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The band that put Montreux on the map play out its 50th anniversary spectacle
This is a business, and it’s all about the fans, says this hard working British urban artist
The Level 42 frontman talks touring, music making, and farming on the Isle of Wight
She’s songwriting over Skype, and making waves with a brand new album
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Contents #16 Cover Story P30 / Jean Michel Jarre 08 Swivel On This
DJ Swivel brings you some interesting thoughts on modern day music consumption.
10 Sonic Vista Insights
A look at the hidden diamonds of music: what makes everyone tick (and tock)?
12 Mark King
The affable Level 42 frontman pioneered slap bass - and it beats sweeping up cow shit, he tells us.
14 Hamilton The Musical Hamilton swept the Tonys, and pretty much everything else! Andres Forrero tells us why.
16 Yoad Nevo
The ultimate in multitasking: producer, mixer, songwriter, plugin creator. Meet Yoad Nevo.
18 Jan Morel
A mastermind in studio design, Morel makes some of the finest recording facilities in Europe.
Very level-headed, and even more talented: Eagulls return from the US, raring to go (ish).
24 Jay Sean
An insight into the career of an artist who, in many ways, started the UK urban scene.
34 Deep Purple
The band that put Montreux on the map reveal why it’s now one of Europe’s finest festivals.
38 Iron Maiden
We catch up with the UK metal band’s touring team during the Book of Souls world tour.
40 Inside the Crypt
Behind the scenes at The Crypt, one of London’s finest (and spookiest) recording studios.
42 Peter Cincotti
He played himself in House of Cards - need we say more? What a talent this US artist is.
44 Lukas Graham
We chat to the man flying the faders for Danish band, Lukas Graham, who have gone global.
46 De La Soul
Live video and audio streaming is becoming a very big deal, especially for this hip hop trio.
48 Nina Schofield
This talented artist is one to watch, and her ethos is simple: work hard every single day.
This year, London’s fabric club was brought to life at Lovebox for the first time, in a giant tent.
52 Hannah Gill
This talented DJ and producer talks to us about the big changes happening in dance music.
A great sound and maturity for such a young artist, who’s making waves across the pond.
28 BST festival
54 Keb’ Mo’ Live
56 Albert Neve
We descend on Hyde Park for Alabama Shakes and Mumford & Sons, and a few cloudy ciders.
Cover Story Jean Michel Jarre
The electronic music pioneer talks new music, Montreux, and makes some robotic predictions!
We descend on London’s Union Chapel to watch this blues hero do his thing.
This is one focused artist: “when you have dreams, nothing is impossible,” he says.
58 Grumpy Old Roadie
Our moaning columnist went on his first cruise last month, but it didn’t quite go to plan.
HEADLINER | ISSUE #16 | AUGUST 2016
From the Editor
“When I last interviewed Jean Michel Jarre in his green room at Wembley Arena in 2007, I was essentially trespassing...” However, the electronic music pioneer was still courteous enough to give me an interview. That day, he made a bold prediction regarding the next phase in electronic music: we would, apparently, start sampling analogue synths using digital technology. And we did. This time around, I am invited, and the view is somewhat better than the north circular: we share a laugh or two overlooking the picturesque Lake Geneva. JMJ is headlining the Stravinski Auditorium at Montreux Jazz Festival, in its landmark 50th anniversary year, and he’s making more predictions – they’re perhaps a little ‘out there’ (you’ll have to read the feature on p.30 to see what I mean), but his record is currently at 100%, so who am I to argue? Also in this issue, we chat to Jay Sean. Jay was the first British Asian artist to sign to a US label, and then went on to top the US Billboard Charts (as you do); he has a great business mind when it comes to the music industry, and is kind enough to give us a lesson in mixtapes, modern music consumption, and fandom. We also catch up with Mark King, frontman and epic bass player for Level 42; the band is on the road, with a special edition record to boot, and Mark confesses that if it wasn’t for music, he’d literally be sweeping up cow shit on a farm somewhere on the Isle of Wight. Difficult to follow that, so we’ll let you explore the rest of this issue’s pages yourselves, which include coverage of the Iron Maiden world tour, a plugin masterclass with producer, Yoad Nevo, a chat with the man flying the faders for Danish sensation, Lukas Graham, and an exclusive with one of the world’s leading recording studio designers, Jan Morel. We hope you enjoy the issue. Thanks for choosing Headliner. Paul Watson Editor
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Eimear O’Connor Contributors
Adam Protz Kat Deal Jonathan Tessier Louis Henry Sarmiento II Robert the Roadie Jordan Young
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Comment DJ Swivel
Swivel on this
I’ve been quite busy this year with a lot of mixing: signed artists, independent artists, hit songs, album cuts; all sorts of genres, and everything inbetween. After working on so much, it dawned on me: not one of these releases came out in physical form. Which also means, my credits aren’t visible in any formal way, on anything. Why not? When I was 10 years old, I remember going to the Scarborough Town Centre, a mall in Toronto, during Christmas shopping madness, walking into HMV, and buying my first CD with my own money. I probably shovelled the snow off three driveways just to save the $15 to go out and buy No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. I loved that album. I went right home, ripped the plastic wrap off, and opened the case. The CD was fixed firmly on the centre plastic ring. Remember that? The first time you opened a CD, how tightly it nestled itself on the centre of the casing? The smell of fresh ink from the liner notes? I popped the CD into my Discman and immediately pulled out the album booklet and read through the liner notes while listening. Spiderwebs. What a song. Written by Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal. Produced by Matthew Wilder. To this day, that album is a major part of the soundtrack to my childhood. But when I think about that album, I don’t just think about the songs, I reminisce over the whole experience. Hearing those songs for the first time was just that, an experience. But that whole process has been lost in the name of convenience. Nowadays, I don’t have to leave my house to get the album, I can just go on my computer and buy it in one click. Or better yet, I don’t even really have to buy it, I can stream it just about anywhere for free. Which means I don’t have to give up anything to experience a new record, at least not the way I used to. Not time, or money. This significantly lessens the value of music. It’s become a commodity, a far cry from the art it was initially intended to be. But why does it have to be like this? Did record companies collectively decide to make the experience of discovering new music so shit that we stopped caring? Probably not, but here we are. And when I
look back on buying those first albums, what’s different than it is today? Well, I don’t have to line up anymore, but aside from that, we’ve lost the ‘extras’. In a digital world where I can consume anything almost instantaneously, why on earth doesn’t my album or single come with complete artwork? Liner notes? Lyrics? Hidden content? Artists haven’t changed; they’re still creatives at the end of the day. They still dedicate time and effort to create album booklets. They still write their thank yous. The labels still collect credits. And yet we as consumers don’t get any of it, at least not included with our purchase. I don’t fully understand why a company like Apple or Spotify can’t include all of this for every release. Sure, maybe it’s more administrative work to include that data, but come on, there are technical solutions for everything. The mp3 format enables metadata. How hard is it to include all this data in the songs? I for one love the idea of listening to a song, hearing a really great mix or interesting bassline, then being able to easily click on that mixer or musician’s name to see what other songs he or she has worked on. It’s 2016. We’ve got manned missions planned to Mars, yet we can’t figure out how to make discovering music more enjoyable to the billion plus people with a smartphone and Internet connection. It’s shameful, really. These tech companies love to claim they’re pro-artist, and yet they sell the art as a fractional piece of what it’s supposed to be. Imagine if every smartphone had to be sold in pieces. I’d get my screen and camera from Apple, but then if I want the battery, well now I’ve got to go to Samsung across the street. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Apple, Spotify, Tidal, and anyone else who may be reading this, I (and I suspect many millions of others) would happily pay a little more to get the full experience. To take me back to that first moment when I opened my first CD. You’ve programmed an entire generation to experience music in an incomplete way, and it’s boring. What better time than now to introduce the complete experience, and show them what music is all about: discovery.
“We’ve got manned missions planned to Mars, yet we can’t figure out how to make discovering music more enjoyable to the billion plus people with a smartphone and Internet connection.”
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Sonic Vista Insights IMS 2016
IMS IBIZA 2016 Sonic Vista Studios’ Louis Henry Sarmiento II and Jonathan Tessier give us the lowdown - and the mind-blowing industry numbers from this year’s IMS Summit in Ibiza.
ounded in Ibiza in 2007, the International Music Summit (IMS) is a thought leadership platform dedicated to educating, inspiring, and motivating people in the world of electronic music. It consists of the most comprehensive and compelling live seminars and debates amongst the leaders of the international music community featuring keynote speeches, interviews, technology presentations, masterclasses, and a condensed business report about the industry. Described by the media as “the TED of music conferences”, IMS Ibiza takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza in the heart of Playa d’en Bossa, the thriving heart of the island’s nightlife and culture. This year, IMS is introduced into the educational sphere with the first ever IMS College Malta, a new initiative designed with the student in mind. IMS College is presented as a two-part effort, firstly emphasising learning with intensive courses and renowned teachers brought in to offer a 360 learning experience. The new institution also offers students access to official parties with Solomon, Pete Tong, and a special boat party, finalising the affordable, accessible experience for any and all young industry hopefuls. At the summit, IMS Ibiza had the pleasure to welcome speakers from all over the electronic music spectrum. There were keynote interviews by Erick Morillo, The Pet Shop Boys, and Yello; and the great ‘streaming debate’ brought together leaders from the digital realm for a revealing discussion about the streaming frontier: “The great thing about streaming is that we are now back in the business of making music people love, which is a fundamentally different business than if you can trick people into buying,” says Matthew Adell, CEO at MetaPop. There also was an emotional talk
between Carl Cox and Pepe Rosello (founder of Space Ibiza), where they reflected on the legacy of the club, and what it means to be in the closing year. A massive gathering of artists including Richie Hawtin, Nicole Moudaber, Tale of Us, James Zabiela, Dubfire, and Black Coffee, discuss the art of playing differently; and the CEO of Ushuaïa, Yann Pissenem, stopped by to speak about the club’s role on the island, and how he has enormous respect for Space’s legacy. Other superstar DJs included Danny Daze, Francesca Lombardo, Kölsh and Danny Howard who congregated under the Mixmag panel to speak about their music careers and ambitions. The entire conference was documented in realtime via Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook; the amazing team behind Shadow Vision Media did a great job at filming the entire summit. At the end of the conference, IMS organised a concert on top of Dalt Vila’s castle: a mesmerising experience that gave our ears the pleasure to savour the music of Francesca Lombardo, B.Traits, Benjamin Damage, Nicole Moudaber, Tale of Us, and Dubfire. A truly breathtaking spectacle. The world of business conferences is the new school of contemporary knowledge: a great way to keep the players updated on how the music game is played. With summits in Asia, North America and Europe, IMS is growing fast and becoming of the largest music summits in the world. This article is part of Sonic Vista Insights, a series of articles written by Sonic Vista Studios, an amazing music studio located in the green hills of Ibiza. Henry and Jonathan have worked with many artists including Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, David Guetta, and Akon. www.sonicvistastudios.com
IMS Business Report: - The electronic music industry is worth $7.1 bn. - Global music industry growth is being fuelled by South America, China, and streaming services. - Venezuela has seen the biggest growth (79%), second to China (64%). - The Digital DJ controllers were the fastest growing segment, with unit sales up 15% and retail value up 6.25%. In total, they accounted for one third of retail value. Turntables are also up 10%. - Between 2012 and 2015, paid subscribers to music streaming services went from 41m to 68m. - Dance volume of streams in the USA up 33% to 15bn. - In the USA, 54% of all Dance sales are streams; it's the fifth most popular streaming genre. - In the USA, the top three most streamed genres are: R&B/hip-hop, Rock, and Pop.
- In the UK, the top three most streamed genres are: Dance, Urban, and Pop. - Techno is now the best selling genre on Beatport, overtaking Tech House in Q2 2016. - Forbes DJ cash kings are: Calvin Harris ($66m), David Guetta ($37m), and Tiësto ($36m). - Asian clubs dominate new entries in the 2016 DJ Mag Top 100: four clubs (out of 20) are from China. - In the USA, only electronic music events are showing an increase in attendance. - Tomorrowland prices have risen 12% since 2012. - EDC Vegas is estimated to have contributed $1.3bn to the economy over the past five years. - In 2016, there have been Dance festivals in Cuba, Vietnam, and Panama.
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Interview Mark King
ACE OF BASS Level 42 frontman, Mark King, is busier than ever. The slap bass pioneer chats to us about the band’s evolution and packed out European tour, his love of vinyl, and how playing live shows beats sweeping up cow shit on the Isle of Wight. “It’s a big old year for us,” smiles Mark King. “We played Brentwood recently, then we played in Turkey the week before, Singapore Jazz Festival the week before that, Indonesia before that. Then to Belgium, Germany, and so it goes on. Almost every week it’s a festival during the summer.” Festivals are still popping up everywhere, King confirms, and they’re key these days in making sure bands keep playing live. “I know for a fact all [seven of ] the guys in Level 42 at the moment love playing live,” he declares. “A lot of the lads are young fathers, several of whom have had kids in the last six months, so they can’t wait to get on the bus and get hammered and have no responsibilities again for a little while! It was the same with us once upon a time, but it can be stressful, too!” Part of the mechanics of it is that it’s financially necessary to tour now, of course. Back in the day – in King’s case, during the ‘80s and early ‘90s – a vinyl sale might fetch £18, but you could watch the band play at Wembley for £6. How times have changed! “Oh absolutely! It’s reversed now: the album won’t cost you much, but it might set you back £70 to watch us live! There is a business side, of course, which you can’t turn your back on; the management, agents, labels, and promoters are all trying to turn a buck by trying to keep the bands on the road. But on the Isle of Wight alone – where I still live, by the way – we have Bestival, Isle of Wight Festival, and Rhythm Tree, the latter of which our mates put on; and there are only 120,000 people living here!”
Interview Mark King
But it’s not what it once was on the Island, King is quick to point out: “In 1970, they reckon 600,000 people turned up [for IOW Festival], and bearing in mind back then, the population was only 100,000, that’s some shift! Unfortunately, we had a dodgy MP at the time called Mark Woodnutt, who was caught with his fingers in the till after he passed a law saying there couldn’t be more than a 5,000-person gathering on the Isle of Wight, which is what scuppered festivals for the next 30 years.” Talk turns to vinyl, and the staggering upsurge of the medium. King is not only a fan on a nostalgic level, selling actual records is part of his livelihood today. “It does my heart good to see how many records were sold last year,” he reflects. “With mp3, it was a huge trade-off about convenience: yes, you can carry 1,000 tracks in your pocket, but the only reason you can get it in there is the compression that’s used to encode the mp3s. Everything I put out through Level 42 Records now always has a really good spice of vinyl, you know? We shipped 200 out to Germany this week, so there is definitely a good market for it. The fact young people want to get a record out – literally – is great. The scene is fantastic, and one of the joys of the last few years for me is discovering [BBC] 6 Music: they champion young bands, and the ethos of one foot firmly in the past, one foot firmly in the future, is fantastic for the music industry.”
full SSL studio - 48 tracks of Dolby SR noise reduction, which was a nice thing. However, what you don’t realise when you have that kind of setup is that the maintenance is phenomenal! If I’d been on the road, I’d come back and fire the studio up, and invariably two or three of the channels would pop. Then it’d be a £500 call out to get an engineer over to the Isle of Wight! I was so pleased that this was superseded over time: these days, a Mac can run pretty much everything, and there’s no maintenance; and many companies have become so good with emulation: tape hiss, tape compression, and all the outboard gear. It’s a fantastic way to work. Andy Warhol said: ‘everybody will be famous for 10 minutes’, and that’s been born out of guys sitting down with Garageband and Logic.” Conversation turns to King’s new project: Level 42 have a new deluxe CD/DVD edition of their 2013 Sirens EP, which was put together with the help of deep house guru, John Morales. That record got a five-star review in Blues & Soul mag. Must feel good to know you’ve still got it in you, Mark? “[smiles] It’s lovely, yes, as that’s what you want. It hasn’t always been that way, though! We put out Retroglide in 2006, which wasn’t received quite so well. It’s taking the rough with the smooth, and maintaining a standard; you either wait for inspiration to come, or you go with the flow: ‘this is where my head is at as a composer and producer’,” he explains. “And Sirens was certainly the latter. I was in the studio, hit a stream of dance stuff, so decided to go to Universal, ask if there were any guys I could send the stuff to, and they suggested John Morales. So I sent him the stems, and I loved where he took it; he got it right away, so his input on that record can’t be denied. How it transposes when you go live is interesting: what you have in essence is six songs that were written in the studio, and they’re almost written as 12-inch remixes from the get go! There is no vanilla version, they’re all dance mixes. And when you take that on the road, it really works.” And being on the road is what Level 42 are all about: “In 2014, we played shows at IndigO2; it was wonderful seeing the audience reaction. Something [from Sirens] like Build Myself a Rocket has now become a firm favourite, and fits in between our biggest hits such as Lessons in Love and Hot Water. And if you think about that, it’s a 30 year span from one song to the other - where you were at as a person - and it still fits! So sliding songs in like that and not noticing it is very cool.” Hence why the DVD box set of Sirens has reared its head? “Yeah, the message is that this band is never more at home than when it’s up on stage playing live, and long may that continue, as it’s such fun. If I hadn’t been able to do what I’ve done, and make the most of my talents, I would probably be working as a farmer, because when I left school, the options were basically to work as a labourer on a farm, scoop up the cow shit, and wash milk bottles. OK, that’s got to be done, and someone’s got to do that, so I’m not dissing that side of it at all, but it’s much better lying in bed in the morning and not sweeping up cow shit, because of music!” Well said, that man. We wish Mark and the rest of Level 42 the very best with the new release, and their upcoming tour, which will see them play an extensive run of shows in the UK during October, culminating at the Apollo in London, before heading out to Holland for 10 more shows, including one at that great little venue, Paradiso, the place Level 42 first greeted the Dutch back in 1981. How time flies, eh?
