shifted beyond jazz. “And I have another band that is brand new – a straight up EDM project. We are good friends from Berklee College of Music.
And meanwhile, I have also been doing a lot of collaborations on pop-up shows with various musicians. They have been great fun. With the pop-ups, a lot is the sax, but the new album will be 50/50, singing and playing sax. I haven’t started it yet, but I have been writing, singing, and playing since my first album, and that’s what the new record will also be.” And it’ll no doubt be eclectic, when you consider Grace’s main influences: The Beatles and Stevie Wonder meets Ed Sheeran and John Mayer, with a hint of Skrillex. “It’s nice to have so many influences,” she says. Agreed. “Chord-wise, and in terms of music theory, in jazz, there is a lot more potential to write songs with not just four chords, so my writing ranges from super-jazz instrumentals to Norah Jones-esque folk songs. I also came third in the International Songwriting Competition, under the Adult Contemporary division, which had 30,000 entries. One of the judges was Lorde, so that was pretty cool.” Incredible achievement. We look forward to hearing it. And will this be an indie release? “Every record I’ve put out has always been independent,” Grace explains. “For me, it’s just about making the music.” Nicely said. For more on Grace Kelly and her musical journey, check out the links below. www.lectrosonics.com www.dpamicrophones.com www.gracekellymusic.com
GETHIN PEARSON: PHASES
Gethin Pearson grew up listening to his dad playing bluegrass, and in his early teens, got into punk and hardcore bands. At university, he started writing country songs, and that’s when he first got into music programming, working with an early version of Reason, making acoustic demos and programming beats, trying to merge the two. Before long, he’d landed a record deal in his homeland, Wales, and put out an EP, all while training to be a teacher. Understandably, something had to give, and as fate would have it, Pearson became an extremely sought after producer, mixer, and songwriter. Whether he’s collaborating with Ronan Keating, or doing vocal production for young British sensation, Charli XCX, or Alma, you can be sure his projects are all going to be something worth talking about. Words Paul Watson “I was lucky, as I was able to do a few tours at the same time, and once I qualified as a primary school teacher, I got offered a full time job, but I wanted to do the music, as well,” opens Pearson. “My wife and I bought a house, and I built a studio in it, so started working with lots of local bands. My friend was in The Automatic at the time, he left them, and we started writing together. We did two tunes, and got signed to B-Unique.” Pearson was in his second year of teaching at the time, but as it was a major record deal, he gave the teaching up, and for two years, was writing songs in the studio every day. “I worked on songcraft, sound, ideas, and just lived that life, really,” he reflects. “But we didn’t release a record, and got dropped! [laughs] It wasn’t a bad thing, though, as it did let me hone my skills, do my 10,000 hours.” A much touted theory, that one, and in Pearson’s case, it proved true: he went back to teaching, but kept producing records, and then something extraordinary happened:
“So my friend came over again, we had an idea for a song, put it together, put it online, and the next week, all these majors were in touch with us, and all these management companies, all coming up to Wales,” he laughs. “We’d be meeting someone, then a taxi would drop someone else off, and they’d be like, ‘what are you doing here?’ It was very surreal, and highlighted how funny this industry is – all of a sudden, there’s a new girl in school, and everyone is trying to kiss her.” Pearson signed with Big Life Management, a company he was already aware of, as they looked after a few of his favourite producers. “We did a few good tours, still with Big Life, and still producing, too. Then [Big Life CEO] Tim Parry said, ‘look, you should be making records for bands and artists – you should be in the studio’. So they helped nurture that. I would take unpaid leave from school – the head was very kind, and rearranged my role, so I could have time off, and not affect the school.”
During this leave period, Pearson made a record for Cambridge alt-rock outfit, Mallory Knox, with co-producer, Dan Austin, and then things really started to take off: before he knew it, he was writing with Ronan Keating, doing vocal production for Charlie XCX, and Alma on her single, Phases. He also recorded the new To Kill A King record, which is out later this month. What a rollercoaster. “Yeah, but I am just a big music fan, really, so my thing has always been to write, perform, produce, and mix the song; now I just love great teams in a room, great energy, and producing for other people, where the best idea wins. I just worked at it, basically.” Pearson’s studio is still his old coal shed in his house in Wales. Today, it’s used mainly for writing and mixing, or overdubs. “I used to do live drums here, but the neighbours weren’t too happy, so I go to a studio to do ‘the band’, then bring it back here,” he explains. And what’s the core recording setup?
“It was very surreal; all of a sudden there’s a new girl in school, and everyone’s trying to kiss her...” “I started off on my MacBook, but after my first publishing deal, I upgraded to Pro Tools HD; then in January 2017, I switched to a Prism Sound Titan with Native 12, with one of the Create Pro Macs: new spec, but in an old case, basically. Since then, I’ve bought a few Vintech Pres, some 1176s, a Distressor, and a lunch box full of API and Harrison EQs. I also have a bunch of synths I use: some Moogs, an old Juno... lots of cool toys!”
The Prism Sound Titan is now his go-to in the studio, though Pearson also has a mirror setup on his laptop, and has a Prism Sound Lyra that he uses when ‘on the go’. “I was out in Spain recently, doing vocal production for Carly Rae Jepsen, and I did that on my laptop, just with my Lyra,” Pearson reveals. “I record through my outboard, and reamp stuff through my filters, but even when I’m in a big studio, I don’t even go through the desk, just out of one and two on Pro Tools, so I can hear what it’ll sound like when I get home.” Pearson’s relationship with Prism Sound came out of circumstance, really: he got chatting to the brand’s sales and marketing manager, Jody Thorne, at a launch event, and ended up trying out a Titan unit: “I started using Titan on the To Kill A King record, and as soon as I started A/B-ing Titan with what I was previously using, I was all, ‘flipping heck, I need to redo some of this!’
It’s so user friendly, as well, and it sounds great, plus it works well with all the outboard I’m using. What I need analogue-wise and digital-wise from it, it serves both purposes. So I can go from Titan at home, and if I am recording with Lyra when mobile, it’s amazing how fluid it is between the two. “Lyra is smaller, but it’s the same interface: the same program and control centre on the computer, and the sound is just phenomenal. And, of course, it’s all USB. Normally, I’ll use the Vintech into a Distressor, then a Harrison, and then in. Saying that, I just did a writing session with an artist in Majorca, and cut the vocals from an SM7 direct into a Lyra. It sounded great. It might be 90 percent of what I get at my studio, but if I feel the emotion, and it sounds that good, then I’m there.”
The Comfort Zone
Pearson is of the mindset that the more you try to understand what someone is trying to communicate in the studio, the better. “Are you vibing something or not? Do you want to try something? I always look at it from that point of view. But the production has come from writing with people,” he says. “When you’re with an artist, you might realise the chorus isn’t strong enough, and how else could you say this, and so on. That’s writing. I am often hired as a producer, but it can lead to writing. Also, producers that I have worked alongside - like Dan Austin - we still talk about what we are working on respectively.
