MANNY MARROQUIN THE ULTIMATE MIX MASTER
UNI T Y
FERRY CORSTEN TRANCE DJ TURNED FILM COMPOSER
ISSUE 28 | Â£3.95 UK/$6.95 USA/$7.95 CANADA
BEN HOWARD CREATING ART ACROSS THE GLOBE
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Contents #28 Cover Story
P26 / Rudimental 08
Our friends from Ibiza chat to singer-songwriter, Jake Warren, about inspiration, and making great music.
Ever wanted to build your dream studio? Look no further than Jonas Blue’s epic SSL hybrid setup.
We talk to one of the most revered mix engineers in the business about technique, and his new record label.
BroaMan’s Route66 unit made its debut on Coldplay’s last tour, but why does it appeal to a system designer?
SONIC VISTA INSIGHTS
COLDPLAY GO ROUTE66
BRING ME THE HORIZON
This BRIT Award-winning artist has a live show that’s all about creating art, and is never the same twice.
Recently, this mega-band changed their sound dramatically; now, they have transformed their lighting show.
The former EMI Studio is without doubt Stockholm’s production mecca - we take the full tour.
As streaming giants such as Spotify continue to grow their profit, how can they justify paying out even less?
Best known as a successful trance DJ, Ferry Corsten has just completed his first film score using Spitfire libraries.
We’re at London’s Briggs Studio with Alex Morris, who shows us how Sonnox plugins help his workflow.
Since signing to Rudimental’s Major Tom’s label, Anne-Marie has turned into a superstar in her own right.
ROCK STARS AT NAMM
We find out what some of the rock and rollers within the music biz have to say about Lectrosonics wireless kit.
COVER STORY: RUDIMENTAL
We sit down in Shoreditch with Piers Agget, Kesi Dryden, and Amir Amor to talk about the making of Rudimental’s much anticipated third album, Toast To Our Differences, which is as funky as it is soulful, and is full of phenomenal collaborations. DJ Locksmith was otherwise engaged - we are told he was probably busy practising his next stage dive..!
HEADLINER | ISSUE #28
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
A fascinating chat with one of the alltime great producers; we talk Bowie, Bolan, and making a hip hop record.
SHURE MV88+ VIDEO KIT We take a look at Shure’s MV88+, a step up from the MV88, which will appeal to vloggers and YouTubers.
ROADBLOG: GENESIS ‘72 Jerry Gilbert remembers how NYC was bedazzled at the arrival of Peter Gabriel’s Genesis in 1972.
CAMDEN EC2 PREAMP
We take a look at the latest new kit from aspiring UK audio manufacturer, Cranborne Audio.
A WORD FROM NAMM
NAMM president and CEO, Joe Lamond, gives us a great insight into what we might expect from the 2019 Winter show in Anaheim.
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
#28 From the Editor
“Our band is completely mixed in every sense: our music is, our culture is, and our fanbase is...” Rudimental Welcome to our Headliner NAMM Show special, featuring cover stars, Rudimental, whose latest record, Toast To Our Differences, comes out Jan 25th. We spent a day with the guys in their uber-cool London studio, chatting about their unbelievable musical journey so far, and the making of the new album. It’s all about friendship, unity, collaboration, and production prowess. Turn to p.27! Also inside, we chat to revered mix engineer, Manny Marroquin, about his process in the studio, the spiritual side of working with analogue consoles, and the GRAMMYs. He has eight of them, and is up for another four next month, so he knows what he’s talking about! We head backstage with the Anne-Marie and Ben Howard tours, both of which are very impressive from a production point of view, the latter of which is more like a work of art than entertainment - fascinating insights, and both shows running like clockwork. Believe it or not, leading trance DJ, Ferry Corsten, has turned his hand to film scoring - and he’s done a stunning job on his debut movie. We talk to him about working with Spitfire Audio virtual instrument libraries, and how he discovered Ólafur Arnalds’ work via Shazam in a café! Ever wondered what a dream studio looks like? Look no further than Jonas Blue’s epic, luxury facility with an SSL at the core, and a nightclub next door! Check out the article on p.30. All this and much more inside, including a word from NAMM CEO and President, Joe Lamond, who gives us an idea of what we might expect from this year’s Winter show. We hope you enjoy the issue. Paul Watson Editor
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HEADLINER | ISSUE #28
Artwork Rae Clara Gray
Contributors Adam Protz, Yerosha, Henry Sarmiento, Jon Tessier, Robert the Roadie
eMotion LV1 LIVE MIXING CONSOLE From theaters to clubs to churches, eMotion LV1 is elevating live sound standards everywhere. Mix live with 64, 32 or 16 stereo channels of Wavesâ€™ award-winning sound quality.
Special thanks to MxU for photo permission/ http://mxu.rocks/
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eMotion LV1 can be used with various SoundGrid IOs, including SoundStudio STG-2412 and STG-1608
Sonic Vista Insights
10 MINUTES WITH JAKE WARREN Jake Warren is an English musician, producer, and composer. Having worked with Swatch, Versace, and Lexus to name a few, he’s well known within the music sync and advertising realm. Jake is also involved in Zero Point, a song designed to help people relax and sleep, which got him nominated as one of 30 Change Makers for London Tech week. He’s a mover and shaker, a true player in the new music game, and since he’s part of the Sonic Vista family, we thought he would be great for our monthly Sonic Vista Insights. Words Henry Sarmiento & Jon Tessier Can you explain Sleep music? Zero Point is based on the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and music psychology. The original idea came to me one night as I was having trouble falling asleep. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if there was a piece of music specifically designed to help people sleep that was half science-half music? Something specifically designed using scientific principles but that also sounded beautiful, something you could have on continuous loop. I co-created it with Andy Gbormittah and the UK’s leading sound therapist Lyz Cooper over a 6 month period of testing, feedback and more testing. The final version was version number 27, to get it just right! People have emailed us saying it has had a powerful impact, helping them fall asleep sometimes within 10 minutes. People suffer with all kinds of sleep-related problems nowadays so it is
great that it can be helpful to so many people. It’s completely free and safe to use. It’s very rewarding to be able to explore the power of music in new and interesting ways to make an impact on people’s lives for the better. Tell us about your work in music to picture... I won my first job whilst I was at music school in London. A brief went round to all the students for a piece of Xmas music for a Swatch TV commercial. I won that job and then put together a showreel to take round on CD (back in the day!) to the London based music houses. From there, I pitched on maybe hundreds of TV commercials over the years with varying degrees of success. It really is a craft to be able to tell a story in such a short space of time, to crazy deadlines, across all genres, hitting the key moments in the picture.
And then to receive constructive feedback, interpret client’s notes and do several rounds of revisions. You’ve had songs placed on promos for all kinds of TV projects too, right? Yes, I’ve been working on production music albums for labels including BMG and Warner Chappell. It’s great because I have the creative freedom to produce what I like. Of course, there is a structure and somewhat of a formula which is part of the fun - to figure out how to not only make the music sound great but to inspire editors and help tell the story of whatever they are using the music for. Currently I’m working on an album called Killer Themes for Warner Chappell, with a bunch of really talented girls, including TAMI, Dana Kelson and Brooke Mitchell. The idea being it can be used for promos, TV themes, that kind of thing.
Sonic Vista Insights
“I’ve always liked to work on a mix of projects, and never be defined by one style of music...” What’s in store for 2019, project-wise? I’m about to launch a new artist called Bunnie Rogers. This is a very interesting project as Bunnie is a fictional character. Myself and co-writer/artist Laura Elvin conceived of a character who was essentially a 1920s Jazz artist - but exists today. We love Peggy Lee, Nancy Sinatra, Betty Boop… So we are taking traditional Jazz and flipping it: chopped up pianos, sampled trombone and sax, old jazz drums mixed with 808s. It’s a lot of fun to work on as our references are things like Marx Brothers and the good old Disney songs where the voices were so unique, full of character and the lyrics were extremely intelligent. Bunnie will be having a public release and maybe even performing live. It’s early stages but when you get an idea that captures your imagination it’s important to run with it and be open to where it goes as you never know unless you go with it. What’s your current studio set-up? I spent some time working at Sarm Studios, which is Trevor Horn’s facility in West
London. It’s been knocked down now but I used to spend time being immersed in incredible gear and endless microphones, outboard gear and the world’s best sounding rooms. I think that has definitely informed how I hear music and the creative and technical choices I make today. Now I’m fully in the box on a MacBook Pro with Cubase with a mini Akai MPC keyboard and a full size MIDI piano occasionally. Native Instruments are my go to for in the box sounds and Waves plug ins are used on every session. For me the most important thing is feeling inspired and feeling at home in the environment I’m working. Any favourite plugins? I really like the Waves Kramer HLS Channel. It’s modelled on the rare ‘60s Helios mixing console from Olympia Studios. It’s an a very unique sweet saturation and top end presence that I always use on vocals. Also within the Waves family I love the King’s mics and Trans-X plugins. Very cool.
How do you find being an independent artist in today’s industry? I find it very empowering and freeing. I’ve always liked to work on a mix of projects and never be defined by one way of working or one style of music. It’s great to be able to connect with other artists on Instagram, for example, and collaborate remotely without any one saying you can or can’t do something. There’s really no limit. It’s also great because I can speak with clients directly and create that personal relationship which can hopefully last for years. fun to perform live. www.sonicvistastudios.com www.jakewarrenmusic.com
MANNY MARROQUIN Manny Marroquin is no ordinary mix engineer. He is inspired by all music, is a music lover, and a multi-instrumentalist, whose work has been revered for more than 20 years, and has earned him eight GRAMMYs. This year, he is up for four more, including two with Post Malone – an artist whom he admires, and describes as ‘genre-less’ – which could perhaps be the new industry buzzword, considering the Academy couldn’t find a category to place him in. Yet his song Rockstar is still up for ‘Record of the Year’, and his brilliantly titled Beerbongs & Bentleys is an ‘Album of the Year’ contender. Interesting – and a subject Marroquin is keen to give an opinion on. We talk new music, studio vibes, creating a label, and how mixing with spirit remains a big part of his daily routine. Words Paul Watson | Photographs Mike Banks 01 Headliner
anny Marroquin is without doubt one of the music industry’s preeminent mixing engineers; in addition to the multiple GRAMMYs, his work’s cumulative sales sits at over 250 million records, 14 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, and 40 number one albums to his credit. Not bad! He’s worked out of LA’s Larrapee studios for the last two decades, and in that time, has mixed and engineered for – well, pretty much everyone imaginable: Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Portugal The Man, Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons, Bastille, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Alessia Cara, Sia, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Rolling Stones. The list is extraordinary. 2018 was a very busy year for Marroquin – and has resulted in four GRAMMY nominations, so we begin our conversation there. “I guess I just love good music, really, whatever the genre is, and this year, I’ve worked on some pretty cool stuff in different musical worlds, really,” Marroquin opens, with a smile. “Maybe in the good old days, growing up in the industry, you’d be more fixed on one genre: for example, here is CLA (Chris Lord-Alge), and all you’re gonna do is rock, and so on. We grew up with those limitations, but for me nowadays, there are no genres - and you can see that a lot now. I think producers are bending the rules, so they can work on different types of music.” Post Malone is a good example of what Marroquin calls ‘genre-less’ (or should that be ‘genre-neutral’ given today’s politics?). “That [Post Malone] song, Rockstar, which is nominated for Record of the Year - if you study that song, there are two things you’ll notice: first, the arrangement is one continuous hook - it’s not the traditional verse, chorus, second verse, middle eight, and so on; it only has one change throughout the whole song, but most listeners won’t notice that. So that to me is bending the rules enough [smiles]. “Second, let’s look at Post as an artist: for someone who doesn’t know who or what Post is, what box would you put him in: hip hop? Well, he doesn’t rap at all, so maybe not, but he does cater to a hip hop community, so maybe. Alternative? Well, his background is alternative, he plays guitar on a lot of his stuff, like an alternative band would, but he’s not alternative, as such. So is he pop? Well, he appeals to the masses, so he is kind of pop, too. “So which one is it? It’s all of the above, but yet none of the above – so to me, it is genre-less music, that’s what I call it. The Recording Academy have a hard time categorising
this: which category do we put him in? So they got screwed, he got screwed, but yet his album is nominated for Album of the Year! [laughs] Which is so bizarre to me, because how do you get an album of the year nomination, but you don’t get your own category? Because they couldn’t find a category for him. So I think that’s going to change in the future, as there are going to be more Post Malones.” Marroquin makes a very good point there – perhaps a bit of a GRAMMY shake-up is required for 2020?