“The BBC 6 Music ethos of one foot firmly in the past, one foot firmly in the future, is fantastic for the music industry.”
Slap, Crackle, and Pop King started out as a drummer, and through chance (he claims...), became essentially a bass playing pioneer. How did he manage to get slap into the pop mainstream, though? “Well, I am friends with the guy who started it, Larry Graham. He was bassist in Sly and the Family Stone. The track, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), is almost the first time you’ll hear slap on any pop record, but that was very much American funk, though, so didn’t get heard over here,” King reveals. “I was in the right place at the right time with Level 42. Having been a drummer - and I still love drums - me playing bass was waiting until my ship came in; I was treading water, waiting to be picked up as a drummer! But it didn’t end up like that in the end, of course. “I play the bass like the congas: two hands, playing polyrhythms on the strings, damping and hanging onto a note as much as I am plucking it. That combination gives you a linear rhythmic pattern which you can chug along, and hopefully make people want to dance to. It’s also an amazing backdrop for singing over. It’s a good technique, and an interesting one, but on the flip side, yesterday I was put to shame, as BBC Music asked: ‘What are the 10 most annoying sounds in music today?’, and slap bass was number four! [laughs] As I was crying into my beer last night, I told myself all publicity is good publicity!” King is a keen producer and overall music maker as well as singer-songwriter. An early adopter of MIDI (and anything that would help him play the keyboard better!), he recalls several pivotal recording points in his career: “I got my first TEAC eight-track reel to reel in ‘84; me and the guys [in the band] would get together at mine, as I had the gear and the space to do it. Then I got my first Mackintosh [SE] in ‘85, which dragged me into the land of sequencing,” he smiles. “I am not a great keyboard player, so the emergence of MIDI was very good for people like me; as long as you had good ears, you could find the note and get the machine to play it for you. Then I expanded up to a
My conversation with drummer, Andres Forero, begins with him telling me that he, and everyone involved in the Broadway hit, Hamilton, are getting ready for the Tony awards, where they have a modest 16 nominations(!) This sets the tone quite nicely; Forrero’s time on Broadway itself has been a great success (he’s also played drums for the humongous Book of Mormon), but as a jazz drummer and percussionist, he has also played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Alicia Keys, and on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Oh, and he’s already got a Grammy, Emmy, and Tony..! “I think that’s the most a show has
THE BUSIEST DRUMMER ON BROADWAY Words Adam Protz
ever had, as far as nominations at the Tony awards are concerned,” Forero tells me. Since we spoke, Hamilton has swept the board, notching no fewer than 11 Tonys, I should add! “This show just continues to break all the old records, when it comes to record sales. We just certified platinum about a week ago. Never in the history of a Broadway show has one been certified gold within less than a year, never mind platinum!” Forero is proud of these achievements, and so should he be. The only downside is a scarcity of free time: “I’ve been in the studio a lot: at Avatar (a studio in New York), recording the acceptance music, if the show should win; and recording underscoring, and things like that.” The show was recently featured on the front of Rolling Stone; these sort of gratifications make the hectic lifestyle all worthwhile for Forero; and speaking of magazine covers, he recently made the cover of Modern Drummer. However, he is happy to admit that he’s getting to an age where all these long shows and his other commitments are starting to be felt in his body. “I’m a little bit tired... It’s a long show,” Forero confides. “It’s three-hours long, and my body is starting to tell me that I need to slow down a little bit. I’ve been going for three years without any vacation.”
“It gives us an opportunity to teach and work on other projects; that is the gift of working in theatre.”
“If the people are good, and they treat you like family, the product will stand behind the person.” Not only is the show a long slog, he’s also committed to doing eight of them a week, meaning a whopping 24 hours of vigorous drum time (or an entire day and night of drumming, if you prefer to look at it in a sadistic way). So how on earth does he stick to his other commitments, like teaching and recording with the band Fish, with that kind of schedule? “Well, one of the great things about doing a Broadway show is that most of the shows are at night, so it leaves a lot of your day open. Although some people think I’m just working three hours a night; but those three hours are so demanding, so physically brutal, that I would say they more equate to seven hours,” he says, with a smile. “So the next day, it is important to rest a little bit, but it also gives us an opportunity to teach and work on other projects. That is the gift of working in theatre.” This is something Forrero feels isn’t impressed enough on young students who have Broadway
aspirations of their own. “A lot of what they teach young folks in college is just how to be a legit player, or how to be a great player, which is wonderful,” he says. “But it’s important to know as a musician you can buy a home, have a family, not just get by on 50 dollar gigs here and there. I think it’s important for folks to know there is another platform out there. Locate your musician union. Get a hold of them, and sign up for all of the opportunities that are out there. Be a part of that, rather than being a starving musician.”
When it comes to the technology side of matters, Forero is not after a shallow relationship with the companies who supply his equipment; and in audio engineers, RME, he has formed a bond that is anything but. “One day, my close friend Karl said to me, ‘there’s this company called RME, you’ve gotta
meet the people’,” Forrero says. “He didn’t say anything about the product! [laughs] Karl and I had both been with the same drum company for 16 years, so for us, what’s important isn’t just the product, it’s the people that you interact with. I believe that if the people are good, and they treat you like family, the product will stand behind the person.” If you need further proof of this importance, Ferero’s son is named after the cymbal company, Sabian, whose owners were chosen as his boy’s godparents. “Richard DeClemente (of RME) is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met. His approach – how he dealt with me, how he treated me; I was sold before I heard anything about the gear. Then I started researching the equipment,” Ferero says. “I have the RME Fireface UFX, and I also have the Babyface Pro for when I travel. I do a lot of travelling and remote drum clinics, so I need the Babyface’s portable capabilities quite often. The Fireface UFX stays in my studio at home; and on Hamilton, we have two Fireface units at front of house, and then in the pit, we have four separate RME interfaces.” Forrero also finds RME kit very user-friendly, and loves the lack of latency: “If you’re someone like me who doesn’t live in audio geek land, it’s so great to have these products which you just plug in and they work. The RME gear is very accessible, and the lack of latency is a huge deal for people like me!” It becomes very clear that a big part of this man’s success is his hugely positive energy, and if he can always retain that, he will continue to be one of the most in demand drummers on the planet. Congratulations, Hamilton, on all the plaudits you’ve deservedly received. www.rme-audio.com
Recording Yoad Nevo
Musical Multitasking Thirty number one singles, and more than fifty Top 10 albums kind of says it all about Yoad Nevo. And when he’s not producing, mixing, or developing artists in his London studio (Nevo Sound Studios), he is likely to be found working away on his latest plugin in Tel Aviv – as you do. This is a man dedicated to every element of his musical life, but it’s important to keep them all separate from each other, he tells Headliner. We decide to pay him a visit.
OAD NEVO’S DISCOGRAPHY is pretty he smiles, explaining that when he’s not making staggering. Without listing every one music in the capital, he is at Waves Audio’s HQ of his hit credits, here are a few: Pet in Tel Aviv, Israel, doing his ‘other job’. “I spend Shop Boys’ Yes; Goldfrapp’s Strict five days a month over there, because you have to Machine, and Sugababes’ classic Freak keep the making music and the plugin thing very Like Me, as well as a string of big hits for separate; it can get very tricky otherwise.” an eclectic mix of artists including the brilliant Sia, Let’s start with the studio, then. Yoad says his Moby, Morcheeba, and the Dandy Warhols. Be current way of working allows him to split his day it making pop for Girls Aloud, mixing electronic into many different segments, as opposed to the pieces by Air, or club hits such as Sophie Ellis old days, which would often involve long slogs. Bextor’s Murder on the Dance Floor, name a genre, “I used to mix for a day, then come back in the he’s likely been there and done it. morning for another half a day and the mix was “I also play guitar,” he points out, with a smile, done – unless you had to do recalls, and that was a as we observe his wall of stringed instruments. “I nightmare,” Yoad explains. “These days, I’ll spend tune them all like a guitar, although these days, two hours on something, then do something else it’s more likely I’ll only need to play eight bars... I - maybe some mastering - or listen to another don’t have to master the sitar, just play a little, chop mix, so it’s quite different to how things used to it up, or reverse it, you know?” be. A lot of the work I do on the iPhone – just He’s being humble, I’m sure... However, Yoad listening on headphones or in the car, or streaming must be one of the most technologically-orientated through different speakers in the house. I find a lot (and gifted) producers we’ve come across: mixer, of my time is spent listening to stuff, and making producer, plugin designer and developer. It’s all in mental notes, because it’s so easy to manage the a day’s work, eh? technical side of things. I have people here [at “Well, five days’ work, if you mean the plugins,” Nevo Sound Studios] to help edit and prepare
the mixes for me, then I might spend a few hours printing it, listening, and making notes; and then when I come back here to the studio, it’s so easy to implement those notes. It’s not like you have to tweak the gates or anything like that, because I make sure the technical issues are non-existent, and that’s a very important thing.” Sounds a meticulous process, though as Yoad says in his popular Webinars – which have achieved some two million hits on YouTube, we should add – ‘the more you control the technical side of things, the better your control of the mix’. He has some pretty high standards for his team when it comes to prepping these mixes, too: “When the team preps a mix for me, all the triggers are MIDI, everything is tuned and untuned, so I have options, and all the BVs are grouped with the breath taken off. Some of the esses and tees are shaved, too. I want every track to be prepared in such a way that it is ready to be released as part of a sample library. I don’t care if it’s the tiniest detail of something you may never hear, I want everything to be perfectly treated; and then I can concentrate on the mix.”
So it’s not a clear palette, sound-wise, you’re after, it’s a technically sound one? “[smiles] Yeah, basically. My team certainly aren’t making any artistic choices,” Yoad confirms. “All the fades are perfect, there are untuned and tuned versions, on the live drums, I have the gates sorted, and everything is just ready to go. I do a lot of mixing here.” And also a lot of mastering and production, the latter of which takes a lot of time, Yoad admits. As we enter the control room, Born Stranger is in session – an artist that Yoad’s personally developing, and has been making a record with for the last year. A great big Neve console is staring at me (and vice versa), and we take a seat in the centre of the room, to take a listen. Sounds fantastic, I have to say. So how much of this is done in the box, as opposed to out of it..? “That’s actually a very good question,” Yoad replies. “As I mentioned, I used to do a lot of recalls on the Neve, and that’s an absolute nightmare, so I have the best of both worlds with my setup, really, which is recording everything through the Neve - which is already amazing – and all the analogue synths come through the Neve, too. Then I mix mainly in the box; and I use [Waves] Q-Clone (an EQ modelling plugin, developed and then patented by Yoad and some colleagues). “Q-Clone is for realtime convolution: basically, it’s sending a test signal – a sweep every 400ms – through an EQ; and then, based on the frequency response of that sweep, it generates a convolution filter. But since the sweep updates every 400ms, on the screen and what you hear is already the convolution filter, so you don’t run the actual signal you’re processing, you just run a test. Then on another channel, you have the plugin. Because it updates that quickly, when you change a parameter on the EQ, you hear it already - and it updates in realtime, and that’s really what the patent is all about.” So what about go-tos when it comes to plugins? “I am quite old school. I worked on SSL desks for so many years, so for drums and guitars, I would usually use the E-Channel or D-Channel [Waves] plugin, as it just gives you that sound,” Yoad explains. “That’s the beauty of working in this day and age: you can do whatever you want. There is nothing like a punch of the Neve compressor on the snare or the kick, as everyone is just used to it, but now we have the Waves BSS 402, which was just released, and this takes me back, as it was the only analogue compressor that was quick and detailed enough. I used it on vocals as it had a great de-esser, and quick attack, but there was something about the hardware that didn’t sound great sonically. The Waves plugin doesn’t have that problem, though, because firstly, the methods of modelling with the dynamic curves is identical, so it’s the same; and with the hardware, the signal path always bugged me on the 402, but we’ve been able to sort that out in the plugin, so it basically just sounds a lot better than the original! So that one’s new to the arsenal. Another Waves plugin I love is the Scheps 1073; that’s amazing, actually.” After the majority of the work has been done in the box, Yoad’s final stage is to split the mix to different outputs, and run it through his Neve console for summing. It’s got so many facets, Nevo Sound Studios, it’s
“That’s the beauty of working in this day and age: you can do whatever you want.” difficult to know where it all starts and finishes, and before I leave Yoad to get back to his desk, he points out yet another: his DiGiGrid DLS setup, which seems to be doing the job like a superpowerful soundcard... I think? “[laughs] Basically, yes; with just one Ethernet cable to my computer, DiGiGrid drives all my HD I/Os,” Yoad explains. “However, you can also connect it to another computer, and it can serve as the other computer’s soundcard, as well - at the same time, without losing any of its resource. And that, for me, makes it even more interesting, because then you can link all the computers in the studio using one DLS, and then they can all talk to each other.” That is impressive. So if you’re working on Pro
Tools or Logic, but someone was to walk into Nevo Sound Studios with, say, an Ableton session on their laptop that they wanted to use... “Then they can just plug into the DLS via an Ethernet cable, and then Ableton becomes a part of your system, so you can start recording with it right away. It’s a very smart piece of kit.” Smart indeed, like Yoad himself, whose musical multitasking, we have to admit, has left us in a bit of a spin. Thanks for the tour, Yoad, and we’ll keep an eye out for Born Stranger, whose album, if today’s session is anything to go on, sounds like it’s going to be something special. www.waves.com www.yoadnevo.com
Studio Design Jan Morel
JAN MOREL: AUDIOPHILE 18 HEADLINER
“Changing your life or lifestyle is a goal you have to follow with your heart, which is kind of what I’m all about,” Jan Morel tells us. And when you look at the Dutchman’s career, you’ll understand why. Morel is one of the world’s leading recording studio designers, and in the words of Sinatra (almost): he did it his way. Currently working with the biggest names in Electronic Dance Music - David Guetta, Hardwell, Nicky Romero, and Martin Garrix, to name a few – it’s been an interesting evolution. Morel started out as a classical guitarist, then ended up selling guitars, pianos, drums... and then drum machines, samplers, speakers and consoles, moving seamlessly into the pro-audio sector. Then came the studios, but this is not design in the most conventional manner. Morel’s success is down to his relationships, and common sense; a great pair of ears helps, “but that’s only after you’ve seen the problems,” he reminds us, with a smile. We flew out to see Morel ourselves at his beautiful new HQ, an hour out of Amsterdam, to find out more about the man behind the music.