“As a producer, you don’t come into lots of contact with other producers, as it’s just you in the room, so I am fortunate to have guys like him around me.” Could Pearson offer a good rule of thumb in today’s industry – if there is such a thing? “That’s a good question, and something I am trying to work out every day, to be honest! I think it’s important that you don’t judge your journey on other people’s. I have to delete Instagram from my phone when I’m working, or all of a sudden, you’re worrying about the work you’re not doing rather than the work you are doing. You have to be aware, but at the same time, have faith in what you can do, and your ability. Invest your time in your skills.” So the 10,000 hour thing is worth it, then? “Put it this way: I was meant to do a talk at a uni on a production course once, and my first chat was going to be, ‘if you want to be a producer, you’re on the wrong course, because you’re going to read lots of books on how to make a record rather than actually make one’. So I wasn’t allowed to do the talk! [laughs] “Do a psychology degree if you’re going to do one, and then record bands on the weekends. You can’t do a three-year course, get a certificate, and assume someone is going to hire you to produce their big artist.” @gethinpearson www.prismsound.com
NOBODYâ€™S FOOL 01 Headliner
Can you name me anyone who’s topped the charts in an alternative metal band, released solo material, scored films, and even released a kid’s album? Besides Amy Lee, I should say. Amy Lee and Evanescence first burst into our lives in 2003, as she stepped out of that window in the iconic video for debut single, Bring Me To Life. It stormed to the top of the charts in the UK, and several other countries in Europe. However, it later emerged that their then-record label, Wind-Up, had demanded the inclusion of a male singer, as they felt a female-fronted rock band was too risky. Despite their runaway success, Amy felt insulted and angry. Despite all the sexual politics, and rotation of band members, she has decided to revisit the band’s earlier material, and some more recent, for Synthesis, their latest record, which sees many of their best known songs stripped of the hard-hitting guitars and drums, and reworked as electronic and orchestral. It also includes some new material, including the epic single, Imperfection. I speak to Amy in what is a happier, more grounded time. Words Adam Protz Photographs Paul Brown
nervously tell Amy that my first big gig as a teenager was Evanescence at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 2003 — nervous because the nostalgia of that first life-changing live music experience comes flooding overwhelmingly back, but also the ‘don’t meet your heroes’ saying is whispering away at me. “Oh God, that’s so rad,” Amy says, with a genuine warmth in her voice that immediately tells me she’s a lovely person in real life. “That was a charged time,” she continues, remembering that Evanescence co-founder, Ben Moody, had got on a plane and departed the band a fortnight prior. “Charged with new independence and freedom!” I ask Amy what inspired her to rework some of the Evanescence back catalogue for the new album. “The truth is, as much as it is a departure, it’s also a return to roots for us,” she says. “There were beautiful David Campbell arrangements in our music from the beginning.” Campbell has been arranging the string parts of the music for the band ever since their first album, Fallen, almost 15 years ago. “Having that cinematic, classical feeling blended with the heavy rock vibe is one of the core things about our sound. And the same with the electronic programming; that’s always in our music, too, one of the things that makes Evanescence what it is,” Amy continues. “When a lot of these songs are first written, often it’s me sat with a keyboard and a drum loop. Working in a way that is very much in this loop-based feeling, with the progression and the synthesisers, and the idea of the orchestration. “By the time we get to the end of the song, we add in all the beautiful contributions from the band, but it takes it to this much bigger place — you throw all of that other stuff on top, and a lot of the programmed bits and the string stuff gets a little bit buried. So for this album, I wanted to shine a light on some of those elements that don’t usually get the
spotlight. Also, it’s a cool opportunity to get to perform these songs again now, in a way that I couldn’t the first time; a little updated, and different.” I’m keen to know how Amy and orchestrator, David Campbell, approached this project — was it a case of augmenting the original string parts, and adding the rest of the orchestra, or starting completely from scratch? “It was really cool for the two of us,” Amy says. “Having all this space to use a full orchestra, and to make the moves that are a little more complicated, interesting, and dissonant. This was our chance to be a little more left of centre about things. It was about watching David do his thing, and then paving it less! [laughs] We did use lots of the original arrangements, but he redid it in a way that adds a whole lot. Lots of new instrumental sections in songs.” And perhaps even more of a test for Amy — re-recording the vocals, particularly for songs she first recorded in 2002. “It was a real challenge — I knew it was going to be, but it was actually an even bigger challenge than I expected,” Amy admits. “I ended up extending my trip in Texas twice, because I just couldn’t be finished yet. When we released the new version of Bring Me To Life, and announced the new tour, I was still recording the vocals! “That was so intimidating, being asked all these questions by the production manager about the tour — I had to tell him, ‘I can’t think about this yet!’ And it was also a challenge, because I wanted to show my growth, and take some chances, but at the same time, preserving the core of what those songs are. I really focused on every word in the studio; I didn’t see daylight for a long time.” I’m almost bewildered to ask how this mammoth task all came together. “The first phase of this was really about David Campbell, myself, and Will Hunt, the programmer and producer,” Amy says. “We were in our homes, file sharing to each Headliner 31 Headliner 02
“It’s always good for me to make what I want to make, in the moment, because it means I’ll stretch a different muscle next time around.” other. I would strip it down to bare bones, send the idea, and ask, ‘hey, what do you think about extending the bridge section here?’ Will would do a bunch of crazy, cool programming, bounce back, and then David would do a new arrangement, send that back, then I’d edit what we had, then send it back again! It was back and forth, back and forth.” It sounds almost as if the band and their collaborators were even more determined to get these songs perfect than the first time around. Of course, when undertaking a significant shift in sound, it’s understandable that so many extra hours went into Synthesis. “The first thing we recorded live in the studio was the orchestra,” Amy explains. “We got that whole palette - the meat of this thing - down first. During that, we were working hard on the programming — Will was honing in on that. Then we went in with the band; the challenge for them was not using the big guitars. It was a case of making yourself blend into this 32 Headliner
thing that fits into this other world, that is part of the orchestra. An orchestra with a big synthetic part; otherworldly sounds, pedals, and synthesisers. And they all rose to the occasion in a very cool way! Between playing bass-synths on keyboard for Tim [McCord, bass guitar], to playing with lots of synth-sounding pedals and effects for [guitarists] Troy [McLawhorn], and Jen [Majura]. Jen played a little bit of theremin, actually; I think she’s planning on doing that live also!”
A MUSICAL RESURRECTION
One of the most fascinating moments on Synthesis is, in fact, Bring Me To Life, the song that started it all. Not just for Campbell’s fantastic update on the orchestra (particularly the little dissonant inflections in the intro), the distorted electronics that keep the Evanescence core alive and well, or Amy’s fresh take on it. On first listen, there’s a big Paul McCoy shaped hole, the 12 Stones frontman who provided the, ‘WAKE ME UP! SAVE MEEEE!’ on the original single. Firstly, it’s a wise decision, as the rap-metal vocals would sound a bit bizarre over the orchestra. But secondly, because we are now hearing Bring Me To Life as Amy originally wanted us to — before Wind-Up Records gave the band the ultimatum of having a male singer in the song, or forgetting about everything. I ask Amy if she feels she’s come full circle with what is probably their best known song. “I love Bring Me To Life,” she reassures me, after I tell her that learning about the drama behind the song almost made me feel guilty for still loving it. “It’s a song that means a lot to me for a million reasons, and it’s that first thing that most people heard, when they ever heard of
our band. It had to be a part of this. When we first wrote the song, there was no rap. That was a difficult pill for me to swallow, the label insisted that we needed it, for some reason. I wrote the part, but we had no control over the fact that it had to exist. “It was hard for me for a couple of reasons: one was, I didn’t want people to get a false representation of the band on their first listen — there’s no male vocalist! It was also hard because I was being told by the label that there were no women on rock radio: ‘if we’re getting you in, you need a man standing there to get you through’. I hated that! It made me furious. “It got to a point where I still loved the song, but I was afraid that if we didn’t get past that first single, we’d always be remembered for something that we weren’t. I stopped being upset about it after a while, because we did have other singles, and we did get a chance to show the full picture of what Evanescence is.” Despite all of that, the Bring Me To Life everyone knows isn’t the same song Amy knows. “I still hear the song, and I don’t hear that rap in my head; that’s not a part of the original idea for me. So getting to do a new version of the song that really plays on the emotion, and that timeless cinematic quality, without any of the production trying to make it an active rock hit was great.” I mention that making the compromise did ultimately pave the way for more femalefronted rock bands; a certain Hayley Williams [of Paramore] comes to mind. “Yeah, that’s why I can’t be mad about it! But it’s still really cool to be able to do it my way now. We’ve actually been playing it live without that part for years, so it just feels normal to the band. I don’t think anyone misses it.”
MIXING IT UP
Evanescence certainly aren’t the only big rock band to be ditching the chugging guitars and huge drums. Bring Me The Horizon’s last album saw Oli Sykes singing rather than screaming; Linkin Park’s last record went full-pop on us; and Enter Shikari have also ditched the distortion pedals in lieu of more electronics. “I don’t know if I can speak to that,” Amy says. “This, for me, was a wild, indulgent thing to do before we made our next full Evanescence record. I don’t think this is representative of our next music. I think it’s cool to show different extremes, so it might be cool to go in a different direction next time with a record that’s more band-orientated.” It does seem that Synthesis was a purely personal and spontaneous idea, rather than the band jumping ship, along with their fellow heavy-rock heavyweights. However, I feel confident I can get out of Amy whether she’s personally still inspired by the more goth side of music — she was the instant poster girl for female goths worldwide, after all. “These days, I have to admit, I don’t listen to a lot of rock music for fun,” Amy says. “Björk is my number one. I listen to a lot of music that’s either film score-based or, honestly, electro-pop. It’s always good for me to make what I want to make in the moment, because it means I’ll stretch a different muscle the next time around.” This particularly makes sense when applied to a trip Amy took to Italy earlier this year, for the purpose of shooting a video for her single, Speak To Me. The song was written as the end credits song for the Emilia Clarke movie, Voice From The Stone, also shot in Italy. Amy’s trip ended up having a dual purpose when she heard the song L’amore esiste. Originally performed by
Italian singer-songwriter, Francesca Michielin, it forcibly attached itself to her. “I heard it on the radio, a lot of times,” Amy recalls. “It was the big hit in Europe at that time. We had a long drive from Rome to Tuscany when we were shooting. I heard it in the car, and I was trying to ask the driver what it was called, and he didn’t speak English! [laughs] I heard it again in the hotel bar and finally Shazam-ed it, bought it, and listened to it the entire plane ride home. I obsessed over it, and then had to record it. I decided I was going to come up with an English version — at first I was going to send it to Francesca, but then I thought, ‘no, I have to do this’.” Amy is also fond of having gone through this process, once again because of its spontaneity, rather than going through protracted record label meetings. “I said to my manager, ‘is it weird if, for no reason, I record this song myself? I don’t know why, and I don’t know what to do with it, I just really want to do it’. And he said, ‘we should do it!’ It was nice to not have a marketing plan, and just do something that I wanted to do. It should be that way, it should be art, and be something that comes from your heart. Not from a plan of what’s going to sell.” A nice bonus was the huge English-speaking audience that this opened up for Michielin.