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
Conversation turns to work in the studio, and The Greatest Showman. Marroquin was approached to do the soundtrack, and although he didn’t have time to do more than one track from the record, he found the process fascinating and inspiring. “That was a really interesting project, because it’s so amazing,” he says. “One of my favourite movies in last few years has been La La Land for its overall brilliance, and emotional story telling – it’s just incredible. So when they told me the guys who made that movie were involved, I was like, ‘yes!’. And then they told me the guys who wrote for Hamilton were involved, so for me, that combination is very ‘oh my gosh, how can I not do that?’ “The only song I worked on was This Is Me, because I didn’t have the time to do the rest of the soundtrack – but I picked that one out first off, and I got lucky, as it’s the biggest song from the movie! [laughs]” When working on that track, Marroquin mixed it to picture, something he never does, but felt to compelled to, given the whole vibe of the project. “Mixing this was very much with the eyes and the ears,” he explains. “It was such a visual film, and the guy that directed it was DOP for Baz Luhrmann - and his movies are so colourful, with so much movement. So I decided to do that. Even close to my final edit, I was still to picture; it was a cool and interesting collaboration with a bunch of very influential producers, musicians, and songwriters – it’s been one of the most fun projects in the last few years, to be honest.” The industry has changed a lot since Marroquin started mixing hit records – I ask him if he feels he has to continually adapt to the ever-changing scene. “Oh, in this career? Constantly. You have to reinvent your sound, and your approach, pretty much every year; and you have to be humble, and to be open to new sounds and experiences - have respect for these kids who are really talented. There are a lot of things you have to be aware of,”
Headliner 02 11 Headliner
“The SSL K console is my instrument; I have been playing it for years...” he reflects, sounding wiser by the second. “But you also have to mix with your gut and heart: on one level you’re conscious about it; and on a different level, you almost have to do it without being conscious of it. And it’s challenging for so many reasons. On a personal level, it’s a lot of hard work, and sonically, you have to have the ability to analyse the music enough to bring something new to the table on the next song you’re working on.” Staying with sonics, we start to chat about Marroquin’s mixing, and studio setup at LA’s legendary Larrapee Studios. He’s been there for 20 years, and the facility is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – an epic feat, especially in 2019. He has two rooms at Larrapee: both are ‘kind of identical’ in terms of kit, with an epic SSL 9000 K console at the core. “The [SSL] K is genuinely one of the best boards ever built,” Marroquin insisnst. “And I go back and forth between my two different rooms – although the set-up is the same, they are both different environments. I am not in the box, so it was important for me to have two completely different looking rooms, for inspiration when working on different projects. They’re also slightly different sounding, so it keeps me on my toes. For me, it’s not about finding a routine that’s repetitive, and going through the motions - especially as I’ve been for 20 plus years - so my challenge has always been, ‘I don’t want to go some place else, I want to be here forever!’ So it’s been about psyching myself up to be creative – and for me, the second room helps out a lot.” According to Marroquin, he uses these K consoles not just for their musicality and sound, but for the spirit that lies within them. “[laughs] OK, so I’ll start with the technical reasons why I love this desk, then I’ll get spiritual on you! So first off, I love the way the 12 Headliner
headroom in my console is just so musical; I can slam the crap out of it, and it never sounds like digital distortion. Analogue is a very pleasant distortion, so if I want to drive it very hard, it’s always going to sound great. Secondly, the EQ is so, so amazing; it’s perfectly transparent, so you always know exactly what you’re getting, as opposed to an EQ that colours the sound. “But I would have to say that the sound of the desk itself is why I keep coming back to it, and the way I can drive the stereo buss. If I had to pick one thing out of 30 plus reasons I use this board, it’s the way I can drive it – that is what makes it so unique. I can slam it, and you can’t do that in the box; you may be able to get it louder, but it’s not necessarily better.” I ask for the spiritual anecdote, and Marroquin happily obliges: “Rupert Neve used to say this, and it rings true with me and the K console: when you grab a fader, that is a VCA – that’s a Voltage Control Amplifier - so what happens is, there is a current that’s going through that fader, right? So when you put your finger on that fader, there is a current that goes from the fader into your finger, through your hand, and your body – so we have no idea how we will react to something like that, there have been no studies that can show us what that kind of effect that has on us. So when I grab a fader, and I close my eyes and move those faders, I am balancing a mix; and there is a current that is going through my body that I am not conscious of. “I can seriously relate to this with the SSL: when I am mixing and grabbing faders, what I am doing; I am making decisions based on the current, and that current is making my emotions, my gut, my heart - maybe going down a dB, or 10dB, or whatever. The console is my instrument; I have been playing it for years
and years, and I am confident when I am behind it.” Inspiring stuff – which reminds me to ask Marroquin about his range of Waves plugins. “Yeah, it took us a while to put them together; Waves’ Signature Series is normally covering all bases: the bass, vocals, guitars, and so on. But mine are different to the CLA and Maserati Series – they’re more utility-based plugins, where you can set anything up; and that’s really what I wanted to create. So it took a while to get the right tone of distortion, reverb, EQ – and actually, the EQ I like to call the ‘Super EQ’, as it’s got every band on there! It’s a simulation of various EQs that are in my room: so the 10k [setting] could be the Neve, the 550 could be the Motown, and something else could be the API - so it’s got its own sort of personality, which is very cool. They sound great. The Tone Shaper we made is cool, too: it’s like a multiband compressor kind of thing; if you’ve got something with a lot of low end, add that thing to it, and it holds it back – it can create some really cool FX.” Amazingly, Marroquin has also found time to launch a record label, Britannia Row Recordings, with long-time collaborator and producer, Malay: “We’re both so excited about this projecy - we launched our first single yesterday with Jonnyswim – the single is called Bridges, and we really enjoyed doing that. Is there a final piece of audio advice, perhaps? “This game is a game of inches... You should be an inch away between winning and not winning... So I’ll take every inch! [laughs]”
@MMMixes www.waves.com www.solidstatelogic.com
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On the Road
ON TOUR WITH BEN HOWARD London-born singer-songwriter and composer, Ben Howard, released his debut EP 10 years ago. Since then, he has won two BRIT Awards, been nominated for both the Ivor Novello Award and the Mercury Prize, and had a number one album. His third record, Noonday Dream, was released in June of last year, and has achieved much critical acclaim. Now, he’s out on the road touring it – but it’s less entertainment than art, according to his long-term sound engineers, who are using state of the art audio kit to help him create it. “It’s very much art: 70-minutes of non-stop music, which is never the same twice,” front of house engineer, Andy Magee, explains. “So we’re all on our toes, watching each other do something a bit different every day.” He and monitor engineer, Niccolo Antonietti, work hard to recreate the sound of Howard’s album for the live show, retaining its authenticity, night after night. “We have over 85 guitar pedals on stage, which means so many inputs, as numerous players have pedal boards; in one song, he might play violin, then switch to keyboards, then something else – so I might have two or three instruments down the same channel during the same song,” Magee laughs. “The band is a nine-piece now, and three of them are multi-instrumentalists. Safe to say, there is so much going on, and although I’ve been mixing this show since April 2018, there are still bits that I get lost trying to find!” There are 88 channels being utilised on both consoles, and Magee is very hands-on.
“I have four fingers on four faders at the same time, as there are just so many parts to the songs, so squeezing that into a left-right PA is very tough: my hands are constantly moving,” he reveals. “I use snapshots for every song, to get Ben to the top of the song; and then everything is mixed live throughout that song. “On top of that, different channels have different crossfade times – and different groups, too, as half the band might still be playing song three when the other half are already into song four!” Magee bought his first DiGiCO console in 2006, and is now settled on the SD5: “One massive bonus with the SD5 is the centre screen; I can see 36 channels or groups or busses at the same time, which is brilliant. Also, almost all of the FX I use come from within the console: I use six reverbs and a delay; there are so many mics on stage, and so much ambient noise, so I don’t need to add a lot to it. It’s so much content for a L/R mix!”
Something else Magee is a huge fan of is DiGiCo’s new 32-bit cards. “I ended up buying 22 of them! I loved the old preamp, but the new one sounds unbelievably good, to the extent that so many of my channels are now flat - no EQ at all. “And the noise floor is significantly different: before we had 88 channels, it was literally half that size, and when you un-muted it all, you could still hear the preamps. But the noise floor on the new one is so much cleaner and better, and it outperforms all of its competitors. That was definitely something that was instantly noticeable; I was using standard pres for years, but now it’s got the wow factor... And they’re blue, which is always a bonus! [smiles] “There are so many tiny parts to this show that are all so important to the soundscape of what we’re doing, and the transparency of the console is exactly what we need; and this is the only console Ben has never commented on negatively – it’s been about six years now,
On the Road
“I built a mix with the JH Audio Roxannes, and when the band switched over to those IEMs, they were amazed...” so that says a lot.” Magee also runs his own PA company, Awesome Since 84 Ltd. and his plan for it is to only do control packages for touring artists: “I have no interest in buying a PA, as everyone is killing each other for the work, so what I do is create bespoke systems for whatever the artist needs: on Ben Howard, in weight alone I saved them £7,000 in air freight - no extra racks, nothing unnecessary. I bought everything, from the consoles to the line systems, to the microphone package.” Talking of the latter, it’s a largely Shure tour, and Howard is on a Shure KSM8, which Magee rates very highly. “It keeps Ben right on top of it, and it’s the best vocal sound we have ever had for him,” he enthuses. “It goes into a UA LA610 mkII preamp, which is pretty much flat occasionally I’ll pull a shelf up or down, but it just works. We’ve had so many different vocal mics, but the KSM8 is the best I’ve ever had.”
