Headliner USA Issue 1

Page 1











“Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.” — Mick Jagger

©2020 QSC, LLC. All rights reserved. QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks of QSC, LLC in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. Play Out Loud is a trademark of QSC, LLC. Artist: Printz Board. Photo by Mikel Darling.


Destino, Ibiza with the d&b GSL System


At home in the most demanding club applications, a d&b system brings market-leading software and hardware to every performance. Night after night, this easy-to-use audio toolkit helps bring dancefloors to life. And, as d&b works hand in hand with the industry on innovative, patented technologies, the boundaries of what’s possible evolve. So, in shaping what’s coming next, the now becomes even more exciting. More than a sound system. See what’s possible at dbaudio.com/club





01 Welcome to the first ever issue of Headliner USA! With such an influx of talent coming out of the USA and Canada and with the USA being our second biggest territory in terms of readership and online audience, we felt that the time was right to dedicate a new magazine, podcast and video brand dedicated to capturing the best in aspiring, emerging, and A-list North American content.

Our team of UK writers and our dedicated content creation team based out of Los Angeles are excited to launch this first issue, featuring an in depth cover story interview with Jason Mraz, who reflects on writing surprise hit, I’m Yours, and why reggae has inspired his new album.

In composer world, Dave Porter talks us through the fascinating journey that has seen him score the entire Breaking Bad universe, while Pinar Toprak describes why hiring a 70-piece orchestra for her Captain Marvel score audition was a gamble that paid off.

Over in an eerily silent Nashville, we catch up with a locked-down Charles Esten, who describes the journey that led him to starring as Deacon Claybourne in TV show, Nashville, and what he’s been doing since.

Delving into tech, we learn why Lady Gaga and Sarah Paulson bring their personal Lectrosonics wireless transmitters to set on American Horror Story, and over in live sound, quarantine hasn’t stopped Kraftwerk’s FOH and monitor engineer from using d&b’s immersive Soundscape solution at home.

Singer-songwriter Audrey Mika explains why she’s embracing her weirdness (and why she dropped the mic), while Canadian DJ and producer, Whipped Cream, recalls how a life changing accident on the ice led her to the world of EDM. DJ/producer, Jauz, shares why he strives to get his ideas down as quickly as possible, while Ummet Ozcan marvels at his new Jan Moreldesigned Genelec home studio.

Meanwhile, drummer/producer Mike Avenaim explains how the AMS Neve RMX16 500 series reverb inspires him to create, and we go behind the brand at Neve with Joe Heaton to find out more about the manufacturer’s new 8424 console. We hope you enjoy the issue!

Paul Watson Editor-in-Chief, Headliner USA HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET

12 /


08 /


16 /




24 / ERIC PASLAY 30/





52 / JAUZ

58 / KRAFTWERK 62 /





NEVE 8424

82 /








99 / AJR 102 /












HELENA HOLLERAN Letting go of the fear of not sounding like her musical heroes was the turning point for San Diego-based singer-songwriter and musician, Helena Holleran, whose music career is her plan A, B, and C.

Born and raised in San Diego, an upbeat Helena Holleran is excited to be talking about music during the quarantine period, although that’s not to say that this talented artist is completely impervious to the quarantine blues. “I’ve been doing my best to stay creative throughout all this,” she says, adding that staying active has really helped her mindset, although not – as it turns out – her ankle.

“I was roller-skating and skateboarding as much as I could around in my parking garage where I live, but then I ended up spraining my ankle,” she sighs. “I feel like that was the universe telling me, ‘hey, take this time to slow down!’ I’ve always been such a workhorse, but now I’m really hunkered down, and am reevaluating my music plan for when this is all finished.” Describing her sound as a mix of “jazz, soul and r&b,” Holleran’s HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



blissed-out vocals and dreamy melodies have somewhat of a hypnotic effect on the listener, drawing influence from 60s and 70s rock and roll, r&b, folk, jazz, latin, and hints of reggae. It’s these world influences combined with her musical inspirations that brought Holleran to her calling card. Whilst watching an episode of music TV series, Storytellers, featuring John Mayer, something clicked into place: “I remember him sitting up there talking about the songs he was writing, and it was so inspiring to me to see him being so authentic and being able to communicate with the world through his music,” she remembers. One thing in particular has stuck with her to this day: “He said that his failure to sound like his heroes allowed him to sound like himself. That idea really lifted a veil from my eyes to allow me to push forward and go for my passions without the fear of not being good enough, or the fear of not being able to sound like your heroes. It allows you to sound like yourself.” And sound like herself she does – Holleran truly sounds like no one else, and has stayed true to her own HEADLINER USA


unique, soulful sound ever since, although admits it is easy to become intimidated when her influences include Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, King Pleasure, Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield, Esperanza Spalding, and Lauryn Hill.

“You know, you hear Joni Mitchell and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ll never be as good as her!’ You’ve got to try and follow that joy because I know my heart. I love playing music; there’s no plan A, B, or C, you know? Music is my plan A, B, and C. It’s my way of communicating with the world and where my soul feels the most natural and free. So I know I have to make this dream happen.” As an aspiring artist that usually plays small venues several times a week, Holleran says the way to stand out amongst the crowd is by trying not to:

“I think if I’m too mindful my voice starts becoming unnatural,” she admits. “The way I do it is just by being myself, because the audience responds better to authenticity more than anything. When I’m listening to artists, I can tell right away when their soul is shining through, because everybody has their own unique voice, and that’s the beautiful and endearing thing. I try to stay in line with that method. We have to remember why we’re doing this in the first place, because this is our joy – our everything. That should be your only driving force, and people will be able to recognize that.” Holleran prefers to record her music live – particularly outside, finding that it captures the tone of her music perfectly. Her most recent release is the four-track EP, Confluence, which was recorded live at Studio West in San Diego. Painting a picture of things coming together, or a place where things merge or flow together, Confluence is written from a place of authenticity. “My influences really stem from my life experiences,” she confirms. “Confluence being the merging of two rivers felt like this collection of songs that I was recording at that point in my life. It feels like it was a collection of all my experiences up to that point, from being a little girl in my parents’ home, to emerging as an adult, finding my identity, and living on my own independently – kind of like a blossoming of my essence in a way. I felt like I had to release this collection in order to set forth the new chapter of my life and my music.”



#PLAYOUTLOUD Being an independent artist means that Holleran has creative freedom over her music and image, which is something she absolutely relishes: “That freedom is amazing,” she enthuses. “Before quarantine, I was gigging at least four to five times a week. What really allowed me to start booking these gigs independently around town was having the right gear, thanks to QSC Audio. That really took my setup to the next level; it’s so easy for me to take my kit around to each of these gigs. And especially someone like me, who is not tech savvy at all!” Holleran’s QSC setup consists of a TouchMix-8 digital mixer and a pair of K10.2 active loudspeakers. “That really changed my whole game! To me, being part of QSC’s ‘Play Out Loud’ family means playing with your authentic voice and style with confidence that you’re sounding great, because you have very reliable and strong gear that you’re playing with. It’s a very easy and workable setup for independent artists going from gig to gig on their own without a roadie. Their support is essential [for aspiring artists] because we really need

people out there that are advocating for us as we’re on this journey and trying to get our names out there.” Holleran has plenty of advice to offer any aspiring talent out there, but her main suggestion is simple: don’t be afraid to take risks and make a mistake. “Most of the time the audience isn’t gonna know when you’re making a mistake,” she says. “The only way to truly get better is through exposure therapy of sorts – to notice doing it and following your joy. If you’re living in your joy and you’re doing everything right, and as long as you just keep hustling and getting involved with your music community, jamming with musicians, and keeping an open mind to other types of music and supporting other artists along your journey, you’re on the right path.” SPONSORED BY












Kevin Garrett is a Grammy-nominated pop artist and producer, signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label, and picking up the mentioned nomination for his work on Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade. We chat to him about how creative he’s been keeping during the quarantine period.

“There’s all sorts of names [for lockdown] here in the States: ‘Shelter In Place’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘Isolation Pod’, whatever makes people try and embrace it a bit more,” opens Garrett. Usually based in Los Angeles (as you’d probably expect), Garrett is curently at home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: “I was quarantining out in LA until late March working on my new record. But then we hit this ‘shut the world down’ situation and I made a mad dash home to be closer to my family. I do have a home studio set up here, so fortunately I have been able to continue working.” There is a joke in the music community that producers choose to self-isolate anyway all day in their studios, so what’s new? “Yeah, I’m looking at it with a ‘glass

half full’ mentality,” Garrett smiles. “I don’t like going out that much anyway! And because I travel so much for work, I don’t get to spend much time at my apartment, so it’s actually kind of nice.” Juggling the two hats of being a producer and an artist in his own right has paid dividends in Garrett’s case. Having released his debut EP, Mellow Drama, in 2015, it was only a year later when he found himself in a situation where a song he had written was to be used for the Beyoncé album, Lemonade. Indeed, Pray You Catch Me became the opening song on the album, which Metacritic lists as the eighteenth most criticallyacclaimed album of all time. “About a year out of school, I had some demos which I played to a few management and publishing types,” he says. “One of them happened to also go to New York University and

work at Roc Nation (Jay Z’s record label). He played the demos to Jay, and I found out Beyoncé wanted to cut one of them. This was when I’d just signed the publishing deal with them. This was my first song placement, so it was kind of weird for the first one to be for Beyoncé! Right place, right time I suppose. And then two years later, she released Lemonade.” Knowing Garrett puts so much time, love and energy into every song he writes, I ask if there was still a hint of bittersweetness in giving a song away, even if it was to one of the biggest pop stars ever. “It’s definitely bittersweet!” he concurs. “On the one hand, it’s opened so many doors for me in the music world and beyond. But on the other hand, it’s like giving away a child! There was still a back and forth on that decision,





as the lyrics are so personal. She didn’t change so much of what I sent in the end — it’s me playing piano and a couple of other instruments in the final song. And then a funny thing is some people will want me to play the song at my shows, while others will say, ‘why did he just cover Beyoncé?’”

shift for putting music out during this time, but thankfully my audience have still fully received it. Whether you’re in your car, out for a walk or staying at home, clearly everyone is still listening to music. Of course, it is strange releasing a song, and then not being able to go out and perform it for people!”

2020 has seen Garrett release his latest EP, Made Up Lost Time, featuring lead single, Gone Again.

Thankfully, he has a home studio, which is centred around a Universal Audio Apollo Twin and Pro Tools:

“I know some people are holding their music back until they can tour again,” he says. “But it was never going to stop me putting this music out. There’s been a bit of a paradigm

“I’ve been using Pro Tools since my college days – I’m a creature of old habits,” he smiles. “When I’m editing, I love using the SoundToys plugins, and I’m also a fan of Goodhertz. I love


Valhalla’s reverbs as well. Oh, and the RC20 from XLN. Those are my go-to collection of effects. For my speakers, I have a pair of Focals, which do the job great for me.” With Garrett so keen to share his light with us in these trying times, despite taking a big financial hit from not waiting until he can tour this new music, we’d suggest the least you can do is go and stream the heck out of new EP, Made Up Lost Time. Because if it’s good enough for Beyoncé, you’re very likely to enjoy it yourself.

Genelec RAW

Easy on the eye. Easy on the environment. Introducing RAW, an eco-friendly reimagining of our most iconic studio, AV and home audio models. Featuring a distinctive, recycled-aluminium MDE enclosure design, RAW loudspeakers require no painting and less intensive finishing than standard models. The result is a unique design aesthetic that allows the raw beauty of the aluminium to shine through. And because it’s Genelec, you know it will sound as good as it looks – in any setting. We will be donating a percentage of every RAW speaker sold to the Audio Engineering Society’s fundraising initiative – helping this much-loved organisation continue its valuable work throughout the current COVID-19 crisis.

For more information visit genelec.com/raw







killer sound




AMERICAN HORROR STORY Killer clowns, alien abductions, witches, demonic nuns, human voodoo dolls, vampire Lady Gaga, redneck cannibals, ghosts, American cults, and the end of the world – no supernatural or disturbing stone is left unturned in FX network’s American Horror Story, and fans have long since tried to keep up with the show’s diabolical plots twists. Production mixer, Brendan Beebe, reflects on the only thing that is predictable in the anthology horror series...

“I first encountered Lectrosonics as a brand in, I think, 1996,” Beebe reminisces. “Warner Brothers used that kit exclusively, and with each new generation, it just got better. Then the Digital Hybrid technology just changed the whole game – it became the gold standard in Hollywood.” According to Beebe, who started out as a driver for a sound rental company – “they hired me because I was the only guy who showed up

wearing a tie,” – the first factor that makes Lectrosonics the gold standard for AHS is its dynamic range. The FX network’s American Horror Story has become one of the most awarded series on cable television, each new season eagerly ranked against the last. Garnering 28 Primetime Emmy and 50 Creative Arts Emmy awards since its 2011 debut, its signature is a core cast that returns each season as new characters facing (or often, being) HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



new menaces. This ensemble has included Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga, Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson, with Macaulay Culkin set to join the show’s highly anticipated next season. Paulson in particular is known for being proactive about the role of audio in capturing an ideal performance, bringing her own Lectrosonics SSM Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitter to every shoot, and American Horror Story also employs SMV and HMa transmitters, UCR411a receivers, and the IFB-T4 and IFB-R1B pairing for monitoring. “There are intimate scenes that explode into big drama on a dime,” Beebe explains. “Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters might be the two most dynamic actors I’ve ever recorded in that respect. They can go from a whisper to a loud scream very naturally. But thanks to the gain range and the 30dB limiters on the transmitters, I rarely – if ever – run into issues with clipping. Sarah carries her own SSM everywhere, as did Lady Gaga on the Hotel season.” Lady Gaga’s prowess as a singer directly informed her turn as the vampire queen of a haunted hotel, and to record it all, Beebe got HEADLINER USA

he reaches for his SMV belt-pack transmitters:


particularly creative: “There was one scene going down a hallway where I asked her, ‘Are you going to whisper or scream here?’ She looked at me slyly and said, ‘You never know!’ That’s legit – an actor might decide right in the moment what works best for that scene. So, we flew two booms above her, each with an HMa plug-on transmitter on the mic. I set the gain on one between 40 and 45 for whispering, and the other between 12 and 18 to get any screaming. It was flawless. One mic or the other always had a signal the editors in post could use, so that became our way of working with her for a lot of scenes.” When Beebe needs output power to punch through a difficult environment,

“I always try to coordinate with other productions that might be in the same area,” he says, “but in LA, we’ve gotten squeezed into pretty much the A1 frequency range, about 470 to 537MHz. Now, combine that with the fact that AHS is pretty much a three-camera shoot all the time. Each camera has a Wi-Fi video transmitter on it, working around 1.9GHz. These send picture to the monitors for the focus pullers. Then we have IFBs and comms, so it’s just this saturated field of RF before we record the first word of dialogue. If the 50-milliwatt setting on the SMVs isn’t getting me what I need, 100mW usually does. If things get really crazy, their ability to go up to a quarter-watt always saves the day.” Another crucial factor is that such adjustments can be made remotely: “We all have the LectroRM control app on our phones,” notes Beebe. “If anything squelches the signal, I can bump up the output power without interrupting the scene to reposition the SMV on an actor’s body. When Sarah shows up on set, her first stop is our department. She soundchecks whispers, screams, and everything in between, and then goes on to


rehearse dialogue. When she’s done shooting, we put her SSM to sleep using the app. “We do the same with Jennifer Love Hewitt on 9-1-1,” he adds. “I want to mention that it’s refreshing to work with an actor who’s so aware of audio. Sarah always tries to make sure we get what we need, and she even had the wardrobe department make little silk transmitter pouches that match her clothing, so the SSM totally disappears.” Lectrosonics’ toughness has been a good match for the frenetic action and supernatural violence that’s par for the course on American Horror Story:


blood, you name it. We just clean out the connectors and they keep going. On a show called Bunheads we even had one get dropped in a toilet just before a big dance number with a Broadway singer. I cleaned it up, took a hair dryer to it, she went out and sang, and the take was perfect. “Lectrosonics’ reliability is just unprecedented,” he enthuses. “Whatever the job, I know it’s just going to work and that as a sound guy, I’m going to have a good day. I just love the stuff.” LECTROSONICS.COM

“I’ve worked on three seasons so far, and the only time I’ve ever sent a piece to the factory is to change the external body because of dents and scratches,” says Beebe. “The internals have never failed. Transmitters have been dropped, banged, run over, drenched in fake HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


ANABEL ENGLUND This is Englund


“I don’t know how to just have a conversation that’s not about anything,” she tells Headliner. “I like to know who I’m talking to. Where are you from? What are the HEADLINER USA

Known for weaving personal lyrics over house music beats, the deepthinking singer-songwriter was born to a musical family in Southern


Anabel Englund doesn’t do small talk.

things that you like? Why are you the way that you are? What do you want to do with your life? Who are you? I want to tell you who I am. I don’t know how to be anything else other than personal, because I want people to feel connected to me. I want people to feel like they know me – and I want to get to know people as well.”


After achieving huge success as part of electronic music group, Hot Natured, Anabel Englund is ready to branch out on her own. For this Californian singer-songwriter, her solo music means nothing unless it connects with people.