THE BIG SCREEN
With the music of Evanescence always having such a cinematic quality, few would deny that Amy is a prime candidate for being one of the artists who ventures into film scoring. In 2004, a rumour circulated that she had original music rejected by The Chronicles of Narnia for being ‘too dark’ (seems a bit daft to expect anything
happy clappy from Amy, one would think). Since then, she’s collaborated with Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer to score Indigo Grey: The Passage and War Story. “I have always wanted to be in film,” Amy says. “Sometimes I’ve written something that just missed the mark of what the director was looking for, or I didn’t have the time to focus on it because of Evanescence stuff. But lately, over the last two years, I’ve had the chance to really work on film scoring with some awesome, talented friends who looped me in by recommending me. “I feel like I’m in a place in my career where I’m actively involved in fulfilling two big dreams: one is my band, and being a rock star, I guess! [laughs] Or I should say, being an artist, being able to make my music, and put it out. And the other is being a composer, and making music for film. That’s something I’ve been passionate about since I was very young; that dream started first. Getting to do both of those things at this point makes me feel really fulfilled and excited. And challenged! I feel like I’m still learning, and expanding all the time. That’s the key for me, to feel happy in my work.” It really does feel like Amy Lee’s musical empire is an ever expanding force. Evanescence have successfully navigated a new sound with Synthesis, and the tour has been selling out rapidly. Amy’s solo releases show great promise for more of her unique epic pop, after more than a decade of avant-goth. Added to that a burgeoning career in film music, Amy Lee truly is a woman who’s created a life that she lives on her own terms, with no male rappers in sight.
After studying Jazz at Trinity College, Rory Simmons (AKA Harlequiin) got his big break touring with Jamie Cullum. “They needed someone who played trumpet and guitar, and I was the only one they could find,” Simmons says, with a smile. Eleven years later, he’s still got the gig, and has also toured with a series of other household names (Blur, Paolo Nutini, and Friendly Fires, to name a few), as well as working in the studio with the likes of Labrinth and Mount Kimbie. Furthermore, under his Harlequiin pseudonym, he has been co-writing and producing plenty of music, including a new EP, which he hopes will act as a pedestal for plenty more production collaborations. Words Paul Watson
I begin by asking Simmons to tell me a little more about Harlequiin, and what his work is all about. “As a producer, I have released quite a few jazz records as Harlequiin,” he says. Any reason for the odd spelling? “No reason, other than it stops you looking me up and thinking I’m a rugby club [smiles].” Being a Saracens [rugby] fan, I won’t personally be Googling Harlequins, but I do get his point. It’s also clear after no time at all that Simmons is as humble as he is talented; he’s an accomplished composer, multi-
Where Harlequiin makes the magic. Can you tell he plays guitar?
instrumentalist, songwriter, co-writer, touring musician, and session musician. I could probably go on. So I decide to ask Simmons to take me through that journey. “Well, for the first 18 months after I left Trinity College, I did loads of weddings, and one off gigs, but then I got the Jamie [Cullum] gig, which was a massive turning point for me,” he explains. “The reason for that being they needed someone who could play trumpet and guitar, and I was the only one. So that’s 50/50 for me, that gig. At that point, I kind of went from being this ‘Nazi jazz person
who liked Björk and Tom Waits’, to someone who was suddenly open to a lot of other types of music. And then, over the last 10 years, my career has headed in that direction, and I got into co-writing, and then production.” According to Simmons, a lot of the skills he’s learnt as a session musician have been particularly useful when he is behind the desk, so to speak. “I remember distinctly when I was just a trumpet player sessioning in the studio, getting frustrated when producers said things in airy-fairy ways, but now I kind of do it,” he
Simmons showing he can multitask during a Jamie Cullum show.
“The writing of parameters in the Korg Minilogue sequencer is really intuitive, so you can really get stuck into that.” laughs. “I also remember getting extremely frustrated with engineers, but when I am now engineering a drum session [in my studio], and producing at the same time, I find myself thinking about mic placements, gain stages, the recorded sound, wondering whether I’ve saved everything correctly, and worrying about the monitoring – and that’s before I’ve even considered what the drummer might actually play! So it’s been an interesting experience; each of those elements is very hard, and requires a different skill set.” Currently, Simmons is producing an artist called Eloise, and has been co-writing and producing for a band called Archemist. He’s also landed various sync deals, all of which have been through word of mouth. “You’ve got these online agencies like Music Gateway, trying to say, ‘we’ll give you a platform for a sync if you give us a cut’, but that hasn’t been successful for me. It’s only really when friends have recommended me to write music for something, or recommended me to a filmmaker, perhaps, that something has happened. So really, if I was to distill it, it’s all about expanding your creative contacts rather than filling in subscriptions to websites. “I am sure some [of these agencies] are good, but a lot of them are not. I’ve signed up to a few, but had nothing back. I am not an ‘air in the clouds’ type person, but I think a lot of
it is having belief, and a bit of a business head. You need focus and integrity if you’re going to succeed in this industry.” I wonder if Simmons feels he’s a better producer because he’s an established musician? “That skill set will never make you worse, that’s for sure,” he says. “But I have also worked with some people who don’t know their way around a keyboard from C to C. It’s madness. And these people make a lot of money. They can EQ a kick drum, so can make a house tune sound good, but they can’t tell you where the octave is on a piano.” In the Mix At his home studio, Simmons works entirely in the box. He has an LA610 UA C4 compressor with tube pre for all his vocals, and an Apogee interface. His master poly keyboard is a Korg minilogue, which is at the heart of everything, and he is also a big fan of his Dave Smith Mopho (for bass), and his very cool ‘70s Yamaha CP10 16-bit keyboard. “It’s a hybrid setup, really, but it’s all about usability: things I can use, and have control of very well, are the things I end up going back to all the time; and that’s why the Korg is so great,” he explains. “Often, connectivity is hard, but the minilogue is plug and play, and the MIDI implementation is very good. Then there is the sequencer, which I absolutely love,
and use endlessly.” It’s all about ease of use, and despite the minilogue’s small keys and three octaves, for Simmons, it’s right on the money sonically, and somewhat of a pocket rocket. “The bottom end is particularly good, and the sequencer is really powerful; the writing of parameters [in the sequencer] is very intuitive, so you can really get stuck into that,” Simmons says. “It’s also got a great sounding filter to put audio in, too, so you can use it as a separate, and run audio through it. The fact it’s USB is also a no-brainer: “I actually go USB out of my laptop into my Korg, then I have a MIDI cable going to my Mopho, then I run audio out of my Korg and my Mopho, and they both go into Ableton,” he reveals. “So literally, if I am playing on my Korg, and if I find I need something fatter, I will switch to the Mopho, but I am still using the same keyboard. It sits right next to my laptop, and it’s all wired in.” Simmons plays me a piece of music that he’s made using only the Korg minilogue – a huge array of sounds out of one bit of kit. He clearly knows his way around the unit. “Because it’s a 16-step sequencer, you can do so much creatively,” he insists. Evidently so. “If you can be creative in harmony, and do some interesting stuff with the Korg in the bassline, you can do loads with it.