Monitoring the Trend
Monitor engineer, Niccolo Antonietti, also loves the SD5 because of its three screens: “It’s the usability of the console that makes a huge difference. There is a lot of programming, as there is a lot going on, but I am very happy what I can now achieve on the SD5 – the routing and channel routing is amazing, especially with the requirement of shout mics when doing monitors these days,”
he says. “And the macros are the best thing ever; that alone will keep me with DiGiCo forever! There are so many of them, and they’re so easy to work with. Any changes during a song, press a macro, and it’s done. “I use the [DiGiCo] multiband compressor on Ben’s voice, as it’s such a dynamic show, and there are often changes within the same song; so I don’t use single compressors on anything, just the multibands, which you can have pretty much on every channel.” Due to the busy stage, and inevitable frequency overlaps, Antonietti needs to keep the instruments as clean as possible without affecting their individual dynamics. “I use the DiGiGrid MGB impact server to generate one MADI stream for recording, and one for inserts and FX,” he reveals. “Then on the outputs of all the band members I have a Waves API 2500 compressor, and the Waves F6 on Ben’s mix, which is really nice, and cleans it a little bit more. I have auxes and sub groups, and I send those auxes to a matrix. Ultimately, I have a ‘band’ group, stereo outs for guitars, backing vocals, his vocal, and the reverb. Everything is separate, so I can process everything individually for a better result.” In terms of stage sound, Antonietti is an IEM guy, and a JH Audio one at that. He recently updated to the Roxanne model from the JH16, though he’s having a hard time pulling Howard’s 16s from his ears. “Ben still loves his 16s, and I suppose that’s
fair enough,” he smiles. “It’s not that there is a bad JH in-ear system! But we’re on Roxannes now, and we do have a pair of Roxannes ready for him. The band are all on ears, with the drummers and percussion players on hardware packs. Ben has two positions: stage L/C and R/C, and I have two pairs of d&b M2 wedges, too, just for when he pops an ear out. “The JH16 is a more open piece, so there is more of a room sound, and everyone was happy with the 16s – as that’s what they were on before – but I built a mix with the Roxannes, and when they switched over, they were amazed. I also built Ben’s mix on Roxannes, and he was very happy.” It’s the quality of the product as well as the sound that Antonietti really rates: “They’re built fantastically well, and the Roxanne’s low end is just incredible - as is the high, actually – it’s so punchy and smooth, and you can decide how much low end you want in there via the bass trimmer on the cable. I use it full on, to be honest! [laughs] But sometimes people ask me to back the bass off a little. But I love them; for me, they’re literally the best in-ears I’ve ever heard.” The Ben Howard tour runs until the end of January, with four sell-out shows at London’s Brixton Academy. www.digico.biz www.jhaudio.com www.shure.com
INSIDE BAGGPIPE STUDIOS We descend on Stockholm’s premier recording hub, Baggpipe Studios: a stunning facility with a lot of history. Formerly the old EMI Studios, it has played host to an eclectic array of artists: pop stars such as Britney Spears and One Direction have worked here, as have musical icons, Lady Gaga, and, of course, ABBA.
The building that houses Baggpipe was constructed in 1939, and was originally a 460seat movie theatre called Kaza – and in 1962, the studio was added; as time has gone by, it’s evolved into a stunning place to make music. Studio One, with its fantastic live room and spacious control room, is just shy of 2,000 sq. ft. and is set up to accommodate bands, grand piano recordings, and orchestral sessions – there are also two smaller rooms for amp isolation, and so on. Studio Two is smaller, but equally cool: a production room, great for cutting vocals and writing. And then there’s the production suites, embedded into the back of Studio One’s live room, populated by Baggpipe’s in-house team of producers and songwriters. The complex recently underwent somewhat of an audio overhaul: the team wanted to be able to achieve the best of both worlds in
terms of analogue kit and digital technology, and to deliver anything to their clients, from a piano and vocal recording, to a full album with 30-piece orchestra. “With Baggpipe, because we have our own in-house team, we can do everything: from songwriting to finalising a mix,” explains studio manager, Willem Bleeker. “We can cater for the whole music production process, except mastering, as everyone is involved.” Bleeker says many of the larger studios in Stockholm are having to close their doors, due to an abundance of ‘in the box’ facilities. “So the big thing here is that since we do everything, we also control a lot of the steps,” he continues. “For example, our songwriter will write a song, give it to one of our producers, and we can talk to the producer and make suggestions: ‘wouldn’t it be cool with live drums?’, or ‘we could put live strings
on that’; and then we can record everything here, and mix on our lovely analogue desk.” Studio Vibes Some tweaks had to be made, however, to make this a reality, starting with the studio monitoring: “Every time an external client came in, we were getting feedback like: ‘there is no definition in the bass’ or ‘the mid is way too harsh’; it was complaint after complaint, the whole time,” Bleeker reveals. “I used to think, ‘Are you all deaf?! It sounds amazing!’ [laughs] - but I had never heard anything else. “But downstairs [in Studio Two] we had a pair of Genelec 1029s, and everyone loved that room; I didn’t, as I was so used to listening to my old setup. So as part of our upgrade, I got these amazing new Genelec 8351s, and I’ve never gone back to NS10s!”
“It’s the transparency, the low end, and the clarity - the Genelecs open the sound up, and make it easier to work...” The 8351s are now Bleeker’s main nearfield monitors, with the larger Genelec 1234s embedded into the back wall; there are now a pair of 8341s in Studio Two, complemented by a pair of larger Genelec 1238s. “The 1234s took a while to adjust to, but they are great when I want to feel the kick and low end, mostly - or perhaps if I’m a bit hungover,” Bleeker laughs. “But they have great feel, and you can actually mix really well on the 1234s, which is quite impressive. “I would never change back to my old setup, ever. It’s the transparency, the low end, the clarity – the Genelecs just open the sound up, and make it easier to work. We now get a more accurate representation than we had before, which has improved our workflow a great deal; and we have consistency between the two studios.” Studio One’s SSL 4000E console was also recently replaced with a brand new SSL Delta Pro Station. “The 4000 was a lovely desk, but no-one really maintained it - and even if we did
maintain it, you have a lot of problems with old desks, and that was brought in back in 1983,” Bleeker explains. “When you have a 26-piece string section and need to do 15 songs in a single day, you don’t even have time to change a patch cable, so everything needs to be very fast - and that was a huge problem. We were actually losing jobs for it. “I nagged for about three years that we needed to upgrade, and at last, we have this beast in here! The Delta Pro Station is totally analogue, but it has some cool digital features, too: you can control the buttons on and off, digitally; and some of the routings are also controlled digitally. And, of course, the biggest thing is that we can do the analogue automation from Pro Tools, which is lovely. “The EQ is also superb: you can switch between the SSL E and G, but the big thing is the preamps. They sound fantastic, and have what SSL calls Super Analogue: if you don’t have that dialed in, you have the 9000 preamp, which is super clean; but if you do push the button, you can change from second- to
third-degree overtones, which means you’re pretty much unlimited in terms of different preamps.” Baggpipe also has a great collection of keyboards: there’s a Farfisa organ, a Hammond B3, a Rhodes Mark II, a Wurlitzer, and two great grand pianos: one Yamaha C3, and a Marshall & Rose. Furthermore, drummers need only bring their stick bags: there are two vintage Gretsch kits, and a Tama Star Classic Bubinga; with a snare collection boasting models by Ludwig, Roger, and Noble & Cooley. The more you look, the more you find at Baggpipe - and after exploring a couple of the production rooms, you can see what Bleeker means: it certainly is a musical hub. So if you’re feeling inspired next time you’re in Stockholm, why not pay these guys a visit and write, record, and produce a hit song? www.genelec.com www.solidstatelogic.com www.baggpipe.com
FERRY CORSTEN: SEEKING UNITY I start my conversation with Dutch superstar producer, Ferry Corsten, with a hearty ‘congratulations.’ The last time we spoke, he told me of his ambition to write music for films: “if that’s permitted for me,” were his words at the time. And he’s only gone and done it — Don’t Go, directed by David Gleeson, lists Ferry Corsten as its composer. His reservation then was understandable — a film composer with a history of touring the world as a trance DJ isn’t the most common story in music. But stranger things have happened. Words Adam Protz Ferry Corsten isn’t a musician interested in following a common story. His last album was conceptual; the stunning Blueprint, telling a sci-fi story of humans and androids. It’s narrated by House of Cards star, Campbell Scott, and the story was written by David H. Miller, who wrote for House of Cards also. A great way to test the water for a career in film scoring, perhaps. “Thanks, man,” Corsten says, in response to my congratulations. “It’s an achievement.” That’s certainly one way of putting it. A young man going from making records in his parents’ attic in Rotterdam, to the biggest slots at behemoth festivals such as Tomorrowland, and consistently being amongst DJ Mag’s top 100 DJs is one thing; but making the jump from that world, to writing for a movie, which, of course, often requires very understated music, is another thing entirely.
“The whole thing came about because of Blueprint,” Corsten explains. “It landed on the desk of David Gleeson. He first approached me for two or three scenes, but after we had a brief talk about what he was looking for, he sent me a text saying he’d like me to do the whole score.” I put forward that it must have been surreal, to so quickly go from that wanting stage, to having achieved it. “Oh, it’s been amazing. It’s almost like you put your mind to something, and then the universe makes it work for you. I definitely watched some tutorials! [laughs] Junkie XL’s tutorials were very helpful.” Junkie XL is also a dance music producer who is now a fully established film composer, collaborating with the likes of Hans Zimmer. “Making music is one thing, but making it to picture is a different set of rules that I
had to get familiar with. My first question to David was: ‘What are you looking for? Something completely orchestral? Completely electronic?’ It ended up being a blend of both, but definitely no dancey stuff at all. It’s all cinematic.” Changing Direction When we left our previous conversation, something that stuck in my mind also was Corsten saying ‘I don’t know if I can go back to just releasing music [without a storyline] after this! It’s been such a rewarding process to do it this way.’ And while he hasn’t gone straight back into doing a solo album, he has got back to making standalone music, albeit with some help from talented friends. “The Unity project has been very different to a solo record, because I’m constantly working with someone else. Unity is about
“The Spitfire Libraries add a real lushness and expansiveness to my tracks; I use them on everything...” bringing the different trance ‘camps’ together. I feel like there are so many little islands that call themselves trance; you’ve got the 140 [bpm] guys, you’ve got the psy [trance] guys; on the other side of the spectrum, you’ve got the Above & Beyond-type of vocal, groovy, house-based trance. I’m doing collabs with Alpha 9, Paul Oakenfold, Markus Schulz, and various other artists from the trance genre.” And a very important part of the project is that it is raising a lot of money for music charity, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, which helps children in less fortunate circumstances to have access to music. If anyone knows how important music can be in your formative years, it’s this guy. The project has spawned some huge singles, such as Synchronicity with Saad Ayub, which lives up to its name in an epic way; and fist-pumper, We’re Not Going Home, with Ilan Bluestone. With these big shifts in Corsten’s creativity, I ask how it’s all affected his studio life. “With all the film scoring, I’ve been using the Kontakt stuff a lot,” he says. “Particularly Spitfire Audio.”