California and grew up attending Hollywood premieres surrounded by artists. Forever bolstered by the infectious Hot Natured tune, Reverse Skydiving, and her many collaborations with the likes of Lee Foss, Jamie Jones, and Marc Kinchen (MK), Englund’s sultry voice has been heard from her hometown in Southern California, to shores around the world. Staying true to the same energy that galvanized audiences while performing with Hot Natured, Englund is now ready to share her personal connection with music, creative writing, and people much more prominently in her solo works. Although admittedly, lockdown has made achieving that connection more difficult: “I’ve done a few writing sessions, but not nearly as many as I did before all this happened,” she admits. “I’m the kind of person that needs to connect. It’s really hard for me to truly connect [at the moment], especially when you’re doing something so intimate in writing a song. But on the other hand, where that’s been slowing down, I’ve been doing a lot of DJing, gathering tracks that I want to use, making mixes and playlists, and getting a lot of things ready for my new music to be released.” Music and the arts are in Englund’s blood – her grandmother is Academy Award-winning film and TV star, Cloris Leachman, who helmed a family of actors, musicians, and creative personalities that inspired Englund to find her own artistic outlet. Although she says she was always realistic about her expectations for success from early on: “Growing up, I never wanted to just be like, ‘I’m going to be a singer and that’s it’ – and ‘I’m not going to try anything else’. I was thinking

realistically. If I was going to try to be a singer, the chances of making it are slim to none, you know? I always wanted to do music, but it was never like I was trying to be a singer. So I feel so lucky to just kind of have it happened, but that’s why I feel bad for people who are just like, ‘Okay,

I’m going to quit everything and be a singer and just go for it,’ – because it is just so much work and persistence. I know that sounds kind of dreary, but it’s the reality of things.” Helping her find success was a video Englund uploaded to YouTube, which caught the attention of Disney’s ABC Family. It was then that she met electronic music group, Hot Natured’s Foss and Jones, and producer Kinchen (MK), who invited her to sing on a track. From there, Englund fell in love with the house music scene. “All of a sudden, I was recording with my idols and then after that I was doing a world tour. I was like, ‘Whoa! What is my life right now?’ It was crazy. It wasn’t like I knew that’s what I was going to do, or I had planned to do that, or it was my goal. It just kind of all happened that way. And I obviously wanted to do that,” she adds quickly. “But it wasn’t on a vision board or anything like that.” England featured on Hot Natured’s song Electricity, released through Hot Creations – a track that was lauded in the electronic music community and added to rotation on BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix playlist, bringing Englund into the


spotlight of deep house music. The next three singles from Hot Natured - Reverse Skydiving, Mercury Rising and Emerald City - all feature vocal and songwriting collaborations from Englund, who also played with the group at Glastonbury, Sonar, Eastern Electrics, T in the Park, Bestival and Park Life. “I really was thrust into a world that changed my life dramatically,” she recalls. “I feel like I just grew up really fast. For our first ever live show at the O2 Academy in Brixton, I looked at the venue and thought, ‘It’s not that big, we’re good’. And then I saw all the people in there…” After that initial performance, something shifted for Englund: “My makeup was very precise and my hair was very tight – up and done. I didn’t realise how nervous I was going to be! The right after that, it was like, ‘I want my makeup darker, I want my hair sexier – I want to let it down more and just be more loose’. It went from feeling like going from the way I felt I needed to be, to all of a sudden feeling really in my body and sexy – channelling this thing that I get to be when I perform. It really gave me my footing in performing for sure. I’m grateful for that.” Englund is excited to spread her own wings and carve a name for herself away from Hot Natured: “I’ve always wanted to do stuff on my own and not really depend on anyone or rely on someone to be able to make money,” she says. “Signing to Area 10 through Ultra has been really fun for me because I’ve made a bunch of music on my own and I’m finally able to put it out.” Ultra licensed Englund’s track, So Hot and put out the MK x Nightlapse remix version, quickly racking up over HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


ANABEL ENGLUND This is Englund




“It’s just blowing up!” she says excitedly. “It’s climbing the Billboard dance charts, which is crazy. The first time I played So Hot was a show in Boston, and I was like, ‘will the crowd like it?’ Because it’s not like a house track; it’s more of an indie-dance track. I performed it and everyone was singing the words. I was shocked! It just made me feel so happy that even before I signed to Ultra, So Hot – just from my fan base alone – was doing something. Then when the So Hot remix got signed, it just gave this extra breath of life to the original and the remix.” Another recent track of Englund’s making waves is See The Sky (Tracy Young Remix), which is the unlikely result of a 15 second loop that was sent to her by a friend. “I was like, ‘what is that? You have to send me that right now!’ I instantly heard the melody and I heard the words in my head. I needed to write this track immediately! He was like, ‘it’s just a loop, it’s not even done. I’m still in bed!’ I said, ‘well get out of bed and send it to me ASAP before the info gets lost’. It was just one of those tracks where all the words were built in me already and I just needed to get them out on paper. Hearing that loop unlocked something.” Englund sees the track as an ode to herself and humanity as a way of recognizing the light inside, and not being afraid to shine it: “A lot of people sometimes feel like they’re not enough or that they’re


alone; that even if they tried, it wouldn’t matter,” she says. “It’s my message to humanity that we’re all connected. We’re all a family and I need you, basically. It’s really important to me because I wasn’t planning on it coming out during this time, but it’s interesting because of the lyrics: ‘Where would I go if I could fly? Would I see my ma and my pa, give them a big hug?’ Being stuck in quarantine, it’s true! I haven’t seen my mom or my dad in a while and I wish I could just give them a big hug and tell them I love them. The song is for people who feel stuck in life, who don’t decide to take that chance of what they know is right.”

– it’s more about creating a vibe than mixing everything in precisely and doing tricks and turns on the CDJs. For me, it’s just about having fun.”

Englund describes her journey into DJing as a result of being practical more than anything, although she’s never regretted it for one second:

“I am on the lookout for more women in the scene. I think being signed to Ultra has opened my eyes to the women in the house music scene, and I hope women keep shining their light. Whenever I hear another woman singing on a bass track and then it has a sick remix, I’m for sure playing it!”

“I got into DJing because I was shooting myself in the foot! People were booking me all around the world and most of the time I’m playing a 30-45 minute set of just me singing. But I also need to bring a DJ with me to play my set. DJing has opened so many doors for me and it allows me to fill the spot instead of needing to pay for another DJ. I can just do it all myself, and it’s also fun. If I can learn, then why don’t I learn to just be better and perfect myself?”

On the music industry being male dominated, Englund is actively trying to work with more women: “It’s still not male dominated 100% – I think women are doing an excellent job,” she notes. “But I’m also looking out for them – I’m searching for them. If I go to a festival, it’s mostly male agents, male managers, male promoters - which is fine, but I think definitely women are finding their voice and being accepted more.

Modestly describing herself as ‘a beginner’ when it comes to DJing, Englund uses a Pioneer CDJ mixer and a gold Telefunken mic. “For me, it’s not all about technicalities




Heartbeat Higher




Eric Paslay captured lightning in a bottle when recording his new song, Heartbeat Higher, in pretty much one live take. He reflects on writing the song of the decade, and the art of putting a life story into three minutes.





Although it’s all blue skies in Nashville when speaking to Eric Paslay, he quickly points out that the Tennessee capital was just hit by a tornado, rapidly followed by lockdown, which has seen him take the opportunity to flex his green fingers. “I’ve dug a bunch of holes,” he says in an unmistakable Texan accent. “We’ve been muscling into the backyard – pulling and grunting and probably pulling some hernias! Quarantine time has worked out for us getting to rebuild the garden. The sun is shining, and good things are growing!” When he’s not tending to his garden, the country music singer and songwriter can usually be found doing what comes naturally to him: performing. Last year, when choosing which city to record a live album in, Paslay landed on Glasgow, saying that he fell in love with the fans’ passion and energy last time he played there.


“The color of my beard says I’m probably from Scotland or Ireland, but I’m actually from both!” he explains. “I always confuse Irish and Scottish people when I say I’m Scotch-Irish, plus I’m also Czech and German; I’m just a mutt from Texas! I’ve got all kinds of things in me!”

songs for a publishing company for years – the idea being that you get noticed and secure yourself a record deal along the way. As a consequence of that, Paslay has written several hit singles for other artists, and humbly says that he owes his career to one artist in particular:

It had always been a dream of Paslay’s to record a live album, after being inspired by Eric Clapton’s Unplugged record as a child:

“The stars lined up and I got a record deal, and then three months later my song, Barefoot Blue Jean Night, got put out by Jake Owen – and it ended up being the song of the decade! It got played the most in the last decade, which is just mind blowing,” he reflects. “I mean, I moved to Nashville to be a singer, but Willie Nelson did the same thing... I guess I’m just trying to be a Bob Dylan! I’ve just been very very fortunate and lucky to be a successful writer and singer, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s strange when people start telling you your story; you’re like, ‘I did that?’ I guess I did!”

“That really inspired me as a young musician on my couch. It’s cool to tell stories and be real with people at those shows, and Glasgow just came together. They’re always a fun, rowdy bunch, as well as everywhere in the UK. I love playing in the UK. Well, heck – we’re supposed to be playing right now, but that got cancelled…” If you want to make it in Nashville, you need to be a prolific songwriter. Paslay took that route, churning out




Heartbeat Higher

Outside of the US, the UK in particular has taken country music to its heart – shaking off its (unfairly) uncool perception in a few short years, as evidenced by the annual Country 2 Country festival held simultaneously in London, Dublin, and Glasgow over three days. For Paslay, it all comes down to connecting to music made with love, and the stories that are told: “All music is inspired from somewhere, and country music came from Irish, Scottish, and I’m sure English storytelling and folk stories. I don’t know, maybe we’re stubborn,” he laughs. “There’s plenty of people you’ve never heard of who are just mind-blowingly talented. Chris Stapleton was at Universal Records for almost 10 years or something like that. Then finally, Justin Timberlake got him on the CMA Awards and history happened. And I’m just using that as an example that there’s mind-blowing talent there. When I’m walking through the streets in the UK, there’s some talented singers and performers just on the street, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘they’re better or are as good as a lot of people who are famous,’ you know?” The point he is trying to get across, he says, is that fame shouldn’t be the reason to start making music: “You’re making music because you love it – you can’t help but make it!” he asserts. “Hopefully, people will realize that you don’t do something just to be famous. You do it because you’re gonna do it anyway. And that’s what Stapleton was doing. There’s a lot of singers that you’ll never hear who are incredible, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t great. That doesn’t mean they’re not special. It just means that the business deal didn’t line up for them, or who knows. I hope that those people still smile and they play music wherever they are for their friends or family, or for however many people are listening. I think that’s the sweetest way to look at that picture.” For Paslay, it’s all about the storytelling:


“I think we’re all looking for love, we’re all looking for meaning, and we’re all wanting to have a good time. The best stories inspire your heart and inspire your dreams to reach for really great things. I love very artistic songs, and I always try to put my ‘Picasso line’ in there,” he discloses. “I always strive for that – on the first line or something I like to intrigue people and paint them a pretty picture before I throw them into the world I’m about to put them in! “Stories are real life, or at least real emotion that we know can be true, or that we want to feel or want to believe in. I think it’s one of the coolest little magic tricks God has given us: it’s an amazing thing that we can put a whole life story in three minutes.” Paslay has learnt that not all people in the industry are trustworthy or have peoples’ best interests at heart, but has a knack for feeling them out and a suggestion on what to do with them: “You can tell if someone has a kind heart or not,” he explains. “I think there are certain towns and certain places where you’re always afraid that someone’s just out to con you or take your money, and heck, they might be! You just have to learn that you don’t work with them anymore. Ultimately, in Nashville – which I love about it – if you’re not nice and you screw people over, eventually I think you should be kicked out of town. I don’t have respect for people who take advantage and steal, and I think the karma of doing bad things will catch up with you and people won’t work with you anymore. If you’re not a nice person, you shouldn’t have respect, and people shouldn’t look up to you. My goal is to be kind and have fun and realize that you can catch amazing music with anyone you know. You just have to show up with an open heart and an open mind, be unafraid and have fun doing it – and know that it might not ever be heard. And that’s okay. Or it might be the song of the decade and you were just having fun playing it!”






Heartbeat Higher

There is a deep respect that musicians in Nashville have for one another, and Paslay wants to make room for everyone to have their moment: “Heck, there’s 52 number one songs that can happen every year. Record labels will hate me saying it, but I don’t need three weeks at number one; give me the number one, we’ll get on a chart, give me a plaque, and I want to get out of the way for the new kids to have a hit. If it’s a hit, people are gonna keep playing it. If it’s not a hit, it’s gonna be on the radio and then gone and no one ever remembers that. If it really was a true hit, then you’re going to keep getting streams and people are going to keep hearing it. Anyway, those are my deep thoughts on the music business and how I would like to share spots,” he laughs. Paslay’s recent single, Heartbeat Higher, (featuring Sarah Buxton) was recorded at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville. Fans will recognize the song from Paslay’s live sets, but this marks the song’s first official recording, which was captured in ‘pretty much’ a live take. “Just going in the studio when you have incredible musicians who are just totally open to catching the moment…” he trails off. “A lot of the time in the studio you cut to click, which means you have the tempo


constantly going at whatever it is – 120 beats per minute, or whatever. Probably for 80% of this record, we did not cut to a click, we just followed the drummer. I always think your heartbeat doesn’t always go the same tempo when you get excited – it goes a little faster, so I’m sure a couple of beats click faster on the choruses because we got excited,” he laughs. The song’s music video captures the recording process in the studio: “The crazy thing is the vocals on the record are the ones we cut live together; the magic happened – it lined up. A lot of times in the studio, the band records the song and then you come back weeks later and record 800 takes of the song and then they chop it up into 800 different pieces, and then there’s your vocal take – it’s amazing what we can do in the studio with cutting up vocals. But these vocals were live, in the moment, and I love that we filmed it because you can see the singing when it happens. Those are

the moments we live for as singers, and I think as music fans. We caught lightning in a bottle.” Before Paslay leaves to attend to his garden, he shares his parting thoughts on the sense of unity that music instills in listeners, and the way it can express things that are hard to voice – particularly for men: “That’s the amazing thing with music. It helps guys tell girls how they really feel. Love is such a strong emotion, so sometimes it’s hard to actually get the air out to really tell someone how deep you love them, or honestly how deep you miss them. I don’t take it lightly that I have the opportunity to share the soundtrack of a lot of peoples’ lives.” ERICPASLAY.COM



From the Heart

Photograph: Sheryl Nields





Maia Sharp’s critically acclaimed debut album, Hardly Glamour, came out in 1997; and over the next 23 years she has made eight solo albums including a 2002 collaboration with Art Garfunkel. She has worked with a string of top artists including Lisa Loeb and Carole King, and her songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, The Chicks, and Cher. We chat with Sharp about her songwriting process as she shares some stories from the road, and reveals why she now calls Nashville home.




“I got to Nashville at the beginning of 2019, and it probably took a year to settle in - then in 2020, my part of Nashville got hit by a tornado, so while recovering from that, I got the [corona] virus,” opens Sharp with a laugh. “I’m laughing because it was a real ‘laugh or cry’ moment, and I think it was due to the tornado that I got it, as I was around more people raising funds [for the tornado]. Everyone was out that weekend, and it started to show up, and by March 10th I had it – and that then turned into pneumonia!” Thankfully, Sharp had kicked it into touch within two weeks – but she admits it distracted her from the weirdness of the isolation because, well... she was already isolated! “I was late to the party with the anxiety, but I am definitely feeling it now,” she admits, with a smile. Conversation turns to the quarantine – and how creativity is still somehow finding a way through. “I started doing some Zoom writing sessions and live shows; I was sceptical at first, but I still feel the connection with people, especially as you can see the thumbnails of the people watching – you’re kind of one click closer to everybody being in the room together.” It’s weird singing into the back of your phone though, right? “Oh it is so weird! I feel like it’s still in that searching mode, and a lot of that is because we don’t really know when we’re going back to the real world.” Sharp is pretty reflective in terms of what she has learnt from this isolation period so far. “It’s really interesting to learn about your friends and yourself: how do you respond when you’re upset; do you go further inside yourself, or do you reach out? And this has made me realize that I am a little less of an extrovert


than I thought I was! [laughs] I find myself reaching out to friends more – and when I was sick, I would hear from my friends every day. Now it’s a kind of ongoing foxhole buddy thing, and we’re helping each other through this.

anyone he introduced me to within his songwriting fraternity.”

“I have a ‘things that I am thankful for’ list happening every morning, and that really helps. And I always find something... The new rain, the train in the distance... It sounds hippy dippy, but it’s actually helpful. Then I started a ‘silver lining list’ with a friend: what is going to come out of this hardship that’s maybe going to make things a little better than before? And even if you learn a little more about yourself and your friends, that’s something.”

“I started out on saxophone and started working around LA,” she says. “I played in jazz bands and horn sections and did a lot of session work; and when I got to college for it, I was probably 20 years old, so halfway through school - I realised ‘this is cool, but it’s not everything’. I wasn’t playing and writing the kind of music that I loved, or that I was raised on. I grew up on Joni [Mitchell] and Bonnie Raitt and Ricky Lee Jones, Paul Simon... so that’s when I started to write in the way I am writing now.”

Sharp has been coming to Nashville to write for over 20 years, but only 18 months ago did she choose to take the plunge and get a place there. “I’d had friends here for some time, but I was always aware that it might be different as a resident. But in that year and a half, it’s proven that the people who I thought were going to be my close circle really are. It’s really helpful. Part of my move is that I’m single for first time in 21 years, so I have a lot of stuff to work through – so there would have been an extra layer of sadness if I found out my friends weren’t really my friends! But they really are, and I’ve found Nashville to be a very supportive place, and definitely more community-oriented than Los Angeles. It’s not LA’s fault, but all my best friends live an hour away there, and here they’re like three minutes down the road.” Sharp’s father, Randy Sharp, was a very well respected songwriter who also spent a lot of time in Nashville when he was writing: “He started making regular trips starting during the 80s. My dad was my songwriting mentor: he is such a craftsman, and it’s safe to say I learned more from him than

Originally, Sharp thought she would be a player rather than a writer – so her road into songwriting was a little later than many of her friends.

And what a decision that was. Years down the line, Sharp not only wrote for her hero – Bonnie Raitt – but the two became close friends. That must have been quite something? “Oh, there is no higher level of validation! To feel such a connection to her as a kid and then to always want to meet her and hear my songs... [pauses] My first dream was to play sax for her, and through the writing as she cut three of my songs - I got to open [a show] for her, and then she asked me to sit in, and there I was playing sax for Bonnie Raitt! But only because of the songwriting trail. And we’re still really good friends. She checked on me a lot while I was sick, and she’s as cool as you’d think she is.” And what about working with the legend that is Carole King? “Amazing again! [laughs] She is in it for the work, you know? We met at a songwriting retreat in France. The head of my label and my first publisher, he ran it – he had a castle in France and had a wild idea that turned out to be really cool: to invite 24 songwriters from all around the world,




From the Heart

and have us write in groups of three every day, then record the song that evening, then go again in a different group of three the following day. I was 26, totally jet lagged, freaked out, and worried if I could handle it... And on my second day, I am writing with Carole King! She was literally jeans and t shirt and ‘hey, what are we gonna do today?’ So cool.” We chat a little about Sharp’s approach to songwriting - it’s something she has really honed over the years. “It definitely goes in waves,” she admits. “Some weeks I’ll write every day, but some just roll by and I focus on other stuff – but I think I need that just to store it up, you know? I am always taking notes on my phone - or if there is something that happens, and I need to get it out, this is the way to do it – songs usually are the only way for me.

seem like they came from the same place. “Wow... Good call, man..! This whole record is very timely for me, as so much of my life changed between mid-2018 up to now - there have been a lot of trials and that is definitely reflected in the album,” she explains. “I feel like since that first album, every one has got a little more real and honest to what I am actually living. I used to observe, and was more interested in the craft of writing and telling the story of a friend or something that happened to me, but from the perspective of someone else in the story – but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I need to get real and stay real - and those songs are the ones I connect to now.” And now you’re eight albums in... with each album, you’ve had to dig a little deeper, right?