On arrival at Morel’s stunning facility an open plan converted barn, technology oozing out of its pores - I spy an acoustic guitar on the wall, a long table full of guests and snacks, and what seems like a fully licensed bar, complete with waitress. It’s difficult not to smile. This makes sense: he’s a gent, he’s generous, perhaps a little lavish (his car has 700 horse power), and his world is about building – and keeping – relationships. Seconds later, I’m handed champagne, quickly followed by fine red wine, and I find myself sat in the corner of the property, chatting about the décor with the man himself. “I started out playing classical guitar – that one on the wall is brand new, but just for show,” Morel smiles, explaining that he grew up in a city with his parents working in a shop. “I was connected to selling products even in school; and I ended up in a shop selling guitars and other musical instruments – everything, really. That was when I was 17, and I worked there for eight or nine years.” Morel did consider a life of teaching, spending a year after high school in the salubrious Utrechts Conservatorium, but he soon realised it
wasn’t for him: “I discovered I didn’t want to be a teacher, because I loved the personal relationships with people; to advise them, and to create something, was special to me, even before I did studio design,”
started to sell them, at €1,000 a go, and it was very easy, I can tell you! “Every day, we would sell a drum computer, not a drum kit, so I fell in love with them! Next to them was synthesizers, which I couldn’t demo, because I can’t play one. However, I could tell people how to use them. If you have a nice resonant sweep, and the customer can press the key and feel he is making that beautiful sound, that’s much better than the organ sellers who play all their favourite songs to you! So I would look into their eyes and say, ‘what do you think of this sound?’ It’s so much more of a personal touch.” This was a great foundation, Morel insists, for the work to come a few years on with some of the great DJs and producers he now cites as not just colleagues, but close friends. “You need to know the person, and what they’re all about; after all these years, you can still make the same mistake picking the wrong face, as they will give you shit and start complaining,” Morel laughs, a little tongue-in-cheek. “But for me, it’s always a challenge to be there, and to fix it, so it’s very important to work for a person you like, as you have to share a lot. That’s just personalities.” After the Roland introduction – and Morel’s bizarre love affair with drum computers – the first set of very successful producers started walking into his life, but at the time, they only focused on equipment, not studio design. This was during the early ‘90s. “We were selling some big stuff at this point: Soundtracs consoles, tape recorders, highend samplers, all that kind of kit. We had Vengaboys, and we did a lot for 2 Unlimited, as well. Recording was where it was at,” Morel recalls, fondly. “It was a really nice time, because everyone was spending money on nice equipment, and all the kit was sensational. It’s funny how things change: back in the day, we’d order 10 Roland D50 synths and it wouldn’t be enough; now ordering one is more than enough.” Morel is no doubt referring to hardware versus today’s affordable virtual instruments, plugins, and so on. So when did the transition to studio design occur, then? “It started with DJs; they came to me and said they needed a better sound, and we were
“At a low level, Genelecs will give you the whole sonic image, which does not happen with many speakers.” Morel reflects. “I started my own shop in 1985 with classical guitars, drum kits, pianos – traditional stuff – and then the switch came when [pro-audio and MI company] Roland entered my shop and asked me to sell their synthesizers and drum computers. I thought, ‘who needs a drum computer, we have drummers, idiot!’ [laughs] But I
selling very expensive equipment, but just putting carpet on walls at that time for acoustic treatment. It was, ‘oh, that will do’,” Morel smiles. “I looked around, saw brands selling foam, wooden panels, and so on, then we started with [Hard Techno DJ duo] Showtek – that was our first project, seven years ago; and from there, it’s
Studio Design Jan Morel
been a bit of a domino effect, and there is big budget for it.” Morel isn’t your textbook acoustician: his designs and audio analysis “comes from somewhere in my head,” he explains, with a chuckle. “I really didn’t learn about acoustics, I just did what I thought was right, and kept it simple... And it works!” Evidently so! Morel is close knit with many of the world’s top DJs, most of which want deluxe recording spaces, which Morel not only designs and builds for them, he sets up the audio feeds, too. “It’s basically happenened through word of mouth,” Morel admits. “I remember Hardwell gave me a call, and I was sitting on a terrace with my friend. I said to him, ‘OK, I’ll call you back, I’m drinking wine right now,’ and then my kid said, ‘Hardwell? Dad that’s the number six DJ in the world!’ I was like, ‘Oh, I’d better make him number one in the world, then!’ [laughs] So I called him back... This was three or four years ago. And the rest is history.” We should point out that Hardwell – who donned Headliner’s Issue 13 cover – did make it to the top spot, and now sits at number two, sporting a massive 8.5m Facebook likes, and 2.9m Twitter followers. Morel has designed several outstanding studios for Hardwell, and is in the process of making perhaps his most audacious yet: “We are putting the Wooden Wing (a console designed by Morel, to avoid hard surface reflections that occur in producer rooms around the desk) into a new studio in Ibiza for Hardwell; he will be there from July to October this year,” Morel explains. “I have been out to see the studio part of it, so I will do my design. I will bring in natural wood colours for the Spanish Ibiza style, then basement diffusers with black bamboo. It’ll be fucking amazing.” We both pause for a second, then laugh in unison. It’s a ludicrous job this man’s got, we both decide. Conversation quickly turns back to technology: if there’s one thing Morel does know inside out, it’s audio equipment; and the starting point – once the acoustics are sorted - in making any studio facility worth its weight in gold (or bamboo) is the perfect studio monitors. “I have a very close contact with the Genelec distributor [in Holland], and I was selling a lot of the 8000 Series Genelecs, and then I got Hardwell on the 1000 Series Genelecs, and it was the start of an explosion,” Morel enthuses. “Genelec hadn’t sold the huge 7073 subwoofer before in Holland, so that was a big thing. And those big Genelecs, I had no previous experience with at the time. So I was talking to Hardwell, and he had a deal with another leading loudspeaker brand, and could have had a set for free, but I showed him the
Genelecs, and there was no question in his or my mind; we started it rolling right there. “It’s not only low fatigue you get with Genelecs; any Genelec monitors can go soft, but still provide you with full dynamics. At a low level, they will give you the whole sonic image, which does not happen with many speakers. And for this kind of [EDM] setup, you need the power, so that’s what we went for.” When it comes to speccing a room, it starts with the eyes, then the voice, Morel says. What about the ears..? “[laughs] Well, you see things first, so that’s the fastest way to work out if something might cause a problem, so you start with your eyes,” Morel explains, widening his glare at me. “So you can physically see the problems already, and then you start talking; and when you have a low voice like I do, you can demonstrate where the issues are without doing any measurements: our eyes and ears are much faster than any measurement tool, you see. So if you walk around, you do those tests, then you can do a measurement, as customers want to see a calibration microphone, but doing this in an empty room isn’t so helpful, because the program doesn’t tell you what to do about it: ‘OK, it’s shit, and if we do nothing, it’ll still be shit! So there is no ‘solution’, as such. “So from there - and it all depends on the style of the property, too – you see what you can do that fits both the customer’s needs and the building, and then put everything together. The next step is to make simple drawings, and to make sure the contractors you use understand what you’re doing. You start with the ceiling and the inner shell, as it often needs reshaping, and then you go from there.” Morel makes it sound pretty simple, but clearly this is a fine art. It is also evident that he’s got to where he has through sheer love and determination: eyes, voice, ears, and a lot of heart, right Jan? “[smiles] I just do it, I guess, so yes, that is right,” he says, softly. On that note, we head to the bar – his bar – and as his guests continue to drink wine and be merry, while occasionally changing his Spotify playlist which is blaring out of one of his pairs of Genelecs, you can only admire what this man has achieved. Be thankful, any fan of EDM music, because without Mr. Morel, the sound of those records wouldn’t be quite the same. www.morelmuziek.nl www.genelec.com
Liam Matthews Eagulls
EAGULLS HAVE LANDED
LIAM MATTHEWS is guitarist with Leeds-based touring band, Eagulls. Just back from a stint in the US, he's jetlagged after a 17-hour delayed flight, yet somehow remains in good spirits; the band are in France, and en route to a major support slot with Offspring, which has come as a bit of a surprise... But surprises are nothing new to this band – landing a slot on Letterman was another, Matthews admits. Album two is complete, and it's been a musical evolution, yet the band remain humble. They're happy to swig a couple of jars with their fans after every show, too – and why not, indeed? Eagulls’ recent North American tour was a pretty eclectic one: just a few weeks in total, but they managed to pack in a lot, descending on musical hubs such as New York City, California, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto; and dropping in on Salt Lake City and Minneapolis for good measure. And it all went rather well, a very tired Liam Matthews tells us: “The flight home got cancelled, so we’ve been upside down for three days; just about getting back to normal now,” Matthews smiles. At the time of writing, Eagulls are in France, preparing for a few more shows, and on their way to a gig with Offspring. We speak a little about the latest album, and the band’s love of vinyl – and we can’t argue with that. “We always like to have something tangible that you can hold, and that’s how we like to listen to and release music: on vinyl,” Matthews explains. “It’s a quality
you miss if you download on your phone or computer. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just makes it easy to dismiss vinyl as a medium. If you buy an actual record, you may not like it the first time you hear it, but it’s physical, therefore you’ll likely pick it up one day and give it another chance. When you listen to 30 seconds of an album on Spotify, you can’t always get into what a record is about; you feel more of a connection to the music with artwork, lyrics, and whatever the artist wants to present with the music.” We both agree that it’s a better world with vinyl in it. And as we’ve mentioned before in Headliner, sales last year were above 2 million in vinyl alone in 2015. Pretty epic, really. “It is, and it highlights the quality of vinyl, doesn’t it?” Matthews reflects. “But it gets lost in a way, too, because it’s often about big bands reissuing greatest hits records,
Liam Matthews Eagulls
Your mood, experience, the town you live in; it all has an affect on your mind, and what you end up creating.
” which makes it even harder for normal bands to cut a record, as the majors are cashing in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good, as there are more record players out there, but also it’s a fuss at the same time.” Didn’t think of it that way, but it’s a fair point. I noticed that Eagulls’ releases have been staggered over time – plenty of EPs, which is a cool thing in today’s industry. People don’t have time to listen to full albums anymore, do they? “Yeah, maybe... Though I have to say, we never thought about it in that way! [laughs] For us, when you start a band, you’re eager to get your music heard and play as many shows as possible, just gigging; and it wasn’t until we said, ‘let’s do an album’ that we thought, ‘OK, we’ll make an album’,” Matthews explains. “So that’s the reason we had EPs... However, you are right, as people’s attention spans are shortening. It’s hard for people to watch a live gig without pulling their phones out, and people watch TV with a phone in their hand; it’s all punctuated by checking your phone, isn’t it?” It is, indeed. Conversation turns to Eagulls’ latest album, Ullages, in which Matthews has made a concerted effort to get a little more melodic and rhythmic with his guitar playing; in songs such as My Life In Rewind, written as a waltz, you can really hear what he’s talking about: delicate, airy, melodic lines, which suit the mood of the track perfectly. Is it still post-punk, then, whatever that might mean these days..? “[smiles] It’s not that the term is irrelevant, but it is a bit overused; I’ve heard George [Mitchell, frontman] say before, ‘how post can it get?’ Yes, we have massive influences from that time – the ‘80s - and it’s what we have grown up listening to, however, there is a lot of other stuff, too; if you listen to the effort and sound scape, you see a lot more to it, as well. And the melodies.” True enough - and we recommend a listen, readers. Has the band’s musical evolution benefitted due to the working relationship
(and friendship) you all have on the road? “Yes, of course. People ask what influences you, but it’s not just that; it’s your mood, experience, the town you live in; it all has an affect on your mind, and what you end up creating,” Matthews explains. “It’s the same as art. A lot of the time, it’s the landscape that’s influenced the art, and that’s true of music too, definitely.” With this album, Eagulls wanted to push themselves further, whereas the first record was, Matthews admits, somewhat of a smash and grab: “We just wanted to get the album out with the first one, but with this second one, we have generated a massive energy - a different sort of energy, too; with album one, we were contained in a small room, and our songs reflected that, but this mew record is more mature: not just two guitars playing the same stuff. I was creating a sound scape to complement what the other instruments were doing, rather than playing along with them. Also, our first album came out nearly three years ago now, and those songs were actually recorded a year before it came out, so it’s really been four years since we even wrote them. Bear in mind that’s four years of your life you’ve had to learn and grow as a person, so it was never going to sound the same [as the first record], as it was a different time and place for us all.” Leeds has a great community, with lots of bands and gig goers, so it’s hard not to make lots of musical friends, Matthews explains. And that’s how Eagulls came to meet the guys at Audio-Technica, whose kit they now rely on for all their shows: “We got talking to Ed [Forth, artist relations at Audio-Technica] at a show; at the time we were writing and recording, we tracked as we went along,” Matthews says. “I am not really an engineer, but I did music tech at uni, just to get out of Grimsby! Ed has helped us out with some great [Audio-Technica] mics (the AT4033, ATM650, and ATM250 to name a few), plus
a great in-ear monitoring system, which has been very beneficial to us.” The system Matthews refers to is the M3, paired with ATH-E40 monitor headphones. He says using this gives the band that bit of confidence to know it’s sounding as it should. “It’s a pretty new thing for us; only our drummer, Henry, has the click in his mix, so we don’t lose the liveness and fluency of the songs, and it doesn’t sound rigid,” Matthews reveals. “But we all use the headphones, and it also massively helps at front of house, too. Our sound guy, Archie, now has less noise on stage to worry about! The guitars used to be loud, and competing with wedges, so it got very loud and actually pretty inaudible on stage. But now we’ve been able to bring the level down much lower, and have way more control out front, so we’re really happy with the system.” In terms of individual mixes, they’re all quite self-centred, Matthews laughs: “When you can have that confidence where someone knows it’s good out front, and you know you can hear yourself, that’s the main thing. I have a lot of guitar, and if it’s just me and the drums, I can play all day! I think we’re all a bit like that with our mixes..!” A final word on the differences the boys have noticed when working in the US, and then we’ll let Matthews go and grab some shut-eye: “The shows in the US went great, but each state is bigger than the UK, so it’s a lot of work,” he says, with a smile. “We have been lucky, having been put in places like Letterman, where perhaps we shouldn’t have been! But it helps massively, as the more you play, the more you get help from radio and TV; it’s a bit of a slog, but it’s always worth it when you speak to people after the show, and they tell you how much they enjoyed it. And we can have a beer with them, too!” www.audio-technica.co.uk www.eagulls.co.uk
Jay Sean is quite the story. Not only has he been a global touring artist for most of his life, he was the first British Asian ever to sign to a US label, and then top the Billboard Charts. His mega-record, Down, made serious waves, shifting six million copies stateside in 2008 (plus three million downloads), and New York City soon became home. Today, “the whole game has changed”, Jay tells us; he’s referring to the consumption of music, and what the modern audience expects (and will put up with!) Rather than spend a year making an album, he prefers to go down the Drake route, and deliver his loyal fanbase individual song after song after song. His whole musical ethos is business-oriented, and that’s undoubtedly why Jay is still the global artist some decade after those salad days. We chat to this engaging singer, songwriter, occasional beatboxer, and hip hop fanatic, about that fascinating musical journey, and how it’s made him the family man he is today.