I had a feeling Spitfire may get mentioned, now the industry leader for orchestral libraries. “The thing is, I didn’t stop using it after the film — I’m now using Spitfire for everything! Using libraries like theirs is just so much better than using the typical ones people use. I find that they add a real lushness and expansiveness to my tracks.” I ask Corsten how he first came across Spitfire Audio. “I just did a Google search for these kind of libraries,” he says. “And it was an interesting chain of events — I saw that they’d just released the Ólafur Arnalds Composer Toolkit. I’d recently been in a restaurant and had to Shazam a track that was playing, and it was Old Skin by Ólafur Arnalds! “Discovering the whole neo-classical world just in time for the film was a great source of inspiration. And I can totally get from his sound, why somebody like him would use Spitfire products.” Waves plugins have also been an important part of Corsten’s own composer toolkit. “I’m using pretty much all the Waves stuff,” he says. “I am a big fan of them, and the
Mercury Bundle. Waves plugins have such a crisp sound; I can really get everything done that I need to do with them. It’s all there in the Mercury package: some really neutral preamps with great colours. It comes with some very cool compressors, and it’s fantastic to get that vintage sound to your tracks. Because sometimes I feel that trance can sound very clean — and just giving it that little bit of grunge, if you will, it takes away that super-clean sheen!” The singles from the Unity project are available to stream now, and there is plenty more to come in 2019. Corsten also lets me in on some news that he’ll be working on a Dutch film, but in the meantime, be sure to check out his soundtrack for Don’t Go. Ferry Corsten’s own narrative continues to unfold in spectacular fashion. www.spitfireaudio.com www.waves.com www.ferrycorsten.com
Taming the Frequencies
TAMING THE FREQUENCIES USING SONNOX London-based producer, Alex Morris, is always looking to create ‘quite crazy, out there sounds’ in his sessions at The Briggs Studio. He likes to let his synths ‘free-associate, and do their thing’. He tells us how, when he’s travelling up and down through frequencies, he is able to tame these outlandish sounds, and create the vibe he is looking for, every time.
“The Sonnox Oxford Limiter feels state of the art; it’s the best out there, in terms of processor resource...” “With deep bass notes, and very high-ressy stuff, I can end up working in pretty ear-pain territory, so I need something that can tame the beast, so to speak,” opens Alex Morris, with a smile. “For this, I find the Sonnox Suppressor plugin is particularly useful: I am so often messing around with synths to get a vibe, and the sound I’m looking for; and for speed and ease, I go to it every time, and use it every day in my studio sessions, no matter what the project is.” Morris goes on to show us an example of a quirky beat he has recently put together: “It has a lot of rogue, crazy frequencies going on in it; it’s the kind of thing that will definitely give you a bit of ear fatigue over time, so what I have done here is thrown on the Suppressor, and because there are filter
sweeps in there, you can see that I can change the bandwidth of what I am actually doing to the signal, to make sure it’s not going to cause me any issues with long-term listening. This plugin is useful for that whole kind of thing.” The Sonnox Oxford Limiter is another go-to for Morris, which he uses to great effect when working on tracks inteneded for artists to listen to, and add their own sparkle to. “Why I choose this [Oxford Limiter] over any other limiter is that it feels like it’s kind of ‘state of the art’ – the best one out there, in terms of processor resource,” he says. “And in terms of transparency, again, it’s a very clean tool, and you can barely hear the effect, which is what you want. This is not a plugin that you want to ‘hear’, it’s one that you just want to do a job, and it is very good in that respect.”
Morris demonstrates how he likes to use the plugin: “This is a cool way of using the Limiter,” he says, pulling up a project in Logic. “This track is something for an artist to listen to, maybe on their headphones, to write a top line for so for that vibe, I want to make sure the level is good, and comparable with everything else they listen to on their iTunes. “I have added a bit of ‘enhance’ on the Limiter, which sounds good as well - it actually seems to add some extra magic to it, while retaining the quality of the track; and for me, it’s as simple as that: it just gets you a much better signal (as you can see in the screenshot below), and it sounds really good.” www.sonnox.com
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THE EVOLUTION OF ANNE-MARIE Over the last three years, Anne-Marie’s musical evolution has been nothing short of seismic: she’s gone from playing to 300 people in a club, to 360,000 people over four days at Wembley Stadium alongside Ed Sheeran. Not bad. In that time, she’s also guested on mega hit single, Rockabye, with GRAMMY-winning pop trio, Clean Bandit; and her debut studio record, Speak Your Mind, peaked at number three in the UK Albums Chart in 2018.
Production values at an Anne-Marie show are clearly a far cry now to what they were just a couple of years ago. According to front of house engineer, Ben Dexter, it’s down to hard work, raw talent, and determination. “I have been working with Anne-Marie since her first show back in 2015 in a 300-cap room; when you look at what she achieved this summer [with Ed Sheeran] at Wembley Stadium, you can see that production elements have been growing as her shows have been growing,” he says. “Its been a very natural and exciting progression to where we are now with all the elements in place; and it’s been great to be a part of it all from that first show, and see it evolve to where it is today.” Dexter and monitor engineer, James Kerr, are both SD12 users – they made the switch because, Dexter says, ‘we outgrew our previous consoles’. “In preparation for this years run of support
shows, we needed to find a console that would accommodate our ever-increasing channel count – which is currently at 56 - while also having a fairly small footprint at front of house, where space is always limited, especially for a support band system,” Dexter explains. “I looked into a few different manufacturers and setups at the time, but kept coming back to DiGiCo, finally settling for two SD12s, sharing an SD Rack. “The prevalence of DiGiCo around the globe - and especially in the pop world - was a big factor in my choice. I wanted to feel comfortable and familiar with the range, as I was seeing them nearly everywhere we went. The size, power, flexibility and, of course, the sound of the SD12 with the SD Rack has been great for me.” Dexter says the con send/receive function has been especially useful on this tour: “During the show, there is some VT audio
from a media server located at front of house; instead of running in analogue lines, I just quickly and easily send to monitors using this function. Also, I have had some broadcast sound crews turn up last minute at front of house, and I have been able to offer them, in addition to a left and right from me, our ambient mics that hit the monitor SD12 on local inputs to save rack ports – again, this is via the con send/receive routing.” On Stage Monitor engineer, James Kerr, started working with Anne-Marie in 2016, at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival. Although the shows have grown exponentially in size and stature, the production has stayed relatively simple from the outset, he reveals: “It was just Ben [Dexter] and myself for the first year or so, looking after everything: from driving the van, to setting up backline,
“I looked into a few different manufacturers and setups at the time, but kept coming back to DiGiCo...” and managing the road, before we even got down to doing the task of monitors and front of house! This does help solidify relationships within the touring party, though, and it’s vital for me personally as a monitor engineer.” Although it’s all stepped up in the sense that there is now professional tour management, production management, lighting, and video teams, Kerr says the stable still feels refreshingly tight-knit. “Having worked with Anne-Marie for some time, I am able to get her mix dialled in quickly; she has a super-discerning ear, and you have to be on your toes if any queries arise,” Kerr says. “If there are any issues for whatever reason, she responds really well to honesty, and I always explain everything I am doing, and why I’m doing it - that helps get things back on track quickly.” For Kerr, the biggest advantage in opting for an SD12 over any other console is its workflow: “I have been a fan of DiGiCo ever since attending some training back in 2012, and after a few one-off shows with SD12s at the tail-end of last year, I found I was working
very quickly with them; the dual screen and channel strip functions are invaluable for me. “Currently, I run my desk with all inputs on the left hand side of the surface; and auxes, matrices, and control groups on the right, with a show layer, which includes everything I need direct control of during the show. “I never generally have to leave this layer at all. I utilise the aux to faders on-screen panel to free up faders, and the macro buttons are a huge bonus for me; they’re well placed, and having the ability to label and colour code them means you are never guessing. Here, I have a fairly complex talkback section which enables me to talk to anyone on the show, individually or not - including front of house - with the same microphone, all at the touch of a macro.” Kerr decided early on to utilise snapshots on this campaign: “Using the power of snapshot scopes on the SD series allowed me to start slowly, by just recalling FX changes and mutes; the more confident I got with the show and desk, the more I began recalling more per song, which allowed me to focus on other parts of the
mix: freeing my hands to ride vocal, ambient, and FX sends has enabled me to created a much more detailed mix. I use a bunch of the internal FX for reverbs and delays, and doubling for guitars and vocal thickening works a treat.” In terms of standout moments on this tour, both engineers are in agreement that the monumental Ed Sheeran support shows have paved the way to what looks like being an epic 2019 for Anne-Marie. “I mean, the whole year has been insane,” reflects Kerr. “But four sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium, and all of the Irish [Ed Sheeran] shows were just incredible. Also, this year has been our first proper voyage into touring Asia, Australia, and the US – and all the fans are all there waiting for Anne-Marie. That is something I have upmost respect for.” www.digico.biz www.iamannemarie.com
ROCK STARS @ LECTROSONICS Booth #17212
If you fancy meeting a rock star or two at NAMM this week, go and check out some of the artist appearances at the Lectrosonics booth (#17212). Doug Aldridge (White Snake, Dead Daisies), Gregory Finsley (Queen Nation), Andrew Freeman (Last in Line, Lynch Mob), Oz Fox (Stryper), Marco Mendoza (Dead Daisies, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), Mitch Malloy (Great White), Howie Simon (pictured right - Scrap Metal, Winger) and Phil Soussan (Last in Line, Ozzy Osbourne.) will all be there with their own favourite selection of Lectrosonics wireless gear, such as HHa handheld and LT belt pack transmitters with companion LR receivers, and the Duet Digital Wireless (IEM) Monitor system to keep the show on the road. “We tour, literally, around the globe,” says Marco Mendoza, who has high praise for Lectrosonics’ reliability. “I know it can sometimes sound trivial to talk about ‘the rigors of touring’, but believe me, when you’re jumping around stage in city after city, with the stuff riding around on the truck in between, there is no better test. “If a wireless system goes down in the middle of a tour, you have to take time out to check out other gear, make sure it works for all the countries, and so on. To have a wireless system that we can depend on around the world, like we can with Lectrosonics, is just priceless.” “The sound is crystal clear. The physical range is great, and the dynamic range doesn’t sound compressed. I have no dropout issues, period,” adds Great White’s Mitch Malloy on his Lectrosonics gear. Bassist and guitarist, Phil Soussan, whose credits include Ozzy Osbourne; Mötley Crüe frontman, Vince Neil; Billy Idol; andJimmy Page shares with fellow hard rock titans the high audio quality of the Lectrosonics wireless system. “I rotate on bass with Hugh MacDonald, who plays with Bon Jovi. Doug Aldridge, the guitarist of Whitesnake is also part of the lineup,” he says. “These musicians are hardcore cable guys, and when both of them tried my system, they wanted their own straight away. Lectrosonics is the only system where I can literally say that I can’t tell the difference between it and a cable.” Thursday Jan 24: 11:00 – 11:45 Mitch Malloy; Gregory Finsley 12:30 – 13:30 Oz Fox; Howie Simon 1600 – 17:00 Doug Aldridge; Marco Mendoza Friday Jan 25: 11:00 – 12:00 12:30 – 13:30 14:00 – 15:00 16:00 – 17:00
Malloy, Mendoza & Phil Soussan Oz Fox; Howie Simon Phil Soussan; Andrew Freeman Doug Aldridge; Marco Mendoza
Saturday – 1/26 11:00 – 12:00 12:30 – 13:30 14:00 – 15:00 16:00 – 17:00
Marco Mendoza; Phil Soussan Oz Fox; Howie Simon Phil Soussan & Andrew Freeman Doug Aldridge & Marco Mendoza
“The sound is crystal clear, the physical range is great, and the dynamic range doesn’t sound compressed; I have no dropout issues, period.”