“I’ll record into my phone first, then when I have a few hours, I’ll go into my studio. I do a lot of recording on my own, and I am very fortunate now as I can engineer myself, so I come down into the studio, where I work from a PC running Reaper. I have my [Rupert Neve Designs] Portico preamp, which has been working for me for years, and then I go into my RME Babyface Pro interface. I invest more in hardware than the plugins and the software thing, because it makes so much sense to me that it frees up the creative side of my brain, and I can roll through the tech side and still form an idea and do a vocal, or record a guitar part. And I am also the producer..! [smiles] And once I have come at the song from every angle, I have tried a bunch of stuff, taken all the walks alone, then it’s time to bring in some players - it’s album time.”

“Yeah, I think so. And it might be a blessing that I needed to get this one out. This was for me also – and I should know this because the songs that have been recorded by other artists are usually songs that I am surprised they have chosen,” she says. “I felt a connection to those songs, but I didn’t think anybody else would. With Bonnie [Raitt], two of the three she did I was like ‘Really? Bonnie is feeling that? OK, yes please!” And The Chicks doing Home – that was an acoustic demo that my dad and I wrote. We thought it was just something that was nourishing for us, but my publisher heard it and thought The Chicks needed to hear it. So if you feel a connection, it’s probably human, and another human will probably feel that also. So I am tapping into that, I really put the pedal to the metal – andI really connect to these songs... It’s from the gut.”

Sharp’s latest record is a real departure: darker on a lot of levels than normal, but the production remains lush. I suggest that three of the tracks really sit together: Mercy Rising, When The World Doesn’t End, and Missions,

Conversation turns to Sharp’s working relationship with Art Garfunkel...


“Art hadn’t written when we collaborated. He had written prose, but hadn’t written songs – Billy Mann

had a hunch that this collaboration would be a kind of safe place for him to do that. So a couple of the songs we started with prose he had already written, and then we set the music to it - and once we got rolling with a couple of those, he was comfortable for us to write some from the beginning. “It was intimidating for sure, but I could sense he was also a little intimidated by the situation as he was gonna be a writer – it was a new realm for him. Something like that levels the field a little bit. I toured the US and the UK with Art - lots of shows - and every night I experience the surreality of that. And there was a lot of unison vocals with me – so to try to blend with him, when you consider his ratio of air to voice is so high, I really had to get my shit together. I remember in the studio before we toured he wanted to record us together, as it was a unison part. To get the air blend right, I literally had to go and get a stool I could lean on otherwise I would faint..! [laughs] And he just brought it like that: every day, every night. It seemed effortless to him.” And was there anything specific that she took from that time with Art? “I think becoming a stronger singer, and finding the poise on stage in any situation. Bonnie helped me with this, too – they both just own it, especially as you know what else might be going on. There was a point where we all got sick on tour, so you know what everybody is battling – but when Art was sick, he just came out there and nobody in the audience would have known. And I knew to strive for that, but standing so close to it, I really got a lesson – this is how you do it. And he’s not even faking it, he takes on that strength every single night.” MAIASHARP.COM

75 Years of Sennheiser. We look back on a rich history of seven and a half decades of innovation, expertise and attention to detail. Discover all stories, magic moments and special offers. www.sennheiser.com/75years



On the Move








Audrey Mika has gone from YouTube sensation to a credible artist in a few shorts years. The talented rising star explains why she’s embracing her weirdness, and why she dropped the mic.

have so many amazing supporters and I truly wouldn’t be here without them. I love how they have been watching for so long and they love the mic, even though it’s not really part of the aesthetic anymore.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, rising star Audrey Mika first rose to prominence as a YouTube sensation, amassing a staggering online following in a relatively short space of time with her unique covers of popular hits. At only 19 years old, she has accumulated over 1 million YouTube subscribers and millions of monthly Spotify listeners. It all started when she uploaded a few videos to YouTube – aided by a pink toy microphone.

How did the infamous mic become a part of her online persona?

“I still can’t believe every time I log onto my YouTube and I see that,” she admits. “I can’t believe that many people care about this! When I uploaded my first YouTube cover video, I just did it for fun and I always did it because I loved it and I wanted it to be out there for everyone to see. I’m so grateful for everything.” Not that she hasn’t worked hard to get to where she is now. Speaking to Headliner from her home in Long Beach, California, Mika and her best friend/manager are moving to West Hollywood tomorrow. “I started uploading YouTube videos very consistently in January last year,” she remembers. “I think it was either a Billie Eilish cover or an Ariana Grande cover that really went off. I was like, ‘oh God, what’s happening?’ I’d never gotten any views and before that I had literally only gotten...not even 100 views. I only had 200 subscribers. They were very low numbers but I still loved it. When I saw those videos taking off it was really exciting. I was excited to find a platform that was growing. I

“I started using the pink mic because I like to hold something while I’m singing,” she admits. “I really couldn’t tell you why people connected with it so much, but I would see the comments, and if I didn’t have it, everyone would be like, ‘Where’s the mic?’ That’s when I realized that people really love seeing that and it gave them that familiarity.” A pop star for the Gen Z generation (and up), Mika’s voice and production style sounds like a pleasing combination of Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande – with a touch of Billie Eilish thrown in for good measure. Her chilled, layered vocals and r&b flavored pop have proved a big hit with her ever growing army of fans. Earlier this year, she dropped her EP, 5 A.M. – which includes dreamy Mariah-esque harmony-layered remix, Y U Gotta B Like That (ft. KYLE) – the original version racking up over 47m combined audio/video streams worldwide and over 806k videos on TikTok. “The streams on the original song are absolutely crazy,” she says, humbly. “I never thought that I would get that much love for the song. That song truly changed my life. We were brainstorming ideas about who should be on the record and we came up with KYLE and we connected with his team. It was really cool how we were able to actually get him on the record – I


love him and I still love him as an artist. He’s a very cool guy.” Raised as part of a music-loving family, Mika’s dad was a jazz musician who played a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé in the house, influencing his young daughter. Although before she found her way into music, Mika only had eyes for dance. After following her passion for almost 15 years, she abruptly quit when she realized that it no

longer made her happy: “I didn’t love dance the way I used to love it,” she says, sadly. “It is very grueling and it’s a pretty toxic environment. If you don’t love it enough, it can kill you because it’s so, so brutal and literal blood, sweat and tears. It’s a lot, physically. I just didn’t love it enough anymore. I realized that I really needed to leave because I was crying while I was dancing.” During this time, she would come home after a long day of dance practice and find solace writing music or singing. “That’s when I knew that music was the thing I needed to do, because that was my way of expressing my emotion. Dance just wasn’t doing that for me anymore, so I made a very, very difficult decision to leave. I am forever grateful that I made that tough decision. In the end it was the best decision of my life.”




On the Move

Determined to make it work, Mika moved to LA to pursue music, which she says she found surprisingly easy: “Honestly for some reason, the move wasn’t that hard. I don’t know why! I had lived in my house my entire life and I just packed everything up. I love my family so much and I miss them every day, so I get a little homesick sometimes. But I think what made me feel okay with it is I got to move down here with my best friend. We’ve been doing everything together and she’s also my manager. Now I’m so excited to start this new chapter with a new home.” Mika is refreshingly relatable on social media and is not afraid to poke fun at herself. The photoshopped, orchestrated posts curated by artists her age reflect a brand, whereas she reflects what it’s like to be a teenage girl. No topic is off the table: dandruff, cold sores, unmade beds, gaining weight on lockdown, and bad vocals. “Wow, vocals [are] so weak in the second clip lmao,” she says in one caption, while pointing out a “huge ass vein” she hates on the left side of her face in another post. “I’m strictly myself and I’m not really afraid to just put HEADLINER USA

myself out there,” she says. “And whether that’s me saying that I’m on the toilet or I’m just doing something really random – that’s me. I’m a human and I think that people need to embrace their weird side. That’s my whole message: be weird and put yourself out there. If you want to, use a platform like YouTube or TikTok to make creative videos and get your weirdness out there. It’s important to be weird. It’s a scary world, so you need weird people.” “I think I think we’re all a little hard on ourselves during quarantine,” she adds. “We are in a world pandemic so it’s okay to gain a little weight and eat whatever you want. Because there’s nothing we can do right now. Props to those people that want to work out; good for them. But I’m willing to sit on the couch and eat whatever I want.” It’s not just vocally that a comparison to Eilish seems inevitable: Mika’s two prior projects, 2018’s Are We There Yet and 2019’s Level Up were recorded entirely on GarageBand at home: “With Level Up, I did that album all on my own and it was a proud moment. Now that I look back on it, the music is not my best, but I still love it with my entire life – it’s my baby. I figured out all of [Garageband] my own. It’s pretty




easy and is the easiest production software out there, but I made it work. I think it’s a great starting programme. I tried to teach myself more things about it and it paid off; it’s definitely better than my other albums I have. I’m very proud of that album and people love the songs on it too, so that makes me happy. “We did get to collaborate with one guy who helped mix a song a little bit, but I wrote everything in my attic,” she reveals. “It was really fun making it and I just loved doing that, but now I’m so happy that I get to be in a beautiful studio with a lot of people that I care about – that itself is just so rewarding. I’m so lucky that I finally get to make the music I’ve always wanted to make and I’m just really excited to make more.” Mika’s experiences shape her songwriting, although she admits that during lockdown it hasn’t been easy to write, despite all the down-time: “Lately, it’s been increasingly hard to write because I write through experience and living my life, and right now I can’t really live my life and experience things. So I’ve been a little stuck, for sure. I actually write with my best friend as well, and we both kind of felt stuck. It’s really frustrating because we want to write music, but we just don’t have any ideas and we don’t have anything to write about. But normally we would write about personal experiences or what we’re struggling with personally, a lesson learned, or a boy or something.”

MAKING MUSIC Recently co-featuring on SAYGRACE’s Boys Ain’t Shit with Tate McRae, she had a lot of fun contributing to the empowering track, and notes that she swore for the first time on a song: “I am so lucky that I got to actually be in the studio with Grace; she guided me towards what I needed to record. It was really fun to swear for the first time,” she laughs. “I was very excited and really just lucky to be a part of that very powerful record. I love Grace and I love Tate.” Mika recently dropped the music video for synth bop, Just Friends, which was released earlier this year. All retro vibes and vibrant colors, the Midsommar-esque video is directed by Nicholas Jandora – although the flowers are where the comparison to Ari Aster’s movie ends. Spoiler alert: this one has a significantly cheerier ending. “Someone told me it reminded them of Midsommar! The video is actually very deep now that I am thinking about it. Each room is a representation of contemplation. The small room means that you feel small with this person, but you’re human so you can’t be constricted and you need to express your feelings. That flower theme is a ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ kind of inspiration,” she clarifies.

Mika says that this song was written with her best friend in about 30 minutes: “It was flowing so nicely. We thought we wouldn’t be able to write in the studio just because of the environment, but we were able to do it and we got a song out of it.” Produced by promising young producer, Midi Jones, she says she ‘100%’ still likes to be involved with overseeing the production side of things: “Some of the songs that we have are semi-produced by me and Midi – it’s collaborative. Sometimes I might even play guitar or piano. I have to be there to make sure the song sounds good. It actually turned into an EDM song at one point. We were like, ‘oh, no, no, no, this can’t be done!’ So we had to go to the studio and fix everything. It was worth doing that. It’s already pretty dancy!” Mika’s personal favourite of all of her songs is the soul-baring, Panic from 2020’s 5.AM. “That one is a special one to me,” she discloses. “It’s about my anxiety and I just love that one because I was able to express what I was feeling. I think a lot of people connected to that. That’s why I write music: for other people.” AUDREYMIKAMUSIC.COM

Got it: no bears were harmed in the making of this video. HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET

Created in collaboration with legendary designers Greg Mackie and Peter Watts. Featuring pristine, studio-grade DSP audio processing and instant analogue control, the KORG MW mixers will satisfy any audio mixing application. The convenience of analogue. The power of digital.



DAVE PORTER Scoring the Breaking Bad Universe









DAVE PORTER When it came to creating the score for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Vince Gilligan was the one who knocked for composer, Dave Porter, who has worked with the director and creator of Breaking Bad since its pilot episode.

“I always knew the show would be special – from the moment I saw the pilot,” begins composer, Dave Porter, on Breaking Bad. “It just felt very filmic in a way that I hadn’t seen before. It felt like a whole new level for television. I had a sense that it would be a special show but to be honest, in my heart, I thought at best it was going to be a critical darling show, and that it was going to be a show that only the critics and television aficionados loved. I never imagined it would have the broader

audience that it did end up having.” Talking to Headliner from his LA home after breaking his wrist in a bizarre gardening accident (we’ll come full circle on Michael McKean later), Porter has nothing but praise for his long-time collaborator, Vince Gilligan – the man behind the entire Breaking Bad universe, with whom Porter has worked with since the pilot episode of the show in 2008. Porter has written the original music HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


DAVE PORTER Scoring the Breaking Bad Universe

for all of Gilligan’s projects, scoring all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad, including creating its iconic opening theme. Since then, Porter has also been behind all of the original music for Breaking Bad’s equally acclaimed spin-off, Better Call Saul, which just wrapped its fifth season, then moving onto composing the original score to Gilligan’s feature film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. “There’s definitely a thread that connects them all,” he says. “There’s a sonic universe that I’ve created, along with Vince that began with Breaking Bad that has some overarching elements to it. I hope that it has some sort of through line in it that feels connected.” Porter hopes that when anyone watches any of the three projects, they’ll feel like they’re in that Breaking Bad world – helped along by his use of a southwest US orchestral palette. One can’t help but wonder if Porter made a conscious decision to tie the score – which can be sparse in places – into the wideangled cinematography synonymous with the show – often lingering on Albuquerque, New Mexico’s unforgiving desert landscapes.

“The show is well known for this,” he agrees. “And one of the great things about being a composer on a project like these is that I get to be last creatively in the process. There’s so many creative decisions that get made before I even start thinking about the music, from its script, to how it is shot, the performances of all the actors involved, and how it’s edited. Whether consciously or subconsciously in terms of its impact on me, when I get to sit down and watch it, I would think about how music can best serve the show. These American southwest vistas play so well into all three stories, so it would be a waste of a creative opportunity not to try to sweeten those big moments more.” Early on, Porter devoured every script, but admits that now with Better Call Saul, he has stopped:


“And it’s not because I don’t love to read them! It’s because I have found that if I wait and watch it, as opposed to reading it and having some preconception of what it might look like, I get this experience of watching it like a fan, which is great for me. But it also is very informative to me because it helps me instinctively, as I have a feeling for where the music should go or might be most effective.” On that iconic Breaking Bad title sequence, Porter admits that this was one of the hardest things to score: “Writing a theme song is one of the hardest things to do because generally speaking, it’s very early in the show. So chances are most people don’t even know – including the folks working on it – what the show is going to be like or where it’s going to end up! You just have a vague idea. So I picked Vince’s brain as much as I could. We talked about old westerns. We talked about the geographical importance of the southwest part of the United States. We talked about how Walter White was going to be a chemistry teacher. So there was going to be science elements to it. And of course, this was going to be dramatic!” One theme that Porter did grasp early on was White’s transition into Heisenberg: “The sort of milk toast, very boring guy turning into a terrible criminal,” he concurs. “This particular version of the intro stuck because it gives a glimpse of the end of the story right at the beginning. It’s brash, it’s bold, and it has a sense of where Walter White will be at the end of this series. When we first hear it at the beginning, he’s far, far from that, but it’s a little reminder at the beginning of every episode of where the larger story is going to be taken.”




We have to ask: did Porter know Heinsenberg’s fate from the start?

“No, and I can say with great certainty that Vince didn’t know either,” he laughs. “In a television series, you never know how long you’re gonna last, so you have to leave options open for yourself with different pathways to follow. I think certainly now, Vince Gilligan and the crew have earned the right to do whatever they want in terms of telling a story. When we began on Breaking Bad, these were very early days for all of us, and we were on a network that was not particularly well known in the United States at that time. It was hard to know what the reception would be like and how long the show would last!” Fans of the series will remember a turning point for White’s character when it becomes apparent just how far he is willing to go to get what he wants, choosing not to intervene when Jesse Pinkman’s (played by Aaron Paul) girlfriend starts to choke when high on drugs, letting her die. Porter’s tense and eerily calm score accompanies this key scene, emphasising the coolness that viewers will come to associate with White’s increasingly calculated decisions from then on. “To me, that is the moment of the whole series,” he says. “That is the pivotal moment. One of the great things about Breaking Bad is that it’s certainly open for debate. This scene is so cerebral; you can watch this scene without any music at all, and Bryan Cranston tells the entire story just in little facial expressions. It’s truly an amazing performance without him saying a word. There was no reason for me to have to do much musically in the moment, because there’s not a lot of action – he’s not doing anythin. In fact, that is the action. The weight and the consequence of his choice not to do anything is the story here, and how huge of an impact that’s going to have – not just on Jane, who doesn’t survive – but on Walter and his curse, and of course his relationship with Jesse...” HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


DAVE PORTER Scoring the Breaking Bad Universe

BETTER CALL SAUL Viewers were always curious about the backstory of White’s diabolical scheming lawyer, Saul Goodman (played expertly by Bob Odenkirk), and in 2015, Gilligan presented fans the critically acclaimed spinoff show, Better Call Saul. For Porter, working on the prequel show (although it occasionally flashes forward to a world set after Breaking Bad) was one of the harder creative transitions he’s had to make in his career: “We wanted to approach it as freshly as we possibly could,” he recalls. “Which all sounds great creatively when you say it, but when you sit down to do it and you’re dealing with so many of the very same characters you had worked with for many years...to make a hard right turn and leave behind a lot of creative choices that you’ve made that – in fairness had been pretty successful – was hard to do. “ Porter says that he went through a lot of false steps at the beginning:


“It was hard for me to imagine not linking the two shows right from the beginning. But in truth, it was really important not to, particularly as we had to set the character of Jimmy McGill as someone who’s very, very different, with a different story to tell, a different background, different motivations, and as someone that had no connection at that time to the world of Breaking Bad. As the prequel has progressed and we’ve got closer to the Breaking Bad timeline, I’ve been able to slowly introduce little elements of the Breaking Bad score or its palette, at least, as these characters pop up and lead us closer to the point where Breaking Bad begins.” Porter got to flex his composing skills considerably in the prequel, particularly in scenes where McGill’s increasingly frantic older brother, Chuck suffers a breakdown, and in a moment of paranoia, tears his house apart in search of a source of electricity – which he has convinced himself he is intolerant to.