JAY SEAN Words Paul Watson
fter exchanging pleasantries, Jay tells me he is on his way to the South of France to collaborate with Sean Paul at the massive NRJ festival (about 80,000 people). His life really is a busy one. Yes, it’s less of the hotel rooms and touring lifestyle than it once was - he is married now, with a little girl and a home in Manhattan - but his musical life still involves all the key elements: the studio stuff, the songwriting, cutting the tracks, and being on the road. How does he manage it all? “The key is a loyal fanbase, and social media is a huge part of that,” Jay smiles. “And I treat the music business as a business, because that’s what it is; it’s completely naïve to think it’s anything but that, because I have to understand it’s not all about me. I can’t do music that I only appreciate, as the fans will be, ‘alright mate, I don’t know what you’re doing now, but I’m not really into it, so...’ [smiles] That’s why you have to do it for your fans. So many people forget that, and it’s easy to do; as an artist, you want to change this, tweak that, and that’s OK, but you have to remember to keep your fans happy, and why they liked you in the first place, so they can come with you on the journey.” Jay speaks very frankly and already makes
Interview Jay Sean
“You never know what can come when you put two creative minds together.” plenty of sense. As a consumer of music, “I listen to Drake for a reason,” he explains. Basically, because he knows what to expect. “But then I listen to Coldplay for another reason...” I think what he’s getting at is, it’s about keeping an identity. “Exactly, because if Coldplay started doing what Drake’s doing just because Drake is in fashion, then... [pauses, then laughs] Well, they’d lose that identity, right? So people have the tendency to follow trends, but I really try not to do that.” Collaboration has always been huge for Jay, and it’s something he loves. It’s not always about picking a superstar, though; it’s about two musical forces meeting in the middle to create some magic. “Yeah, I have done a shed load of collabs in my time, mainly as I thought of myself as a global artist, as for the last 15 years I’ve been touring the world,” Jay explains. “There is talent everywhere, from all types of places: Antonia, for example, is huge in Romania; and DJ Antoine is massive in Europe. I’ve collaborated with both. It shouldn’t be a case of just working with the people that are hot right now; I just love and appreciate music, and you never know what can come when you put two creative minds together.” Conversation turns back to Drake, and how his mixtapes have been a real trend setter. Jay likes the concept, and has made mixtapes himself throughout his career; in fact, he sees it as a way more sensible path than committing to a whole album as one offering. “For me, the mixtape thing is more of a therapeutic process. It’s interesting, as it’s no secret that things were rocky for me at [my label] Cash Money towards the end; it’s frustrating as an artist, as I wasn’t working. I was writing my songs, doing my bit, but needed my whole team to work, and it got to a point where all the parts weren’t moving, and it just wasn’t happening; but I thought, ‘well I’m not going to stop,’ so I put out two mix tapes for my fans just to give them music while I could get myself into a better situation.” Another clear-cut sign of Jay’s fans-first attitude. So, he’s a New Yorker these days, and the city feels like home to him, despite his London origins. I ask Jay if he misses the UK, and how much of an impact that whole period in 2007-8 was when he had his uber-hit with the Down record, and became the first British Asian to sign to a US label. We smile at how some of the UK broadsheets labelled him as ‘the lad from Hounslow who topped the Billboard Charts’. Because it just didn’t happen back then, right? “Man, that part of my life was incredible for my career, and I think a lot of people were like, ‘wow, no-one ever thought we could break America, but Jay Sean has done it, so maybe we can?’ And I
know this for sure, as I used to be signed to Virgin before I was signed to Cash Money, and even my Virgin deal didn’t include America as a territory,” Jay says, as I come to realise just how pivotal a point this was for British music, let alone Jay Sean. “A lot of UK deals wouldn’t touch the US due to effort, money, and so on, but now it’s huge, and it seems to be no big deal at all when an English act breaks America: you’ve got Adele, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, all going great out there.” One thing Jay does miss is being part of the UK scene. He came up from the UK urban scene some 15 years ago, through the same channels, networks, shows, and circuits as the likes of Skepta, Krept & Konan, and Stormzy. “That scene has evolved into such a movement now,” Jay enthuses. “I still keep in touch with it, of course; you can’t get it out of your system, as it’s your roots.” Another moment of clarity: Jay Sean was essentially the pioneer of all of this. And he’s not a half bad rapper, I understand? “Well, maybe [smiles]. I’m so proud to see where it’s come, that’s for sure,” Jay says, modestly. “And yeah, I used to rap at 14 years old – and it’s still a part of my thing - but I wanted to be a rapper way before I was a singer, and I was told by my friends in the industry – you know, DJs or radio presenters – that UK rap was not even a thing, and there was no chance I was going to make it. But now look; it’s just incredible. Hip hop culture has been a massive part of me, whether it’s DJing or beatboxing; I fell in love with hip hop at 12 years old, and it always will be that way.” We chat a little about Jay’s stage setup, and it brings us onto music technology. His ‘stage evolution’, if you like, is all down to switching from stage wedges to in-ear monitors. “Right now, I use in-ears at every show: an arena, club, festival, wherever,” he explains. “I am super anal about my vocals, and them being in tune and in key [smiles]. Sometimes you hear people sing a whole song in a different key and it’s because they can’t hear themselves, so pitching is key; and then tonality is the other thing. “With monitors alone, which I used for eight years - over half my touring career - I realised I ended up shouting over the music, even when I didn’t think I was. If that stem was recorded into a mixer, you would hear it, but in a crowd, it gets disguised with reverb and noise everywhere. I learned the hard way: I did a show like that, listened back, then was shocked. That’s when I realised I couldn’t hear myself, and I had to fix it. “So I went onto JH Audio JH16 in-ears. Yes, with any in-ears you lose a bit of vibe, as the whole stage mix is direct into your headphones and way less loud, but my little trick is just take one of my ears out a touch just to leak a little sound bleed in, and that gives me my ambient noise and allows my monitors to come through into my ear direct. It works perfectly for me.” It’s a relationship that Jay has built with JH Audio since 2011, and one he cites as absolutely essential in his day to day workflow: “Aside from the quality of product – the sound quality, the comfort, the tonality which I
mentioned earlier - it’s the relationship. Recently, I lost my in-ear case, which has all the cleaning solutions inside, but I got one sent out within a couple of days, and that is so important. I literally can’t perform without them; they are my everything. So your experience as a consumer, and as a concert goer, depends on our experience with those two headphones. That’s it! If we don’t have the right balance between music and vocals and high end and low end, it’s not going to be fun or exciting up on stage. It’s seriously that crucial.” Before I leave Jay to travel into Europe, I ask him what we might expect from him next and, as he seems to have such a smart music business brain, what might happen next in the industry? Too big a question..? “[laughs] Well, the whole concept of an album has changed, that’s a fact; it’s a little dated, and the concept is a little old. I don’t mean I don’t want to do a body of work, I just don’t look at it as an album anymore. The conventional route we used to take – spend a year or two on an album – is gone. A lot of people don’t even write their
“You have to remember to keep your fans happy, so they can come on the journey.” albums anymore, and that’s because even if they’re songwriters, people’s patience has changed; their attention span is so minimal, a record has to be made in three months! When we’d just finished my last album, I was on the road promoting it, and the fans were ready for the next one! So it’s become a case of, ‘OK, let’s get something done in a week.’ “I write my own material, and I think of it as gradual releases; I don’t have an album right now, I am just releasing singles, so for me, I’m just going to hit them with this one and then boom, another song in my collection that I love, then boom, hit them with that one. I don’t think anyone is going to complain if they don’t have a release date for an album, as long as they’re getting music. That’s how I look at it.” It’s modern thinking for today’s industry, isn’t it? “Yeah, and Drake is pivotal; he is at the top of the game,” Jay concludes. “No one knows what album [Drake’s single] One Dance was from before, as they didn’t know it was even coming, but he kept hitting us with song after song after song, and we lapped it up. And that’s the way we’ve got to go.” www.jhaudio.com @jaysean
passion, and an expression of art.” Dance music is certainly one of the main genres in which artists become pigeonholed and are expected to stick to one style for their whole career, and that’s something Hervé is very keen to avoid. “I’m not just a dance music person. Dance is a huge part of what I do, but I hope with this album, people will be interested to see what I’m about a bit more,” he says. “I’ve always done the left-field, downtempo melancholic stuff, but then I’ve been doing so many remixes and club music tracks, so I suppose the dance stuff is body music, and the downtempo is mind music, you know?” OK, so how does such an artist go about showing their full spectrum of talent in such a notoriously picky culture of music? “Well, when you get to the stage of having more power and influence, it’s a lot easier to show your full self as an artist,” Hervé says. He makes a good point. “When you’re slightly more underground, it’s a bit more tricky; but again, if you want to approach your music as an industry, and produce the manufactured music that supplies the perceived agenda that keeps you in business, then fine. But I don’t think like that.” This all reminds me of how dubstep pioneer Skream faced a huge backlash from fans when he ditched dubstep following its ‘Skrillexification’, and moved into disco-inspired beats.
With EDM losing its “death grip on the mainstream” as DJ and producer, Hervé, describes it, these are changing times for everyone in the dance music scene. But with a new album, Hallucinated Surf, which dropped in July, and his latest single, Bang the Drum, offering great promise, it certainly doesn’t seem like this fella (real name, Joshua Harvey) is too worried. Words Adam Protz
“I approach music and DJing as a passion, and an expression of art.” “I’ve been doing a bit of production with other people, working on collabs and other bits,” Hervé tells us. “But also, the album is still a big job: getting remixes, videos, and everything else together.” It’s been a juggling act recently for Hervé, who also runs his own label, Cheap Thrills. Supporting the up-and-comings on his label is a big passion of his, but he admits he’s been a little preoccupied with the release of his own album and its relentless preparations. It’s a double album: the first disc covering Hervé’s core, uptempo club sound; the second, by contrast, being “gothic indie hip hop, as someone once described it,” Hervé smiles. In other words, the second album is downtempo house, and Hervé is his keen for people to listen to them separately, depending on their mood. So what inspired him to take on the substantial challenge of a double album, which will actually amount to three discs on the vinyl release? “I just wanted to make a document of what I was doing as an artist; it was much more engaging to make an album like that,” he explains. “It’s full of ideas, it’s entertaining, and hopefully it pushes some boundaries in terms of sounds and sonics. It would be very easy to just go back and do three-track EPs all year, but that’s more if you just approach music and DJing as an industry. Really, I approach it as a
“Some people want you to do the same thing forever and ever. I think a lot of these people aren’t in clubs, they’re more online. And then a new generation will come along – it’s quite tough, you have to adjust yourself to new generations.” So where does Hervé see dance music heading now that EDM is disappearing from the mainstream? “I don’t think it will do what dubstep did, which died overnight, leaving some extraordinary musical paradigm shift where everyone puts down their instruments in one field and picks them up in whatever this new shift is. I think EDM will just slowly die out. I think the deep house will become the mainstream pop dance music. A lot of it is very middle of the road and easily adaptable for vocals and pop. It’s quite disturbing when I think about why I got into dance music, because it’s so futuristic, it chains and warps constantly, like this ever-shifting beast; for me, dance music was always about pushing things forward, and trying to be exciting as an artist.” With a keen analytical mind that has helped him surf the trials of his industry, and seen him approach his art in a very genuine, intuitive way, Hervé is a great asset to the world of dance music. @Hervespace
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Review British Summertime Festival
think only Way Out West in Gothenburg comes close to having a greener feel to it than British Summertime Festival (BST): both are set in beautiful tree-lined parkland, the latter of which is plum in the middle of London’s glorious Hyde Park and, for the last four years, has attracted an eclectic mix of talent to the capital, spanning a number of genres over two consecutive weekends. To give you an idea of just how eclectic, the weekend we attended, the three headliners were Mumford & Sons, Take That, and Stevie Wonder; the weekend before: Massive Attack, Florence + The Machine, and the great Carole King. So the audience is varied, to say the least, but it absolutely works. It’s clean, it’s family-friendly, and it looks and sounds fantastic. After downing one too many cloudy ciders in the guest area (deceptively strong, that stuff ), I effectively glided through the crowd to find a spot around front of house position, which was manned by Martin Audio’s Chris Pyne, a man with plenty of live sound experience. Martin Audio looks after the audio on no fewer than six stages at BST: the Great Oak Stage (which has to be seen to be believed); the Barclaycard Stage; the Sony PlayStation Music Stage; the Summer Stage; the Bacardi Bar; and the Promoter Bar. According to Martin Audio’s R&D director, Jason Baird, the main stage system is ‘really natural sounding’; and although I may not have Baird’s technical expertise, my ears happen to agree. It does help when you’re watching one of the most natural performers of this generation pour her heart out through it, though: for an hour, I was glued to the formidable Alabama Shakes, watching Brittany Howard doing her thing with her lime green Gibson SG, and this sizeable MLA rig (two main hangs of 16 with an MLD downfill, then a 12-box configuration with the MLDs for the two side hangs) was both thumping and sonically pure. You could hear (and feel) the emotion in Howard’s breathy vocal loud and very clear, thanks
to the system’s fantastic transparency. Spine tingling, indeed. The technical reasoning for this quality of audio, Baird informs me, is down to the new FIR filtering Martin Audio has added to MLA, which has improved not only its low frequencies, but added another level in tonal control. Makes sense. That, and instigating the beta version of Martin Audio’s proprietary Display Line Array Direct Sound Prediction Software, which interacts with MLA’s onboard DSP. Martin Audio certainly showed not only the quality of its product line at BST, but the versatility, too, with a fantastically diverse deployment of systems: MLA Compact with WS218X subs took care of the Barclaycard Stage (in a cardioid L/R/C configuration), with four DD12s; a W8LC/WS218X
Drums means the infrastructure is very easy to assemble and use.” This kit has ultimately allowed Capital to develop a new custom console switching system, which boasts a unique touch screen interface, allows for the switching of five consoles, AES or analogue, with between two and four feeds per console. It’s perfect for a festival environment, where quick changeovers between bands are inevitable. Of course, there is also no conversion required in the audio. Add Martin Audio’s Display upgrade into the mix, and suddenly the sonic bar has been raised even further. There are 11 delay positions at BST, as well as the VIP stand; the delay system is controlled via an Ethernet tunnel on the Optocore network, connected to a Martin Audio Merlin matrix processor at each position, which in turn connects to the Martin Audio arrays via U-NET. All the delays are distributed from the front of house rack, which is under the command of the onsite MLA system tech, Toby Donovan, who claims, “you don’t even need to tune this MLA system”. The smart, site-wide topology has been created using no fewer than 14 Optocore XR6-FX interfaces in a redundant loop, starting with the Lake LM 44s at front of house, which feed the Optocore network via AES. According to Martin Connolly, Capital’s senior project manager, going with Optocore was a no-brainer, due to its functionality, reliability, and all round flexibility: “One of the many advantages of using fibre is that it removes the possibility of earth loop, as glass isn’t an electrical conductor,” Connolly explains. “Thanks to this Optocore system, hums and buzzes on the delays are now a thing of the past. It’s an ideal solution.” Big thanks for the hospitality to the guys at Martin Audio and Capital Sound – they’ve got a very good thing going here at BST, and long may it last.