“A lot of it is having belief, and a bit of a business head. You need focus and integrity to succeed in this industry.” “You can also plug your headphones into it when on the go, which is very useful, and you can save all your ideas. On the minilogue, there are 200 banks: 100 are presets, and the other 100 are free to use - and almost all of mine are full! I have just found so many sounds that I like, I’ve had to save every time! “So my genesis for a lot of music these days – the first thing I turn on – is the Korg. I’ll program a little sequence, get something going that’s got a vibe about it, program in some bass notes, layer on some drum sounds over the top, and I’m away! All of the things I’ve got on the burn at the moment – it’s all come from the Korg.” Harlequiin Uncovered The latest project Simmons has been working on is a four-track Harlequiin EP called Something To Believe In, co-written with two different singers, Elliot Cole, and Amelka May. “It was really about me making something that was R&B in flavour, but dark R&B; it’s almost Destiny’s Child in parts, but weird, dark, tracked vocals, and super-close sounding synths, but darker in terms of harmony,” Simmons explains. “But it has some live playing, too; I play guitar on it, and there is
some great drumming on there, as well. That release is my main thing at the moment – it’s out now.” It’s also the first real curveball record Simmons has put out: “It’s not a jazz record, and there is zero trumpet, so that’s a big thing, really. I’m just trying to build an audience for it, and make a statement lyrically, as it’s about stuff that happened to me,” he says. “Having a baby was a big part of it. There’s a tune called Dream Deep Bloodlines, which is about – weirdly – dogs dreaming of bones at night, and how that relates to being a parent; the idea you can only think of one thing when you’re a parent. It’s kind of a weird concept!” But it’s ultimately about building a sound? “Yeah, and from a commercial perspective; it’s about trying to be a producer who has his own sound and personality, where people hopefully might say, ‘I want him working on my record’.” And why not, indeed. The sounds that Simmons/Harlequiin is making are seriously good. Do check them out, along with Eloise, the other artist he is producing and co-writing with. She’s Lana Del Rey meets gothic pop, meets electronic, vintage ‘50s Americana, but it’s not a vintage sound...
Did I get that about right? “[laughs] Pretty much! Eloise is great; she is only 19, and a fantastic talent. We have done eight tracks together now, and we’ve had some really good press on it - KCRW are getting excited about it, which is a real positive. “Everything has been done in my studio, too - loads on the Korg minilogue, actually; it’s produced all of the keys on it, and the music is really contemporary sounding. “One track, Now She Wears White, came out recently, and has had over 10,000 hits so far, which is encouraging. It’s lots of chopped up vocal samples, pretty hard to describe, but very cool sounding.” It is, indeed. After we head our separate ways, I decide to sit in the Headliner studio and pull up the said track: there is most definitely a Lana Del Rey vibe, and you can also hear that dark gothic thing happening, too, in a pretty big way. Very nice production. It will certainly come as no surprise to Headliner if Harlequiin’s name pops up on another record or three in the coming months. @rory_simmons www.korg.com
W�i� �n��� y�� �e�� i�!
Dante™ digital and analog line-level inputs Digital transmission and 24 bit digital audio 2 stereo transmissions in 1/2 rack unit Phenomenal operating range 470 - 608 MHz tuning range US Made Lectrosonics quality
Try the M2 Duet Digital Wireless Monitor IEM system and prepare to be blown away. << Scan here to learn more about the M2 Duet
www.lectrosonics.com or 1-800-821-1121 In Canada, call 877-753-2876 Made in the USA by a Bunch of Fanatics.
In Europe, call +33 (0) 78558-3735
WE ARE MANSON
Singer, songwriter, actor, composer, painter, author – even former music journalist. These are just a few words that sum up 48-year-old triple platinum selling megastar, Marilyn Manson, whose career has spanned almost 30 years, and is still going very strong on both sides of the pond. Today, we’re at a sold-out SSE Wembley Arena, as his Heaven Upside Down tour descends on London, talking to production manager, Matt Doherty, and LD, Nico Riot, to find out more about the controversial entertainer, and his hard-working touring team. Words Paul Watson
“I was 11, and my parents were big [Pink] Floyd fans, and we went to a big show in Bordeaux, and I just loved it,” smiles Nico Riot, LD for the Manson tour. “I then played music for years with bands, and realised I wouldn’t make any money as the band wasn’t great, but I should maybe do something music related – and I knew that had to be lighting. And we all borrow from Floyd as lighting guys, don’t we? They were the true pioneers...” Indeed they were. It was an interesting route into the Manson camp for Riot, and one in which he had to find his feet very quickly. “I got this gig one week before the show, during festival season, so I had to dive in,” Riot admits. “So I learned the show, and finally came up with my design; and then it was time to go to Manson himself - and he knows everything. “He really knows the lights, and he even chooses some of the fixtures personally, so you have to be on the ball. I also have to
blackout every song, and make sure his overhead light follows him everywhere, so you have to constantly watch him. It was tough at the beginning, I can tell you!” It sounds like it! Manson seems very hands-on when it comes to the show. “Oh, very much so; he doesn’t just have a look, he’ll go on stage, and if something is wrong, he freaks out! [laughs] He said to me that he wanted an old school theatre vibe for this tour: no moving lights anywhere, no ‘sparkling shit’, as he calls it, so a really simple, moody, and creepy theme, ultimately.” I ask Riot how that kind of look is achieved, exactly. “First, I had to try and find something massive for the ceiling above him; it had to be smoky, to create a movie scene, really. It’s very filmic, and the show is about him, not the band, so everything must focus on him at all times. There’s a lot of darkness, no pyro, but great strobes.”
An Illuminating Experience
The strobes Riot refers to are the GLP JDC1s. GLP is a firm that he has been familiar with for some time, after seeing the fixtures used in a small club in France years ago, but he was only introduced to the X4 Bar 20s last summer when watching a Linkin Park show, and was immediately keen to get his hands on some. “I actually saw the X4 Bar 20s on a couple of designs this summer, but at the Linkin Park show, I thought they looked fantastic, and knew I could use them,” he explains. “And Manson picked out the JDC1 strobes himself – he just said he needed them, so that was that! So I bring them and the X4 Bar 20s into this show: two rows of X4 Bar 20, so we can create perspective; he wants many layers, and we have eight backdrops, all of which I can adjust easily with the X4 Bar 20s. “We have 24 of them: six on the ring on top, then two layers. And then the JDC1s
“We ultimately have to be versatile and flexible...” are everywhere! We have eight upstage, eight on stage... and I wish I had more! [smiles] Manson needed me to light up the backdrop, and I showed him the moods, and it was perfect; he was very happy with them.” So it’s a pretty hands-on show from Riot’s perspective also; ultimately, he never quite knows what he’s going to get. “Well yeah, the trickiest thing with Manson is that he can start a song at any point, or change the set list, or anything. He might reverse it, even – whatever,” Riot explains. “So it’s a case of programming all the songs with cues: dimmers, strobing, and blinders, mostly; then I go to cues, but I’ll also need to jump cues, as he is always going to change something at some point. “The show is chaotic; I have the cues, but I have to go through and constantly move, and make sure I’m all eyes on him the whole time.” A tiring show, too, no doubt. “Tiring? It’s exhausting, but at the same time, this is very theatrical, so it’s very cool; as long as he is comfortable, it’s all good. He is cool, too, but he knows everything about everything, so you can’t afford to make a mistake. Believe me, he’ll know! “We are now evolving the show for 2018, and we have already planned the summer season, and have ideas for that, making sure we’re on the right direction, and that Manson is happy with it... for now!”
I ask Riot what it is about the GLP fixtures that makes him such a fan. A number of things, apparently: “First, they are really bright, and if you bear in mind I have Sharpy fixtures too, which are super powerful, so I need something that can cut through the Sharpy, and I can’t find a product that cuts through that is that bright. You have to beat the Sharpy at some point to do that, and these fixtures do that. “They’re also very easy to work with; I have a ChamSys desk which is very easy to operate, and the X4 Bar 20s are so simple to use. And throughout the show, I don’t have to go through the fixtures that much, as it’s always full-on moody, and he doesn’t want sparkling dimmers or FX stuff, so it’s really simple.”