“His character is played by the great Michael McKean, who has a tremendous influence on the reason Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman later on. That scene is where it all falls apart for Chuck; he can no longer keep all the constructs of his life together, and the music certainly reflects a broader sonic palette that I use a lot.” For Jimmy’s character, Porter leaned on a 70s rock palette – all heavy vibraphone, guitars, drums and bass, whereas for Chuck, things get elevated: “In the relative world of Jimmy and Chuck, Chuck is the more sophisticated,” he points out. “He listens to a lot of jazz, he plays classical piano, and he’s very smart. So there’s elements of all of that, and it all comes to a head here. It’s a mishmash of the influences of Jimmy and his own world falling apart all put into a very climactic moment.”



EL CAMINO Picking up right where we left a fleeing Pinkman in the last scenes of Breaking Bad, El Camino gave fans a sense of closure by showing what happened to Heisenberg’s protege after fleeing his captors. “It was a blessing to get to work on El Camino because it really did feel like a chance to focus on the character of Jesse in a way that we never could during the Breaking Bad series,” says Porter. “He was always second fiddle a little bit, even though I would argue in some ways he was the moral centre of Breaking Bad.” The score kicks in with a cacophony of sound that would have been at home in the finale of Breaking Bad, before quickly shifting to addressing Pinkman’s story: “There’s a lot of excitement in it in terms of his escape,” Porter says. “Where will he go? How will he do it? It’s a story of trying to make up for his previous poor decisions and trying to salvage his life. So there’s a much bigger picture that I tried to get into the story from pretty early on. The story is one of hope and renewal, but also regret and sadness.” Porter says that this being a film as opposed to a TV series meant an increase in budget, but more importantly, gave him more time to work on the score. “The other big difference is we were only following, for the most part, one character. On the TV shows, we’re bouncing around between lots of different sides of the drama that are happening back and forth. Whereas

El Camino really is just one story. It’s not a linear story – we’re cutting back and forth in time, all over the place. It is really focused on the character of Jesse, which led to some sequences of score that were longer because we weren’t cutting away to some other action, and this allowed me a much longer period of time to be able to tell my story musically.” Instrumental to El Camino’s sound was a Nonlinear Labs C15 synthesizer: “One of the things I really wanted to strive for in the score for El Camino was a level of organic-ness that was even greater than anything I had achieved in the other shows – while still not being shy about using technology. I wanted to use physical modelling of actual resonances, instruments and spaces to create sounds that have a depth that feel organic and that feel natural in our world, even if the root of that sound is synthetic. The C15 is a synth that excels at that, and is really designed to perform and play music that’s emotional and evocative. It blended well with a lot of the percussion that I used in the show.” Also doing its part to contribute to El Camino’s score is ATV’s aFrame – a unique electronic instrument compatible with traditional percussion instrument playing techniques, and a few choice plugins from Soundtoys: “I’m a big fan of their delays, and I have several in their group and I use those a lot, like EchoBoy. My music is often very spare and I am very particular about my mixes and

how things fit in the sound field. I spent a lot of time working out where instruments should sit in the stereo field, and Soundtoys have a PanMan plugin based on an old rack mount device, which is an automated panner which gives motion, left and right, to sound over time. I used this to add motion to a lot of things.” When thinking back to some of Breaking Bad’s most memorable scenes: ‘tread lightly,’ the moment when Hank realises, ‘I am the one who knocks,’ – curiously, these are not underpinned by any music, letting the actors convey everything instead. Is there a scene that Porter wishes he had scored? “I will admit that in the moment, there are a lot of scenes where I felt like that,” he answers. “When we were in our spotting session, if I felt strongly that there should be music, I would make an argument for it, but I didn’t succeed,” he laughs. “Over time I’m usually proven wrong. I’ll go back and watch it later or when it airs, and I’ll think ‘you know what? The brain trust was right!’ And usually that’s just a case of seeing the forest for the trees when I’m so busy working on one specific episode. It’s harder for me to think in the macro sense, and that’s specifically why we have the writers there all the time. It’s great for that continuity – keeping a bigger eye on the longer story.” DAVEPORTER.TV



JASON MRAZ Look For The Good




LOOK FOR THE GOOD Jason Mraz’s musical journey has come full circle: starting off playing in small coffee shops, he is now the proud owner of an 18-acre organic coffee and avocado farm, where he also records his music. Speaking to Headliner from the aptly named ‘Mranch,’ Mraz reflects on writing surprise hit, I’m Yours, in his “little Bob Marley house,” and why reggae inspired his new album, Look For The Good.




The year 2008 is where everything changed for Jason Mraz. Although the singer-songwriter had been releasing albums since 2002, it wasn’t until his self-proclaimed “happy little hippie song,” I’m Yours was set loose upon the radio waves that people started to take serious notice. Now a diamond-certified song, it peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Mraz his first top 10 single, spending a then-record 76 weeks on the Hot 100 – and refusing to budge from radio playlists ever since. Mraz dipped his toes into the world of performing by playing in coffee shops in the early 2000s, but never expected the song to be a hit on the radio. “This song wasn’t born in a writing

room with an effort of trying to create a smash hit,” Mraz tells Headliner while speaking from his home in California. “It was written in a passing moment that I was lucky enough as a creator to capture – to hear it, sing it back, and to write it down and make a recording of it – because I think creators get these ideas all the time, and if we don’t capture them, who knows what their potential is.” Mraz recorded the track and uploaded it to Myspace, not expecting much of a reaction. However, a hit is a hit, and his fans immediately shared the track far and wide. “That’s really what helped me connect on a global scale,” he acknowledges. HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET

n so


JASON MRAZ Look For The Good

“It was really just this little idea about giving myself away so that I could be available for something new. So, okay: ‘I’m yours. Let’s let’s try to get back on track and do something beautiful’. It was this simple idea. I wasn’t in love, it was just more about the love of creativity.” Mraz had actually been sitting on the track for a while, writing it four years before it was released: “I didn’t think anything of it! I mean, I thought it was cute. It was a cool song, but I write hundreds of cool songs,” he laughs. “But because of the fan interest and the years of fans playing it, by 2007 it had actually started to pick up its own energy. So by 2007, I said, ‘I’m going to put this thing on a record!’” The rest is history. Mraz looks back fondly on the creation of his most

popular track, but admits that the songwriter he is today would probably change the song a little: “For me as a creator, my voice sounds different, and some of the lyrics…” he pauses. “I’m glad they exist, because me as a writer today would change certain words and I would think differently about what I’m saying. But I think that’s also the beauty of the song and some of the naïveté that’s in that song. It just has this innocence. That’s why I call it my happy little hippie song.”

in 10 minutes, so I’ll put an extra 30 minutes on it because we’re locked down. In some cases, patience is what I need to master. I just need to slow down, calm down, and not worry about being so busy all the time. Learning how to master patience and basically learn some new routines has been interesting. I appreciate that advice early on because it’s actually helped me stay calm and productive at the same time.”

Mraz is taking the lockdown period in his usual positive stride, and has been adjusting to a slower pace of life: “I got a good piece of advice early on in this quarantine period, which was to master whatever’s in front of you,” he shares. “So if I’m sitting at the piano, I don’t have to get up

“I got A GOOD PIECE OF ADVICE EARLY ON IN THIS QUARANTINE PERIOD, which was to master whatever’s in front of you...”



REGGAE RHYTHMS Full of his signature optimism and positivity, the new project is heavily influenced by reggae music and features a guest appearance by Jamaican icon, Sister Carol, and actress, Tiffany Haddish. Mraz has always loved the way reggae music brings people together, and was inspired by Bob Marley himself when it came to the way the album was recorded: “Musicians have this ability to dance around different genres and speak different musical languages, and any time we were listening or dancing to the reggae genre, I would just light up,” he enthuses. “I just felt so moved by reggae, and I noticed the audience would dance and smile more and settle into this unified rhythm, joy, and appreciation. Something about reggae was affecting humans in a different way than typical pop, rock, or other dance music.” In 2004, Mraz took a tour of Bob Marley’s house whilst visiting Kingston, Jamaica, where he discovered a new way of creating music.

“His home had fruit trees, a herb garden, and a little studio in the backyard,” he recalls. “It was a place where his whole family and band could live while they were recording albums or rehearsing for a tour. This became the model for the home that I wanted to build for myself: to have a small farm with a studio. So shortly after, I wrote I’m Yours in my little Bob Marley house!” In the back of his mind, Mraz knew that he wasn’t done with reggae – that there was still much more to delve into musically. Today, he is full of praise for Easy Star Records founder, Michael Goldwasser, who produced Look For The Good at Mraz’s Southern California home studio following a six month song-gathering process. “Once we figured out that it was going to go through this reggae channel, it helped me answer certain questions or solve certain riddles that as a writer, I hadn’t solved yet,” he reflects. “We put together this amazing band, and the whole project took about two weeks. We all moved


Keeping Mraz productive of late has been working on his new album, Look For The Good, released in June 2020.

in together, much like Bob’s house in Kingston – the whole band came in and we all lived together for about 10 days and made this record. There’s about 14 of us in the band, so it’s a massive sound – a huge rhythm section plus horns and background vocals. “Boy was it cooking! It’s a thrill to be a part of and I’m so happy that it can still come out this year, despite all these crazy shifts in our culture.” The album’s main theme is to see the good in things, to find commonality, and to celebrate life the best we can, which Mraz points out is more relevant now than ever: “Look at the climate – in some ways, the air is cleaner than it’s ever been. There’s this unease right now where everyone’s working together to help comfort and feed each other. I have this practice of looking for the good, so I’m looking for the heroes in my neighborhood; the people in the food service industry, the essential workers who are keeping our spirits high during this; we can all do our part to keep our spirits high.” HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


JASON MRAZ Look For The Good

welcome to the MRANCH Mraz has been doing his part during the coronavirus pandemic by donating a lot of food to a local kitchen that makes hundreds of meals for senior citizens in the area who might be struggling during this period of isolation. Mraz is able to do this because he is the proud owner of ‘The Mranch,’ an 18-acre operation cultivating organic California avocados, California grown coffee and, apparently, world peace. Humble as ever, Mraz says the farm is supported mostly by the Californian weather, but it’s a real labor of love for the singer, and one he takes very seriously when it comes to being authentically organic: “When I first moved down here HEADLINER USA

in 2004, it was a little five-acre avocado ranch,” he remembers. “I just thought, ‘Great! I’m gonna live in the country!’ But because I’m the landowner and the homeowner, I am actually responsible for the fate of the avocado trees – they’re not native to here. They were planted in the late 60s and 70s. So I started getting involved in the trees, and wondering how I could make them healthy – and organic. Now I’ve been here 16 years,


and it’s expanded to an 18-acre property with 1,000 avocado trees, about 2,500 coffee trees, and about 40 other fruit varieties. I add a couple of trees every month. That’s because, early on, I learned that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago..! And the second best time to plant a tree is today. So I’ve been working really hard to keep adding trees knowing that five or 10 years from now, those trees are going to be filled with food.” Mraz admits it’s a serious commitment, but he wouldn’t have it any other way: “I hire young people right out of college, or who are interested in agriculture. It’s a hip place; it’s


thriving. There’s always something to do – always. I mean, right now we’re weeding coffee trees. So that means: go find one. Sit on your knees. Pull the weeds out from under the trees because we’re organic and we’re not spraying things to kill weeds and grasses, and we’re not spraying things to kill the bugs. It’s a big undertaking, but I think it’s the right thing to do.” As an artist, Mraz has always remained authentic as music trends have fluctuated over the years. A number one constant is not taking his fans’ support for granted: “If someone is coming to a show, or even downloading my song or buying my CD, they’re giving me their greatest wealth, which is their time and their attention,” he explains. “So I want to be respectful and responsible with that time. So what kinds of songs can I make? What kind of actions can I take? What kind of attitude can I maintain, so that when I am using someone’s time, I’m hopefully giving them something inspiring, entertaining, informative, and authentic? It has made me a better person because


it gives me something to serve. I’m not just serving myself. I’m not just serving my ego – although those do get served very well..! [smiles] “I’ll say one more thing about songs and what they can do for us during this time: The definition of the word ‘inspire’ is to breathe life into. If we put on a favorite song, we feel great, right? We feel really connected and comforted. And it’s because we’re actually aligning ourselves with the energy of that song. And if we sing along to that song, we’re even asked to breathe consciously, because breathing in and out is what gives us life. It’s what puts life into us so that we can continue to live, dream, speak, dance, and be who we are. Music helps us look for the good. It helps us stay entertained, stay connected, and what it does best, which is heal.” JASONMRAZ.COM




Dangerous Waters








JAUZ Jauz isn’t letting the fact that his Dangerous Waters tour was cut short stop him connecting to his fans to share his producing tips. The selfprofessed ‘music producer who happens to DJ for a living’ shares why it’s no longer about creating the sickest sounds, but about getting his ideas down as quickly as possible.

Speaking to Headliner from his mother in law’s house in Orange County, Jauz has been finding the quarantine period a little surreal: “It’s now at the point where if you go outside, you don’t see anyone who isn’t wearing a mask, which is kind of scary, but it’s also actually really great because that means that people are listening and they’re doing what we need to do. We went to the grocery store today, and a couple of weeks ago it would have been hundreds and hundreds of people fighting for every last... you know, real apocalypse shit! Now it’s just empty.”

When not patiently waiting in line for household essentials, Jauz (real name Sam Vogel) can normally be found behind the decks on a punishing tour schedule as an indemand DJ, although he notes that he is a producer first. Before going by ‘Jauz,’ he went by the name ‘Escape Dubstep’ – making a name for himself for his remixes and catching the attention of fellow musician Kennedy Jones, followed by DJs, Diplo, Skrillex and Borgore.




Dangerous Waters

Despite having an apartment in LA, after his Dangerous Waters tour was cut short, Jauz immediately knew that it wasn’t where he wanted to spend the lockdown period: “I hadn’t been home to my place in LA for three months, so I was excited to go back,” he says. “For quarantine I was like, ‘cool, I have everything I need there; it will be fine’. Within about 20 minutes of getting to LA, I looked around and I was like, ‘I love my place, but it’s a tiny loft apartment; I’m not getting locked in here for however long’. So I brought all my production and streaming gear to my mother in law’s house! We’re very fortunate to be able to be here because we have a backyard, a pool and the dogs are happy, my wife is happy, and I get to do what I want to do. After being on the road for three months straight, I’m not really that mad at being home, but I just wish it was under better circumstances.” The last time Headliner caught up with Jauz was at the EDC festival in Orlando, where he was powering through, despite being very sick. “Oh yeah! I was definitely very sick” he remembers, laughing. “And not

only did I fly to Orlando for that show, but I then did an after party. Then with no sleep, after the after party we flew straight to San Diego for a friend’s wedding. That was definitely a rough one! I don’t wish that pain on anybody. I was just hopped up on DayQuil and Advil, and all things considered, it could have gone a lot worse! That was not fun, but you know what I get to do? What I’ve dreamed about doing for a living since I was eight years old. So I really can’t complain.” Today, Jauz’s thoughts are very much with everyone affected by the cancellations of festivals and concerts, from the promoters, to the artists, to the fans who may be struggling for money when live music is brought back into our lives. To give something back during lockdown, he has stepped up the

“... i’m not really that mad at being at home, but i just wish it was under better circumstances.”

regularity of Demo Roulette, the “meat and potatoes” of the idea being that aspiring producers send him their Ableton song projects, after which he picks one using a random number generator and works on the track on a live stream as a way of collaborating with that person. Although he admits he makes 90% of his income from DJing, Jauz is very much a producer at heart: “I’m a music producer who happens to DJ for a living,” he declares. “I’m a music nerd. I love music production. I love the technicality of it. I’ve also always been a really big video game nerd, so I wanted to combine those two worlds because live streaming has become such a popular thing. There are a lot of producers out there, and I learned so much of what I know from watching YouTube tutorials.” However, he does warn that things can get very technical: “There are a lot of fans that come by and want to watch the stream, and they just don’t understand what’s going on. It’s like if a scientist was doing a live stream and talking about fucking molecules and neurons,” he laughs. “I do understand that it’s a bit niche; it’s not as digestible as me just sitting there and doing a DJ set or something. I learned so much from other guys that put their knowledge and their information out on the internet for us to learn from, so I wanted to pay it back in that aspect.” The reason he is so keen on Ableton is because he finds it so informative: “I can go in and see why artists did certain things. I can understand what their thought process was, and I can really help them further it along. It’s basically like getting to invite people into a studio session in a way that they would never have access to.”