RUDIMENTAL Rudimentalâ€™s musical journey has been an extraordinary one. It was their 2012 single, Feel the Love, featuring John Newman, that first caused sparks to fly â€“ it topped the UK Singles Chart, and the following year, their debut album, Home, landed a BRIT Award and a MOBO Award for Best Album, as well as a Mercury Prize nomination. Two years later, their second album, We the Generation, went to number one in the UK; and they also helped pen the Ed Sheeran hit, Bloodstream, from his uber-successful record, X. Now, this talented quartet are back with album number three, Toast to Our Differences, which is their most focused studio project yet. Words Yerosha & Paul Watson | Photographs Dean Chalkley
have been here 10 years, then the boys joined me here in 2011,” explains Amir Amor, as we take a seat at mix position in Rudimental’s London studio. Piers Agget and Kesi Dryden are also here; we’re just missing DJ Locksmith, who is otherwise engaged today. “We’ve seen Shoreditch boom in that time,” says Agget. “There have been some amazing raves, and we’ve played shows around the corner at Village Underground a few times; we’re not far from Fabric, too, so it’s a perfect location, really.” Amor was making his way as a producer when he joined forces with the Rudimental boys, and they’ve been a foursome ever since, each contributing to every track they’re creating. It was in the summer of 2012 when the current line-up took the bull by the horns, Agget reflects: “When we made Feel the Love, and got the record deal – that was what gave us a license to make a record together, and the opportunity to become a live act; but we’ve known each other for years, so being that close definitely helps.” The creative process for this third album has been a little different to the first two – and that’s been a good thing, according to the band; unlike their first two albums, Toast to Our Differences was put together without any interruptions. “What’s been interesting about this album is that we stopped touring, took it back to living at home, going to the studio, and writing – it’s quite focused, and has been recorded in the way bands tend to make an album,” Agget says. “The last two albums weren’t done like that; they were really manic – and I wouldn’t change them for the world, as we’re really proud of them – but the second one was done all on the road, whereas the bulk of this album has been done while at home, which has been really nice for various reasons. There was a level of calmness, and normality; and we got to digest all of the things we were doing as we went.” “It all starts in here with a jam: we run around the room playing parts, all chiping in loads of ideas,” adds Amor. “It’s refining it all that takes a long time, and some of us have strength in that area, too, so we’ll spend a lot of time on honing sounds; it goes through so many stages before it becomes a song.” Agget explains that originally, Amor was brought in as a kind of producer/finisher, to polish their body of work –
now, it’s very much a case of writing and finishing the songs as a group: “And then we pass the songs around; Amir might work on it for a month, and then it may be me working on it for a few months in a hotel room – that’s what takes the longest. In 2018, we had our third number one, and it took about a year and a half to make – we had it for years. That can be for various reasons: changing vocalists, production techniques, and sometimes we can spend months on a loop or a snare sound! As the years have gone on, I have learned a lot from Amir, and he has learned a lot from us; and we’ve found a way of working it.”
SHAPING THE SOUNDS
In terms of the overall sound, what can we expect from the new record? “It’s always hard for us to say, as it just happens, but I feel this one is a lot more about the songs - and we’re better at that now: we write better material; we are more comfortable with the process of making a song idea into a completed track,” Amor explains. “It’s definitely soulful, it’s funky in places, and it’s live instrumentation with electronic elements. And it’s still got our roots in it: the rave culture we grew up with, the pirate radio, the jungle and garage influence, the strong reggae influence; all of those things are part of the soup that makes up Rudimental.” “There is a bit more of an african influence in there, too, having worked with people like Mr Eazi - and we also toured in South Africa a bit, and Malawi, where we did some charity work,” adds Agget. “Yeah, it’s kind of the sound of where we are at the moment,” suggests Kesi Dryden. Many of the Rudimental releases are upbeat, with a positive message. Is that a conscious decision? “A lot of our singles are like that, but you do get more of a dynamic on our albums; but generally, it’s upbeat, and what we want to portray is a positive message,” Amor explains. “There isn’t much of a hopeful voice out there in music and culture, and we are inclusive; our band is completely mixed in every sense: our culture is, our crowd is, and our music is.” According to Nina Simone, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times - and watching the video to title track, Toast to
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“There isn’t much of a hopeful voice in the music industry today...” Our Differences, and the lyrical content, it seems that’s exactly what Rudimental are trying to say: accept each other for who we are. “That’s it, exactly,” Amor declares. “What we represent is a sense of unity; it’s what we grew up with, so it naturally comes through,” says Agget. Collaborating with other artists is a big part of what Rudimental do: every artist has their own story, and the band often bring several different creatives into each track they create. “We’ll write something, and make something with a vocalist, and then we might add another person onto a track, or change the production a little,” says Amor. “sometimes you need to change keys, which means reworking the instrumentation; it’s often a crazy process of layering, and taking away some layers, so all the elements are complementing each other.” All of the guys’ respective musical journeys have been pretty similar, and date back to their school days. They also all grew up close by. “My first foray into music was at youth club; I had no computer at home, so accessing that there, as well as instruments, was key to getting me interested,”Amor continues. “I also did youth worker teaching courses in the summer, and the boys were doing that as well, even though I didn’t know them – I was teaching music, and then I also got into pirate radio.” “For me, it was my dad getting me my PC, and being a musician himself. I used to play in his wedding bands playing rock and roll, and blues covers, so that must have had an effect on me; I took his dream, and lived it,” laughs Agget “But he inspired me to play piano, and the minute I recorded my first beat [when I was 15], I knew it was what I always wanted to do.” “My mum took me to piano lessons when I was six years old, then I got into production at 28 Headliner
school, and enjoyed making beats,” says Dryden. “I went to school with Labrinth; I remember playing him a beat on the bus on the way to school, and by the time we got there, we had the whole thing written, and laid it down! I have a CD of some of that stuff; it’s actually snapped, but somehow it still works!”
STOP, COLLABORATE & LISTEN
Is there a favourite track from the new album? “For me, it’s a track called They Don’t Care About Us with Maverick Saber and YEBBA it’s a wicked vibe, which started with a jam in here,” recalls Agget. “That track was done on the Korg Prophet and the Moog Sub 37 – they are probably the most used instruments on this album. We used the [Dave Smith] OB6 synth a little bit, but mainly the Prophet, and a bit of the Nord Lead, as well. I think it’s one of the most amazing songs with a bit of sentiment, and the ending is like an orgasm – boom!” “I would probably pick A Toast to Our Differences,” states Dryden. “It has three very different artists and singers on there: Shungudzo, who is an amazing singer and songwriter, and has been writing hits for people all over the place, so it’s about time she comes through and takes the limelight a bit, as she definitely deserves it; then there’s Protoje, who is doing massive things in the reggae world; and Hak Baker, an artist from East London with an EP called Misfits, my most listened to EP this summer. There is no-one like him, and his songs are bangers. All three artists on that track creates such a moment for me.” Conversation turns to the band’s record label, named after their recording studio, Major Tom’s. “We set up the label called after the first album, and then we signed Anne-Marie, who was originally our live singer, and has now
become a huge artist; she sung a lot with us, but now is her own superstar, and that is a model for us really, as a platform: we look at it like the school of Rudimental, and on the new album, there is a lot of unsigned talent that you probably won’t have heard of before, but will probably be out on Major Tom’s at some point and you might see them on the tour with us. So our business model we created on the road, and thought of after album one, and that has worked very well for our first act,” explains Agget. “Yeah, it came about after our first album, which featured Ella Eyre, Jon Newman, and Sinead Harnett - they all got their own deals, which was lovely to see, but also made us think that maybe we should create a label ourselves, and keep them part of the family. They are all still family, of course, but the label idea made sense to us,” explains Dryden. And since we spoke, the guys have added Ella Henderson to the Major Tom’s roster – another big step forward. Before we leave them to create their next mega-hit, what about some advice for any budding producers/creatives out there who are trying to make their way in the biz today? “Surround yourself with talented or good people who can bring the best out of you,” insists Agget. “Don’t be afraid to network to find those people; if you don’t think it’s going anywhere, make a change; and don’t be afraid to collaborate with new people. Connecting with your team is key.” “And although it might sound like an obvious one, keep working hard,” concludes Dryden. “We don’t have many days off! [smiles] And if you have a bit of success, keep going. If it’s something you love, it’s all fun, and it never really feels like work.”
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London-born Guy Robin, AKA Jonas Blue, is an inspiring creative, and wears several musical hats: DJ, songwriter, record producer, and remixer. His debut single, Fast Car, sold over six million records worldwide, and was the biggest selling single globally in 2016 from a debut British artist, securing the top spot in the iTunes Chart in the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Australia, and achieving multi-platinum status in numerous territories, with a monumental one billion streams. Photographs Mike Banks
he BRIT Award-nominee spends much of his time spinning records at headline shows across the globe, but he’s taken a break from touring to get familiar with his newly-completed recording studio, which is something to behold: an SSL AWS 948 Delta at the helm, and Crestron automation throughout, has made for a truly unique creative space. Robin’s previous studio was set up in a single garage, with synths piled on top of him, and a small sofa from IKEA. That experience taught him a lot about production, but at the same time, made him realise he wanted something ‘big and epic’, that he could create within his home. “It’s been an 18-month project, but it’s been well worth it,” Robin smiles. “It’s a fully commercial space, which a lot of people are not doing these days, but I see the long-term benefits, and I have always wanted to work with bands; I am producing a girl group at the moment, and I look forward to doing more of that kind of work in here.” The new studio was built with Justin Spiers at Studio Creations. It comprises three rooms: a control room, which houses the SSL; a live room; and a synth room, all of which is connected via a Crestron DMX system. “Justin is an amazing guy, and when I told him all my ‘out there’ ideas, he said they had never tried any of them before in any other studio, so that was pretty cool,” Robin explains, revealing that the live room can be turned into a nightclub at the push of a button, with full laser show and smoke machines, and a DJ booth will also appear, seemingly from nowhere, if so desired. A lot of work went into realising Robin’s rather unique studio vision: “Justin had seen my previous studio, which had no desk - it was based around an interface, and my MacBook Pro - but I loved that way of working, because everything was in front of me the whole time. So I wanted to keep that element, but bring in the SSL as my studio centrepiece. So we pulled the arms, arm rest, and meter bridge off of the console, and had a whole new frame built for it, which allowed me to put my Doepfer MIDI keyboard in, effectively as part of the console itself.
“We seated the keyboard slightly lower, and rebuilt an arm rest on the front, which now lays on top of the keyboard - so whenever I want to use it, I take off this lid, and it’s sitting in front of me. I wanted the mentality that I work in the box, even though I have the SSL as my workstation.”
Robin uses the console in several different ways: “I already use the SSL for a whole bunch of different things, but the idea is that down the line, it will be used constantly when I am producing bands; I will have the full scope of the desk to be able to accommodate them,” he reveals. “The great thing about the AWS console is that you can have full control over Logic [or any DAW], and it creates a digital mixer that way, or you can actually use it for its true analogue quality. If I’ve got musicians in, or if I’m recording vocals, I always put everything through the SSL, as it’s such an incredible sounding desk.” Robin’s preferred vocal chain is a Neumann U87 into a BAE Audio 1083 preamp, into a Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor, then into the SSL. “I’ll then do some slight EQing to the vocals on the console – I love the AWS EQ, and I am a big fan of the compression, too, which I use a lot. Then it’s about committing to the sound, really. I don’t like to leave things and ponder them.” Although the best seems yet to come, having the SSL at the heart of Robin’s creative hub is already transforming the way he works, and getting great results. “Being able to add all my automation, and control everything within Logic has been fantastic,” he concludes. “But also, a lot of the stuff I did on my album, I summed out to the SSL, mixed on the SSL, then brought it back in, and got it mastered. And that came out great. So it really is the best of both worlds having that desk in here; it’s quite literally my dream studio setup.”