I make my way backstage to have a chat with Matt Doherty, production manager for Manson, and an experienced one at that. “Because he has a reputation, people ask, ‘why do you do this show?’ and I always answer, ‘because he makes me laugh’,” opens Doherty. “He really is hilarious; he’ll appear on the radio during the load-out, even! So I enjoy working for him, but he’s also very smart. He knows what he wants, and he likes a good team around him.” Doherty has been in the biz for 34 years, and is hard pushed to find anyone as focused
and professional as Manson. “It’s interesting, because previous to me coming in, it was chaos, but the subscription to the chaos was the problem. The chaos is the show, and that’s what it’s like, and what the fans are there to see: giving everything he’s got, going a bit nuts, smashing a few things, and so on. But behind the scenes, everything has to be very professional, and it really is. “We are playing to almost 11,000 people in London tonight, on a Saturday, so that’s a major show; and for someone who’s sold 50 million records, and been doing it 30 odd years, he’s still punching.” According to Doherty, Nico Riot is also right up there with the top lighting guys he’s ever worked with. “The story of how he came to the show is interesting; the previous guy left us in a difficult situation with two days notice, and it was mid-summer in Europe, and we were all, ‘how the hell can we find a new LD for someone as meticulous as Manson?’ [smiles] We had Nico, he only did four shows with us, and that’s all I got to see of him. “On the first show, Manson was putting a bounty on his head, because he is all about lights, and he wasn’t his favourite guy, and Nico was working someone else’s design, so he was right in at the deep end; but when we came to the US, I backed Nico to continue the tour with us, as he is the business. Now he and
“We are so fortunate to have a core of fantastic guys, and you are never better than your staff, ever.” Manson are tight, yet they have literally probably only spoken once! “Manson says, ‘the lights are tight’, and that’s him very happy. You know, the one thing [Manson’s manager] Tony always says to me is, ‘I don’t want the 3am text messages complaining about the lights’, and he hasn’t had one. Manson has not commented on the lighting since Nico started; he loves it, and he is a real fit.”
On the Lookout
The secret to his job, Doherty says, is to find the people that fit with a situation. “Because Manson likes a family,” he says, “he likes to be tight with his crew, and likes to know that the crew feel part of it. He’ll ask them, ‘what are you?’ And they say, ‘I’m Manson!’ And I like that, as I’m all about morale. We just finished 20 shows in 30 days, which was gruelling; we had four ‘three in a rows’, and it’s tough going from arena to small hall to big hall and back, and so on; it’s taxing on the crew, but if you keep morale up, you’ll do well. I ask Doherty if the UK is still at the top of its game when it comes to concert venues. “You always know you’re a little more ahead of the game here, but the pendulum that swung with the Italians and the French
and other countries has now swung so far the other way, it’s almost gone ridiculous,” he says. How so? “Inconsistencies occur. But that’s because they got caught with their hands in the till. Germany is an easy market to work in. The Dutch are very good. The ones who have the grounding, who have put on big shows for years and years. “But it’s more homogenous now; you can roll the same show out into these countries without too much of a problem. Not so much South East Asia - apart from Japan – but South America is getting better, and generally everything is improving.” Good to know. Manson hit the headlines last September when a set piece fell on him, and he broke his leg as a result. I ask Doherty what that experience was like, and how much he had to rally the troops? “I had to keep everyone’s heads up, of course, but it was really all about everyone being in constant communication; the crew were paid the whole time we were down, and all the wheelchairs, the gurneys, the smocks you now see on stage, that was all Manson’s idea, so he will laugh at himself, but his product is a serious product. I have watched him walk off stage and throw something quite significant to watch it crumble into pieces against a wall, and then turn to me and say,
‘sorry about that, you know it’s just theatrics, don’t you?’ So he gets it completely.” The upcoming US tour will be a little more scaled down – mainly 2-3,000-capacity venues - but as expected, there will be no compromise in production. “And Nico has done very well there, as he has understood exactly what Manson needs,” nods Doherty. “Manson cares about a few things: he likes to play in and out of the lights at the front during the show, and he likes to have his GLP JDC1 [strobe] that he discovered – he sent me a pic of it saying, ‘I want this light’ – so he is smart like that. “Because most of these clubs have a reasonable house rig in them, Nico can get the looks he likes out of that. We’ve got that similar package, and we maintain the consistency we need for a show.” The 2018 leg of the tour is now underway, and shows will follow throughout the year in the US, and Europe, including several major festival dates. There are breaks, of course, but how much time will Doherty himself really get off in 2018, I wonder? “[laughs] I will get three weeks of March off this year, and I am hanging onto that for dear life!” he concludes, with a broad smile. www.glp.de
THE Fibre Network for the Pro Audio Industry
The NEW M-Series
Advanced MADI switches with bridging and routing options · Single channel and stream routing · Standalone or network performance · Built-in LAN switch and RS485 router
· Dual PSU, no fan · The most cost-efficient and powerful audio switches on the market
4 BNC or fiber MADI ports 2 SANE ports (MADI over Cat5) 2 Optocore hi-speed fiber uplinks
8 BNC or fiber MADI ports 2 SANE ports (MADI over Cat5) 2 Optocore hi-speed fiber uplinks
ON TOUR WITH... ALT-J
Alt-J’s musical evolution has been pretty incredible. The band’s 2012 debut record, An Awesome Wave, won huge critical acclaim, and landed them the 2012 British Mercury Prize. Album number two, This Is All Yours, went straight to the UK number one spot when it was released two years later. Last year saw the band bring out their much anticipated third record, Relaxer, and it didn’t disappoint: more critical acclaim, and a nomination for another Mercury Prize. In January, Alt-J headed back out on the road in Europe to play their songs to the masses. We go backstage with Rat Sound’s Tom Worley, who’s currently looking after the technical side of the tour, to talk show logistics, and the band’s go-to audio kit. Words Paul Watson The road into audio for Tom Worley was through the GM of a sound company in Auckland, New Zealand. He’d just left high school, and was asked if he wanted to help load out a Springsteen show. That’s when he got the bug. “I was totally blown away by the logistics, efficiencies, and all the moving parts, really,” admits Worley. “I ended up working there for some eight years after that, and I have been in the industry ever since.” The Rat Sound/Alt-J relationship began in 2013, and it’s turned into a solid one. “I met [Alt-J’s front of house engineer] Lance Reynolds at Coachella five years ago;
I was looking after front of house on the Mojave Stage,” Worley recalls. “We crossed paths again in 2015 on the main stage, and it was the best sounding show of the weekend; we were then fortunate enough to provide a full touring system for their fall tour in 2015, and have been their supplier since.” I ask Worley to take us through his day in the life with Alt-J, from load-in to breakdown. It’s quite a job, evidently: “I measure and model the room first thing, then do a design – that’s generally done in catering - and then I liaise with our head rigger on any changes with rigging or positioning,” he says. “We then fly the PA,
and I align the system, and do some basic contour EQing. I then hand it over to Lance for virtual soundcheck, and we will make any changes necessary. Then we do the show, load the trucks, and we’re off to the next venue!” The band are very hands-on, Worley says, though they put their full trust in their two engineers, Lance Reynolds and [monitor engineer] Brett Heet, to produce the goods.
One Fits All
In terms of monitoring, the band and crew are all on in-ears, all of which are models by leading IEM manufacturer, JH Audio. “The band went to [ JH Audio] Roxannes at
Soundchecking at Red Rocks.