BRINGING THE BEAT BACK Jauz’s recent collaborations include working with Tynan on Kill Bill siren-led single, Bring Em Back, and Nonsens on pounding floor-filler, The Beat – and he is more than happy to give credit where credit is due: “Tynan is an absolute whiz kid,” he enthuses. “I do my thing and I make some cool sounds, but what he does with twisting and turning samples and pitching them and doing all this crazy shit… I’ve never really seen a producer do what he does! I learned a lot working with him. That’s why I love doing songs with other people, because I get to learn so much from them – whether they’re Skrillex level or whether no one has ever heard of them. Every producer has something super unique that they do, so being able to work with them and see their workflow and ideas helps you add to your toolkit, so to speak.” Tossing their particular sprinkle of magic on The Beat are Danish producing trio, Nonsens, who as well as being talented, Jauz is quick to add are some of the nicest guys he has ever met: “People from Denmark are absurdly nice. I’ve never met anyone from Denmark that’s anywhere close to mean! The Nonsens guys are really great at picking the right sounds and the right patterns; they’re awesome producers. This was one of the songs where they sent me an idea and I turned it into something completely different, but I wanted it to feel like a Nonsens song too. So I had it go from my drop, to their drop, back to my drop, back to their drop. It’s like this back and forth, you know?” HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



Dangerous Waters

Ironically, Jauz wasn’t sold on this track, and after working on it for a while – “maybe trying too hard,” he admits – he got jaded and didn’t think it was working. Luckily, Nonsens loved it instantly: “They were like, ‘Yo, this is really awesome!’ It was the same thing with Rock The Party before it came out. We wrote it and I really didn’t think it was anything special, and then one of my friends heard it and told me I’m crazy if I don’t put it out. Sometimes you need that validation from someone else to realise that your idea doesn’t actually suck!” In terms of his setup, Jauz insists it’s “super basic”. He’s doing everything in the box – running his regular speakers through a laptop, with a couple of MIDI keyboards he says he never really touches. Unsurprisingly, Ableton stock plugins are his go-tos, and when it comes to synthesizers, he’s all Serum by Xfer Records and Native Instruments’ Massive for bass synths, while for more melodic stuff he drafts in Roland Cloud’s VST instruments. A recent-ish discovery of Loopmaster’s Bass Master has changed Jauz’s workflow completely, bringing a weighty, powerful bass sound to Shake with Zeds Dead, I Dare You with Axel Boy and Thunder with DNMO. “For bass sounds it’s really, really fun because you can find cool sounds that might take you 10 hours to try to make and figure out, and you have got them right off the bat, so it helps you to be creative really fast,” he points out. “Even though the three songs are completely different, they derive from the same original source sound in Bass Master. It was just a simple, wobbly sine wave and


the way that I distorted it each time made it sound completely different, which is very cool.” Earlier on in his career, Jauz was focussed on making ‘the sickest sounds that no one else had,’ but now as an experienced producer he realizes that the most effective thing to do is make his writing process as simple and quick as possible. “I used to think that was going to be what made me successful,” he admits. “But getting an idea down in the fastest amount of time possible is the most effective way to write a good song. That’s all I focus on nowadays: how can I make my workflow faster? How can I get my ideas onto paper or onto Ableton as fast as possible, and get as close to my idea that I have in my head as possible. So if that means using a million presets, samples – whatever! It doesn’t matter, you can always go back and recreate a sound or change it or swap it.” Jauz is suddenly reminded of a big difference in DJing in the US vs. the UK: “There’s kind of a stigma in the UK where you’re not cool unless you just stand there while you play your music,” he laughs. “They could be playing the most insane track and they’ll just be standing there like they’re waiting in line for a cup of tea. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. The thing is, in the States, it’s the polar opposite, and it’s something I really took to heart on my tour. When I first started DJing, I would go crazy behind the decks, and I guess matured a little bit and I wouldn’t go as gnarly on stage. I was much more focused on mixing.” However, rules are meant to be

broken. On his recent tour, everything was meticulously planned, from stage production, song selection, and timing; and Jauz wanted to make sure the audience got a 10 out of 10 show every time. “If I’m going to give them a show, I need to give them a show,” he asserts. “So that means putting myself out there and going as crazy as possible on stage so that the fans feel that energy, and they can react to it. I really try to make it uncomplicated; I’ll make a lot of mashups and edits and make that feel really cool. I know lots of DJ tricks. For me, it’s all about song selection: which song gets played at what part in the set and kind of telling a story. I’m not there to showcase that I’m the sickest DJ on the planet, I’m there to give people a really great show that they enjoy listening to.” For now, Jauz is looking forward to the day he can pick up his Dangerous Waters tour again, and hopes to perform in the UK again in the not too distant future. Let’s hope they have a cup of tea waiting. JAUZOFFICIAL.COM


D Squared Digital Wireless Family • excellent flexibility • ultra-fast setup • studio quality audio • ultra-low latency • superior RF performance

DPR (digital plug-on transmitter with recording)

DSQD/AES-3 (digital receiver)



SERGE GRÄFE Mixing Kraftwerk




Lockdown hasn’t stopped Kraftwerk’s FOH and monitor engineer from using d&b’s immersive Soundscape solution. Serge Gräfe paints a picture as to why he has installed “a small system” in his living room. Serge Gräfe should be in Italy right now as touring FOH engineer with Kraftwerk – on what would have no doubt been a spectacular celebration of the band’s 50th year together, but instead lockdown has meant that he HEADLINER USA

is now spending lots of time at home in Hanover, Germany. “I started working with them in 2005,” says Gräfe, who is Kraftwerk’s monitor engineer as well as assuming FOH duties. “I was hired as a system engineer on their tour. My first gig with Kraftwerk was in Skopje in Macedonia, where the production manager was also the monitor engineer. He said, ‘Hey, as you’re here right now, you can do monitors



n so


as well!’” Gräfe then found himself in the unique position of overseeing the entire production, also assuming more of a sound designer role along the way as the technology developed. “Back then it was a combination of me and the old FOH engineer,” he remembers. “He would be planning how he wanted the rig to be hung, and I was doing all the mechanics.


Then I went to the monitor desk to do the soundcheck and the show.” Back then, the team were using d&b’s Q series, which he recalls was a very easy setup: “Of course you had to do measurements for phase and delay and a little bit of tuning for the room, but in the end if you have a good system and you’re organized; it’s easy to handle.” Before finding his Kraftwerk calling, Gräfe got into audio by accident whilst still at school. “My girlfriend at the time was playing


violin in a band, and I was in the rehearsal room playing. I saw that there was a mixing desk, and I was playing around with that. One of the musicians said it sounded much better than before, and could I do the next gig. I said, ‘Of course, it’s easy!’ Then I learned it’s not so easy,” he laughs. “This is how it all started!”

out. It’s very integrated; the lighting guy knows a lot about audio as well.”

Moving to FOH for Kraftwerk in 2009, one of Gräfe’s first shows in his new role was a co-headlining Radiohead / Kraftwerk concert in South America.

“It’s very important to work like this all together,” he declares. “Because we are also playing smaller venues, or in a nice theatre, or somewhere historic where you have to fit everything into the venue. You have to talk a lot and work together to make it happen.”

“That was pretty amazing! Then the production became bigger and more specialized. With Kraftwerk we are a small team and we help each other

This family atmosphere has been instrumental in ensuring the success of Kraftwerk’s live shows, with an inbuilt trust quickly developing between all team members making the shows happen.



SERGE GRÄFE Mixing Kraftwerk

A soundscape evolution

Although a long time d&b user, Gräfe was first introduced to d&b’s Soundscape system in 2012, doing his first Soundscape show with the band in a club. “We stayed there for four days, looking up what we could do with our setup. Then we found the way to work it and it evolved from there. So after a few years, we rebuilt our whole stage set, audio-wise and network-wise, and also for all the video stuff. It was a big evolution.” Whereas a stereo image only fully works for the fraction of the audience positioned on the centre axis between left and right sources, d&b Soundscape is designed to deliver an audio mix without loss – to every audience member. Vocals, keys, drums, guitar – every element is heard, representing their ‘true’ location on the stage. The core of the d&b Soundscape is the DS100 Signal Engine, a highperformance audio processor with Audinate Dante networking and a 64x64 level and delay matrix with extensive I/O processing. The full potential of d&b Soundscape is accessed via two optional software modules which together form a powerful toolkit for sound designers: d&b En-Scene and d&b En-Space. Both are accessed via R1 Remote control software. Meanwhile, d&b’s En-Scene is a sound object positioning tool allowing the individual placement and movement of up to 64 sound objects. It accurately depicts stage scenarios so that each sound object corresponds both visually and acoustically, meaning the entire audience hears what it sees – and vice versa. For Gräfe, the system was a complete game-changer: “Soundscape has evolved a lot HEADLINER USA

from 2013 until now, but we were there together with the band, and they were listening to that first system. They were so amazed by the possibilities and the sound that it can drive all around you. And it’s the same for nearly everybody in the audience. They were really impressed, so we decided to go that way when it was possible to do it.” Being hailed as the innovators and pioneers of electronic music, naturally, Kraftwerk’s shows are something to behold. Gräfe went on to mix all of Kraftwerk’s recent ‘3D’ shows, allowing the pioneering German outfit to continue to push the boundaries of audio and video – quite literally. More recently, Gräfe has been working with a Soundscape 180 system on Kraftwerk’s UK and Eastern European tours, which he takes real pleasure in: “What I love about this is I’m doing a mix that’s nearly the same for everybody in the audience,” he enthuses. “When I’m using objectbased mixing, it works much better for most of the audience. This is what I really love: that you can have things happen where they’re meant to happen in the mix regarding position.” Usually for a stereo mix, he sends the vocals to the middle, as this is what people are accustomed to. “Of course, the vocals shouldn’t be louder for the people on the left side than for the people on the right side. So when I stopped putting the vocals in the middle and I moved that sound object to the place where the person is actually standing and singing from, it changes everything in your imagination; it’s really good! Now, everybody in the audience can hear the violin from the place where the

actual violinist is sitting. The approach is to reinforce the original sound, without hearing the reinforcements.” Gräfe notes that in a stereo mix, he has to cut out much of the frequencies to make room for other instruments in the mix. With Soundscape, everything is improved: “The positioning is translated by the system very well. It’s much better to make it realistic – if you look at theatre, you hear the actor from the place where he is located on stage, not out of a speaker that is hanging somewhere.”


Using QLab, the Soundscape system is programmed so that for every show, the audio elements are delivered in exactly the same way. “We talked a lot about this and what we wanted to achieve,” he notes. “I can put the sounds where I want using an iPad, so that I can react very quickly to things on stage. I can grab every audio object with my iPad and move it around, then the data is sent to the DS100.” Soundscape’s 180 proscenium system on the stage front is what provides much more than the sound of a customary left/right setup. Adding more loudspeakers builds a 360 system to create acoustic environments with En-Space, or allows for the expansion of the En-Scene canvas around the audience.


En-Scene can place objects all around the audience, which is where larger loudspeakers to the sides and rear deliver the immersive effect. “When you move to 360, everybody starts thinking ‘I can move objects all around the listener,’ and of course, you can do this,” states Gräfe. “But the most impressive thing is that it extends the stage. En-Scene allows you to move objects, and En-Space enables room simulation, and this is amazing. Think about an orchestra: even if you play in a shitty hall or stadium, you can put them into a goodsounding music room and have a reverb of that room in your room.” Kraftwerk shows are built around the four members on stage playing synthesizers, with a whopping 64 channels going to front of house between them. “It’s a lot of signal channels because for object-based mixing it’s good to have single instruments on a channel,” Gräfe explains. “So I’m getting a snare signal or hi-hat bits and pieces on the stream that I can place in the image that we are painting.” Gräfe is so accustomed to working in 180 and 360 immersive audio now that he admits it would be hard to go back to a stereo setup.


During the quarantine period, Gräfe has installed what he calls a ‘small Soundscape system’ in his home. “I started programming some things, and I’m figuring out how I can evolve that and how I can make my mix better,” he explains. “I’m living in an apartment, so it’s not so big here! In the living room I’ve got 11 V5 cabinets, which are pretty small, and the V8 sub, three D20 amps, a DS100 and a DS10 audio network bridge. I’m working with the live recordings from last year and I’m writing emails to the band about things we could change. I’m talking a lot with d&b as well about what we could do better and how things can improve in the future. “I think immersive is the future of sound enforcement,” he adds. “It works perfectly with ‘regular’ bands as well. I think the next market will be theatre and classical music because the improvement of audio means the music will follow. I think in the next year what will happen is that the workflow will get better and better, and more creative. If you think about the first record that was done in stereo, and what stereo is today – you hear how big the difference is. We are scratching the surface of immersive right now. It will be amazing to see what will be happening in the next 20 years.” DBAUDIO.COM

“Because if we are looking at large scale events, it’s not stereo at all – you can’t do stereo on a big festival,” he says. “If I mix the vocals to the left, all the people on the right will complain because they won’t hear the vocals properly. It’s really hard to go back to this. What I want to achieve is for every listener to get the same sonic image.”






EW b RVI y E T





It takes a special kind of determination to hire, finance and conduct a 70-piece orchestra for an audition you have no guarantee of securing a job from. Composer Pinar Toprak explains why she did just that for her score pitch for Captain Marvel. The Hans Zimmer protégé talks Headliner though her biggest chess moves.

The year was 1998, and unbeknownst to her, the soundtrack to Dreamworks film, The Prince of Egypt was about to change a young Pinar Toprak’s life. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey where she began her classical music education at the age of five, despite “not really knowing English at the time,” Toprak moved to LA aged 17 to study piano performance at the Berklee College of Music, although her true passion lay elsewhere. “Everybody was telling me that majoring in film scoring is not a very smart idea,” she recalls, speaking to Headliner from her LA home during lockdown, although she jokes that her life usually resembles quarantine anyway. “They said, ‘you’re probably not going to make a career in film scoring as a Turkish woman; it’s just not going to happen, it’s going to be a waste. You should think about majoring in piano;

you can be a teacher and play in sessions and just make better use of your degree’.” Being young, Pinar almost believed them for a minute. She started her piano major, but it never felt right or made her happy. After leaving the practice room one day, she meandered down to Tower Records, and towards her true calling: “The Prince Of Egypt had just come out, and in ‘98 if you wanted to actually preview a soundtrack, you would go to a listening booth, put your headphones on and listen. So I started doing that. It was 11:30pm, and they were going to close at midnight. They were announcing that they were going to close, but I couldn’t let go of the soundtrack. I just couldn’t stop listening to it!” As the shop was about to close up for the night, Pinar decided to use

the remaining $20 she had to her name to buy the soundtrack, which was written in the majority by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz. “I had to eat and survive for the next three or four days – I was working three different jobs on campus,” she explains. “It was a really tough time financially. I made the decision to buy that soundtrack with my last money, and I just went to my place and I listened to it all night.” First thing the next morning, Pinar changed her major to film scoring. “Even as I talk to you, the CD is right next to me,” she points out. “I have not written a single note of music without that CD next to me since 1998. Sometimes we have a full cup already and we just need that one last big drop to make things happen, and that soundtrack was that last big drop. It’s a constant reminder of how HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET




one decision can really change the course of your life. I realized at that point that I’d rather fail at something that I love doing rather than succeeding by attempting something that really does not make me happy. That was a big decision. It was a big risk. I’m very grateful for that risk, and that really changed the course of everything else that followed.” Pinar has always thought of every decision as a chess move, and when speaking to her it’s clear that when she sets her mind to something, the only possible outcome will be that she’ll be the one calling checkmate. “I still think of everything like a chess move! I think: okay, this is where I want to get to and after this move, I’m going to do this. I call myself a flexible planner. I plan, but I adapt along the way.” Being an ‘80s kid, she was never without her walkman; she used to record the music coming out of the TV and listen to it back. The first soundtrack that made a big impression on her was John Williams’ London Symphony Orchestra score for the 1978 film, Superman. “I must have been around eight,” she remembers. “It was just incredible – the soaring music had this unbelievable impact on me and my love for fulfilling music.” Other composers that have made a lasting impact on her include Italian composer, Ennio Morricone (the 1988 film, Cinema Paradiso is amongst HEADLINER USA

one of her all time favourite scores), and Hans Zimmer, who she soon set her sights on working with. “Working for Hans Zimmer was basically my goal at the time,” she asserts. “So how was I going to do that? I got an internship at Paramount Pictures’ music department – that became my first job at the age of 20. It was an incredible experience being on the scoring stage every day. Then I felt like I was ready to try reaching out to somebody at Hans’ camp. And so that’s what I did. I called various people who were working there because I knew I couldn’t get to Hans directly. For about a month, I was pretty obnoxious. I was annoying myself,” she laughs. “I figured, ‘what do I have to lose? Right now I’m not working for Hans, so the worst case scenario is I’m still not going to be working for Hans.” Unsurprisingly, she ended up working for Zimmer after working for somebody else for six months in a room next to his office. “I made sure he saw me there when he got there, and I was still there when he left. After about six months of doing that, he offered me a job working for him – very casually in the hallway. I was like, ‘yeah!’” However, what Pinar learned from Zimmer was beyond the craft of just film scoring: “The most valuable thing that I’ve learned – which is something that

you don’t learn in school – is how to navigate meetings and the business entrepreneur side of the industry. His curiosity was infectious; he’s a very curious person. He’s about doing things a different way – a better way. I really love that mindset and that energy.” Her confidence and composing skills rocketed, and today she has penned scores for Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, DC’s Stargirl, Superman prequel series Krypton, HBO’s six-part docuseries McMillions, Epic Game’s massively popular/addictive online video game, Fortnite, has crafted the new main theme for Walt Disney World’s iconic EPCOT theme park, and wrote the music for Christina Aguilera’s 2019 Xperience show in Las Vegas. Pinar broke into the big movie leagues and started her superhero streak when she worked with another composer she had long admired: Danny Elfman. He tasked Toprak with composing a portion of the score for the 2017 star-studded movie, Justice League. “Another thing that I hold on to as I write music is a beautiful handwritten note he wrote me – which people don’t do these days,” she realizes. “It’s framed on my desk and I look at it every day. He’s not only a fantastic composer, but just a genuine, beautiful human being. He is the person that unlocked that part of my career.”



CAPTAIN MARVEL With one superhero hit under her belt, Pinar set her sights on Captain Marvel, although several years prior to that, she also pitched for Wonder Woman. “It was a cold pitch, nobody asked me to demo for Wonder Woman,” she says. “I just wrote this track called Echoes Of Battle, and they actually really liked it! But obviously they hadn’t asked me for the demo, and I didn’t have the credits to support that kind of a film at that time.” By the time Captain Marvel came around, she gave it her all: “I knew that an opportunity like that wasn’t going to come by every day. Now, I didn’t think that I was going to get to film. Of course I wanted it! But I figured, I’m just going to do my best and even if I don’t get it, hopefully with my effort they’re going to remember me for the next one. So how do I make that impact? How do I stand out? I wanted

them to remember me.” Although she had the option to do it all in the box, Pinar hired and conducted a 70-piece orchestra (paying for it herself) to record her initial main theme for the movie, also sending in an additional audition tape on what she envisioned for the score. “I wanted them to see me in front of the orchestra conducting because it was important for me that they knew that I could handle the orchestra,” she explains. “I wanted to make the most of it so that I didn’t look back and say, ‘man, I should have done this!’ That’s the worst feeling for me. A couple of weeks after I got a call that I actually got it, which was just incredible. I lost feeling in my legs and I collapsed on the floor! It was like a movie moment – it was an incredible feeling. And then I couldn’t tell anybody for weeks, which was like winning the lottery, but you can’t tell anybody. It’s changed my life!” HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET




STARGIRL DC’s Stargirl series premiered in May 2020, following the life of high school sophomore, Courtney Whitmore, who becomes the inspiration for a new generation of superheroes. Pinar worked closely with show-runner and show-creator, Geoff Johns, to establish the tone of the score. All though mostly going with a traditional approach, one thing stands out for her as being exceptional: “For one thing, we had a live orchestra for every episode of the show, which is not common in TV shows these days! Geoff and I talked quite a bit about Back To The Future kind of influences, which is a score that I’ve always loved. There’s a bit of that traditional approach and then there’s quite a bit of hybrid elements as well, with different characters and villains that appear throughout the show. I’ve created different themes and sonic vibes for each one of them, so it’s been a blast.” Essential to Pinar’s workflow is Steinberg’s Cubase, which she has used on every project she has done in the last 10 years.


“My template is close to 2,000 tracks, so Cubase really speeds up my workflow and allows me every different kind of articulation and sound at my fingertips,” she enthuses. “It just works the way my brain works. It’s really easy for me to figure things out with it and to grow with it. It makes my workflow seamless; the goal is to get your ideas from your brain to the computer as fast as possible.” Before she found Cubase, she was using another DAW, and was resistant to change: “I kept an open mind and said, ‘I’m just gonna give this a try’ – nobody has to know. As I started using it, it was one ‘wow’ after another. They’re constantly evolving and figuring out different ways of doing things. I can’t imagine writing without Cubase now!” Currently, Pinar has several projects in the works, although she can’t talk about them just yet. Headliner is in no doubt they’re going to be anything less than epic. PINARTOPRAK.COM STEINBERG.NET

An intelligent approach to gating...