@JonasBlue www.jonasblue.com www.solidstatelogic.com
Headliner 02 31 Headliner
COLDPLAY GET THEIR KICKS FROM ROUTE 66 BroaMan’s Route66 AutoRouter with Optocore technology is a particularly smart auto-patchbay solution for theatre sound designers. We take a closer look.
The popularity of BroaMan’s Route66 Auto Router with Optocore technology has continued apace since the streamlined version of associated company BroaMan’s Route66 first debuted on the Coldplay tour. Since then, the Route66 AutoRouter has featured in plenty of high profile installations, including the Westfield Centre in London, (Europe’s largest shopping mall) and Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, redeveloped for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The attraction of the device is that it offers Auto Routing, and an intelligent fibre patch bay, which replaces the traditional patchbay. This cool functionality (powered by Optocore) makes it particulrly appealing for installations with multiple connection points and mobile stage boxes as well as live events and broadcast. Initially compatible with standalone Optocore networks and DiGiCo fibre loops, BroaMan has announced that the same functionality is now available for Yamaha TWINLANe cards, which support single- and multi-mode optical fibre, and AVID AVB network cards, allowing smarter theatre sound systems to be designed using their flagship consoles. So how will this benefit the system designer? Essentially, what Route66 AutoRouter does is create a redundant star out of ring topology, and closes the loop automatically between active devices and mobile stage boxes. There is no longer the need to patch cables manually, as the system is always redundant. Route66 will function as an intelligent patch bay, automatically detecting active devices and forming a loop topology from them to establish redundancy, without any user interaction. This speeds up system layout and configuration for any production. The device can be equipped with up to 40 duplex LC sockets allowing up to 20 different connections from different locations, devices or device groups.
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Faced with their second full-scale arena tour, the mercurial Sheffield group Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) were seeking a different look and feel from their previous shows. We go behind the scenes with their hard working lighting team to see how they made it happen. Â Photo David Stewart
BRING ME THE
he most recent BMTH record, That’s the Spirit (2015) confirmed that the Yorkshire outfit were going all out with their most melodic sound yet. Certain tracks like Doomed even had a very strong pop influence. Inevitably, comments along the lines of, ‘When did BMTH turn into the Jonas Brothers?’ began appearing beneath their YouTube videos. Many detractors blamed keyboardist, Jordan Fish (now a full member) for this supposed betrayal. This wasn’t a case of BMTH selling out, though, because when we’ve seen clear cases of an artist doing a commercial U-turn, it rarely works out well for them. The band had very strong reasoning: “We’ve squeezed metal for all it’s worth,” Sykes told Loudwire in an interview at the time. “This album we’ve made is for no other reason than that’s the music we love – it’s just a bonus that it’s mainstream music.” As we now know all too well, artists hate being pigeonholed, and they equally hate the pressure to put out the same album again and again. After an orchestra-backed performance for charity at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside the O2 Arena, Glastonbury, and Alexandra Palace, the gamble was paying off, no question. Now with new record, amo, expected in 2019, the band is making more creative roads in the realms of lighting. Respected LD, Sam Tozer, was approached by production manager, Rob Highcroft, and Ollie Hutch, who is one of the band’s creatives, as well as their front of house sound engineer. They had seen the designer’s inventive work with the likes of rapper, Skepta, and the Swedish DJ duo of Axwell & Ingrosso, and liked his aesthetic. So a new lighting design was built: it’s a collaboration between all three men, but once again, for the most part, Tozer dipped heavily into the GLP LED fixture portfolio to bring it to life, deploying 156 of the JDC1 hybrid strobes and 88 X4 Bars in a set dominated by the German brand. To source this quantity of fixtures, the designer turned largely to vendors, Christie Lites. “These fixtures helped me create a stylised performance, which was sufficiently bright enough and dynamic,” Tozer said. “In particular, I wanted a tilting strobe that looked really industrial.”
This fulfilled the concept, in particular of Highcroft and Hutch, who have worked with the band for many years, and were adamant that the aesthetic needed to be a complete break from what had gone on before. “Looking back, their previous stages had been filled with equipment, including screens and risers,” reflects Tozer. “So initially, we stripped it right back to a bare stage, and then we started to add very minimal fixtures, ensuring that they didn’t intrude onto the performance space - they were purely there to enhance the show. There was no beam effect light, as such.” To achieve this, the show ran without risers, and 90% of the lighting fixtures were positioned underneath the stage to uplight the band through the grilled riser set up. The remainder of the lighting framed the stage, or was used for keylight. And it’s all worked out rather well so far, it seems. “We had great support throughout the tour, and I’d like to thank everyone responsible,” Tozer concludes. He directed the show, along with Kris Goodman - who’s lovingly known as ‘The Flying Lampie’ - as his show programmer. Meanwhile, the band are continuing to promote their upcoming album, as the tour has moved to the United States, where Christie Lites will again provide the full lighting inventory. BMTH will play a series of US arenas in the next few weeks, finishing up in Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel on February 16th; before hopping across the pond to London for one night only in Tufnell Park, three days later. Then, they hop back again, for a string of shows in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, before a jaunt down under to play a few venues in Australia. Next, it’s back to the US, before they embark on a European leg in May, with shows in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, and Russia. So safe to say, these guys are in for a busy 2019!
@BMTH www.bmth.com www.glp.de
Headliner 02 35 Headliner
How Low Can You Go?
MUSIC STREAMING: HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? The music streaming services seemingly have a lot to answer for. How, when giants such as Spotify continue to grow their profit, can they justify paying out even less per stream to the artist? It’s pretty bewildering, and makes for staggering reading. But can we change it? Audium published a report recently that showed Spotify’s revenue climbing buoyantly, as its royalty payouts to artists and labels gradually declined. Some hard figures: last year, Spotify’s ad-supported tier earned $0.00014123 in mechanical royalties per play. So, to bag $100, an artist would need 703,581 streams. Hmm. For the premium tier, Spotify paid out $0.00066481 per stream, which amounts to about $100 for every 150,000 streams. And this number has dropped massively over the last four years. Digital Music News published some information on two artists’ royalty payouts, and this really puts it into perspective. First up, award-winning cellist and composer, Zoe Keating, who shared what she made from
streaming platforms in 2017. Here are her numbers: Using RouteNote as her distributor, she earned the most from Amazon Prime Music (by far). At a per-stream rate of $0.0663649, she netted $1,265.38 from 19,067 streams. TIDAL paid out around a quarter of that rate, which resulted in Keating getting $354.42 after 21,817 streams; and at a rate of $0.0048416 per stream, she earned just under 100 bucks from Deezer after 20,460 streams. Drum roll... Spotify earned Keating just $4,388.93 after 1.15 million plays..! That’s a Scrooge-like rate of $0.0038015 per stream. When using CD Baby as her distributor, at a slightly higher rate of $0.0039 per stream, she earned a little more: $5,654.58 after from 1.5m streams.
Five months later, Keating shared her findings again, this time focusing on Spotify only, over the past six years. Here are those bonkers figures: In 2013, she earned $1,174.35 from 416,112 streams. Using CD Baby as her distributor, Spotify paid her $0.0028222 per stream; and prior to her distributor’s cut, Keating had earned $1,290.49 at a per-stream rate of $0.0031013. A year later, Spotify’s per-stream rate actually rose to $0.040689 (don’t jump up and down just yet): after 712,039 plays, Keating earned $2,897.18. At a per-stream rate of $0.0044713, before CD Baby’s 9% cut, she had earned $3,183.71. Since 2014, it’s been a downward spiral. In 2015, Keating earned $4,821.07 for
“After six years on Spotify, composer, Zoe Keating, earned just $35,000 after 9.4 million plays, at a staggering average per-stream rate of $0.0037049...”
How Low Can You Go?
“Looking at the hard data, it’s hard to imagine what might motivate and inspire the next generation of artists to write and record commercial music...” 1,487,584 streams. Spotify had paid her $0.0032409 per stream. Prior to CD Baby’s cut, she had earned $5,297.88 at a per-stream rate of $0.0035614. In 2016, Zoe Keating decided to add a second distributor: using RouteNote, Spotify paid her $2,214.53 after 606,748 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0038015. Keating didn’t reveal how much RouteNote kept. Using CD Baby, she earned $7,800 from 1,952,933 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0039940. Keating earned $8,571.43 at a per-stream rate of $0.0043890 before CD Baby’s 9% cut. In 2017, Spotify’s revenue grew, yet its royalty rates remained stagnant. Ludicrous. And, of course, with nothing short of exponential growth in 2018, you’d expect Spotify might think it’s about time to start putting proverbial hands in pockets. Not so,
we’re sad to say. In 2018, again using RouteNote as her distributor, Keating earned $2,657.25 after 707,891 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0037538. Through CD Baby, at a per-stream rate of $0.0035298, she earned $3,254.82 after 922,092 plays. Prior to CD Baby’s 9% cut, she had earned $3,576.73 at a per-stream rate of $0.0038789. So, to summarise, after six years on Spotify, Keating earned just $34,862.71 after 9,409,799 plays, at an average per-stream rate of $0.0037049. Staggering. And this isn’t a one-off: country singer, Jason Kirkness, also shared his Spotify payouts: after 337,245 plays, he earned $747.25. He reportedly earned just $0.0022 per stream. The strangest thing of all is, we can’t really
do anything about it. Digital Music News did make one good point, though: at least artists earn more on Spotify than they would on YouTube, which pays a mind-blowingly low $0.00074 per stream. After looking at the hard data, it’s difficult to imagine where we might be heading next; and, unless one (or ideally, all) of the leading music streaming services takes a very serious look at this, and changes the way funds are remunerated, then what on earth is going to motivate and inspire the next generation of artists to write and record commercial music? Food for thought, indeed.
TONY VISCONTI: PRODUCTION VALUES Tony Visconti is one of the world’s most revered record producers. Most famous, of course, for his extraordinary work with David Bowie and Marc Bolan. He and Bolan used to experiment with sounds together in their early days, when working with Malcolm Toft; both were equally fascinated in pushing musical boundaries, and working out how to manipulate sounds. It clearly worked. Any T. Rex record sounds as current today as it did back then. Remarkable. Words Paul Watson Today, Tony Visconti is as busy as ever: he’s been making records with Damon Albarn and The Damned, to name a few; and he even delved into the world of hip hop with St Louis-based act, iLLPHONiCS, who he met when they opened for Kristeen Young, another super-talented artist who he’s been championing for some time. But how much has life in the studio changed since his time working with legends like Bowie and Bolan? “It’s exactly the same,” he smiles. “When I worked with The Damned recently on their last album, I went to London to meet them, and talk about what they wanted to achieve from the record; and then we went to a studio in Brooklyn, and I had all my notes with me from our original chat in London. I tend to remind artists in the middle of the project what their goals were, because they often forget – I forget too, of course! [smiles]” Visconti is a big believer in preparing for sessions, and thinks that everyone should do so, rather than dive in head first, so to speak. “People beginning to make records should always consider how important it is to do
pre-production; what artists like about me is that I can coach them, and I can teach them how to sing better,” he says. “Young producers now tend to think, ‘well I’ll get 30 takes out of them, I’ll make a playlist, i’ll hack it up, frankenstein the vocal, and make it sound perfect by putting it through Auto-Tune.’ “But you can hear that records are too perfect today, and they’re not interesting by virtue of being too perfect. You only look at a diamond once! [laughs] But it’s the flawed ones that are the more interesting ones. Bowie and I together always kept those so called ‘mistakes’, because that’s the gold.” Conversation turns digital, as we discuss modern day production techniques. “I use Pro Tools 90% of the time, and I always upgrade, even though they sometimes crash, but Ultimate is the most stable Pro Tools ever, and I love it,” Visconti explains. “The thing about the digital world, though, is that it’s outdated every two years, and that is just a sin against nature; in analogue, if you have a Fairchild, it still works! Anyway, I try to keep up to date on plugins, but try not to rely
too heavily on them, as there is always another way of doing it. I’ll just remember what I like about it. It is disheartening, though, if I open up a Bowie track from 2003 that I mixed, and half of the plugins are now redundant.”