“For an hour, I was glued to the formidable Brittany Howard doing her thing; the MLA system got her message across loud and very clear.”
system with LE12JB wedges on the Summer Stage; four pole-mounted MLA Minis atop an MSX power plant brought life to the Sony PlayStation Music Stage; and distributed sound systems (10 DD6s) were installed in the Bacardi and Promoter Bars. LONDON CALLING Leading UK rental company, Capital Sound, have looked after BST from an audio perspective since its inception; this year, Capital raised the bar with the introduction of its new Dante digital network (16-channel AES3 I/O) to drive the PA. It hinges around a combination of Lake LM 44 processors, a Focusrite RedNet breakout box, and a Cisco 10-port switcher. According to Capital’s Robin Conway, who designed the system, it’s a pretty natural progression: “It’s an affordable solution, and gives us the option of running at 96kHz, enabling us to further improve the noise floor of MLA,” Conway explains. “Using the switches and twin Neutrik Fibre
www.optocore.com www.capital-sound.co.uk www.martin-audio.com
JEAN MICHEL JARRE
Jean Michel Jarre In Montreux Jazz Festival’s 50th year, electronic music pioneer, Jean Michel Jarre, is headlining its monumental Stravinski hall. It’s been eight years since I last saw this unique musician: that time, my arrival was awkward and quite unexpected; this time, we’re sat together looking out on Lake Geneva talking about the electronic evolution, and whether it’s genuinely feasible that, in 30 years, we’ll all be jamming with robots, not humans. Photography Tom Sheehan
et’s first regress to 2008. I’m at Wembley Arena. It’s my first real editorial commission within the audio industry. Without having much of a brief (to say the least), I’m under pressure and, frankly, behaving ridiculously. I find myself on the stage for the duration of the soundcheck – which lasts an hour – and I’m snapping dozens of close up shots of the musicians, without a photo pass. But it gets better. I proceed to swagger on backstage, enter the green room, lounge into a sofa, under the assumption that ‘this is what music journalists do’. It isn’t. As I come face to face with Jean Michel Jarre, he clocks that I am one, sitting in his chair, and two, drinking his coffee. But rather than send me on my merry way, with a smile, he politely agrees to an interview. This initially involves me talking a lot (almost to the point of hyperventilation), and Jean Michel holding a very puzzled, and very French, expression. I do eventually compose myself, and for about 10 minutes, we chat about the man’s fascinating musical career. It’s brilliant. Ridiculous, but brilliant. So here I am again, in July 2016. It’s good to see him again. Does he remember me? Kind of. Thankfully, I haven’t stage-bombed him again... Yet. I start by pointing out to Jean Michel that he made quite an extraordinary prediction when we spoke in London, some eight years ago. In his own words: “the next step for
electronic music is to mix analogue synths with digital equipment”. That’s today’s virtual instruments, isn’t it? “Exactly,” smiles Jean Michel. “With my latest project, I used digital and analogue techniques even more than I thought I would. Actually, since we met last time, digital technology has finally become about creating unique original concepts: if you look at all the new plugins from Native Instruments like Kontour, and Reaktor, also – it’s a real step forward. And then on the other side, you also have young artists born into a digital world who are now discovering modular synths, so it works both ways. It’s very interesting, as the new hardware is digital, and plugins are recreating modular synths; it’s a real mixture, and now you have the freedom these days to do basically whatever you want.” Indeed. The latest project Jean Michel refers to is
“Our relationship with sound has evolved.” Electronica: a massive two-album affair, which is all about collaboration. Electronica 1: The Time Machine was released last year, and Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise, came out in May 2016. The collaborators are varied and eclectic, from Pete Townshend and Gary Numan, to Cindy Lauper, 3D (Massive Attack), and Armin van Buuren. According to Jean Michel, it’s his biggest ever musical challenge. “I was amazed all these guys came on board, to be honest,” Jean Michel laughs. “What I did was two things: first, I wanted to meet people face to face, just as we are now; and second, I composed and wrote a piece of music as a demo for each of the artists that I wanted to work with. I then approached each of them and said, this is what I’ve done, would you be interested to collaborate, and add your part? And they all said yes! It’s a massive project of two and a half hours, so I split it into two albums.”
Cover Story Jean Michel Jarre
“Electronic music is not a genre of music, it’s a different way of approaching music composition.”
In terms of production – and there are quite a number of renowned producers in that long list of collaborators – Jean Michel was very keen to keep hold of the reins himself, to ensure the music moved in the direction he wanted it to, keeping with his original vision. “I was scared it could end up as a patchwork, but the fact I had the final cut and the global vision allowed for a decent cohesive approach.” Mixing It Up Conversation turns to tomorrow night’s headline show at the Stravinski: what should we expect? A little of the old, and some of the new? “Yes, exactly that,” Jean Michel confirms. “In terms of sound, I am always very much a perfectionist, and I tend to take a long time with the soundchecks [smiles]. What I had in mind this time was to try to create a travelling project. I wanted to create a modular visual tool - and also, as we know, us musicians are obsessed by creating perspective in the mix, and a sense of audio illusion, so I wanted to create this visually: think 3D without the glasses, something cinemagraphic and quite new, I think. Everything is evolving. The thing is, with a lot of shows today, after the first three minutes you already know what the show’s going to be like. What I tried to do is for the first three to five minutes, give the audience no idea of what’s going to happen next, so it’s a constant progression.” It’ll be Jean Michel plus two on stage tomorrow evening – “a good compromise between a DJ being on his own, and the full five-piece rock band,” Jean Michel says. And in terms of music, it’s going to be a mix of Electronica, with material from the Oxygène and Equinox albums, but with a bit of a twist: “The older songs have been revamped; not remixed, but the sound is more 2016-sounding, and I hope 2017-sounding, too [smiles]. Our ears have evolved so much due to video games, movie theatres, smartphones; our relationship with sound has evolved, so existing tracks need to be reworked and revamped because of that.” I decide it’s time for the million dollar question: what’s going to happen next in electronic music, Jean Michel? “[smiles] Well, firstly, electronic music is not a genre of music, it’s a different way of approaching music composition; under that umbrella, you have hard house, techno, and EDM – whatever - but these are just styles of music. If you take a step back, look at what I have done with
this double album, collaborating with artists; I think it’s possible we will soon be collaborating with machines... [pauses] Not like Terminator, necessarily [smiles], but it’s been predicted that around 2035 or 2040, the first computer will be made that is more powerful than the human brain; and who’s to say it won’t have creative ability and intuition? And that’s not necessarily for the worse. Up until now, it’s been all about how to use technology, and hijack technology to do things with it. But this could be great, as the main problem today with artists is how to express on a piece of paper or hard drive the idea that you have in your mind; it takes time, and that’s a problem. If the machine was able to dialogue directly, and you could collaborate with it, wouldn’t that be the next big step? Why not? Accepting it for creation, and trying to make the best of it.” Jean Michel speaks with such passion, and truly cares about the future of audio in every sense of the word. Before I leave him to prepare for the big show, we chat a little about his loyal fanbase. The reaction to Electronica has been tremendously positive on the whole, but there will always be exceptions, he explains: “You will always have fans that want me to do Oxygène for the rest of my life,” he says, with a broad smile. “But an artist should never listen to this. A fan by definition is waiting to be astonished – it was what attracted he or she to the music in the first place. And I think also it’s important to respect the idea that we are who we are as artists. Electronica was a fantastic experience, and it’s very me; I have been moved and touched by the fantastic reviews over the world, and now it’s really exciting to put it all on the road.” As I pose for the classic selfie with Jean Michel, I mention I’m having dinner with Alain Courieux ( JMJ’s long-time sound engineer). “Don’t give him too much wine,” he says, raising his eyebrows. “Seriously...” www.jeanmicheljarre.com
JMJ AFTER THE SHOW: “I have always wanted to play at Montreux, but for some reason, it never happened until now. I’m glad it worked this year for the 50th anniversary, as it felt we were all sharing a special moment. In terms of scenography, I designed the whole show. I created the concept of the screens and their movements, and I worked with a lighting designer to create the content and the lighting around this architecture. “On the audio side, I have always liked DiGiCo consoles in general, and the SD7 is the one console that can handle the amount of tracks I’m sending and processing. I use it in rehearsals with my musicians in the studio, and I spend a lot of time working with Alain Courieux on the SD7 to get the mix exactly as I want it. We definitely achieved that here in Montreux.”
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MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL:
Stylish at 50
Whether itâ€™s straight ahead jazz, rock and roll, electronic music, R&B, or something completely different, Montreux will deliver. And this year was particularly special: the 50th anniversary of this epic festivalâ€™s inception. Fittingly, the band that put it on the map, Deep Purple, were there to see it out. Headliner reports...
When we first got here, it was a sleepy little town, but that crazy little song made everyone aware of Montreux
Throughout its five decades, a fusion of international megastars, underground acts, and young hopefuls have donned this salubrious festival’s [now 16] stages - and they will all tell you, there quite simply isn’t another festival like this one. This year’s schedule included headline slots from our cover star, Jean Michel Jarre, as well as the great Neil Young (who performed for over three hours!), Lana Del Rey, and a fitting closing show from five guys who are very much a part of the Montreux furniture: Deep Purple. I wonder if they paid attention to the ‘Don’t Smoke On The Water’ signs by the lake? “[smiles] Montreux has always had a great
significance for the band; the first album was made here, and the story of Smoke on the Water comes from the fire at the casino when they were running the festival,” explains Don Airey, Deep Purple’s keyboard player since 2002. “And to be invited to play on the last night and finish off the festival really is a great honour.” Airey’s first time in Montreux with Purple was in 2003, and he still has a vivid memory of entering the then quaint, quiet town in the tour bus early one morning: “It was 8am, and both Ians - Gillan and Paice were up, and so was Roger [Glover, bassist]. They really were quite animated about talking about how Machine Head got made: the casino burning down, which was where they were due to record it; and then the Pavilion, which is where they had to move to. They told me how the police stopped them recording there because they were keeping all the residents of Montreux awake, and how they eventually found the Grand Hotel, and moved in there. I remember Roger gave me a guided tour of the Pavilion, and he showed me exactly where they recorded that one track there, which was actually called Track One, and which became Smoke on the Water. And you can even hear the police on the end of the track, banging on the door while the roadie was holding the door! It was just a great story.” Coming back in 2016 to play out the 50th anniversary was a stand-out honour, Airey says – and a collaboration with Dweezil Zappa provided a fitting, spine-tingling finale: “You can see how much the festival has
changed: people thronging the streets, and all that; and we had Dweezil Zappa on before us – Zappa Plays Zappa, what a wonderful band. And he sat in with us, and we played [Frank Zappa’s] Peaches en Regalia, and then he joined in with us for Smoke, and of course when Gillan sang, ‘Frank Zappa and the Mothers’, he turned round to look at Dweezil, and everybody in the building felt a chill; something quite historic had happened, and was happening; it was a great way to end the festival for us.” Purple’s drummer, Ian Paice, concurs, adding that Montreux is one of the pivotal places in the band’s history: “Montreux is incredibly important in my life, and the life of the band; when we [first] got there, it was virtually out of season, a sleepy little town; and that crazy song of ours sort of made the whole world aware of Montreux,” he reflects. “And at the time, the festival had only been going a few years, and it wasn’t a big thing – it was just a couple of days of jazz artists - you wouldn’t recognise it today. Now it’s one of the most major music events on the European calendar, so it is very important, we do love being there, and if you’re not working there, there’s still a load of great places to look around and eat at [smiles].” He’s not wrong: we were quite at home in the Caviar House & Prunier while the artists did their thing on stage..! Other standout acts well worth a mention this year included the brilliant Grimes, Daughter, and former The War On Drugs frontman, Kurt Vile. What a set his was sounded like a young, edgy Neil Young, in fact.
/ Behind the Music /
AUDIO QUALITY is extremely crucial at Montreux: multiple venues means lots of feeds, backup, and state of the art equipment, both on and off the stage. DiGiCo has a long-standing relationship with the festival, and kits out every venue with one or more of its SD range of mixing consoles. The most impressive room is the flagship Stravinski Auditorium, which aptly houses DiGiCo’s flagship console, the SD7, at front of house. Engineers will bring their own boards in, too, of course, though the big players tend to opt for DiGiCo anyway: Alain Courieux ( Jean Michel Jarre), and Jon Lemon (Lana Del Rey), both had their own SD7s in tow. For Courieux, riding the faders for Jean Michel Jarre is second nature; he and the electronic music pioneer go back a long way, and work together in the studio as well as out on the road. Courieux runs everything at 96kHz on his console: “With DiGiCo, it’s the really high quality of all the effects within the console that I am such a fan of; and also the fact that it still feels like I’m using an analogue board. Jean Michel is including a lot of new material in this new live show, and the channel count is high, but I have worked on the SD7 for so long now, I know my way around it very well, and it always makes my job that little bit easier. Jean Michel has his own SD7, too, of course, so it’s no surprise that he is always happy with the sound!” Another huge element of the audio at Montreux is down to the broadcast guys, who get in at 10am every morning, and are likely to still be doing their thing come 2am the following day. This is the fourth year that RTS have been at the helm: the Swiss broadcast experts cater for AV production, and also work closely with the guys in Voyageur 1, the main audio truck for the Stravinski Auditorium. RTS’ Yannick Dumartineix has worked in broadcast for a long time - the firm have been a strategic partner since the beginning at Montreux. He recalls a time the late, great Claude Nobs was listening to a mix in RTS’ HD1 truck, and got them involved in his beloved Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF): “RTS - under the name SRS and TSR - did the audio, then audio and video, between 1967
and 1974; then, between 1974 and 1986, RTS was there for video only, and in 2013, we proposed our trucks and team again, as the festival wanted to upgrade to three rooms from two. We came up with a concept for recording, offered a one-day training on our broadcast console to the engineers, and they were very happy with it; we were then trained on HD video, and here we are today. We are happy to have this back, as it’s such a massive event: 17 days of hard work, but a fantastic experience.” Every year since, RTS has tried to come up with something a little extra to offer MJF: “Two years ago, we introduced 4k live shooting with two cameras, and Isabel Sanchez from MJF presented that at MIPCOM 2015,” says Dumartineix. “This year, we did the Montreux Jazz Lab in 5.1; next year, I hope we can bring surround recording to the Jazz Club.” There is a lot of high-end audio and video kit required for a job like this, and it’s pretty complex; with that in mind, we ask Dumartineix to take us through the process, and plead with him to treat us as broadcast laymans..! “[smiles] Well, in HD1, we use a Merging Technologies Pyramix system, which records 128 tracks at 48kHz (or 64 at 96kHz); we also have Pro Tools, which does 128 tracks at 96kHz as we have two Avid MADI interfaces, so we can have two MADI streams. Then we have two JoeCo units for 64 tracks backup,” Dumartineix explains, as my head begins to spin on axis. “For the Jazz Club we use our radio truck, Music+ (which houses a Studer Vista 8), and it’s all done on Pyramix; we record in PMF mode for safety reasons - we used to have trouble in that area, but not anymore. We transfer and covert to BWF (Broadcast Wave Format), and it works great.” The Voyageur 1 truck has broadcast specialist, John Harris, at the helm. It’s kitted out with a full Genelec monitoring system - a brand Harris has a lot of time for: “Genelec are true, stable, and reliable monitors,” he tells us. “You know where you are with them at all times.” The full Genelec inventory amounts to three 8351 (as LCR), two 8340 (as RL, RR), two 7360 subs, and a Genelec Loudspeaker Manager
system, complete with AutoCal. This impressive truck also houses a further two sizeable systems, capable of 128 tracks at 96kHz. “We have had a very long term relationship with Merging, and we jumped onboard pretty early with Merging equipment. We’ve always been very pleased with the sonic quality and the reliability, which is why we use so much of it,” Dumartineix reveals. “And we work closely with the guys in Voyageur 1, who are also big Merging users; they’re good guys, and absolutely crucial to the workflow in the Stravinski.” And if, in the highly unlikely event that there is ever an issue with the kit, the fact that it is Merging kit will always be an advantage: “Although we have never had any real problems whatsoever with any Merging equipment, when there has been a very small issue – which happens with all kit, of course, especially the PSU - the recovery is there; this is why we record using PMF files.” So in summary, at MJF, RTS provides live stems, video streams, and also stereo signal for the radio. It looks after three rooms, producing for TV and radio, and then also a stream for the MJF web server is delivered 7dB higher. Ultimately, it’s a big workflow of live streams, HD-SDI, MADI, and lots of files, then? “Yes, it’s a big job,” smiles Dumartineix. “But we don’t stress over it, because it’s what we do best, and we have great kit for the job at hand. We are a partner to MJF, just like DiGiCo is, so we work closely with everyone. We provide John and his team on Voyageur 1 with the video, and we integrate them into our workflow. Plus, John works at a very top level, and Bertrand does the same in the Lab. Both guys listen to CDs of the groups they’re going to mix, so they can be as accurate as possible; and all the trucks have [MADI 96kHz] Waves SoundGrids too, so there is huge processing capabilities throughout. In HD1, we have 20 MADI links in total just for the 96kHz part, so it really is a huge system!” www.merging.com www.digico.biz www.genelec.com
Behind the Scenes Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden: Book of Souls We go behind the scenes with Iron Maiden’s touring team, taking a look at the British metal band’s astonishing history, the unique way they hop around the globe, and the stunning lighting show that they’ve taken with them on their Book of Souls world tour.