“You can tell the [Roxanne] in-ears are made by guys in the business that are out asking the right questions...” the start of this campaign; they were on JH16s previous to this, but really, the Roxannes are hard to beat these days, and the boys haven’t looked back,” Worley says. “Brett Heet and I are both wearing Roxannes, whereas the backline boys are all on JH16s. It’s certainly a bonus having the same IEMs as the band, but credit to JH [Audio], the 16s are a real good reference, too. However, the Roxanne has a certain detail to it that I just haven’t heard before; you can tell these ears have been made by guys in the business that are out asking the right questions. Jerry [Harvey, founder] and Kevin [Glendinning, artist relations] have been great to us, and the service from the company is always exceptional.” For this tour, a Midas PRO2 handles the band’s IEM mixes, and an Avid S6L is designated to front of house – both of which are running at 96kHz. “We’ve got a rock solid setup all round,” Worley says. “In fact, it’s not just the consoles [that run at 96kHz], the whole system does, right down to the amplifiers.” No compromises there, then. The band are out on the road again as of January
2018 – I wonder what a touring company like Rat Sound does to prepare for such an undertaking, and what the biggest challenges are going from venue to venue? “We have a great team of production, tour managers, and heads of department, so a lot is done in advance; and with cloud storage, we all have access to venue information, and so on,” Worley reveals. “We are pretty flexible, and we have plenty of redundancy up our sleeve. But so far, it’s 101 shows in the last eight months without any issues... touch wood! [smiles]” Impressive! Finally, I ask Worley if there’s been one standout show so far. It’s a big question, of course, for a guy who has worked on so many. “I think it’s a few, really,” he reflects. “Places like Red Rocks, the O2 in London, LA’s Shrine... They’ve all been highlights for me. There really is something about those big market venues where the energy is electric. We all step up to the plate, and the band have been playing some absolute killer shows.” www.jhaudio.com www.ratsound.com
MTV EMAS: PRODUCTION VALUES
It’d been more than 20 years since the EMAs descended on London, but it certainly didn’t look or sound that way at the SSE Arena on November 12, 2017. Hosted by Rita Ora, the production was in the safe hands of long-time MTV audio supplier, Britannia Row, whose specification this time around was dominated by DiGiCo. The first ever MTV EMAs ceremony was held back in 1994 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, just five years after the Berlin Wall came down. It was broadcast live on MTV Europe, Channel 5 [in the UK], and most of the international MTV channels. Since then, the EMAs has evolved massively, and for the last two decades and more, UK firm, Britannia Row, has certainly done its bit to ensure there has been somewhat of an audio evolution, as well. There have been no compromises whatsoever in terms of the quality of each production, and the audio supplier’s console deployment has now been condensed mainly to DiGiCo mixing consoles. The main reason for this, according to company director, Lez Dwight, is that DiGiCo has the clear market share on both sides of the pond. “We have a long standing relationship with DiGiCo, and find the technical support and service absolutely world class,” Dwight explains. “MTV is always a challenge from
a technical perspective, and this year was no exception; the performance area covered the entire arena floor, but this area was also built up off the floor by 4.75 metres, giving room for large lifts and sub stage space. “We had three separate locations for monitor desks, RF, and front of house; and the five DiGiCo SD Racks and fibre loop capabilities helped us to achieve this.” Two SD7s were assigned to monitors, with three SD5s at front of house: two for the show, one for prep; and the presenters and guests all went through two SD12s. Every artist on the night (barring The Killers) used DiGiCo, and it was a very smooth operation all round, Dwight says: “It was a spectacular show from an audio and visual standpoint; 14 acts performed in just two hours without any issues, but really, that’s just another day in the office for our stellar crew, led by Pete McGlynn.” It was, as usual, very much an international affair, with flawless performances on the night from a string of eclectic artists including
Eminem, Stormzy, U2, Demi Lovato, Kesha, David Guetta, and Camila Cabello. “The EMA audio team did a great job keeping up with, from what I saw, was a very busy schedule,” adds Camila Cabello’s front of house engineer and production manager, Ryan Cecil. “Colin Pink and the whole Brit Row crew were a pleasure to work with, and took great care of us. It’s always fantastic to be able to walk in, dial in your EQ preset, and load up a stock DiGiCo reverb, and know your artist will be hearing the same sound as they are on tour, even though it’s on a completely separate system. “The SD7, and onsite support from [DiGiCo’s] Mark Saunders, makes shows like this so easy for me every time.” Standout artists on the night were Taylor Swift, with six nominees, followed by Shawn Mendes, who won four of his five, making him the most awarded artist of the evening. www.digico.biz www.britanniarow.com
“The DiGiCo SD7 makes shows like this easy for me every time...”
GLP German Light Products GmbH
Photo: Ralph Larmann | Design: Thomas Gerdon
THE ULTIMATE HYBRID STROBE
RGB STROBE PLATES
COOL WHITE STROBE TUBE
12 (2 X 6) LED SEGMENTS
185 DEGREES TILT
INDIVIDUAL CONTROL OVER SEGMENTS & PLATES
GLP German Light Products | Germany | USA | United Kingdom | Hong Kong email@example.com
FIFA World Cup 2018
FIFA WORLD CUP 2018: A NEW ERA FOR RUSSIAN SPORT
It’s almost that time again, the FIFA World Cup. ‘England expects’, as usual, which ultimately means that, come the end of July, English hearts will be broken for the umpteenth time, as football, once again, fails to ‘come home’. What we can also be sure of is that host nation, Russia, will do a grand job - and that’s down to the vast infrastructure that’s being put in place. Part of this, of course, is the quality of the stadia, and one of the most interesting projects, which got underway at the end of 2015, has been the smart renovation of the Big Sports Arena Luzhniki, an 81,000-capacity stadium which will host the World Cup Final on July 15th. At the heart of this operation is a massive fibre network, which has been put together by German broadcast giants, Optocore and BroaMan. At the end of 2015, a new tender document was drawn up on behalf of the principals, the Big Sports Arena Luzhniki, for the 81,000-seat stadium, with the technological requirements detailed by Moscow integration specialists S-Pro Systems, together with the German company, Broadcast Solutions. Selected by the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup bid as the venue for the Final, the stadium will also be used as a heritage venue after the Championship. At the heart of this clever new network broadcast transmission are no less than 57
Optocore and BroaMan fiber interfaces, designed in a fibre ‘star’ out of the ring topology, and supplied by Moscow-based distributor, Audiosolutions. After the bid was accepted, they became involved in the project as an S-Pro partner, with responsibility for equipment supply and warranty service management of the whole system. They were able to demonstrate all of the advantages of producing a site-wide multi-node fibre transmission system and broadcast/multi-format links to the OB vans. According to Igor Kovalev, who manages Audiosolutions’ pro audio department,
Optocore and BroaMan create a perfect synergy for the job at hand: “The two companies provide an extremely robust optical network system for audio transport and auto routing functionality. The Optocore I/O modules also have a wide working temperature range, which was one of the important criteria for choosing equipment for this project.” The very switched-on team responsible for this innovative audio design comprised Andrey Matveev (S-Pro), Evgeniy Stepanenko (Broadcast Solution), Pavel Pyshkin (S-Pro), and Ivan Khizhnyak
A vast and highly efficient Optocore system.
FIFA World Cup 2018
Moscow’s incredible 81,000seater Luzhniki Stadium.
(S-Pro). S-Pro’s project managers were Sergey Manserov and Grigory Yurov.
Node your Stuff
The vast Optocore system was designed around two main nodes, the first being the stadium patch panel room, located in the OB van area, which is for multi-signal conversion to MADI. In here, X6R-FX, X6R-TP V3RFX, and V3R-FX-TP converters were fitted with MI (Mic-In) and LO (Line Out) cards, while an Optocore M8-BNC was deployed for OB Van MADI connection with the benefit of Emulation Mode, which allows for the control of on-site Optocore mic preamps directly from the van’s console. The second node is the media control room, which boasts a Yamaha 02R96 digital console equipped with an Optocore Y3R-TP Yamaha card — this enables it to work with Optocore’s proprietary SANE protocol. Igor Kovalev said the system had needed to meet a number of objectives: to uplink the environmental bowl sound (the stadium crowd noise), with the Optocore modules bundled in the technical racks positioned around the playing field perimeter; to integrate with the
intercom systems of the technical personnel (achieved by using Optocore’s dedicated V3R-FX-INTERCOM); to integrate with the stadium’s sound reinforcement system and patch panel room; to integrate with the stadium’s media room, which comprises all the multi-media signals; and finally, to integrate with the commentator’s communication system. So, quite a lot, then! With these Optocore systems widely distributed across the stadium, various tasks in terms of audio maintenance could be implemented with all events taking place (other than football matches). To expedite broadcast requirements, Audio Solutions turned to Optocore’s associate company, BroaMan, which in turn, harnesses the power of Optocore. Two of the new Route66 AutoRouters are stacked, with each fibre node connected independently through the Route66. “The combination of redundancy, and the ability to close the Optocore loop automatically when active devices are added or disconnected, are the main advantages of the BroaMan Route66 AutoRouters,” Kovalev insists.
The installation also takes advantage of economies: for example, the Optocore TP devices are separated and placed up to 50 metres above the main FX devices; this means fewer FX devices are needed, therefore there is less fibre cabling to worry about. The system, which conforms to all worldwide broadcast standards, has certainly met the approval of the Big Sports Arena Luzhniki, and Kovalev says that with the successful fulfillment of signal conversion and audio/data transport, all objectives have been met: “With Optocore, we get pristine, low latency audio, and the great thing about this Optocore solution is that we get no interference from power cable runs, perfect EMR isolation, and it has extremely flexible functionality, with the ability to handle any audio transport tasks with ease, over long distances.” Let’s hope that this is the only fully efficient German team we see this year..! @FifaWorldCup www.optocore.com
HELPING TO CREATE THE WORLDâ€™S GREATEST MUSIC FOR 30 YEARS
1987 - 2017
Lyra 1 & 2
High Quality Recording & Production Solutions
Prism Sound 30th Anniversary Offers available to full MPG members... See MPG website for full details firstname.lastname@example.org www.prismsound.com
USA +1 973 983 9577 UK +44 (0) 1353 648888
Rise of the Tastemaker
RISE OF THE TASTEMAKER
From Rinse FM intern, all the way to Radio 1 DJ, fabric nightclub host, and hotly sought-after live DJ, the rise of Lucy Monkman, who goes by the DJ name Monki, has been a steep one, to say the least. The music industry has a new job title, the ‘tastemaker’, the level above radio DJ, involving touring, releasing album compilations, and more. It’s people like Monki that are carving out this new path. Words Adam Protz
“I’ve just played a load of shows in Ibiza, and it’s back to clubs now,” Monki tells me, as she sips on a coffee in Brixton Village. She’s a native South Londoner, and she explains that this helped her get into electronic music in her late teens, becoming fascinated with UK-centric house and garage. While Lucy has now earned herself a regular Radio 1 show, at this point in her life, mainstream radio simply wasn’t playing the cutting edge dance music that she was craving. Of course, it’s down to tastemakers like herself and Annie Mac who have hugely changed the face of Radio 1. Many would associate radio stations like Rinse, which at the time was an illegal pirate station, with grime emcees huddled around the most basic equipment in a high rise building in Tower Hamlets, but Monki was always more into the dance side of London’s electronic music scene. “I was too young when it was Wiley and
Dizzee on Rinse,” Monki tells me, in her unmistakable regional accent. “I got into it when dubstep was really emerging from the underground, and Skream and Benga were being played on there all the time.” Another thing people might not associate with pirate radio is internships, but this was Monki’s unique way into the music industry. “When I was 17, I was at college doing law and economics — nothing to do with music,” she says. “But I dropped out of that as I got more and more into music.” Her first internship was with Radio Jackie, legal as of 2003, but with a history as one of London’s revolutionary pirate stations. Monki also completed a college course much more aligned with her new passion, radio broadcasting at the Point Blank Music School, and then her show at Rinse followed. “That was such an exciting time for me,” Monki says, the nostalgia clear in her voice.