“It is a small world - I never realized that before I had my success in my career,” he admits. “I was dreaming HEADLINER USA

of meeting huge DJs and huge idols like Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and Tiësto, but once you’re there, you realise it’s a really small world. Everybody knows each other!” Ozcan first found success in 2000 with his first release, and was quickly signed to a record label, however it failed to catch on as expected. Ozcan spent the next seven years experimenting with his sound to figure out what kind of music he wanted to make, dipping his toes in the worlds of hip hop, dance and


In DJ circles, it’s a very small world, which is something Dutch-Turkish DJ and record producer Ummet Ozcan learnt as soon as he gained some notoriety. Based in tranquil Putten in The Netherlands, Ozcan speaks to us from his futuristic Jan Moreldesigned Genelec home studio, where he’s been making the most of the break in his usually hectic touring schedule.





in the mix


trance. Something clicked into place in 2007 when he started making “tribal, techno-ish” music, finding success again and selling over 1,000 vinyls. “That was back in the time when that was pretty good,” he points out with a smile. 2010 saw Ozcan move into making more melodic trance music, releasing Time Wave Zero, which instantly caught the attention of Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and Tiësto and secured him a slot at huge Dutch trance event, Trance Energy. His career has gone from strength to strength ever since, first finding his footing in techno-influenced trance music, then shifting focus towards the electronic dance music movement. Ozcan acknowledges that this switch up can be hard for fans that have stuck by him since the beginning: “When I was making trance, I got a lot of fans that were really into my music, and then I changed to EDM and electronic music, so those fans were like, ‘no, please don’t change – go back to trance!’ And that happens like all the time, so from 2013 until 2017 it was more of an EDM sound, and now I’m changing it up a little bit again. What I always say is you don’t want to drive the same car for many years. Music is a creative process and I want to mix up some different styles to my music. Music has to change and evolve in a creative way.” Ozcan is currently enjoying the quiet of Putten away from the chaos of normal touring life: “It’s crazy normally: you visit four or five cities in a week; it’s hectic and chaotic when you’re away, then I come back home and it’s quiet. It’s perfect to charge yourself up again. Most people only see the upsides. One day you’ll be in Shanghai, then Bangkok, then Myanmar. You really have to look after yourself – I

stopped drinking and I stopped smoking because I just couldn’t handle it anymore! And this is all with one hour, or maybe no sleep. If you do this while you’re partying and drinking, it’s just not doable – you will collapse!”

THE STUDIO Ozcan started as a bedroom producer with two hi-fi speakers, then moved to an apartment where he created a studio space, although now looking back he admits that it was not really a proper studio. “I would tell my friends, ‘you have to stand in that corner if you want to feel the bass!” This didn’t stop him creating hit records though, producing all of his biggest hits from there. When planning his new home, Ozcan decided that a dedicated home studio was needed, and having been blown away by studio designer, Jan Morel’s work, he wasted no time in contacting him. “We really started from scratch; he’s known for his signature wide studios, but I wanted something that wasn’t like all the other studios. A couple of weeks after that, he came back and said, ‘okay, I’ve got something’. From then on, I gave him all the freedom. I told him what I like, what kind of colors and what kind of feeling I wanted, because it’s like an extension of me in the studio. He did


an amazing job. “It took me maybe four months to really produce again here in the studio, because every time I stepped in, I was just flabbergasted. I was sitting here in my chair and just listening to music; I couldn’t really produce because it was too good to be true! Even when Jan comes here, he’s like, ‘damn man, I forgot how good it was!’ And then he stays here for hours,” he laughs. When listening to his older tracks in the new studio, Ozcan noticed that he heard things that he had never picked up on before: “It’s so pure – you can hear every detail. I listened to what I produced back in the other studio – well, what I called a studio – and I heard things that I’d never heard before. I was like, ‘was this in my track?’” The room itself is a blazing celebration of neon, seamlessly shifting between color schemes. Sculpted acoustic panels from Artnovion adorn the walls while Morel has even recreated Ozcan’s logo on the ceiling. Providing the listening experience is a Genelec Smart Active Monitoring system which forms the studio’s centerpiece, comprising two 1234As installed as main monitors, accompanied by a 7382A subwoofer. Adding symmetry, what appears to be a second 7382A is in fact a customized bass trap designed around a Genelec grille. In addition, a pair of 8351B coaxial point source monitors from The Ones range are installed on Ozcan’s desk for nearfield listening, while 1234As are also embedded in the walls. “I texted Hardwell, and asked him what Genelec speakers were like, and he replied right away: ‘INSANE!’” HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



Ozcan prefers to use the smaller GENELEC monitors for original mixes, then steps it up to the larger 1234As when he wants to make club mixes with more of an impact.




Ozcan prefers to use the smaller reference monitors for original mixes, then steps it up to the larger 1234As when he wants to make club mixes with more of an impact.

“I think Hardwell works the other way around! He’s putting on the big ones all the time – really, really loud. You can definitely hear the difference, but it also depends on the producer. The good thing about these quality speakers is you don’t have to put them as loud, as they sound great at a low volume as well. “The original mix – the one that’s gonna be on the streaming platform – is focused more on streaming and listening,” he explains. “So I lower the dynamics; it has to feel nice to your ears because you have to produce and mix it in a way that you can listen to it for hours. So we keep things a little bit quieter with lighter sounds and usually the drop is a little bit different.” For club remixes, the 1234As help Ozcan turn it up to 11:

“For clubs and festivals it has to go all the way, so you get a little bit more of the low end. It feels a lot more massive, so it needs to have a little bit more balls, let’s say. When I make the drop, if I close my eyes I want to imagine people jumping up and down, having a good time and having a party - and that’s how you want to try to do the mix.” Now that he’s fully adjusted to the new space, Ozcan shuts out the world:

“That is the thing here in the studio, as soon as you close the door, you’re just gone! You don’t hear the outside anymore. It is like a spaceship flying through space... I suppose that’s a good thing! I’m just in the zone.” Ozcan’s DAW of choice is FL Studio, which he has been using for years.

“FL Studio started as a simple loop programme, and it’s evolved hugely these last couple of years, and has become a really professional DAW. A lot of other guys are using FL Studio as well: Oliver Heldens, Afrojack, and also Avicii used it. For drums, you just put your kicks in there, and then you put your claps in – it’s the classic way of making beats. That’s why it’s so popular with beat-makers and guys making hip hop.” With live events postponed for the foreseeable, Ozcan is enjoying the serenity of his home environment and is keeping himself busy making music and creating his own plugins.

“I’m just very thankful that I’m healthy and safe. I’m just enjoying my time here as usually we have a very, very busy schedule. I try to see [the current situation] as something positive and am making it into something useful. I actually have more time to be more creative, and because there’s no pressure, it feels great. Music is passion, and that’s what it’s all about.” GENELEC.COM



NEVE 4824

Joe Heaton




n o

World-renowned for their superb digital and analog consoles and audio hardware, UK-based AMS Neve has been a music industry favorite for five decades and more. We go behind the brand with product specialist, Joe Heaton, to find out how things have been business-wise during quarantine, and to check out the manufacturer’s brand new console release: the 8424.

RVIEW b y TE N ul wat s Pa



“It’s cold and windy, as it usually is in Burnley,” opens Heaton. “But we’ve actually been doing a pretty roaring trade. Even before the lockdown, things were looking good for the year. But when it did hit, we noticed a lot of our individual preamp units such as the SPX and the DPX started selling really well. People at every level of the profession have been moving to a home environment, and still want to continue to work. Even if it’s just a hobbyist who’s got a bit more money as no one has been able to spend out in restaurants, and people aren’t going on holiday. Recording at home with a nice Neve preamp is a very nice way to pass the time.” It is indeed. Conversation quickly turns to Neve’s spanking new smallfootprint console, the 8424. It certainly comes across as a feat of design and aesthetics, but we’re keen to hear Heaton’s take: why now, what can this console do, and who’s going to want one? “Creating a new Neve console is a pretty big deal,” Heaton enthuses. “The last newly-designed hybrid ones were the Genesys and the Genesys Black consoles – and those really focused on modern workflow and trying to incorporate everything into one unit. Neve has been making consoles for a very long time, and the sound quality along with functionality has always been of paramount importance. I mean, we’ve made a string of consoles for recording engineers around the world as well as some of the world’s biggest studios — Abbey Road and Capitol to name a few. “But we noticed there isn’t much out there for producers - for those working, and just making music. There’s quite a lot of small-format consoles, but not really a cutback version of what you’d expect to see in a big studio. So we wanted to create something that really hits that producer market and allows producers to get that legendary Neve sound. So that’s what we’ve

incorporated into the 8424.” According to Neve, the 8424 is a smallformat console with a large-format sound; it boasts 24 channel faders, four groups, and a pair of classic Neve 1073 Preamps in a bid to capture that classic 80-series Neve sound. But it’s also expandable. “We’ve included two onboard 1073s, which fits for a lot of electronic producers and singer-songwriters who don’t need a large microphone channel count,” Heaton explains. “People tend to build up lots of virtual instruments with vocals and guitars, so there are two separate DIs on there so that you can record vocals and guitars at the same time. We designed it in such a way that it can be expanded upon because of course there are some who do want to track drums or even a full ensemble with this.” Heaton then explains this is achieved by creating the console with a dualchannel strip on all 24 channels, with Input B set to receive any line-level input. “So if you’re a person working with modular synths or racks of instruments at home, you can connect those straight away, and it can also connect with an external preamp,” he continues. “Lots of hybrid studios already have their own preamps that become favorites of theirs. With this, it means you don’t have to replace the preamps you have already, just connecting your existing ones instead. You can completely tailor it to your taste.” Neve also recently put out its latest standalone preamp – the 1073 OPX, which is essentially eight 1073s in one unit. This was developed in tandem with the 8424 – and it’s a great value add-on for those who are considering purchasing the console. “The 1073 OPX is designed to work perfectly standalone, but we wanted an eight-channel preamp that could expand the recording capabilities


of the 8424 console,” Heaton says. “The two onboard 1073s might not be enough for some people, so this gives people the option to expand and record a band, drum kits, and so on. The 1073 OPX can connect directly to this console via Input B - and it’s ready to record right away. You can take advantage of all the direct outs on the console, and you can even drive the gain on the OPX and get that harmonic distortion like with a traditional 1073. “The OPX has been doing very well - we’ve started to get some great feedback from our client base who are absolutely loving the sound of it. It has Neve’s Marinair transformers on the input stage, and a lot of flexibility. From the analog side of it, we have front input line and DI, so you can connect to a professional studio very easily with a patch bay, or you can connect to the front and be ready to record. But it’s also fully digitally controlled; we have an app that sits on the computer, you connect it to the OPX, and you can remotely control all of the settings. Everything you see on the front of the unit is controlled in that app. That allows you to save settings and come back to a session.” AMS Neve sees this console as the foundation stone for anyone looking to turn a small, hybrid studio into a professional, console-based facility – and understandably so: “Every channel has a direct output, every channel has inserts, aux-sends, and full routing capability, so you can decide how and where you want to expand it,” Heaton declares. “But perhaps most important of all, when you’re mixing, you have access to that Neve sound through the mix bus. But the rest of the console is based on the Virtual Earth Technology - similar to the 88R and Genesys consoles. So you’ve got a combination of really clean, modern front end, and then the vintage Neve sound when you’re printing your mixes.”



NEVE 8424

Joe Heaton

The 8424 retails at $24,950USD (£17,950) with the OPX available as a bolt-on at a discounted price of $3,000 (£2,375) – taking the console preamp count from two to 10. A big thanks to Joe Heaton for an excellent


walkthrough of what is clearly a smart, forward-thinking piece of kit. Dare we say it could even become the gateway to drive more consoles into recording studios around the world, who as yet have found analog

hardware of this nature simply unaffordable. Watch this space. AMS-NEVE.COM

Featuring eight legendary 1073® remote-controlled preamps with Marinair® transformers, digital/analogue monitor signal path and optional USB and Dante digital connectivity for the modern studio environment.



The modern analogue console for today’s connected workflows Legendary 80-series Neve® sound, 4 Groups, 24 Channel faders



w w w. a m s - n e v e . c o m

Further product information available by scanning the QR code (left) or visiting ams-neve.com. Neve® & the Neve logo are registered trademarks of AMS Neve Limited. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.



Beatmaking with Verbs








After hitting a glass ceiling in Australia, Mike Avenaim set his sights on LA, moving across the world to carve out a successful career as a musical director, drummer, producer, composer and mixer. The self titled ‘live music director’ explains why he celebrated his engagement by buying a vintage Ludwig drum, and how the AMS RMX16 500 series format inspires him to create. Mike Avenaim is a man that wears many hats. The Australian musical director, drummer, producer, composer and mixer has directed multiple national and international tours, recorded on #1 charting tracks, has performed on stages all over the world and has appeared on Good Morning America, The View and Late Night with Seth Meyers. Although studying classical percussion from a young age, as a teenager he only had eyes for the drums, leading him to win a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Music where he majored in contemporary performance and jazz. Eventually relocating to the USA in 2010 to focus on being a studio and touring musician has led him to pursue the career of his dreams: “The classical thing for me growing up was not something I wanted,” Avenaim admits, speaking to Headliner from his home in LA. “My mother was really forceful in the sense of saying, if I was serious about becoming a musician, I needed real fundamentals. She’s like, ‘you want to bash away on the drums – that’s fine, but you need to be a classical musician at the core’. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate it; I thought it was kind of a waste of my time. But as an older musician and somebody who’s a music


director and whatnot, having those fundamentals has been really beneficial to me.”

do, I tell them that I’m a music director and then that obviously I play drums in most of the projects that I work on.”

Being a multi-instrumentalist has helped Avenaim stand out as a musician: in addition to playing the drums he has also mastered percussion, the marimba, xylophone and vibraphone. Combined with his classical training, this has enabled the musician to carve out a successful career as a music director. On his move to the states, Avenaim feels he had reached his peak in terms of musical potential in Australia:

It’s a curious thing that lots of musical directors are drummers, which Avenaim attributes to their natural instinct to lead an ensemble.

“Australia is a great place and it has an incredible music scene, but I always felt there was a glass ceiling,” he recalls. “I was in this position that I thought, ‘this is all I’m ever going to do if I stay here’. I had already come to the states a whole bunch of times to make records and just see what it was about. It felt like when I was here, what I was trying to achieve would be possible. It was this optimistic idea that it will all happen here. I always felt like everybody that ever wanted to achieve something bigger than what they could achieve, came here. LA just makes you feel like you can do it, and maybe that’s all it is. I definitely don’t think I would have what I have now had I stayed in Australia.”

“A lot of people are usually looking to the drummer for the endings, the starts, the section cues and the hits,” he considers. “You just develop this ability to lead the project from that position.”

DIAMOND KIT Naturally, he is rocking one hell of a drum collection, including a Ludwig drum from the late 40s which was rumored to be the house kit at Capitol Records all through the 60s.

Avenaim sees himself as a “live record producer” these days, although drumming is very much still a big part of everything he does.

“I don’t just buy random kit – I really try to be specific about what I buy,” he insists. “When it came to my vintage Ludwig kit, I knew I had to have this, and my wife brings this up all the time: the day we got engaged, I got a call about this kit, and we essentially went from where we got engaged to buy this drum kit. So, we joke about this a lot where I was like, ‘well, you got a diamond; I got a drum kit!’”

“Over the course of time doing session work and touring, I had a desire to musically expand what I’m doing, so I ended up in the music direction. It has the best of both worlds: the production side of things, plus the live music side of things. When people ask what I

Avenaim is a passionate AMS RMX16 user. A fan of kit with a history through and through, Avenaim knew that the microprocessor-controlled, fullbandwidth digital reverberator characterized an enormous number of seminal recordings from the 80s HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



Beatmaking with Verbs

onwards. He is the proud owner of the RMX16 in a 500 series format, which opens up the sound once only available to premier studios to a much wider user base. Being an 80s kid, he missed that classic era of music the first time around, but has grown to appreciate it as he has got older. “I’m obsessed with what it has to offer; there was so much cool digital stuff and a mixture of analogue and digital,” he enthuses. “There are various pieces of gear that I’ve become obsessed with over time from that period, and obviously the RMX16 from a drummer perspective is really important to that period. I think that’s really important to be able to dial something in; I don’t want to look at the screen,” he notes. “I really enjoy being able to physically grab the gear and blend in from there or watch the meters on it.” When he was first told about the 500 series format, it was too good to be true: he thought it was a joke. “Somebody sent me an email about AMS Neve launching this thing, and I had written back to him like, ‘yeah right haha’ – just presuming, why would that be a thing? I thought, ‘that’s a brilliant idea!’” HEADLINER USA

After realizing it was very real, he made a beeline for the Neve booth at NAMM. “Literally the first thing I did when I got there was go to the AMS Neve booth because I was like, ‘I gotta see this thing’. I was stood there for 30 minutes just dialing it around; it’s really intuitive. I had never used the unit in a 500 series format, but it’s really easy to use. I had to have one.” Avenaim is keen to dispel the misconception that this unit is only good for an 80s sounding reverb, regularly using it on bass, vocals, lead vocals, background vocals and guitars. “It has some really incredible sounding reverbs that can be utilized on a lot of stuff.” Obviously, it’s a standout piece on drums. Avenaim particularly likes to use it as an enhancement tool for the whole space of the kit: “So I might put it on an aux and then send the whole drum box to it – whether it’s a really short verb or just spaces to make the whole space of the image feel more 3D,” he explains. “It works magically for that.” If he’s not mixing, he prints the kick snare and toms




through it on one stereo track, then sends the group of multi tracks to somebody to offer them something extra. “I’ve always been a gated reverb,” he says. “I just love that vibe. You can overdo it and it becomes super 80s which I love. You can dial it in subtly so that it is a space that isn’t obvious. Using the RMX16, I just feel inspiration by turning that on on something! Recording through it makes me play differently. Some fills that I might have played had it not been on would be really different. I am always striving for some kind of perfection in everything that I’m trying to do, so I just am like, ‘why would I use console reverb when I can use the real thing?’” Recently Avenaim put the RMX16 through its paces when producing Joey Sykes track, Let’s Get Through

This. The artist sent him a scratch of the track and asked him to do a full production on it, which being stuck at home during lockdown, Avenaim did in a few days. “The main vocal reverb and whole drum room enhancement is through this unit. It’s probably the first thing I used it on. For the vocal reverb I used the ambient setting, and it is just giving the drums more 3D push. The reverb I have on there pretty heavily,” he notes. “I set up an aux with the insert of the RMX on it, send the vocal to that aux and committed it down. And then the same thing with the drum print: I put it on an aux, send it to it and then commit it down so that I have it. I’m a big fan of committing things down so that I don’t later on have to deal with how I managed to set it up – even though it’s really easy to recall,” he quickly points out.