Visconti has had a solid relationship with Waves since 1990, and although he hasn’t yet made any Visconti product with the manufacturer, it’s something he would love to do sometime, when he has the time. “I would love to design something with Waves, and it’s definitely something we will get around to some day; I’ve just been so crazy busy for the last two years, and these things take time and dedication, of course,” Visconti says. “I love the Waves L3 Ultramaximizer for drum busses; if I really want to squash drums, but want it to have a little bounce, it’s perfect. It’s something you carry over from the old days: we used to buss the whole drum kit to other faders, and throw a compressor on them; and Waves does it very well with that. “I also love the JJP plugins – I’ll often start
“I am now a Kendrick Lamar fan; Bowie and I would listen to him before we started working for the day...” with one of his presets, and go from there, as Jack [ Joseph Puig] is a very good engineer. “Then there is the The H-Compressor, which is wonderful; it’s one of the best compressors on the market, and it actually sounds like the analogue world. It gives you options, too; that stuff isn’t just eye candy, it really does do the job.”
AN ARTISTIC APPROACH
We start to chat a little about some of the talent Visconti has worked with recently. “Over the last two years, I’ve worked with Damon Albarn on The Good, The Bad, & The Queen project; it’ll be out before Christmas. He is a brilliant, and lovely man – a very sweet personality. We worked for a year on that album,” he reveals. Bit of a creative genius, Albarn, isn’t he? “I am used to creative geniuses... They can’t throw me! [laughs] I know kung fu as well, you know... I also worked with [ Jane’s Addiction frontman] Perry Farrell on his record, which took about a year, too – I was doing them simultaneously. “And then there’s the lovely Kristeen Young: she is wonderful, and I demoted myself to co-producer on her last two albums because she absolutely is the co-producer. She then went off and wrote a whole album without me being involved, so I have been demoted further – and happily, I should add – to being her engineer. And this is her best work yet; it’s
a re-birth for her. We’re making that now. “I just came back from St Louis, and I recorded my first hip hop group; and these guys are the real deal. I met them, as Kristeen comes from St Louis as well, and she is a hip hop fan, and they opened for her at a show, too; they are called iLLPHONiCS, and I have known them for about three years. We kept flirting with the idea, but I am not a hip hop producer. But I love them that much, I decided to get involved, and it’s fantastic. “I am now a Kendrick Lamar fan – To Pimp a Butterfly, what an album. Bowie and I used to listen to that before we started working for the day, because we just respected him so much. What hip hop is today, is what rock and roll used to be in the ‘70s: experimental, daring, bold, and controversial.” iLLPHONiCS are Bowie fans, too, so Visconti figures they can’t be far apart in terms of sensibility. I picture him at the desk, nodding along to slamming hip hop tracks... “[smiles] I loved it! It’s more low end than I have used on any other tracks, but that’s the beauty of it: there are no more than four instruments at once; it’s kick and bass, and ‘tickety’ stuff in the high end; a snare, claps, and vocals, with the answer vocal. “It’s all their work, and I am co-producer of this. I brought stuff into this from the rock world. It’s mainly hip hop, but it’s a bit of a hybrid, as there’s a bit of me in there. I think
it’s going to be really great.” Before I let Visconti go, I ask him if he has three pieces of advice for any budding producer trying to make their way in the world today. He reels these off, instantly: “First, you couldn’t have been born at a better time with regard to gear. You couldn’t build a recording studio unless you threw £300,000 at it, whereas nowadays, you are very fortunate to have plugins like Waves, and DAWs like Pro Tools or Logic or Ableton Live. So take advantage of that. “Second, you make music to make a difference, by being creative, and by composing. You record music with this stuff, that’s what you do with it; so don’t mix the two up, as gear isn’t the be all and end all. “Thirdly – and this is a big one - I know you get inspired by listening to what’s on the radio, and stuff, but your job, if you want to succeed, is to always support the most unlikely person. Find someone so far out, which I did with Bolan and Bowie, who is going to be tomorrow’s big star. If you’re gonna discover another Taylor Swift, what’s the point in that? We already have one! So always look for the unusual, if you want to have a big hit; it’s more of a risk, but it’s not that much of a risk, really. And you’re doing the culture we live in a great service by supporting the most unlikely artist.” www.waves.com
SHURE LAUNCHES MV88+ VIDEO KIT Shure has launched the MV88+ Video Kit - the upgrade to its impressive pocket-sized MV88 stereo condenser mic, which will now benefit vloggers as well as audio guys and girls. The mic itself has been improved in terms of performance, and several smart design tweaks will likely make this new package way more appealing.
We’ve used the Shure MV88 stereo condenser microphone in several applications over the last few months: from audio capture during artist and producer interviews while out and about, to recording a singersongwriter’s live acoustic performance using Shure’s comprehensive Motiv app. Both times, it’s impressed us, and particularly when you considering its attractive price point. Now, at NAMM 2019, Shure is showing the MV88+, which looks like a very smart way of capturing high quality audio and smartphone video content simultaneously. The MV88+ comes with a compact Manfrotto PIXI tripod, and a mount for both smartphone and microphone — it’s essentially everything you need for recording handheld and static video content with professional audio.
We can see this appealing to a number of creatives: musicians, YouTubers, reporters and filmmakers, to name a few. And us, actually: the MV88+ would come in very useful indeed for some of our Headliner HUB content, for any b-roll material, where quality audio is still crucial, but we might shoot on iOS. What would also work for us is the headphone monitoring on the MV88+: when the original MV88 came out, Apple hadn’t relinquished the 3.5mm jack from the iPhone, so monitoring wasn’t possible; now, Shure has added a dedicated headphone output, to allow users to monitor their recording in real-time. Big box ticked there, guys. Furthermore, the Periscope app and Facebook Live didn’t exist when the MV88 was first conceived, so it will not work while live streaming video. The MV88+, on the
other hand, has been designed with that added functionality in mind, so it opens the door to a lot more users, particularly vloggers and YouTubers.
The MV88 is certainly versatile, and can be used for various forms of video and audio capture; but you can only connect the mic to your iPhone or iPad in one way – via the Lightning port. This occasionally poses an issue for some smartphone mounts when filming video, so when designing the MV88+, Shure added mounting flexibility, so it would fit any rig. There are currently five different setups available - and that number is growing. Also, the MV88+ can be mountable on one of your own tripods or stands, as long as it has a standard quarter-inch connector.
“The MV88+ has been designed with that added functionality in mind, therefore opens the door to a lot more users, particularly YouTubers and vloggers...” What’s also cool about the MV88+ is that iOS users can charge their phones while recording, with a USB3 camera adapter. That way, you’ll never have to worry about battery life during a longer session. Shure has also improved the performance of the MV88+, and believes that the new mic’s sound is generally more open and natural; and it’s not just iOS users that will benefit: the MV88+ also offers compatibility with a growing number of Android devices including Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 models.
appeal to more creatives; however, let’s not forget that the MV88 is very decent in its own right, and we can vouch for that personally - also, it’s about $100 less than the MV88+ model, so if you’re more interested in sound applications than video, the original mic is likely all you’re going to need to capture quality audio. www.shure.com
We think the MV88+ Video Kit is a more powerful and desirable package that ticks a lot more boxes than Shure’s original MV88, and will most definitley
Genesis in NYC
THE PLAN DIES, DOWN ON BROADWAY...