seems unbelievable that pioneering UK heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, formed more than 40 years ago. But they did - in Leyton, East London. It was 1975 when bassist and songwriter, Steve Harris, got the ball rolling, and in the decades since – including several line-up changes – Maiden have released 38 albums (studio and live), as well as EPs and compilations. Since the return of lead vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, and guitarist, Adrian Smith [in 1999], the band’s popularity rose as high as it was in the early ‘80s: their 2010 release, The Final Frontier, hit the number one spot in no less than 28 countries; and last year, Maiden put out studio album number 16, The Book of Souls, which they’ve been touring across the world since February 2016, with great success. With more than 90 million albums sold worldwide, an Ivor Novello Award for international achievement [in 2002], and more than 2,000 live shows throughout their career, it’s little wonder that Maiden are renowned as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. The Book of Souls world tour sees Maiden perform shows in 35 countries including North and South
America, Asia, Australasia, Africa, and Europe – and they’re still breaking new territories: China, El Salvador, and Lithuania welcomed the band for the first time ever. And, of course, in typical Maiden style, they’re travelling in style: ‘Ed Force One’ is the latest customised plane, a Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet flown, of course, by Bruce Dickinson himself. Speed of Light Although Iron Maiden are known for their massive live sound, equally as important in their touring production is their state-of-the-art lighting show. When The Book of Souls tour returned to North America in April, lighting designer, Rob Coleman, included 124 impression X4 LED automated heads from GLP. Canadian vendor, Premier Global Production (PGP) provided the fixtures via their Nashville-based lighting division, which holds a sizeable stock of GLP kit, and Coleman chose to deploy the X4s as an alternative to a more conventional setup, after being blown away by a demo put on by PGP’s senior manager of lighting sales and accounts, Steven ‘Creech’ Anderson. “This was our first tour without par cans, and I really
Behind the Scenes Iron Maiden
“Ed Force One is the latest customised plane, a Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet flown, of course, by Bruce Dickinson himself.”
liked the light from the X4,” Coleman reveals. “The dimming is great, the zoom is great, and the colours are fantastic; they light our stage set perfectly. “Obviously the RGB is good, but when mixed, the colours stay punchy and not ‘wishy washy’, which you do get with some LED fixtures. They fade really nicely, and by just putting a 0.2 second dimmer fade on my cues makes them look really natural. Then there’s the zoom: although I only really needed [the X4] to zoom between 10 to 15 degrees, the fact it can zoom up to 50 degrees means it’s also perfect for lighting all of our drapes.” It’s important that Coleman remains selective with his zooming, though; he has to provide just the right dynamics for some of Maiden’s most famous songs, after all: The Trooper, Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and Fear of the Dark, to name a few. “I have to use the zoom carefully,” Coleman reiterates, “but there are a couple of songs where I use the really tight zoom, particularly when panning over the audience. They really hit the
back of arenas very well.” According to Coleman, the GLP LEDs are highly accessible, easy to program, and consistent: “Having so many [X4s] spread over the rig, I would have expected there to be some slight delay, or minor differences in colour over the fixtures, but that hasn’t been the case; they have all been very solid.” This is the second time PGP has worked with Iron Maiden; Creech Anderson had the same confidence in recommending the GLP lights, due to his long working relationship with both Rob Coleman and the German lighting manufacturer. “I was first introduced to GLP with the Impression 90, when Rush were about to tour; and today, we have a ton of X4 - certainly in the high hundreds,” Anderson explains. “We’ve used them on country artists, Blake Shelton and Randy Houser. The zoom is particularly cool: the brightness and colours, and all the macros that are built in. [Lighting designer] Butch Allen uses the macros a lot with Paramore, too.” PGP also has a preview studio and full rehearsal facility available 24-7, which means LDs
like Rob Coleman can check their colour palettes way ahead of the tour. “A lot of people come in and programme, and then use the full production space,” says Creech. “You can put 35,000lb on the ClearSpan roof with 50ft trim when we take it right up; and as for the GLP impressions, they fill an important niche for us: they are smaller, and just a better light than most out there; I would put X4 up against any product, actually.” The final show was streamed live in Germany on August 4 at Wacken Open Aoir. Maiden’s manager, Rod Smallwood, tells Headliner it was the ideal way to end the tour: “Wacken has become such as international event with many thousands of fans from around the world joining and celebrating with the German fans, so it’s perfect for the final show; the band have loved every minute on stage, the fans have been amazing, and the reaction to the new songs and stage show has been phenomenal.” www.glp.de www.ironmaiden.com
Inside The Crypt
Engineer and producer, Steve Cooper, was one of the recent MPG competition winners to win studio time in a choice of several high-end UK recording facilities. He chose The Crypt Studio in Crouch End, run by Ricky Barber. We take a look inside, and find out what went down during those sessions.
he Crypt is located within a working Nigerian Baptist church in Crouch End, North London. It has been a working studio for some 19 years, and is located within the same building that Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox once took over to write Sweet Dreams: “And with the proceeds, they bought that end of the church,” smiles Ricky Barber, The Crypt’s current owner. Barber ‘bought his bit’ of this stunning building back in 1983 - around the same time as the Eurythmics paring, in fact - and Paul Epworth also owns his bit: The Church, which boasts three studios at the other end of the building. It’s very much a community vibe, Barber tells us: he and Epworth get on well, and loan kit to each other when required; and several other local businesses nearby make it a friendly musical hub. Barber and co. (including Anthony and George, his two colleagues) charge £550 a day at The Crypt, and it’s an eclectic bunch that come to record, track, and even party here: ‘The Crypt Sessions’ are multi-camera shoots with live performances, which are edited and put out on the studio’s YouTube channel; and Barber has also been asked to curate shows at the Royal Academy of Arts off the back of those sessions. It’s all about word of mouth, then? “Well, a lot of studios have shut in London, so we found ourselves in a nice position: a good sized live room, which sounds great, and isn’t expensive, so we sailed through as many studios closed,” Barber admits. “You can run this with a couple of people, too; it started off as a project - just me and my mate writing – and then we did three albums with Feeder up here, because the guy I run it with was the band’s engineer, so it turned a bit more commercial then. But it’s been a slow evolution, really; now it’s a full commercial studio.” Every month, The Crypt also does the UK Daytrotter sessions. Daytrotter is a US website which uploads new live music sessions on a daily basis: “We have 12-15 bands through the doors in three days, every month - and with full kit!” Barber reveals. “We have a lot of up-and-coming acts, but we’ve also had The Kooks, The Subways, Joss Stone – each one is two hours in and out, recorded live down to two-track
tape. It’s a constant supply of fresh stuff. Also, Vintage TV come and film a lot here with legacy acts: Sister Sledge, Fairport Convention, Nik Kershaw. It’s a whole spectrum of new school and old school.” In terms of recording kit, The Crypt has Pro Tools HD3 (9 and 10) running, along with Logic Pro. It’s a fusion of ‘in the box’ and hands-on analogue, the latter of which is mainly used for tracking: to achieve a great sound on the way in, but not normally in a mixing situation, due to time, and artists’ limited budget. MPG competition winner, Steve Cooper, is no stranger to the studio environment; his recording credits include Muse, Elton John, and Portishead. When his name was drawn out of the hat, he chose to book his sessions at The Crypt, due to ‘the great collection of mics and outboard, and the friendly relaxed vibe’. In addition, the wide variety of guitar and bass amps on offer were a huge draw. Cooper managed to squeeze an awful lot into two days of recording: day one saw he and co-producer, Jez Vass, lay down rhythm tracks with three-piece band, FØXE. The band were blown away by the drum sound, and loved tracking bass using multiple amps, Cooper tells us. The following day, bass player extraordinaire, Arnulf Lindner (Ed Harcourt, KT Tunstall, Billy Bragg), came by to record bass on a new track for East London electro-pop artist, Streeeams, for a forthcoming EP, before singer-songwriter, Matt Keogh, popped in to record some new material. “I need to thank Ricky at The Crypt for his generosity in offering up the studio time, and the excellent in-house engineers, George and Anthony,” Cooper insists. “Without them, we couldn’t have done the session at all. Also, a big thanks to the Music Producers Guild for all the great work that they do.” Barber agrees with Cooper: the MPG is pivotal to producers of today. “We need bodies like the MPG, who rally people together and stick up for certain parts of the industry,” he says. “It is a real struggle to keep everything up and running, so the more power the better; that support is extremely important to us, and we truly appreciate it.” www.mpg.org.uk www.thecryptstudio.com
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Artist Focus Peter Cincotti
PETER CINCOTTI: A LONG WAY FROM HOME 42 HEADLINER
For a man who played himself in an episode of Netflix’s House Of Cards, Peter Cincotti is no newbie to the music scene, top of the charts, or fashion magazines. A singerpianist with boyband looks and a cool persona, Cincotti is ready to release his greatly anticipated fifth studio album later this year. On a rare break from the studio, he chats to us about the beginnings, the new sound, and how it felt to see Stevie Wonder bobbing along to his music. Words Kat Deal After starting to play the piano at just three years old, Peter Cincotti’s natural aptitude for music has been evident from the beginning; and it is no wonder that his first album reached number one on the Billboard jazz chart by the time he’d turned 18. “I’ve been playing my whole life; I just never stopped, and never really thought about it. I’d just play for fun,” he admits. “I went through high school playing in clubs whilst studying, and then when I was 17, I got discovered by [legendary producer] Philip Ramone.” It was a discovery that would send Cincotti on a path that has seen him release four albums (to date), and play all around the world: “Every record brought something new, from that point until now is a whole
separate thing; my records and writing style have changed through the years, and so much has developed from being on the road.” What is clear, both from talking to Cincotti and listening to his music, is that he and his piano are synonymous. When asked if he’d considered playing other instruments, he remarks: “Briefly... I tried, unsuccessfully, a few instruments, like guitar at one point. I remember as a kid messing around with the saxophone [laughs], but nothing ever stuck.” Like all great and natural artists, Cincotti’s sound has progressed with each record; however, this fifth album moves further than its predecessors. A Long Way From Home (which is out in the Autumn) is the result of Cincotti changing his
Artist Focus Peter Cincotti
“I called the President up, played by Kevin Spacey, and asked if he wanted to do a duet with me.”
environment, and the way in which he writes. Having moved all his pianos to the studio that he built in New Jersey, he spent a year learning his way around the facility, guided by producer and musician friends, and explored the different possibilities his new gadgets could bring to his writing and his sound. “Once I started getting comfortable using the technology I, little by little, started playing songs, writing songs, going to the studio and recording traditional drums, then going back to my studio here and seeing what I would add and what wasn’t and was right; it was a process,” he reflects. “Then about halfway into the record, I was clear about what it was and what I wanted. It became this hybrid of things.” But how would Peter describe this original new sound that has emerged out of his studio? “I guess it would be pop music with the piano in the middle! If you were to put Billy Joel, One Republic, and Oscar Peterson in a blender, maybe somewhere you’d get close to what this record is. There are jazz influences and a lot of the songs are souly; if you just isolate the piano solo, it’s just a jazz solo, but over the full-on, four-to-the-floor modern beat in the context of an actual song that would tell a story.” It’ll be interesting to see how Cincotti will translate this new sound from the record to the stage, which is something he is currently feeling out in the rehearsal studio. “I wanted a really clean, simple, modern looking setup that could take this album on the stage in the most transparent way,” he says, passionately. “The grand piano will still be the centre of the stage, with a drummer who’ll play, and possibly trigger some of these beats; and then a separate person who’ll be playing bass and multi-tasking half DJ, so to speak - that guy will represent the production element of this record.” As a pianist, Cincotti is known for his jazzy piano solos that glisten over his songs, but with this move from more traditional jazz to a hybrid of jazz and pop, there is a sense of him having to find a new road when it comes to his solos, which makes for an exciting listen.
“My first two albums were jazz, and I’d solo under this very clear umbrella of ‘this is how that works’, but now this is like a totally different bed to solo over; my hands almost didn’t quite know where to go,” Cincotti says, with a smile. “It’s a new area, for sure!” And one that is sure to pave a new path for this already well-respected and well-travelled artist. So what about some career highlights, to make us all jealous? “[laughs] One time, I was playing at the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, and I looked out into the crowd and I saw Stevie Wonder bobbing his head whilst I was playing; it was completely disorienting,” he recalls. “It was also very cool filming [Netflix’s politicaldrama] House of Cards. I was basically on set playing myself, and in the scene, I called the president up, played by Kevin Spacey, and asked if he wanted to do a duet with me. I sang that like, 25 times! They ended up keeping the whole thing! It was awesome to be on that set and to see all the White House rooms replicated. That was really cool.” If being a fantastic pianist, singer, and songwriter wasn’t enough, Cincotti is also well known for his style, having teamed up with various big-name fashion brands; the New York Times Style Magazine even described him as ‘Mr GQ at the keyboard’. As well as his fashion collaborations, he also has his sights set on more collaborations of the musical kind. “I’d really love to do something again with David Guetta. We had a brief moment a few years ago where I played one of his songs on a French TV show and rearranged it,” he tells us. “I was incorporating solos over this electronic sound - this was maybe four years ago, now - and that gave me a lot of influences that are now present in this new album, so I’d love to get together and make something unique and really different: commercial, but musical. I think there’s a whole world open in that range.” Cincotti will be travelling all over later this year to promote his new album, but before that, he is giving us a taste of his new sound in a five-track EP. www.petercincotti.com
Live Sound Lukas Graham
After studying music history at the Aarhus University in Denmark in the early '90s, Frank Grønbæk was well and truly on the pro-audio road. The facility had a music studio, which he used all the time, recording and playing drums; it was a hobby back then, but he was becoming interested in all things music technology, which led first to Grønbæk flying faders for a 40-strong rhythmic choir (as you do), and by the year 2000, he'd started at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen as a sound engineer. Today, Grønbæk is working front of house for Denmark's most talked about new band, Lukas Graham, whose hit single, 7 Years, has become a global mega-hit. We chat to him about his working relationship with them, and his industry highs. Lukas Graham has quite the story: a young guy from Christiania, who has shot to stardom pretty fast... Yes. And my first meeting with Lukas [Forchhammer, frontman, Lukas Graham] was in 2012, where I did sound for a local Danish artist at Skanderborg Festival, and the booking agent for Lukas Graham was present. He liked what I did, and as they were looking for an engineer for the band, he asked me to join the crew as front of house. I did my first show in Hamburg, Germany, in September 2012, and since then, it has been onwards and upwards very quickly. What’s your working relationship like with the band, and are they into the technology side of things? The band are very easy to work with. We have also all been in agreement on the sound from the beginning. These guys are very much into the arrangement, but they have let me work on the audio by myself; it’s been clear to me from the beginning that this artist is very much about hearing the lyrics from Lukas’ great voice, and then getting the powerful, soulful energy out with this great bunch of musicians. What is your go-to kit out on the road? My favourite console is the DiGiCo SD10-24 because of its size and weight. I find it very fast to work on, and it’s very intuitive. The routing is so easy, and you can do pretty much whatever you want on it. I think the way DiGiCo is thinking with their consoles is spot on: they don’t reduce any signal routings, which makes creative inserting and internal routing very fast and easy. I’m always using Waves along with this setup. My favourite plugins being the SSL channel strips and summing
compressor, the API 2500 compressor, the C6 dynamic EQ, and the IR-Live. These plugins are nearly always part of my live setups, no matter which artist I do. On the bigger shows, I like to have an outboard channel strip for easy access to the main vocal; I have three pieces of AMEK Channel in a Box: a Rupert Neve constructed channel strip with a four-band parametric EQ, and a very nice sounding compressor for vocals. In the insert chain for the vocal, I also use the MD4 plugin for my TC System 6000 as a dynamic EQ. I really like to have the possibility to work with the vocal on outboard equipment, it means I can reach all parameters without flipping around in different screens or layers. Also, it’s so nice to physically see what the equipment does – all the dynamics, gain reduction, and EQ settings. How do you capture the dynamics of Lukas’ voice on stage? We started using the the DPA d:facto capsule on Lukas when I started doing front of house for the band. This is absolutely my favourite vocal mic for an artist with this kind of variety in his voice; it reproduces all the dynamics within Lukas’ voice very well, and is easy to work with. Our monitor engineer [Rasmus Valentin Hansen] and I have been in total agreement on this capsule from the very beginning. This summer, we have tried to do everything with DPA microphones on the band. This meant using DPA 2011Cs on the snare drum and the hi-hat, and DPA 4099s on the toms and the horn section. For overheads, we use the DPA 4011s, and then we use more d:facto microphones for the backing vocals. This setup has made it extremely easy to work on the sound, and I find I’m certainly not tweaking anywhere near as much as I used to
when I was using the other microphone brand we used to bring out on tour. What significant changes have you seen in the audio industry from a technological standpoint? I think that line array systems is probably the most significant change in the modern audio industry. The ability to equal out the coverage of all frequencies at the complete audience area has grown remarkably since these systems were introduced; and they have also made the system engineer a very important person. If this guy knows what he’s doing, it’s most likely going to be very easy to mix; but if you get into the hands of an inexperienced system guy, who does not have the right education, it can be a disaster. This is the reason why I use the same guy for this assignment on all the shows I possibly can. Finally, Frank, is there one stand-out moment in your career so far? I would have to say it’s doing the sound for Lukas Graham three years in a row at Scandinavia’s biggest touring festival: Grøn Koncert (Green Concert). What an experience. In the first year, the band was the opening act of four on the biggest stage; and last year - a brand new production - I was very heavily involved in the process in my capacity as production manager. So now they have a brand new album, and a potential international career just around the corner. That is a very exciting prospect! www.dpamicrophones.com www.lukasgraham.com
GO GLOBAL WITH LIVEWEDGE Since the turn of the century, Gilad Gershoni has flown the faders out on the road, mainly for acclaimed US hip hop trio, De La Soul, who he has built a great working relationship with. During that time, the way we consume music has changed, of course, and Gershoni stumbled across live streaming for video and audio, which he soon developed a passion for, realising it could engage audiences on a global scale. Headliner investigates...