This reminds him of another benefit of the unit: the presets. “It’s got loads of presets you can save, so recall on this unit is really easy. You can just save it with the title of the song and pull it back off if you have to print to it again. I just like having everything printed down in the session so that if I need to get to it quickly, I don’t have to go back to gear. I am just a big believer of once I find the sound that I want, that’s what I want.”




Beatmaking with Verbs

Avenaim specifically bought a six-bay rack for the RMX16, although he notes that he has a whole bunch of 500 series racks he could have put it in instead:

that when I listen back to those sessions, I’m just like, ‘Oh, that’s so good that I have the ability to be able to saturate things that way’.”

“I like it so much that I want to be able to take it between my live room studio and also my own studio,” he explains. “Also when I’m traveling – which I do frequently – I want it with me. It’s just such a good tool. I essentially set up a space in my studio with cables just for this particular 500 rack so that I can just yank it out real quick and take it with me to a session and then bring it back up. My whole plan with it is that I can actually take it with me to a session.” In terms of outboard, for Avenaim it’s Neve 1073s all the way:

When it comes down to it, Avenaim wants the end result to be something that’s impressive and makes people want to go back.

“It’s very easy to make something sound distorted and crappy, not saturated and awesome. There’s a big difference. And those really helped me to be able to get my snare drum tones and things that I really want to get going in. I’m big on the committing, so I want that thing going down. Obviously if the producer asked me not to do that, I won’t – but a lot of the time they want me to do it because I have the gear. I just like being authentic about it as opposed to dialing it in after the fact. There’s something about doing it on the way in HEADLINER USA

“And I think that’s the case for making music,” he realizes. “Generally I think we make music for ourselves, but we also make music to appeal to people. For me, it’s just about trying to make somebody hear something that makes them feel something.” AMS-NEVE.COM MIKEAVENAIM.COM


24-channels Fully USB Bus-powered Ultra Low-Latency for Live Performances Best-in-Class Conversion & Mic Preamps


by The State-Of-The-Art software guitar amp. Plus – Brainworx BX Opto (Full Version) – Brainworx BX Masterdesk plug-ins (Full Version) – Modartt Gig Performer, Pianoteq 6 (Time Demo) – GG Audio Blue 3 Organ (Time Demo)

The world´s lowest noise headphone preamps. In a mobile interface. Both headphone outputs provide the High Power & Zero Noise design of the industryleading, reference converter ADI-2 PRO FS.

SteadyClock FS Pro Audio Clock featuring FemtoSecond accuracy & complete JITTER immunity for unmatched depth & clarity.




CHARLES ESTEN The Road to Nashville


the street. Until March 2020 – when a haunting silence descended on the capital made famous for being the music centre of Tennessee.

Nashville’s bustling streets are usually filled with the sounds of country music – each honky tonk’s tunes vying for the attention of the revelers on

“It’s very difficult, because this place is a live wire; it has electricity going through it. You walk down – not just Broadway, downtown – but many


“It’s very, very eerie,” agrees Charles ‘Chip’ Esten, who is happy to report that he’s “healthy and hunkered down” in Nashville during the lockdown period.


You’ll know him as Deacon Claybourne from the hit TV show, Nashville, but before landing the role of a lifetime, he found himself starring in comedy improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? – complete with Buddy Holly hair. For Charles Esten, each part of his journey to Nashville represent pieces of a puzzle...




the road to nashville


other streets, and you hear music in the streets, you hear it coming out the doors, you hear the greatest musicians in the world. There’s a lot of folks that are hurting right now because they not only get to make music from their heart, but they support their families by going on the road as touring musicians or working as studio musicians. There’s countless crew, bus drivers, and everybody that’s a part of this massive industry, but also this massive family called country music. We’re going to have to make sure that we all take care of those folks as well as they go through these hard times.” Esten is finding the current situation incredible surreal: “It’s hard to wrap your head around where we are right now. The thing that we’re starting to see now more than ever is the hearts of people – reaching out to each other, lifting each other up and taking care of each other. That grace and kindness – person to person – that you’re starting to see makes all of this bearable.” When the official lockdown news descended, and all music venues were immediately closed, Esten was in London preparing to play at the Country To Country Festival at the O2 Arena, which was swiftly called off and rescheduled for the following year. “Getting to be on that main stage, that’s a bucket list type thing for me,” he admits. “So you would expect that I’d be fairly devastated by it. But in the perspective of the grand and global scale, with what many people are going through, this isn’t something that you can really call devastating. This is just something we’ve all had to adjust to. It’s sad, but the good news is they’ve got their headliners back for next year and

it’s gonna be very, very emotional. We will have been through so much by then, and music can be extremely cathartic. So I hope that that is able to happen. But in the meanwhile, it’s folks like you that are playing and


sharing that country music, so there’s a connection. There is something healing about it, and something that helps you process the hardest things. All music does, but country music seems to have an extra special gift at that.” Best known for his starring role as Deacon Claybourne on CMT’s Nashville, which kickstarted his own musical career, Esten has stayed put in Nashville despite the show ending two years ago. He feels that his whole career before that led up to that role: “Nashville was just a real life-changer for me, and the sort of show and role that I’d probably been preparing myself for,” he reflects. “I’ve often felt like over the years, I collected these little scraps of cardboard, these odd shapes with colors on them. Tiny little pieces. And then at one point, I pulled them out and put them on a table and they were puzzle pieces. And I put them all together and they were Nashville. Because every little job I did, every little song I wrote, every little bit of guitar I learned – all these different things went into playing this guy, Deacon, and it changed my life.” Looking back, Esten reflects on the fact that he hasn’t always been a


prolific songwriter: “I gotta admit that it wasn’t until I was much older that I wrote songs,” he remembers. “I was just doing it whenever the moment would strike, or whenever I would think of an idea. And that’s not how the professionals really do it: they sit down to write, whether they have an idea or not. And they find a song. So years later, I started doing that. That started about seven years before I got a script for Nashville. It could not have been more perfect for me to come to this city and meet all these great writers, musicians and producers and be able to pick up this music career that I’d let go of so long ago and start afresh. It’s been a dream.” Before landing the role of a lifetime, Esten’s theatrical debut in London saw him portray Buddy Holly – singing, acting and playing guitar – in the hit West End musical, Buddy, which then led to an unexpected stint on popular UK comedy improv series, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Although referring to himself as a comedian as being something of a “subjective” matter, Esten was an instant hit, and when Whose Line came to ABC, he became a recurring cast member and frequent song improvisor. Since then he has appeared on Drew Carey’s Improvaganza and toured frequently, performing live improv shows with Stiles, Proops and Jeff B. Davis. “I ended up on that show while I was playing Buddy, so if you ever go back and see those old episodes, I’ve got permed black hair, because I’ve been playing Buddy Holly during those nights,” he laughs. “I didn’t have any idea that it would turn into this thing that went back to the states and supported my family. I was part of that for years and years. Some of the best friends I have in my life are from Whose Line Is It Anyway? HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET


CHARLES ESTEN The Road to Nashville


“It was always my hope that I would get to do both,” he elaborates. “When Buddy finished, I went back to LA, still doing Whose Line, where I got to sing and literally write songs off the top of my head. But for years and years in between, it was impossible to find that in acting. I always figured I’d run into some bandmates and I’d be able to put together a plan and get back to the music, but that never happened – it wasn’t time.” But A shift in prioritizing songwriting saw the stars align:

“I focused on songwriting again, and put that out to the universe. I very clearly remember saying to my wife, ‘when am I ever going to get to go to Nashville to play music? That’s never going to happen’. And, of course, we know the ending to that - it happened in spades! [laughs] I got to come here and play Deacon, and pretty soon I was in [iconic Nashville music venue] The Bluebird all the time playing music as Deacon! It’s a real story that I try to wrap my head around, but I’ve quit trying. Esten says he very much wants to be on the “optimist train” with regards to making the best out of the current situation, and has been picking up his guitar while at home, almost absentmindedly playing covers of his favorite songs:

“I’m mostly playing familiar music that gives me a connection, and then as I’m playing all those songs, invariably my hands find different chords and new tunes and melodies. I haven’t come around to writing any lyrics yet. Those take a little longer in terms of processing what you’re feeling. It’s hard. It’s much harder to verbalize than it is to music-ize something.” Are harder subjects trickier to put to music?

“Pain can get processed in a myriad of different ways; some positive, some negative. Pain turns to fear, and fear turns to anger sometimes. But on the other hand, pain turns to empathy and sympathy, and people are seeing through the things that they thought were important that they find are not important. I think it was some countryman of yours that said, ‘all you need is love,’ and in the end, right in this moment, all the other things fade away. Now we realise that there’s only a handful of things that really matter. And if we can just have those things back, we will be very, very grateful. And hopefully, on the other side we will have a memory of the important things.”




Speaking of the ‘other side,’ Esten is excited to celebrate once things return to something resembling normalcy; surely Nashville will explode with music and excitement?

“Yeah! And when you say explode, I mean even just emotionally...It’s hard to imagine that we can say we ever took going to a concert for granted, because we all knew how great it was and what it meant. But in a real way, we didn’t know that. We just didn’t know. And obviously, there have been other tragedies that have shown us the precariousness of life within the music scene – certainly Manchester, the horrific attack that happened there. In the wake of people coming together and returning to these venues... the people in Manchester and the strength they showed through that, it’s just hard to put words around, other than to say that it’s the only thing that gives you hope in all these situations. That’s what we need more of – that kind of strength in the future, and that kind of caring for each other.” Thinking ahead to the day when music returns to Nashville, Esten includes all related professions in his thoughts:

“Because it’s not just the venues. Stadiums to arenas, theatres to bars, to the littlest honky tonks that are having to just sit empty right now. There’s so many right here in town, including The Bluebird – The Bluebird is not immune from this. The Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry sits empty right now; these are tough times. But oh man, it’s gonna be something when we finally get through this. There’s gonna be so much joy and so much music played!” CHARLESESTEN.COM



CHRIS WRATE Grande Designs





Guitarist and musical director, Chris Wrate’s first professional guitar gig was on Oprah, so it follows the same trajectory that his first musical director job was working with Ariana Grande. When it comes to amps, Wrate reveals his game-changing Celestion discovery...




Usually working as a guitarist and musical director to Kelsea Ballerini’s band, Chris Wrate has been kept busy with a different kind of challenge during lockdown. “I’ve got a six year old, and we’re expecting our second in July, actually,” he smiles. “My daughter has been asking for a long time to take the training wheels off of her bike, and I thought it was a little bit early. But I was like, ‘well, if there’s ever a time for us to have the time to learn, it’s now!’ So a couple of days ago we took the training wheels off, thinking it would take days or weeks or months, and the next day she was up and riding without my help! I was hoping that would last me a while, but she’s on to the next thing already!” Originating from Wisconsin, and now residing in Nashville, Wrate grew up around the local blues scenes of Chicago and Milwaukee, and it was his versatility as an artist that allowed

him to work with a wide range of artists in a variety of genres, from blues, pop, rock, r&b and funk, to country. Wrate has accumulated a lot of experience in writing and studio recording, however the majority of his work is with other artists on the road and in the studio, including working with Ariana Grande and David Foster, and appearing on TV shows such as Oprah, American Idol, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Today Show, and Ellen. Thrown in at the deep end, his first ever professional gig was on Oprah: “I was at a school in Los Angeles called the Musicians Institute. I was trying to find a school where I wouldn’t have to do any English, history or math homework,” he laughs. “I found a school that specialized in contemporary music and was really good at placing


its students in various fields in the music industry. I did an audition for The Offspring – they needed a rhythm guitarist and background vocalist for one of their upcoming tours. Then I auditioned for an artist called David Foster, and so my first ever professional gig was playing on Oprah with him!” In terms of his work as a musical director, Wrate says that every artist is different: “A lot of artists are very opinionated and they want things to be a certain way, and that’s kind of your job as well – to forecast what they’re going to want to hear. Our job entails learning how to frame everything: how to come up with a range of interesting ideas, how to be on the same page, and how to steer the ship for different shows and tours and whatnot. It’s definitely always something that’s ever-changing and growing, so you’ve got to stay on top



CHRIS WRATE Grande Designs

of certain problems and work with any changes to your show. It’s a super fun job; I enjoy it for sure.” One of the first artists Wrate was a musical director for was Ariana Grande, although he didn’t take the offer seriously at first: “When I first got the call, the musical director who has worked with Justin Bieber for a very long time sent me a Facebook message,” he remembers. “We weren’t even Facebook friends. His profile picture was a kid holding a guitar. So I’m getting goofy messages saying, ‘Hey man, I’ve got a gig for you’. And I’m like, ‘yeah okay…’ And he sent me another message, kind of a little bit more stern saying, ‘you need to pick up this call and get back to me’. I started to read this first message that said, ‘you’ve got an artist that sounds like Mariah Carey…’ I thought: I don’t believe you.” After looking into it more closely, Wrate quickly discovered that the rumors were true and he signed on to do a radio tour with Grande to promote her first album, including a small tour. “My first meeting with her was at her house; we listened to the album and she basically just said, ‘what do you think?’ I’m super blown away – she’s obviously an amazing vocal powerhouse.” Wrate was tasked with the musical director role of the tour of the US and Europe. “She’s one of the greatest vocal sounds out there right now, so that was a huge privilege and is definitely one of the peaks of my career. It was a massive step up, and especially to do musical directing with her on that gig. She’s very hands on and she knows the way she wants things to sound.” A guitarist at heart, Wrate admits that there have been certain jobs where he questioned if he wanted to continue with musical directing: “It’s stressful! I’ve gone back and forth. But I’ve had certain gigs where it’s been really nice. It’s


nice to just be a guitarist and not have to worry about that side of things! My current gig right now is with Kelsea Ballerini. When I started, I was just a band member that grew to be the bandleader, that grew to doing the musical directing for the past year or so. I do enjoy taking the direction and feeling the weight of all that encompasses being a musical director. I want to be able to use as many of my skills as I can. So if I feel like I can help in certain areas, whether it’s taking on a different instrument or just taking on more of a role, I definitely like to feel like I’m contributing the most that I can. And I definitely feel like I get a lot of opportunity to do that with Kelsey.” While a lot of Wrate’s work has been in live performance, he also has a lot of experience in writing and studio recording. He has helped score a national commercial for Weight Watchers, has performed on the feature film and soundtrack for the Lion’s Gate feature film, Blood Out, and has had song placements on several TV shows including Pawn Stars, Say Yes To The Dress, Counting Cars, and Homeland. “The Weight Watchers gig is an interesting story,” he remembers. “I was in Los Angeles and was still a student at the time. I was playing at a church where a gentleman who was a composer approached me and said they were looking for a Mumford and Sons type-sound to use for a commercial, although that was not the Weight Watchers commercial, it was for something entirely different.” Wrate arranged a joint composing session, where the pair wrote three songs and sent them off. After not hearing anything, Wrate forgot all about the session. A year and a half later he heard that Weight Watchers wanted to use one of the tracks for its latest campaign. “After that, we started writing more and trying to write specific songs geared towards certain TV shows that were asking for music. It’s funny how something that I forgot about then all of a sudden was on a nationwide commercial starring Jessica Simpson!”





CHRIS WRATE Grande Designs

Wrate has his go-tos when it comes to live amps and the digital side – recently switching over to a Fractal from a Kemper, using a combination of the Celestion 2´12 (closed back) Vintage 30 speakers and the Golds. Before recently having the band switch to digital platforms, Wrate was using an amp with a Vintage 30 and a Celestion Gold, although the Creamback is another favorite of his.



On switching to digital, Wrate admits that he was not very excited about it at first – guitarists like loud amps, and he was concerned that digital ones would not sound the same. However he is happy to report that he

especially when you’re moving to something that’s very foreign to you. It’s new, and you’ve got to try and offer the same kind of sounds and tones as before.” Naturally, every guitar player cares deeply about their sonics: “That’s one of the first and foremost things: you want to have a sound, and be confident in that. When I first got acquainted with Celestion, to be honest, my knowledge of speakers themselves wasn’t very strong. That’s when I realized, wow! An amp can change a lot based on what speaker cabinet it is running through.” Wrate had a similar revelation when first discovering Celestion Impulse Responses:

is now fully on board – with Celestion Impulse Responses helping with the transition. “I’ve loved it! It’s been really cool,” he says. “In terms of Impulse Responses, I really hadn’t checked into them just because I simply didn’t need them at the time. And so that was really cool to incorporate. A lot of the same Impulse Responses and certain ideas and concepts that work with the speakers in a live setting are translating just as well with a digital platform. You just want consistency,

“It was just as strong [a revelation] as when I started to realize that speaker cabinets make a big difference. You can have a really cool boutique amp, but if you don’t have a great speaker - well... Whatever information the amp is trying to put out is only as good as the speaker that it’s pushing sound through. It’s a huge difference, and you don’t realise it until you start playing through different cabinets. Even the cabinet build itself is a big component to how that speaker is going to sound. The IRs help an immeasurable amount to bridge that gap from making the transfer to a digital setup, because it is very different for a lot of musicians to get used to, having played and done one thing for so long and then switching to something completely foreign.”


IRs open up about an amp... there’s just certain positive frequencies that are now being projected that weren’t before - in a good way! - it just gives you so much more information. It’s one of those things where legitimately, to me, it’s a game-changing piece of gear. Whichever Kemper I was profiling the amp through made you go to the cabinet module, and it’ll say, ‘this is the default cabinet’ – it might not have much information on it. Then I selected a Celestion IR that I knew would work really well. I had previously played a few notes with the default cabinet but I was just like, ‘man, that went from sounding terrible to amazing! “It was like somebody put a blanket over my amp and said, ‘play with the blanket on, and then play with it off’. I think I’ll play with my blanket off the amp! [laughs] There are so many characteristics about the amp that weren’t being told until I put that IR in front of it. I would be so unhappy if I didn’t have this product because it changes it so drastically. It’s a real game-changer if you’re using this digital stuff.” Wrate is looking forward to the time the Kelsea Ballerini tour gets picked up again, but in the meantime is enjoying the challenge of keeping his daughter busy. CELESTION.COM CHRISWRATE.WIX.COM

Recently, Wrate was working using his Kemper, and was suddenly curious about what the original profile sounded like without an IR against it. He used a profile of an amp he already owned with a cabinet setup with a Celestion Vintage 30 and a Gold. The result was so drastic, it became a game-changer for Wrate: “The information that the Celestion HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET




Who is Whipped Cream?