But banish the image of the likes of Kano and D Double E rapping in a flat, as things had changed quite a bit when Monki arrived. “I was working in their office! That’s what was paying the rent, not so much the show.” Surely doing admin was a bit of a buzzkill, when you just wanted to be spinning the tunes you loved? “Honestly, it really was an exciting time in my life, to have an audience as a tastemaker.” I ask if she can expand on this ‘tastemaker’ term, which is often being applied to people like her and Annie Mac. “I don’t see it as being different to when I was younger: I’d just make playlists for me and my mates. Only difference now is, I get to do it for thousands of people, which is amazing.”
Beyond the Show
It says a huge amount about what Monki can offer to a radio station, in the knowledge that
Rise of the Tastemaker
“I was given £40 to go out and buy champagne for everyone - we were all buzzing...” Rinse went from underground pirate station, to the legally recognised Rinse FM during her time there. “I remember the day we got the license so clearly,” she says. “I was given £40 to go out and buy champagne for everyone — we were all buzzing.” Despite this jubilation, it was time for Monki to go beyond her show with a relatively smaller audience, which required doing admin jobs and shopping errands on the side, as Radio 1 came knocking. “It was originally just maternity cover for Annie Mac,” Monki says. “It was a big risk, knowing it might only be a temporary job, and that I definitely couldn’t have my job at Rinse back. But in the end, it paid off.” Another young female DJ specialising in all things dance, B.Traits, covered one of the shows while Annie Mac was with child, also leading to a regular slot upon her return. Clearly it’s a hugely positive time for women in the once male-dominated dance scene. “Annie is a big inspiration — the shows she plays, and the kind of airtime she’s getting on radio, you can’t help but look up to that.” Monki will inevitably have comparisons drawn with stalwart, Annie Mac, but it’s no bad thing. With the exception of perhaps Zane Lowe, it’s tough to think of many DJs who have transcended radio so spectacularly — besides Radio 1, she is constantly playing
sell-out headline shows, not to mention heading the bill of the enormous John Peel tent at last year’s Glastonbury. It would be no exaggeration to say that Monki can achieve the same things — it’s a process that’s already in motion. As she mentioned, she’s just got back from a hefty period in Ibiza, seen by many as the holy grail of dance music gigs, and henceforth will be touring the UK around her show, with Leeds and Nottingham coming up on the week we speak. I ask the million dollar question: if she has a favourite, radio or playing live? “I was asked this the other day, actually,” Monki smiles. “Although the way this person asked me, it was, ‘if you had to pick one, which would it be?’ It’s so tough, but I would say radio. Touring is amazing, and I love getting to travel, but it can get a little too hectic, when you’re coming off stage early in the morning all the time.” Monki is careful to balance out the DJ lifestyle with grounded pursuits, too. “I’m super into exercise; I play football every weekend. The idea that DJs are partying every night is a bit of a myth, to be honest. I make sure I never miss a game — like this weekend, I’m coming off stage in Nottingham at three in the morning, getting picked up at seven, and then going straight to Eastbourne to play an away game.” Personally, that doesn’t bear thinking about.
But at the same time, it’s a wonderful and commendable thing that Monki has these twin passions to keep her on the straight and narrow. “Doing the radio show, the red light goes on, and you know if you fuck up, you’re probably out of a job. I was so nervous for my first Radio 1 show, I was thinking, ‘am I ready for this?’ So there’s a big adrenaline buzz there, even though the audience isn’t in the room with you. “With the DJ sets, you’ve got hundreds, even thousands of people, and they’re all there, physically facing you. They’re both such a different buzz, so it’s hard to compare them.” Finally, I ask Monki if she’ll be following the Annie Mac blueprint for success. “I don’t think you can follow anyone else’s model, I think each person has to follow their own path,” she says. “I want to do a bigger Radio 1 show, that’s a given! And to keep doing bigger and bigger live sets.” Ten years ago, the idea of a Radio 1 DJ doing huge, international live sets would have been a strange one. But through the work of young women like Monki, it’s now a reality. We part ways, and I’m very sure the next time Headliner encounters her, her tastemaker status will have reached the next level. @monki_dj
JOANNA LEE: LONDON CALLING
JoAnna Lee has soul – in abundance. Although based out of Austin, TX, she cites London as the ultimate musical hub. She signed with UK label, Cutmore Records, and released her debut album, So Free, back in October. The record is very well put together: great songs, nice production, and a powerhouse of a voice – think Beverley Knight, Joss Stone, and Kelly Clarkson, all rolled into one, and you’re getting there. We chat to JoAnna about the message behind the record. “I loved being in London last year,” opens JoAnna, with a smile. “We played Apples & Pears in Aldgate, which went very well, promoted the singles in advance of the album release, and did some radio, including BBC London. That’s a channel I would like to pursue further - radio - as I picked up a number of new fans, some of which travelled an hour to come to the show, just off the back of hearing me sing on the wireless.” Quite the compliment. JoAnna’s label is based in London, yet the whole album was recorded in the US: mainly in LA, with a few tracks laid down in her hometown of Austin. “I ended up being very hands-on in the recording process,” JoAnna recalls. “We had a couple of runarounds at the studio, and a couple of different producers got involved, but it didn’t sound quite how we wanted; I knew it needed to be simple, and more precise. And it was an engineer we found, in the end, that was able to do just what we wanted. It also meant I had all the say in what went down in the studio; I took the reins, and I was able to visualise what I wanted, and then we got it.” It’s no surprise that JoAnna’s vocals are what draw people to her - she’s rich, and deeply soulful in the low register, with an
effortless falsetto – but her songwriting is also very strong: uber-catchy title track, So Free, is a treat; her beautiful waltz, Drinking by Myself, is a heartbreaker; and the acoustic Forever in My Heart is a very fitting way to end the record. This is a woman with spirit. “The record captures how I sound when you hear me live, and that is important; some people put albums out, and when you see them perform, it really doesn’t sound anything like them,” Joanna laughs. We can relate to that! “The ultimate message [in this record] is that I want people to see that no matter where you come from, and no matter what heartaches you go through, ultimately it’s your choice who you want to be. It’s up to you to make that journey, and your options are totally limitless. People get caught up in life, and what people want you to do; just break that down, and do it for you.” Nicely said. Conversation turns to JoAnna’s fanbase, and how she intends to grow it. She sees the UK as a great starting point. “I feel with what I have, and my sound, and with the response we have already got, it’s a great idea to get introduced to this country, and break back unto the US, as they all want what everyone else is listening to,” she says.