console outputs are.” have been in and out of recording So this product studios all my life; it’s where I started, is for audio guys before I moved over to live sound, so I first, or video – have seen a few things, and have been taken to countries I never thought I or both..? “That’s a great would have visited,” smiles Gershoni. We can only question,” comes imagine..! “So my passion today is definitely on the response, with a smile. that side of the industry.” Gershoni is no stranger to live streaming, either, “Firstly, I have always been a sound and has been impressed with what he’s seen engineer with De La Soul: I’ve done front of develop recently, in terms of new technology: house and monitors at times throughout the 15 “I used to work at Ustream (a live streaming years, so video came second to me. Now, I am still for the most part a sound guy, but with the live platform), so I was very involved in streaming,” he streaming and amazing marketing capabilities recalls. “So I have always had my finger on the of what that provides, we are looking at how pulse with what manufacturers are doing; and to use it more and more. What a lot of people then recently, I stumbled upon the LiveWedge by overlook with live video is that if the sound [startup company] Cerevo. It’s an interesting unit for the capabilities and price range; for all it offers, is not right – you know, a good volume, no it’s actually pretty remarkable.” distortion – then the video is almost secondary, LiveWedge is essentially a video audio mixer as much as videographers may disagree [smiles]. this, you’d have to take it into a post production facility to upload and review all the footage, and at its core; it allows the user to connect multiple But great video and poor audio just isn’t great. So edit it down into a final piece. It all takes days if cameras into the unit itself, and can be controlled not weeks, or longer. Live streaming allows the remotely via an iPad App. It’s all done in realtime, audience to be immersed in an event they may so is essentially giving the power to the creator to not be able to access otherwise; it also cuts out a do a live directors cut, Gershoni explains. tremendous amount of time, because at the end “So you’re live editing, basically; whereas typically, of the show, you’re done, no re-editing. Using a video production would have other cameras, you LiveWedge, having a creative person producing it, would have other audio to record for every single you can actually get an end result right at the end camera shot, and then it would get taken back to the of the show, and have it available to watch across studio or post production facility for editing, and the world right away.” to turn it into a final piece,” he explains. “The great And Gershoni has proven this works: DJ Jazzy thing about live streaming is that it all happens in Jeff recently used LiveWedge to stream a live show, realtime, so what the LiveWedge allows you to do which reached more than three million people. is cut down the time of post production, and edit “Artists I have worked with have most definitely on the fly, as things are happening; and that ‘edit’, if taken an interest in LiveWedge,” states Gershoni. you will, is going out to the world, whether it’s via “I truly believe live streaming is really helping them Facebook Live, YouTube, Ustream - there are engage and immerse audiences globally, and that’s a number of platforms out there that offer live extending the reach that hasn’t been available if you have at minimum good audio and a fair streaming features. And once that is over, there is before.” video quality, it at least lets the audience take in a recording of that event that is already edited, and De La soul also have a new album dropping the sights and sounds. Think of any video you’ve it’s a final product.” on August 26th: De La Soul and the Anonymous watched online: if the audio is poor, it’s almost not So this cuts out a lot of production costs, and it’s worth watching in many ways, is it?” all HD quality, right? Nobody – it’s a project that they’ve been working It’s a good point - and social media is extremely “Exactly. I have used LiveWedge with a few hard at for sometime: video-friendly these days, due to the demands of “There is a lot of buzz around this new release; different artists since I got the wedge. I’ve been the consumer, right? working with GoPro cameras, because they’re they respect the fans, and the people that work “Absolutely. And using live streaming engages very compact cameras, and they’re HDMI, which with them, and they value audio highly, making is what the video input is on the LiveWedge,” the band with the music and the fans,” Gershoni sure that the sound is right. The same can be said insists. So what are the main benefits for for Cerevo: they’re exceptional to work with, as Gershoni continues. “So this solution allows me to live streaming for the pro-audio and video have a portable wedge in a back pack that is, as I people and as a company; and very responsive and call it, ‘high quality, low cost’; and you can take it communities? “ supportive. They have really helped me to push this out on the road, which is very cool.” “I think there are several, and some of them kind of initiative and solution out, made it very To summarise, the audio is taken from the front turn-key for me on the road. As far as the product, overlap for benefits of the creators, which would of house mixing board, so it’s a nice clean direct yes it’s only version one, but I am very pleased with be the ability to interact and engage with a feed, and the video is connected to the LiveWedge what it is. I think as the industry evolves, there will larger audience in realtime; that allows people and placed in different locations. For Gershoni, to get immersed into the experience,” Gershoni be room to innovate, and I look forward to seeing one Go Pro is typically at front of house, and three how Cerevo continues to progress with their enthuses. “And in terms of directly impacting more are on stage or facing the crowd. capabilities. When I first started working with the audio and video world? Well, when done “Normally, I’ll have a wide shot of the stage, some them, Facebook Live wasn’t even integrated, but correctly – and that’s a key takeaway here – it can close-ups, and an environment kind of angle,” he save time and money on the overall production. it quickly became a possibility, so they move quick, explains. “The four GoPros are connected with And the reason why I drill that in is because and the product speaks for itself.” HDMI cables to the LiveWedge, and then the typically, a video production would require tons www.cerevo.com of equipment and a big crew: a video guy on audio L/R stereo pair comes out of the mixer (via www.wearedelasoul.com every camera, tons of recording equipment, and XLR, 1/4 inch, or RCA) into the LiveWedge. I am redundancy on that; that’s one aspect. The other not a big fan of adapters, so I have all the different @GiladGershoni is after the show, as a producer or team doing cables, so I can connect how I want, whatever the
“Artists I have worked with have most definitely taken an interest in LiveWedge.”
One to watch Nina Schofield
Nina Schofield: Shaping Up Nicely Getting a record deal or publishing deal (or any deal, for that matter) in the music industry today isn't an easy thing to do. But Nina Schofield realised it would be her profession when she was just five years old. “I had tunnel vision from there,” she tells us, with a smile. And she's not kidding: at 10, she'd basically written her first album, taking advice from her school mates on which songs worked and which didn't (as you do); and today, she's a published songwriter with Notting Hill, and has finished her best album yet, Shapes, which dropped on July 22nd. We sat down with Nina for lunch to discuss her musical ethos, which is ultimately about treating songwriting like a business.
ll my choices at school were music based,” opens Nina, with a smile. “I studied music tech and performance studies, then went to the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford to study vocal performance and music as a business.” It was at ACM that Nina got her degree – a two-year course instead of three, designed so that graduates can get stuck into the industry quicker. “Alongside that, I’d been writing and performing,” she continues. “It’s happened naturally over time, and it seems to get bigger as time goes on, really.” It does indeed. If we regress a little... Nina made her first ‘album’ at 10 years old. She was never too far away from her folder of lyrics sheets, or her friends, who helped her decide which ones made the grade and which were to be binned. And then she recorded it all on cassette tape. Hold
on... Really..?! “[laughs] Yeah, really! But I guess I properly started writing when I was 12 or 13, though; I look back and think, ‘yeah, that was a real song’; and then the real recording began at 15 or 16.” Fast forward to 2013, and Nina had her first unexpected big hit: her song, Slow Down Soldier, reached number one in Europe, the Top 20 in the US, and number four on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts... And it all happened overnight, literally. “I was not expecting that at all,” Nina declares. “At the time [of writing the song], my friend’s sister’s fiancé was fighting in the war, and I wanted to support him. I need him, as our families are close. So I wrote this song, and released it. I Googled it the next morning, and it was on the charts! I couldn’t believe it! And it’s still one of my most popular songs online, and is still being bought today.” After this, Nina began collaborating over Skype with as many artists as possible. One of which was Judd Friedman, who wrote for Whitney Houston. From there, she started working with bigger names in the writing field, and built up a massive repertoire, which ultimately led to a contract with renowned publishing house, Notting Hill. “I was working with writers signed to Universal and to Pier, and they knew the label, I got talking to them, flew to Scotland and met my A&R, and he offered me a deal over the table,” Nina explains. Easy as that? “Yeah, that was a nice dinner! [laughs] And now I have been releasing various singles and bits of music, leading up to this new album, Shapes, which is out now.” Nina wrote her single, Restart (which is on Shapes), over
One to watch Nina Schofield
Skype with a guy she’d never met... And still hasn’t, in fact! She penned the track with David Davies, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter, signed to Kobalt. “I realise that I can’t fly everywhere all the time, realistically, so I use the Internet,” Nina smiles. “I searched out loads of people, and one was David; and on our first Skype session, we hit it off. We just sat there and said, ‘hello!’ Then he said his label wanted him to write with someone English, and he got behind his piano, I got behind mine, and we created Restart! We’ve written about five more songs since, but we’ve never met. Yet he’s a colleague
"Shapes tells the story of three relationships: the good, the bad, and everything in between." and a friend, now.” The wonders of the Internet, eh? So let’s talk about the album... It’s a pop record, but you’re a singer-songwriter... So it’s a bit of a fusion, is it? “Yeah, I don’t think it gets done very often, mixing the two. So it’s commercial, but with integrity,” Nina says. “It ultimately tells the story of three relationships: two with guys, one with myself, which I hope people will relate to. It incorporates the beginnings, middle, and ends of these two traumatic experiences with guys: the good, the bad, and everything in between. “It’s the shapes of those relationships that I’m singing and writing about; and each of the singles has had a different shape on the artwork – I’ve had a branding plan from the beginning, and it worked with the songs, so that’s what it is, really.” A wise head on those young shoulders: branding is most certainly where it’s at, if you want to make ends meet in today’s industry, especially as a relative newcomer. I ask
Nina what songs stand out for her on the record. If we’ve only got time for a couple of tracks, for example, which do we go to? “Hmm... Well, musically, it’s the last track, HOH, which stands for ‘Hoping I’m Healing’. It’s different to the rest of the record. Then lyrically, I would go with Fading Photograph, the big ballad on the album; that’s the one that takes me back to the story it tells every time, and hits me emotionally. The songs are all quite literal; I try to work into them what I was doing at the time. With that song, I was chased through the streets of London by a guy [laughs] so I have tried to make it as personal as possible, while also people can relate to some of it... Maybe not the chasing!” So the record is out (and sounds great, we should add), the foundations have been firmly laid, and you’ve already got a wealth of songwriting and gigging experience. What happens next? “In the short term for me, it’s building up a fan base that I have a relationship with; I like talking to, and hearing from them,” Nina reveals. “In the long term, I have always had a vision of being on stage in an arena with an orchestra around me. Me on a grand piano. That would be nice.” For Nina, achieving success is all about staying positive, keeping going, and hopefully the break will come. According to her manager, Kris, “there is a fine line between passion and obsession, and Nina is just on the right side of that line.” True enough, Nina? “Ha! Yes. And aside from passion and drive, things started to really kick off when I treated this like a full-time job. I would get up in the morning and connect with people on LinkedIn all day – for maybe six or seven hours. I created thousands of contacts, connected personally with maybe 50 of each 1,000, and that has been key in my career. If you literally get up and get to work, use the online tools available for five days a week rather than just wait for the gig on a Friday, then you’ll not go too far wrong. Think about the business side of it; that’s why Madonna and Taylor Swift are so successful. It’s a brand you’re building; more importantly, it’s your own brand.” We highly recommend Shapes – go grab yourself a copy at www.ninaschofield.com @nina_schofield
LOVEBOX, EAST LONDON East London venue, Fabric, exclusively hosted a stage at this year’s Lovebox, to deliver a unique nightclub experience to the festival crowd. 50 HEADLINER
Lovebox was established back in 2002 by DJ pairing, Groove Armada. What started out as a club night has evolved into an annual two-day festival held in London’s Victoria Park, where up to 50,000 music lovers gather for an eclectic mix of entertainment. Lovebox has earned a reputation for being one of the most consistently successful festivals in the capital, managing to cram in more in two days than many do in three; and in addition to the DJs, electronic music, and live bands, there’s plenty of extra curricular fun to be had, too: art, dance, general mischief, and afterparties aplenty.
This year, headline artists included Jack Garratt, Stormzy, Major Lazer, and LCD Soundsystem (who famously reformed this year). It also saw the debut of the fabric stage - a very accurate recreation of the renowned London nightclub’s Room One: a 2,000-capacity, 38-metre tent, which accommodated the likes of Kano, Goldlink, Big Narstie, Preditah, and Redders, to name a few. The fabric stage was also the only Lovebox stage to partner exclusively with a pro-audio partner; fabric joined forces with Pioneer Pro Audio and Powersoft to put together a truly killer sound system: to create that nightclubesque feel, Pioneer GS-WAVE dancefloor
“We know we can rely on K Series, because the power consumption is phenomenal.” surround stacks and XY-218 subs were deployed, along with XY-122 two-way loudspeakers – all of which was powered by Powersoft’s K Series amplifiers: Class D, supercharged, compact, and highly energy efficient. In addition, Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite software was used for the remote control and monitoring of the entire system. As a brand, Powersoft has always been the preferred amplifier for Pioneer Pro Audio, explains the firm’s pro audio manager, Alex Barrand: “We know we can rely on K Series because the power consumption is phenomenal, the capabilities are amazing, and it just gives you peace of mind,” he insists. “The excellent damping factor on the subs, in particular, is actually unbelievable.” With their condensed 1RU form factor, six K10s and four K2s were specified to drive the fabric 4.1 system, and because extra subwoofers were brought in for the Friday Drum ‘n’ Bass night, a further eight K10s were brought in to look after the additional infills. All amplifiers were run in AES-EBU, which
Barrand cites as “a more elegant and cleaner way of doing things in terms of redundancy”. The aim was to create a real club feel environment, designed to keep people in there for extended periods – and it went down a treat. Using Powersoft’s Armonía software and DSP, Barrand was also able to run the system live: “Because we had access from front of house, we could drop in the fills and subs, as the atmosphere in the room starts to build. We were all on radios, and worked direct with the DJs, so thanks to Armonía, we were able to step up the audio bit by bit. We didn’t want a massive SPL peak when the room was empty.” Pioneer Pro Audio have also designed a special Drum ‘n’ Bass preset in Armonía, which Barrand feels put them ahead of the curve: “This was tuned to Drum ‘n’ Bass on the Friday, whereas the more typical fabric club sound on the Saturday required a greater boost in the midrange, so we just switched to a second preset.” Powersoft’s Brand and Communication director, Francesco Fanicchi, commended the optimisation
of the GS-WAVE dance system, and use of specific gain structures for the two different club nights. “In an outdoor application, K Series is a perfect solution to create the feel of a nightclub,” he insists. “And, of course, the efficiency of the amplifiers, in an environment where power is scarce, is absolutely vital.” The super-sized tent also boasted a birch wood floor, not dissimilar to the one in fabric’s Room One; and the tent’s walls were double draped with damping material to control sideways reflections and contain the low frequencies. All in all, a job very well done, then? “It really has been a wonderful success,” Fanicchi admits. “It’s all been possible thanks to our working relationship with Pioneer: through the synergy of the two brands, fusing Powersoft’s electronic skills in high power and fidelity, and Pioneer’s acoustic know-how, we came up with a solution that was right in line with expectations.” www.powersoft-audio.com
One to Watch Hannah Gill
Walking on Water Based in New York, and constantly performing in and around the Big Apple, Hannah Gill & The Hours recently released their latest EP, The Water. It’s a four-track collection that comprises blues, jazz, lo-fi pop, and rock. The palette of Rhodes piano and horns mixed with contemporary guitar playing makes for a fantastically unique sound. Headliner spoke to lead singer, Hannah, whose prodigious jazz singing at only 18 years of age is a marvel in its own right; and also guitarist, Brad Hammond, who collaborates with Hannah to write and arrange the band’s songs.