WHO IS WHIPPED CREAM? A life changing accident on the ice saw figure skater Caroline Cecil turn her attention to the world of EDM. Reinventing herself as DJ and producer, Whipped Cream, she now channels her inner genius into her music.

“I fucking love my music,” says EDM artist and producer Whipped Cream, immediately apologizing for swearing. Real name Caroline Cecil, the Canadian native can be forgiven for the amount of F-bombs dropped in our interview, because it all comes from a place of passion, especially considering that she found her way to music at a time when she felt the most lost. Before finding her niche producing and playing hip hop-influenced dark

bass music, Cecil was a competitive figure skater who trained for the Olympics, but after a debilitating accident on the ice she was forced to give up the sport and find a new passion – although the love of music was always there: “When I was super young, I always had the music cranked up and I’d be dancing and singing. I couldn’t sing in key, but I just absolutely loved music. I got on the ice when I was about four or five for the first time, HEADLINERMAGAZINE.NET



Who is Whipped Cream?

and I completely fell in love with it to the point where I was hardly going to high school. I obviously did graduate,” she adds quickly, “but I really did spend most of my days skating or training.” Cecil had almost saved up enough money from her three part time jobs to buy some new skates when a bad fall changed her course:

Cecil’s mind was made up: she made her way back home and set about learning how to make music. Looking back, she considers the accident to be a blessing in disguise. “I totally found a way more clear path,” she explains, speaking rapidly

Speaking of the music industry being male dominated, Cecil has been very outspoken about this throughout her career:

“I was practicing triple toe loops and I fell the wrong way. I instantly knew something was wrong,” she remembers. “The doctor told me I might not walk normally ever again – he just told me how it was.” Happily, she recovered and moved to a farm in order to train with a new coach who specialized in left handed skaters – “I also skated left handed which is fucking weird because I’m right handed,” she laughs. “I gave it about another year and I just wasn’t happy. So I stopped and I had no fucking idea what I was going to do. [Skating] was my whole life – I didn’t care about anything but this – but I just knew in my heart that I wasn’t happy doing this anymore.” Feeling lost, Cecil and a friend took a road trip to Sasquatch! Music Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, and her new calling found her: “It was the most unreal experience for me,” she recalls. “There was one particular act that I saw, and about 15 minutes into his show I had this overwhelming feeling...I was like, ‘holy fuck, I want to I want to do this!’ I also wanted to provide this feeling that this person was providing to all of these other people. I looked around me – I was completely sober – and tears were pouring down my face. I had never felt so accepted and so full of something I can’t even describe.”


fighting and I’m gonna go above water. I ended up naming it Suffocate because it’s about feeling like you can’t breathe, but you’re gonna keep going. And the record itself – it’s super cinematic but it’s still got a groove, you know? It’s kind of trappy and it’s got a very experimental, innovative bass that I chopped up with the sample.”

and with an infectious enthusiasm. “It’s crazy – all these magical things and situations happen. I can’t even explain them anymore because I’m so in flow and in tune with my inner…” she trails off. “I call it an inner genius – when you finally find that thing. Everyone has it – you have it, the people reading to this interview have it. When we find something we love, our energy comes out. I never experienced it until I found this.”

TURNING TABLES Cecil knew for certain that the DJ/ producer life was the one for her when she finished her original track, Suffocate. “I’m smiling so much because I haven’t heard that record in so long,” she says. “I remember the day, and it felt so fucking amazing. First of all, the record Suffocate was first called Underwater But I’m Still Breathing, and it was a record that had true intention behind it. I was so frustrated and upset with all of the shit I was facing as a woman in the industry. I literally felt like I was underwater but still breathing – they were trying to drag me, but I’m gonna keep

“I think that it’s important to speak out. I’ve actually been notorious for speaking out. However, I’m learning that what others say and think about you, it’s not you – it is their perception,” she stresses. “It’s super important as a woman in the industry to know that. I used to think it’s so important to speak on every little thing when you’re treated unfairly – and I did it. Guilty as charged.” As she matured, she realized that all this was doing was taking away from her time to create, and she now picks her battles. “Yes, being a female producer in a male-dominated producer game is not the easiest thing. However, it doesn’t define me. If you’re a female reading this, I’m not saying to bite your tongue. If you feel like you need to speak on something, then fucking speak on it. Because if you don’t speak on it, other women who are facing the same thing you’re facing today might not have it any easier if we don’t speak on it. It’s a tug of war with me because sometimes I’ll be the punching bag for the next woman to come. But then I’m like, this is going to take two weeks of heartache because I spoke on something. I just let it pass me now and know that that’s nothing to do with me; I know what I’m doing. I know my purpose


and my intention. I’m just gonna keep doing what I do and live in light and love and happiness.” Recent hip hop-heavy track, I Do The Most (ft. Lil Keed) saw Cecil challenge female stereotypes in the song’s music video, which she stars in as well as producing the track. Commenting that the song was “super fun to make,” Cecil is excited to merge electronic sounds and hip hop in her production: “I’m not trying to make anything generic; I want it to always sound like Whipped Cream still,” she points out. “I’m expanding my sounds. I am super proud of the record and the video. For the video I was really inspired by Rihanna. I wanted it to be a woman in control, where the woman is running the show.”


Before you roll your eyes at the idea of a lingerie-clad Cecil writhing around in a pile of money on a giant bed, she urges viewers to look closer: “When you look at it from a deeper perspective, the tables have turned and the woman is in power. I’m the one throwing the money. I’m the one throwing the gun. I’m the one standing while he’s kneeling – and it’s not to have power over men. That’s not what I was trying to do here. I was fully, creatively in charge of this video; from the look, to what he’s wearing, to what I’m wearing, to my hair and makeup. Even the room is exactly my vision coming to life. When you quickly look at me, you’re like, ‘Oh, she’s using sex to sell herself,’ and who gives a fuck if I was using sex to sell myself? That shouldn’t matter. It’s not about that.”




Who is Whipped Cream?

learning the ropes Being a self taught producer from YouTube, Cecil admits that when she first started producing, she wasn’t very good. Those days, she spent her time making club edits of R&B and rap songs – learning how things worked by sampling. “In my DJ sets I’d always put everything in them because I could never stick to one genre,” she remembers. I looked at people like Skrillex who plays everything from rap, to techno, to hard-style. I felt like, if he can do it, then I can do it. It’s not the easy route, but I’ve kind of stuck to that. It can be very confusing when an artist is going all over the place, but I think as a producer or a DJ, there’s no limit.” Being a DJ has made Cecil a better producer – her go to DAW being Ableton. “If there are any new producers reading this, just honestly, even playing to your cat will help you,” she insists. “Formulating those songs that you really, really like and trying to build a story behind them is a part of the art, in my opinion. I had a couple of friends and they were all using Ableton so I ended up getting Ableton and I just never went back! Whatever works for anyone, just stick to that. There’s no right or wrong programme.” She absolutely loves splice.com: “It’s a great site for royalty-free samples where you can chop, screw


and manipulate the audio to make it your own sound. It will help you learn production the easiest way. This is my tip to new producers and is what I did to learn how to make music. I’m very honest: I do not love to make sounds from scratch, but that doesn’t take away from what I do,” she points out. “Say I hear this dope horn melody: I’m going to take the first two notes but then I’m going to drag a whole bunch of audio effects onto those first two notes and transpose them down to negative 12, and then it just creates a whole new sound. Just because I’ve started from a different sample doesn’t take away from people’s production at all.” During lockdown, Cecil has found a sense of peace and balance through meditation, and has started to notice a transformation within herself: “I just feel so freakin creative right now,” she enthuses. “It sounds crazy, but I needed everything to stop for me to realise how important it is to take care of myself before anything else. Then my creativity will flow naturally as it’s supposed to when I’m not overdoing everything.” Working on her upcoming EP, Who Is Whipped Cream? is currently keeping her busy. Cecil says she is very much living in the now: “I’m literally just creating whatever I want every day,” she says, happily. “I can watch a horror movie and an hour later, I’m on my computer creating some cinematic music, or

the other day I was watching a house stream and then I went and I wrote a house song. I would never do that before, so it’s been super fun – it’s experimental right now.” On the EP’s name, she says that she doesn’t feel that people have got to know the real her yet: “People don’t really know exactly what I am yet, and I think that this body of work really showcases me. When you listen to the first record to the last record on the project, you do start getting a vibe of my past influences to where I am now, to where this potentially could go. It keeps the listener having a question mark, but for me it solidifies a lot. I think I’ve been waiting for this time to put all this music out. One of the songs was finished in 2017, so I’ve been waiting for the moment to drop some of these records.” Is Cecil ready for it? Absofuckinglutely.

OWN THE ROOM www.digico.biz DiGiCo UK Ltd. Unit 10 Silverglade Business Park, Leatherhead Road Chessington, Surrey KT9 2QL. Tel: +44 (0) 1372 845600

Using amp modellers or IRs? Then check out the revolutionary new Celestion F12-X200. It’s the first and only guitar speaker to combine the Full Range performance your modelling amp requires with the Live Response you need to feel connected to the music. Find out more at celestion.com


All Grown Up



Photograph: Shevin Lainez

all grown up



We chat to American sibling trio, AJR, whose sound is made up of many musical ingredients and genres: there’s pop, indie, trap, and much more in there - and it’s extremely good stuff. We discuss the quarantine period, the days of sharing a triple bunk bed, the band’s recent single, Bang, and that important 10,000-hour rule.





The three brothers of AJR have come a long way since their beginnings, to put it mildly. “We started out busking in Washington Square Park [in New York City] with ukuleles and playing covers,” says Ryan Metzger, one of the three Metzgers that make up the trio. “We made enough money doing that to buy Pro Tools and recording equipment, which we brought back to our living room, and we’ve been recording there ever since.” In the wake of their recent new (and huge) single, Bang, it’s a musical journey that’s well worth listening to. AJR are somehow a blend of indie, pop and trap, and probably several more genres — I complain to Ryan that his are one of those bands that make a music journalist’s life rather difficult when it comes to pinning them down to a set of genres. “I would hope so!”, Metzger says with a laugh. “All of my favourite bands were like that. How do you describe The Beach Boys? I guess that’s something we aspire to, to keep surprising people. Every time people expect a certain sound from us, we throw a wrench into it and take a left turn.” I ask how the dynamic of being a band of brothers has been for Metzger, with siblings Adam and Jack Metzger. “It’s been very beneficial,” he says. “We grew up together in a tiny apartment in New York City in a triple bunk bed. So we forcibly had to become close. Going around the world in a tour bus and little planes has just been a continuation of that.


“If you’re in a band with people you aren’t 100 percent comfortable with, frictions can come up quickly as people take jobs that aren’t theirs or aren’t their skillset, for example. You need to be comfortable enough to remind people what it is they are best at.”

AJR’s latest single, Bang, with its huge beat, shuffling hi-hats and brass stabs, is a song on the topic of growing up. I ask Metzger where he thinks he falls on the growing up spectrum, between having his taxes in order and wearing cardigans, to doing as little growing up as physically possible.

I ask if another continuation of this has been the three of them quarantining together.

“I think we’re still trying to figure that out,” he says. “It’s so much of the subject matter of our songs. Our last album, Neotheater, was very much about trying not to grow up. To not learn these hard lessons we all have to learn in our twenties.

“Well I’m the older brother, and me and Jack (youngest) are living together in Union Square,” Metzger says. “Adam, the oldest, doesn’t even technically have a house right now because we were supposed to be touring this entire year, so he’s living with my dad for a little bit.” Alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish, Metzger is another big believer in the ‘10,000 hour rule’ — the idea that to become a master of your main skill, be it music or what have you, you need to surpass the 10,000 hours mark of work and practise to attain mastery. “We went through a broadway phase, we went through a really hard hiphop phase, a disco phase,” he says. “We were honing our skills and putting in our 10,000 hours before anyone was really listening to us, besides our high school friends. “We’d built a huge musical toolbox that we can draw from. We were one step ahead when it came to people knowing who we were. I think it’s very important to fail a lot of times, to find out what works for you. We would not be where we are today if we hadn’t put in those 10,000 hours.”

“Bang is sort of a sequel to that, where we find ourselves doing all the things our parents do: we’re eating superfoods and doing our taxes, and yet I don’t feel like them just yet. But I know it’s inevitable, so let’s ‘go out with a bang’.” If we do all indeed have to grow up, we may as well do so while listening to the bombastic beasts and songwriting of AJR. So be sure to stick on Bang while getting those taxes sorted. AJRBROTHERS.COM


A revolutionary way to design your own drums – Backbone is your new, innovative drum designer for single kicks, snares, hi-hats, percussion, rises, hits and more. Layer up to eight samples and shape them with classic subtractive synthesis, decompose samples into tonal and noise elements and re-synthesize samples to manipulate them in unheard ways.

steinberg.net/backbone All specifications are subject to change without notice. Copyright Š 2020 Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH. All rights reserved.


Life after Lockdown

Drive-in and digital concerts are starting to pop up all over the US, but are they the right remedy for live music blues during the coronavirus pandemic?


DS by C O OR






The Covid-19 outbreak has affected almost every aspect of daily life, bringing with it a revitalised sense of comradery as people pull together in this time of crisis. While the live music industry has faced innumerable problems throughout the years, it might currently be seeing its greatest challenge yet, with thousands of gigs being cancelled or rescheduled. The day when normality is finally restored and we can descend on our favourite festivals is unquestionably something to look forward to, but in the meantime it’s important to stay positive, and continue to enjoy the music we love. In an attempt to quench musical thirst, events promoter and venue operator Live Nation recently announced its first ever drive-in concert series, which launched this month with country stars Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley and Jon Pardi. Taking place in amphitheater parking lots, the three-day, nineshow event saw attendees watch the performances from a distance with two parking spaces between each vehicle. Similarly, Garth Brooks is soon to broadcast a one-night drive-in concert to 300 outdoor theaters nationwide, with a rather steep price tag of $100 per car. He follows the lead of DJ D-Nice and fellow country star Keith Urban, who were some of the first major artists to play drive-in shows during the Covid-19 pandemic. Urban performed a secret show to around 200 front-line healthcare workers in Tennessee in May, describing the event as being like “a tailgate party”. Here, restrictions remained tight, as concertgoers listened through their car radios and were only permitted to leave their vehicles to use the restroom. You’ve got to give it to these guys; they’re of course trying to make a living as musicians, but are also simply trying to provide fans with some

entertainment during the summer months after what has seemed like a never-ending amount of time isolating at home. So while the wearing of masks remains paramount, it still makes more sense to party in your Pontiac than to meander your way through a sea of intoxicated sweaty strangers who are likely not following social distancing rules. And yet, while drive-in shows provide a diluted, albeit safe alternative during lockdown and beyond, it is almost impossible to imagine this as the permanent future of live music. It’s looking like Live Nation, which is unlikely to open the doors on some of its biggest US and UK-based venues before the end of the year, is suffering the most on the business side, with its share price falling from $75 to $29 in March as the lockdown took hold, although the figure is now floating around the $45-50 mark. These drivein concerts with limited audiences — the likes of which have subsequently been tried out in Denmark and Germany — may not necessarily ease Live Nation’s hardships, but promoter Peter Taylor has said the company was “excited” to help live music resume. However, any live music lover will know that a concert is often a collective experience, subtly enhanced through micro-interactions with fellow fans. It’s something that simply cannot be replicated when parked in a car spaced 10 feet apart from your neighbor.


connections are reestablished and developed as lockdown eases. These are things that are sorely missed, but we’ll have to wait until later this year — or even until 2021 — to enjoy them again. Some artists have plans to host pay-per-view concerts in the near future which will let fans stream performances live on their computers, mobile devices or smart TVs. This move to digital has seen the likes of Pitbull teaming up with live streaming audio and video technology companies in order to make such a feat possible. As many in the industry continue to adapt their musical offerings to meet regulations during the pandemic, some are going the other way entirely, seemingly in acts of defiance against the status quo. A music festival is set to take place in Wisconsin this week, designed to give people immunity against Coronavirus. Despite live concerts being cancelled across the globe, the three-day ‘Herd Immunity Fest’ has been scheduled to take place in Ringle from July 16 - 18. The name of the event — which will take place outdoors at the 10,000 capacity Q&Z Expo Center — is of course a play on the idea that if enough people contract the virus, they will build up an immunity from a second infection or from further spreading.

It’s about singing along to your favourite song with like-minded music heads, the plethora of smartphones swaying above, the overpriced drinks and the ensuing chaos when you spill half their contents just to get to your prime spot near the stage.

Health experts and critics say vulnerable populations — such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — are still at high risk, and that there is not enough evidence of people being immune once they’ve been infected with COVID-19. Many have warned that large gatherings such as this have the potential to turn into ‘superspreader’ events.

Perhaps most importantly is the loss of a connection between artists and their fans when a windshield stands between them, and it will be interesting to see how these

Regardless of how this plays out, we will surely soon start to see reports coming out of the live music market that deliver data regarding the competitive landscape, development



Life after Lockdown

trends, revenue details and significant information regarding how the industry is going to get back on its feet. And of course, the loss of major awards and large music trade shows from the calendar is undoubtedly going to be


significant. Socially distanced Grammy party anyone..? That being said, it seems more responsible right now to enjoy the music from the comfort of your car or couch. With the uncertainty the future holds, it will become

important for live music fans to strike a delicate balance between staying safe and pursuing their musical passions.

SOME DREAMS DO COME TRUE AUDIO INTERFACE > Windows, macOS and Linux drivers > 4 in 6 out with GPIO/MIDI > Zero latency mixer > PSU and PoE -Redundant power > Expand and Control of up to 256 I/O

MONITOR CONTROLLER > A/B Speaker switching > Stereo and multichannel > Dual headphone outputs > Source input selection > Talkback > Bass Management

MERGING QUALITY AUDIO > Dual gain 32bit Mic Preamps

> > >


137 dB dynamic range Mastering quality A/D and D/A Sample rates up to DSD256 Exceptional headphone amp for all impedances All this at an affordable price


Merging Technologies SA, Le Verney 4, CH-1070, Puidoux, Switzerland

T +41 21 946 0444

E anubis@merging.com

W merging.com



Email ‘Fender Giveaway’ to rebecca@headlinerhub.com and tell us in a few short words why you want to win this fantastic prize. Competition closes on August 28th. Good luck!

THE Fibre Network for the Pro Audio Industry

The NEW M-Series

Advanced MADI switches with bridging and routing options · Single channel and stream routing · Standalone or network performance · Built-in LAN switch and RS485 router

· Dual PSU, no fan · The most cost-efficient and powerful audio switches on the market



4 BNC or fiber MADI ports 2 SANE ports (MADI over Cat5) 2 Optocore hi-speed fiber uplinks

8 BNC or fiber MADI ports 2 SANE ports (MADI over Cat5) 2 Optocore hi-speed fiber uplinks



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.