“London is still a very serious scene, and I learned a lot about that when I was over in the UK; there’s a lot going on over there, and I feel I have a great chance of sharing my music in Britain, as people seem eager to hear it.” Social media is part of the process for any new artist – and JoAnna fully embraces it. “I used to hated going on Facebook, and other platforms, but it is the world we’re living in now, and it’s how people get all of their news, and how they keep up with things,” she says. “For people who have been supporting my music from the beginning – through the thick and thin - it’s a great avenue to keep them in my loop, as they’ll continue to support me, and they want to see what’s going on; it keeps them excited about the music, and makes them a part of my journey. I ask JoAnna what her goals are in today’s ever-evolving music business. Her answer is a refreshing one: “As long as I am still going, staying consistent, and still writing, then that is success. If I can keep opening doors, and people are inspired by what I am doing, I’ll be very happy.” @joannaleemusic
AT5047 Premier Studio Condenser Microphone
Building on the AT5040â€™s breathtaking purity of sound, the new AT5047 combines the four-part rectangular element of its predecessor with a transformer-coupled output to create a mic with exceptionally wide dynamic range and remarkable versatility. This is purity transformed. audio-technica.com
Making Music in the Moment
LAUV: MAKING MUSIC IN THE MOMENT
Ari Staprans Leff, the bringer of beguiling music under the name Lauv, is the complete pop package. Youthful good looks, a voice that effortlessly oozes into falsetto, and gets under the skin, plus all the necessary charisma and dancing ability. But, unlike most, he’s so much more than that — Lauv writes his songs, and also writes for other artists, and he’s very gifted in the studio. He self-produces his music, and on top of all that, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, adding guitar and piano to his considerable vocal ability. And with the recent news that he’ll be supporting Ed Sheeran on his tour of Asia, it does seem that everything is falling right into place for him. Words Adam Protz “That’s gonna be insane,” Lauv says, of the prospect of touring with Ed Sheeran, one of the biggest names in pop music. “It’s crazy, because I’ve never been to Asia before, and I’ve never played arenas before.” With the world at his feet, I’m keen to know how he got himself to this point. “I’ve pretty much been playing music my whole life,” Lauv says, in his Californian accent. “I started playing piano when I was five, and then I played viola with my two sisters, who were playing violin and cello.” Was a family string quartet formed? “We did play together a couple of times! [laughs] But as soon as I picked up guitar, I wanted to write songs. That was when I was 13, when it started to click for me.” One of the things that makes Lauv such an
asset to the music industry is his ability to not only produce music so well, but playing the instruments in himself. “Growing up and playing in bands, I started to record them myself, which is how I learned how to produce,” he says. “I realised, ‘I can just stay in my room, and do it all!’ I guess I’m kind of a control freak, to a fault. “I think it was just years of being antisocial, and sitting in my room making music. But it’s so great to have control of the palettes of the songs I’m writing.” Lauv recently released A Different Way with DJ Snake — I ask if he was feeling tetchy, when all the production reins were being held by somebody else. “We’d been wanting to do a song together for a while,” Lauv explains. “I was
super humbled and excited - he’s a legend. What’s special about that song is feeling that I could bring my version and vibe to it. If you strip everything away, it’s still a really heartfelt song at its core. Then he came and brought the game-changing DJ Snake thing in.” Bearing in mind Lauv is someone who likes to make a track - right from its very genesis, to the final product - you might think that would make writing for other artists tricky for him also: writing with a number of other people, then handing it over to another singer. He has a writing credit on Charli XCX’s earworm of a hit, Boys. “I’m just obsessed with making music all the time. Even if another artist takes a piece of something I write, and makes it their own. I’m in a place right now where I’m much more
Making Music in the Moment
“I threw some live strings, and live trumpets in there; I wanted it to feel cinematic and symphonic... ” focused on writing my stuff. I think there’s a deeper satisfaction in doing that. But anything that helps me write more, to get out there and reach people, is cool with me.” The last single Lauv put out was Easy Love, a song that really shows off his formidable talent, accompanied by a clever video in which he is attached to strings like a puppet. “I started that song with the sounds you hear in the beginning, which is from one of my voice memos, which I’ll often chop up and do crazy stuff with,” Lauv reveals. “Then putting together a conga, bongo vibe for it. I threw some live strings and trumpets in there; I wanted it to feel cinematic and symphonic.”
In the Moment
I suspect Lauv’s phone must be loaded with little musical ideas, recorded on the fly. “Oh, I’ve got a million ideas on there; most of them are probably awful! But I need to keep that on, in case I have an idea. If I don’t record it, it’ll be gone forever. Even if I’m in a bathroom at a party, I’ve got to get it down.” Lauv is someone who advocates being in
the present moment to get the most out of life, as that’s when his best ideas come to him. “I can be a very head-y person, and over think a lot,” he says. “99 percent of my best stuff comes when I just let stuff go. It’s important to remember that it’s art, and even though I’m writing every day, you never know when an amazing idea might come.” Lauv’s songs appear to be love songs initially, but I wonder if they’re also touching on this problem of living life free of conflicting thoughts? “In my song, The Other, I’ve written about the whole battle of head versus heart,” he says. “Obviously in a relationship, but in life, also. That’s something I struggled with when growing up, being in touch with feeling. “I think it’s really easy to let the outside world programme you to think a certain way, and take you further away from the inner part of you that’s so important to be in touch with.” Lauv runs me through his studio set up. “I’m a super simple guy when it comes to this sort of thing,” he says. “I love to just work
in my house. I wrote a lot of songs in the basement of my apartment in New York City, all on my laptop. I work in Logic, I have a Universal Audio Apollo, then I have all sorts of different plugins – I am a fan of Waves, Native Instruments, and Soundtoys. “I’ve been in a lot of studios, and love soaking up the history, but at home, I don’t have all that pressure, and feel more free. Especially as my music is quite emotionally vulnerable, so I feel the most comfortable with it at home.” Here’s hoping that Lauv continues to nurture that feeling of being at home with his music, and that it continues to keep him feeling fully alive as he writes every single day. Because without a doubt, here is a young man on track to having his music heard by millions of people worldwide, which will be helped enormously by Ed Sheeran’s Asian fans embracing him. It’s all love from here. www.lauvsongs.com @lauvsongs
GRUMPY OLD ROADIE
Take nothing for granted There was a time, not so long ago, when we only had two TV channels to choose from. One showed Coronation Street, and the other was the Beeb. We had a little Bush TV, made in the UK (when we used to make stuff ). It was ‘monochrome’, an old word created by old people meaning the picture was black with white bits. When I say little, I mean not that much bigger than four iPhone screens joined in a block. It had a cathode ray tube which looked like a big glass fruit bowl, making the TV deeper than it was wide or tall. This effectively fired the monochrome gun sat in the back pointed bit of the tube to the reverse of the screen inside at the front, and the end result was a picture, of sorts, scanning across the front in a series of lines. It was marketed as cutting edge, but was rubbish by today’s standards. But the people that lived in the ‘60s in Edmonton, North London, thought it was unbelievable. For me, it was jaw-dropping. I remember watching the first episode of Doctor Who from behind the armchair. Despite the obvious lack of technology that we now know it lacked, I would be scared fucking shitless every Saturday afternoon whilst eating my dripping sandwiches for tea. No, the sandwiches weren’t dripping, it was the contents that consisted of fats from the unusable parts of a dead cow. Sushi doesn’t even come close. At the end of the evening, around 10.30pm, a snotty man in a Savile Row suit with a super-posh Eton accent would wish us good night. Then they’d play the National Anthem. Mum and dad would stand to attention, and watch the screen shrink to a little white dot, before disappearing for the evening. This £22 investment was a massive status symbol for my parents. It was only as I got older that they explained the traumatic decision they’d had to make back then between the television and rental of a telephone and line. They could only afford one or t’other, and it was to be another two years before Laburnham 321 joined the phone book. Fast forward fifty plus years to today, and the fact that I’ve got to buy a new TV. So where do I start? Giant 55-inch flat screen, 4k ultra-HD, catch-up and streaming with web OS, Freeview HD and Freesat HD. Oh, and 20 zillion channels to choose from! And all for £539 which is, in real terms, about the same as they paid for the little Bush in 1960. It’s amazing how we take this stuff for granted. “But what’s all this got to do with our music industry?” I hear you ask. It’s quite simple. When my parents were struggling back then, and fuck me, everyone struggled back then, there was really no live entertainment for them to go to. Okay, there were shows, but nothing that my parents or their neighbours would ever dare to see, even if they could afford to (and they couldn’t). “Shows are for rich people, Grumpy,” they’d say to me. So I ask you to compare that to what we have today in the UK: purpose built arenas in most major towns with back to back, relatively affordable live events for us all to see (and more importantly, work on). An industry that’s blossomed over the last 50 years, and that now sustains so many support staff; one that’s come from under the carpet to grow into an admired worldwide commercial enterprise respected by all governments, of which we should all be very proud. And long may it continue. So remember that the next time you need to buy a new TV. 56 Headliner
“An industry that’s come from under the carpet to grow into an admired worldwide commercial enterprise, respected by all governments...”
Amy Lee / Scouting For Girls / Blossoms / Michael Price