Of all the legendary rock ‘n’ road tales recovered, retold, and reimagined during the early editions of Headliner, the one that has systematically been swerved is Genesis’ first foray into the Big Apple, and the hype surrounding it. 46 years to the month is as fitting a time as any to lube the cerebral cortex, and relate how these gentrified, largely Old Carthusians took on the unwitting urbanistas of New York in an exercise costing Charisma Records and their US licensees Buddah, $16,000 USD — a King’s Ransom in those days. Words Jerry Gilbert Charisma boss, the late Tony StrattonSmith, knew that staging such a stunt with a then unknown band was a high risk strategy, as the American press had never forgiven the great Brinsley Schwartz (née Kippington Lodge)/Famepushers hype 30 months earlier when a plan to ‘buy’ the band into the hearts and minds of American culture at the Fillmore East failed spectacularly. On the other hand, there was a fascination about Genesis, and Peter Gabriel in particular, with the front of his pate shaved back in a V, and painted silver, although it largely predated New York’s own downtown Performance Art movement which exploded the following
year with Laurie Anderson, who would later become Peter’s muse. Invited British hacks this time, including yours truly, working for Sounds, esteemed ZigZag founder/editor Pete Frame and Melody Maker’s Chris Welch (apologies to anyone I’ve omitted), would join forces with counterparts from Boston, Philadelphia and LA in an event rightly enshrined in the annals of rock. The fact that it was a press junket was exemplified at Kennedy Airport Immigration where the mean-looking Customs dude demanded, ‘Let’s see your papers,’ to which one wag replied undiplomatically, “But we
are the papers!’ Whereupon the biggest promotional bandwagon ever launched by Charisma Records was underway. Along with Buddah, headed by Neil Bogart (whose greater fame would come later during the ‘disco’ era), they would be selling Genesis by the pound at the 3,000-seat Philharmonic Hall on Broadway and 53rd (renamed the Avery Fisher the following year), with Charisma’s recent signing, String Driven Thing, in support. I remember Pete Frame, making his first Stateside visit, being utterly nonplussed by the hoopla, just as the US hacks were confused as to why a red London Transport double-
decker omnibus would be picking us up from the Americana Hotel in midtown Manhattan and taking us to the gig. For the band themselves there was the somewhat scuzzier Gorham Hotel (now the Blakely Hotel) awaiting them — a regular B-list resting post for bands who had yet to make the big time. All the build-up promotion to the occasion, a co-promotion with the predominant WNEW-FM radio station, had been via their celebrated DJs — Alison ‘The Nightbird’ Steele, and the late Scott Muni — one of the pioneers of FM progressive rock radio. Not only that, but as a committed Anglophile, he had become an early adopter of Genesis, playing tracks like Watcher of the Skies. Just as Bruce Springsteen’s UK debut two years later would be dogged by the now infamous billboard proclaiming ‘Finally, London is ready for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’, so the American media machine remained clueless as to how to package this ars nova, which redefined any concept they may have had about English
prog rock. In fact, WNEW was able to produce no more imaginative strapline than ‘My whole life changed when I started using Genesis.’ Yuk! The band’s man on the ground in the States had been Ed Goodgold, manager of Buddah label-mates Sha Na Na. Things started to go wrong when the band learned that Ed had booked them into the Brandeis University near Boston for an unannounced warm-up gig prior to the main event, which completely died on its feet. The band had been dogged with voltage irregularities, and lack of soundcheck time (particularly affecting Tony Banks’ organ). Seemingly, no consideration had been given to the different power voltages, the motored instruments running on 60 Hz unlike the 50 cycles in the UK. This meant that the Mellotron, which they’d just acquired from King Crimson, along with the Hammond organ, wouldn’t play nicely with the guitars. Their attempts to soundcheck at Philharmonic Hall were also thwarted on the day when the band couldn’t get into the Hall
Genesis in NYC
until 4pm, as the Philharmonic Orchestra was in residence. It was the first time they had failed to soundcheck in two years. With the set list already compromised, everything was shaping up to be a royal clusterfuck. Added to that, due to the inadequate ventilation in the Gorham, Peter Gabriel had woken in the stifled room with ominous signs of catarrh, which would affect his entire performance. In the hours before, the gig ticket sales had not been going well — urgent action was required in the form of a 30-second ad blast — and yours truly was to be the one to deliver. Collared while in residence at the Americana bar (naturally) by one of the record company lackeys, it took 75 bucks hard cash in hand to prise me away from my beer, and down to the recording studio. I was told I’d be back at the bar in time to buy the next round — all I had to do was hone my vowels into wellrounded public school diction (think classic BBC 1950s voice) and read the, er … ‘script’ designed to capture the bourgeois world from which it was assumed this public school band
“With all the earlier hassles, and the fact the band had been unable to soundcheck, it was heading for disaster.” had emanated. Someone had clearly got wind of the fact that Peter at the time was married to the daughter of the Queen’s private secretary — which made the script even more ludicrously wide of the mark. Anyway, I nailed it in two takes, and was soon back spraying my hard-earned on the next round of Schlitz (who remembers them?) chased down with Rebel Yell. As for the gig itself — a WNEW-FM fund-raiser for a Cerebral Palsey charity — with all the earlier hassles, and the fact the band had been unable to soundcheck, it was heading for disaster. And when the show was 30 minutes’ late kicking off, to the sound of slow hand clapping, it merely compounded the situation. When the MC finally introduced the band, adding the cringeworthy corollary that Keith Emerson had offered his endorsement, they launched straight into Watcher of the Skies from the Foxtrot album (released two months earlier) — followed by Musical Box. As the lights panned, emerging from the shadows was this strange lead singer with a foxes head and long red dress, in all its shimmering mysticism. Welcome to New York, Peter Gabriel! From there, it was plain sailing, as they built up to the 22-minute long Supper’s
Ready, ending the set with Return of the Giant Hogweed, and encored with The Knife. And then they vanished. For a very, very long time. No-one was allowed in the dressing room. By their own high standards, the show is a shambles. In the dressing room afterwards, the air turned blue - even the normally taciturn Tony Banks was volubly enraged. Despite all the meticulous pre-planning by their chief roadie-cum-everything else, Richard Macphail, another member of the Charterhouse School collective, the gods had conspired against them… and yet the gig was, well, somehow a massive success. Charisma owner, Tony Stratton-Smith, admitted he had never been so nervous before a gig in his life. “The only comparison would have been the Nice’s first gig at Fillmore East!” I remember him admitting. It was a tremendous gamble — although against all the odds, it did pay off. In spite of all the technical hang-ups, which meant the band were only able to deliver a show to around 70% of normal ability, they received a universal thumbs-up. Not only that, but they ended up playing to a full house. My dubious voiceover had evidently had some impact. It was after the show that the fun really began. A press soirée had been arranged at
the iconic Tavern on the Green in Central Park, which attracted the usual horde of groupies. Slowly, the band arrived, although there was no sign of Peter Gabriel. In a scene that predated Cameron Crowe’s epochal Almost Famous, I was approached by groupie Queen Bee asking how she could get to Peter Gabriel. But Peter was nowhere to be seen… until much, much later. The one thing the Gorham did have going for it was an electric door entry. It may not have been able to ventilate its rooms, but it knew how to exclude groupies. My final memory was the following morning seeing said groupie locked out, but now in the foyer, forlornly clutching a cup of coffee, and asking if it would be ok for her to take it up to Peter’s room. She had presumably been sat there all night. Desperate measures, indeed — and if ever an era introduced three new terms to the lexicon — ‘hype’, ‘payola’, and ‘groupie’ — then this was probably it. Not that there was any suggestion of ‘payola’ being involved in this instance (is the firm Headliner disclaimer).
CRANBORNE AUDIO CAMDEN EC2 PRE Booth #11028
British audio manufacturer, Cranborne Audio, is unveiling the Camden EC2 preamp - a two-channel 19-inch rackmount preamp, ‘Mojo’ signal processor, and dual headphone mixer based on the company’s award-winning Camden 500 preamp. We used the Camden 500 on a mix project in the Headliner studio when it was at prototype stage, and were pretty blown away by what it could do – in fact, after discovering how good pretty much everything sounded through it – signal going in and reamping - we ended up experimenting for hours, and it continued to exceed expectation. Hell of a debut product. So what’s under the hood of the EC2? In a nutshell, two instances of the ‘Camden’ preamp topology and Mojo analogue saturation circuit Sold! So it seems the Camden EC2 will be very well suited for stereo/ dual-mono miking setups, stem saturation processing (Mojo), and instrument DI solutions in studios with or without 500 Series connectivity. Two reference-quality headphone amplifiers with discrete line mixers allow for direct monitoring of both built-in preamps using headphones connected directly to the Camden EC2’s front panel. Furthermore, the two headphone ports are really cool: users can monitor during mic placement to find their sweet spots – be it a guitar cab, kick drum, or acoustic instrument - or alternatively, they can be configured to create a zero-latency, all-analogue monitor mix, combining the local preamps with playback incoming from an external source via the Camden EC2’s rear panel aux inputs. Featuring Cranborne Audio’s C.A.S.T system, it is possible to connect the Camden EC2 directly to Cranborne Audio’s 500R8’s C.A.S.T input connectors to send the EC2’s preamps directly into the 500R8 inputs for recording, whilst receiving a stereo monitor mix from the 500R8 back down the same Cat 5 cable, and directly into Camden EC2’s aux 1 headphone mixer for monitoring. So it seems the EC2 is quite a bit more than two Camden 500s in a metal box: it should appeal to a whole array of creatives, from project studio producers to major players.
“It seems the Cranborne Audio Camden EC2 pre is quite a bit more than two Camden 500s in a metal box.”
JOE LAMOND: NAMM 2019 The NAMM Show is the definitive platform for the music, sound and event technology communities to unite, featuring more than 7,000 brands, cutting-edge industry education, as well as exclusive special events, concerts and experiences. “Congratulations to Headliner on the launch of your new video platform, The Hub,” opens NAMM President and CEO, Joe Lamond. Thank you, sir. This is Headliner’s fifth NAMM, and we’re very proud to be working closely with the show this year the start of a great partnership, we hope. I ask him how he thinks the show is going to pan out this year. “Well, we welcome over 2,000 member companies and 7,000 brands from around the world to Anaheim this week, and I suspect that the new products and technologies launched at the show will inspire the next wave of trends in our industry, and for all music makers. New products drive any industry, and we’re no different.” Lamond tells me there will be countless opportunities to learn and grow professionally through a number of education sessions with NAMM U, TEC Tracks, AES, and ESTA. Very cool. “We have over 400 sessions total,” he says. Wow. “NAMM really is a celebration of the people and products changing our world, and the priceless opportunities to celebrate these accomplishments with one’s peers.” And there’s also the NAMM TEC Awards, of course, with a performance from Peter Frampton. “The inventor of Bob Heil’s infamous Talk Box! Who could forget that iconic album that everyone – and I mean everyone – was listening to and inspired by? The Les Paul Innovation Award he’s receiving is actually named after Les Paul himself, who pioneered so many music and sound innovations such as multitrack recording,” Lamond explains. This year’s show will also honour Leslie Ann Jones with the TEC Hall of Fame award, the industry’s highest honour for pioneers of audio technology. For those of you who manage to get to the show, make sure you take it all in - lots of amazing kit to drool over, and technology to be bedazzled by; and for those that won’t make it down to Anaheim this year, don’t worry - we’ll be bringing you a full show report after the show, as well as some exclusive video footage via The Hub, and a special soundscape will follow a few days later, which will document our Californian journey, and walk you around the show’s bustling aisles. We wish NAMM the best of luck for 2019 and beyond.
“NAMM really is a celebration of the people and products changing our world...”
â€œI explored every option, but time and again found myself pulled back towards the sound of the Horusâ€? Jack Ruston, MPG Breakthrough Engineer Nominee
Horus and Hapi converters you deserve merging.com
GRUMPY OLD BREXIT
Did I mention that I had no work ‘til February? I think not, because those of you that have broken through my cloak of anonymity here would have been straight on the phone to offer me work. And you didn’t. I had a few quid spare, so picked up a cracking all-inclusive ski holiday in Italy. It was brilliant, and I’ve just got back - but I did get the chance to chat Brexit with a few Italian locals. Every one of them was as interested in it, as we are; and every one of them told me that were doing the right thing in leaving, because they all wanted to leave. Every one of them admired the British people for having the balls to do this. But, of course, they can’t see how pretty evenly split as a nation we are over all of this. One of them asked me if we would get a people’s vote. I explained the effect that that would have on democracy. Being a remainer myself you’d think that I’d jump at a second chance, but I wouldn’t; we should just stay where we are, and leave. As I type, it’s the usual old shit regarding deal or no deal on LBC radio (Let Battle Commence?). You’ll be pleased to know that I have finally identified the core Brexit problem: it’s not just that prick, David Cameron, who introduced the 2nd referendum poisoned chalice to keep ahead of the equally prickish and odious Nigel “I love Trump” Farage. The true reason why we’re where we are now is down to the public Yes, you and I, who collectively made such a stupid mistake. And why did we do this? Because collectively, we’re as thick as shit. Like turkeys voting for Christmas. So this is how we should resolve the Brexit issue. Firstly, we take away the vote from fatties (90% of the population at a rough guess). Then we take away the vote from the thickies with less than a 2nd class degree in media studies (5% more). Finally, for the last 5%, take away the vote from any other persecuted minority. That leaves just me and you, I guess? How did you vote? Fuck, not 50/50….. that’s where we came in. My culling system here would have a massive effect on the government, as well. Diane Abbott would fall at the first test, but you’d be surprised to learn that she achieved a 2.2 at Cambridge, and isn’t a lesbian, according to Corbyn. Most male MPs would be gone. Have you seen their straining shirt buttons lately? Cyril Smith would have failed them all. Ironically, Theresa May would probably be the only one to get throug, so she could vote her plan through without opposition. Then we can all get on with our lives, or whatever is left of them.
“My culling system would have a massive effect on the government, as well: Diane Abbott would fall at the first test.” Grumpy Old Roadie
Rudimental, Manny Marroquin, Jonas Blue, Ferry Corsten, Anne-Marie, and Ben Howard.