e’ve been playing a lot of shows around the city, and we just played at the Gramercy Theatre,” Hannah says, sounding proud of what the band has already achieved. “We’ve been hopping all over, just trying to play as much as possible!” Brad adds: “We’ve been playing a few shows in Pennsylvania too – we’re trying to do a couple of shows a month at the moment. We released the record [The Water] on May 13th, and we’re getting radio play and press now, so everything is looking good. We’re looking to book a tour for the fall.” It’s not all that common nowadays, to work with the genres that Hannah Gill & The Hours do, so I was keen to ask what led them down this path. “I think it’s a lot to do with the music I was brought up on,” Hannah reflects. “Otis Redding, Nina Simone... Listening to people like that really helped me grow towards the blues side of music. But I also remember hearing a lot of alternative stuff like The Black Keys and The Beatles. I wouldn’t say I’ve intentionally tried to fuse all of that together, it just sort of happened.” It’s been somewhat of a musical evolution, Brad suggests: “We recorded two EPs before, and
the last one was much poppier. Lately, we’ve been writing much more R&B stuff, and we immediately felt like, ‘yeah, this is our sound.’ Once we started working more with horns, it really felt like we had a direction, and it all just happened very organically.” Moving to New York City straight after graduating from high school is by no means easy; how did Hannah feel about this transition in her formative years? “It’s great! I moved here last September, and we’ve just spent all of our time writing, rehearsing, or performing. It’s definitely a full-time job!” You get the sense that the young singer has been so busy with the band, she hasn’t had a chance yet to miss home. Hannah was born in North Carolina, but spent most of her life in Texas. “Back home, everyone was very supportive,” she says. “But things are very different now; I definitely needed to be somewhere like New York.” With Hannah and Brad’s creative partnership forming the spine of the band, I asked the two to talk about working together. At this point,
“It was really clear that we had a good dynamic and relationship right from the start.” I was already finding it quite endearing, the way Hannah always answers questions first, and then the elder Brad comes in to clarify things. “It’s very brother and sister,” Hannah says, the first to speak once more. “We speak very well of each other! With Brad obviously being a terrific guitar player, he’s better at the musicality side of the songs. So I’ll contribute the lyrics and basic melodies, and then he’ll put the greatest, jazziest chords to it and really make it his own. We’re very yin and yang to each other.” “We met each other three years ago,” Brad adds. “Hannah came to record with me as a favour, and I had no idea what to expect. As soon as she started singing, me and my studio engineer were blown away. She came back and we did a quick EP and started doing some shows. It was really clear that we had a good dynamic and relationship right from the start. I sat down with Hannah’s parents to discuss whether or not
she’d go to college, and together we all decided that we should really go for it with the music.” So what’s next for the dynamic duo and the other members of The Hours? “We just shot a video for our song, Austin, in Austin, Texas”, says Brad – a fitting location. “We had a marching band following us around in the streets, it was a really fun vibe. Otherwise, we just can’t wait to get touring and playing more around the US.” Speaking to these two, it really feels like Hannah Gill and Brad Hammond were meant to find each other and make music. And now, in the full flow of collaborating, I can’t think of anything that will stop them achieving their ambitions. You can get their EP, The Water, from iTunes and Amazon now. www.hannahgillandthehours.com
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Show Review Keb’ Mo’
KEB’ MO’ UNION CHAPEL, JULY 8TH
Keb’ Mo’s guitar felt like a reincarnation of Mahalia Jackson coming back to sing in the church one more time: pained, emotive, and glorious.”
Keb' Mo's custom pedalboard complete with two Lectrosonics R400A wireless receivers
Three-time Grammy award-winning artist, Keb’ Mo’, graced the prestigious Union Chapel stage on a Tuesday night for the London date on his Hot Pink Blues tour. A bluesy guitarist and singer with 11 albums under his belt, it was clear from the way that he quietly strolled onto the stage that he was very much at home here from the get go. With an artist like Keb’ Mo’, it is pretty inevitable that there will be an eclectic range of guitars in tow - and there is: all his axes are to die for, but in particular his green Gretsch, currently Keb’s favourite, which he describes as, “the colour of a ‘57 Chevy”. He also has one in black (why not?). And for any real guitar geeks out there, he has a fantastic custom made pedalboard: to have a crack at emulating Keb’s sound, you’ll apparently need a Mesa Boogie Flux-Five, several Empress EQs and compressors, a Boss chorus, a boost, and a delay, and if you want to go wireless (which Keb’ Mo’ does often) without losing any tonal quality, add a pair of very sweet sounding Lectrosonics R400A wireless receivers, which sit flush into the back of Keb’s board. Sitting amongst a quiet, older audience, there seemed to be a gentle buzz of anticipation that was very much amplified by rapturous applause when Keb’ Mo’ appeared from behind the curtain. This guy’s stage presence and solo guitar opening of Suitcase put everyone immediately at ease and quickly transported us from the busy hectic Upper Street to a small, unassuming smoky bar in New Orleans (the on-stage smoke machine fulfilling the job of the punter’s cigarette smoke). With a wittiness that was clear from the beginning, Keb’ Mo’ jokingly told the audience, “I prayed before I came on stage.” Hanging on his every note, the audience giggled and whooped enthusiastically at the musicianship and lyricism that Keb’ and his band offered throughout the show. Backed by drummer, Casey Wasner, bassist, Stan Sargeant, and keyboardist, Michael B. Hicks, Keb’ Mo’s band provided a secure musical foundation on which Keb’s brassy vocals and fiercely melodic guitar sat on top of; these are incredible musicians who know when to shine, and when to support. If we thought this gig would be down-tempo and relaxing, Keb’ Mo’ quickly let us know that this was very much not the case when the band burst into
the up-tempo, snare-driven, Am I Wrong. The blues master defiantly sings: “now tell me if I’m wrong to fall in love with you”, with an air of cheekiness echoed in the melodic guitar lines between phrases; a sentiment that would reverberate around the chapel throughout the night. It was during Tell Everybody I Know that the band really came alive. With Michael B. Hicks providing the shoulder-shuffle dance moves, and Stan Sargeant grooving behind the bass, the band really got into it throughout the night, with Keb’ and Stan even leaving their positions and strutting together at the front of the stage. From jokingly pointing to a woman high up on the balcony, saying, ‘I’m going to pretend that this beautiful woman just left me now’ (followed by the light but jealousy-laden giggles of the female audience members), to moving his mic around and singing to the different sides of the church in the solo Loola Loo, Keb’ very much involved us in the musical journey he took us on; we were interactive passengers, not spectators. Highlights of the evening were the very amusing Shave Yo’ Legs, and More Than One Way Home, which included an incredible bass solo from Stan; it left a strong feeling that as long as there is music, everything’s going to be alright. Another stand-out moment occurred towards the end of the night, when each member of the band got to sing a chorus of The Door: those boys can sing! Soulful, melodic interpretations of the melody in their unique styles. I especially loved Michael B. Hicks, who brought the gospel vocal runs, at which point I lost all composure and enthusiastically pointed and fanned my hands at him (we were in a church after all, and if you’ve been to a gospel church, you will know the exact wave). However, my absolute favourite of the night was Don’t Try To Explain, which moved me almost to tears (which is a rarity). It was in the latter that the soul and emotion of Keb’ Mo’s guitar playing really shone; it almost felt as though his guitar was a reincarnation of Mahalia Jackson coming back to sing in the church one more time: pained, emotive, and glorious. It is a testament to Keb’ Mo’s personality, in his singing, playing, lyricism, and the short retorts to the audience between songs, that he is all about the music. He has an innocence that has been widely lost in modern music today; there was no ego here, just a great musician who appreciates and loves music and treats it as something magic and sacred. Who he is as an artist and human being broke any barriers that come with a star being on a big stage. He stirred in us a genuine feeling that we are all one, journeying through life’s ups and downs, sharing mutual experiences; loving, laughing, crying together, and it all being OK. With two standing-ovations and a generous encore, I left the Union Chapel with my spirit uplifted, and a gentle smile on my face.
DJ Albert Neve
Albert Neve: Star Gazer Since bursting on to the scene in 2006, Catalan DJ and producer, Albert Neve, quickly garnered support and acclaim from the likes of Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, and Hardwell. Beginning his music making at just 14 years old, Neve has been making waves with his hard hitting, rave worthy EDM. Headliner caught him at the end of a long studio session to talk about his career so far, and the technology that has helped him along the way. Words Adam Protz I begin by asking Mr. Neve what releases he has in the pipeline. “I’m very proud of my new single,” he says. Conversation is fast paced, much like his music. “It’s called Interstellar, though it’s nothing to do with the movie! I have a telescope; when I want to get out of my studio and relax and chill a bit, I like to see the stars, the planets, and everything. That’s where the name of the song is coming from. The last few years, I’ve been doing more EDM and house stuff, but this is something really different. This one is more emotional.” So it’s a case of drawing much inspiration from the night sky, then?
“Yeah, I mean, I was saying to the singer on the track how I want to talk about love being universal; I want to find a relation between love and the sky, the stars and planets,” Neve explains. “After we laid down the vocals, I had to change the whole production – at first, it was very clubby, but hearing the vocals back, I wanted to create something more emotional.” We start talking about Neve becoming a DJ at just 14, and he fondly remembers times club staff had to find him a chair to stand on so people could actually see him behind the decks. “It wasn’t something too serious for me. I used to follow all the DJs here in Barcelona, and I just wanted to be like them,” he admits, adding that his friends were all into pop music and guitar bands, so his love of dance was somewhat of a solo effort. “I was so impressed the first time I heard electronic music; it was Kraftwerk, the grandfathers of electronic music. My cousin had them on tape, and told me I had to hear it. I was so hypnotised by that sound.” Neve speaks passionately about the uphill climb that was his first days in the industry: “I had to fight against everything: the labels, not having any equipment, having to teach myself music production; but when you want to fight, when you have dreams, nothing is impossible.” One of the hardest days of his fight was when he went to his parents to tell them he was dropping out of his IT engineering degree to concentrate on music. “That was the saddest day of my life,” he states. But the right decision, ultimately? “It was, yes, but at that moment, I didn’t know. I was following my feelings,
DJ Albert Neve
“When you want to fight, when you have dreams, nothing is impossible.” I couldn’t know if I would be successful or not. I can still see my parents’ faces, when they said, ‘What! After everything we have done for you?’ [smiles] But it was the right decision.” Neve has played at the world’s biggest dance music festivals, including Creamfields, Tomorrowland, and EDC. So how many of these experiences really stand out for him? “Well, I’ve played Tomorrowland two years in a row,” Neve remarks. “The second time was special, but the first one was incredible to me. It’s not about the music or the big name DJs, it’s about the experience of playing at such a big festival. When I finished playing, I went to the main stage in the crowd. It’s nice being behind the booth, then going backstage and enjoying the artists’ VIP area. But I also wanted to have the same experience as everyone. I’m not so famous that I can’t go in the crowd!” I point out that it might not be long before he’s too recognisable to do that, to which Neve laughs, and utters: ‘who knows?!’ Conversation turns to his studio kit, in particular, his Genelec monitors, which have helped him considerably in his career so far. “I have the [Genelec] 1037B speakers (which have since been replaced by the 1037C). They’re, like, 10 years old, but they rock, and work like the first day I got them. That’s the main system I have, because I love the sound of Genelec. I have some Yamaha
ones which sound crappy in comparison. In my studio, they are in the wall; this way, you get 100 percent of the power of the speakers. Speakers vibrate the air, so when they’re just mounted, normally they do that in all directions, but in the wall you can control the sound better.” It’s ultimately that the Genelec mid and high frequencies are sweet, not harsh sounding, Neve insists: “There’s a little studio shop here in Barcelona, and the guy there told me I had to try Genelec. He let me compare other speakers against them, and I just said, ‘shut up and take my money!’ “As well as the overall sound, also very important is the wide stereo feel – a lot of other systems sound dull, but these are so open. In electronic music, it’s so important to get the right stereo image that you are mixing in.” Neve tells me he wants to keep exploring different realms of house and electronic music, and to really probe the euphoric potential of dance music. With new song, Interstellar, on its way, and current single, Let the Bass Be Louder, out now, have a listen for yourself; enjoy this music, inspired by the constellations themselves. www.genelec.com
GRUMPY OLD ROADIE
Have you ever been on a cruise? She really wanted to go, and I thought, it can’t be that much different to a tour bus, surely? Sit it the lounge, have a couple of glasses of red wine and a beer, go to bed and wake up at the gig - or another country in this instance - and no load in! So I said ‘OK, let’s give it a go’. The first mistake was booking it from Southampton. We drove down, and as we arrived in the town mid-morning, it was like nighttime - this fucking great monstrosity blotted out the daylight as we approached the harbour. It was 14 floors of stainless steel, tinted glass and rivets sitting awkwardly in a harbour intended for much smaller ships. And that’s where we embarked with hoards of wheelchair-bound cruisers. It was nothing like a tour bus. It was enormous, to start with; much bigger than a thousand red double deckers all joined together. The whole of the middle section was sort of scooped out and styled like a high street with shops, bars, restaurants, more bars, places to buy pants, more bars. You get the idea. And it was very high, I suppose 80 feet at a guess. So we all meandered around whilst they readied our cabins - sorry, staterooms. On that first day, I reckon 2,000 wheelchairs must have driven over my toes. Then you get the look – if I want to crush your toes to make you like me, then I can. We weren’t enjoying it yet. When we eventually got there, the cabin was pretty splendid, I must say, making full use of the limited space available, and nothing like a bus. I couldn’t find the bunks, for instance, and then she told me that we’d actually sleep in a bed, like next to one another. This would be interesting. I needed the interweb, as we all do. It worked, as well, but then at 15 fucking dollars a day, you’d expect it to, wouldn’t you? Now this was an American operated ship but without the Americans. So you’d think that the fat contingency would be low. Wrong! I think it’s the attraction of 24/7 eating that attracts the fatties. If they’d all rushed from right to left (or topically, starboard to port), the boat would have rolled over. So we ate some good food, drank a few drinks, caught a show in the Hammersmith Apollo (it was as big, and the talent was 58 HEADLINER
far superior to the shit that I normally work for), went to bed (no bunks, so didn’t get to sleep for a few minutes), and I woke in the morning ready to do the load in. But there wasn’t one. Just hoards of fatties wearing their ‘holiday’ shorts and t-shirts with trainers and socks up to their lily-white knees, stuffing their faces with another sausage in readiness for the day’s shore excursion. But of course they couldn’t get the monstrosity of a ship anywhere near the port, so everyone had to traipse down into the bowel of the ship to find the hole in its side, and the smaller boat waiting to take the lot of us to the harbour. No wonder the French hate us so much. Every other day, their beautiful villages and towns are invaded by the ‘roast beef ’hoards of fat English looking for the ‘English pub’, and moaning about the temperature, unable to put a French sentence together between them. I was totally embarrassed. What do these locals think of us? It was a shock to me, but me and the missus buck the trend by speaking French, so we pretended not to be with them. At least I didn’t have to do a load out, but I’ve got to say that after half a dozen stops like this, I know what I’d rather be doing! We weighed ourselves when we got home. We’d put on four collective stones. Time to order a wheelchair, she said.
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