to a point after a while going through the same process of recording studio albums — which is always great fun and really fulfilling — but you’re looking for other interests to keep your enthusiasm going. I know quite a few people who’ve become a bit jaded, but they have to keep doing it. I’ve been able to become enthusiastic about learning something new. Kate Bush is known for taking a lot of time to complete things… The one thing I will say about that is the way it works — it starts with a very specific goal. If you’re working on a mix and it does take quite a few days, I always felt I was 95% there in the first day, and then it’s just a matter of refining, not over-working. It’s a matter of honing it, with plenty of time to absorb it. Do you take lots of table-tennis breaks? Not really, it’s quite concentrated. But Kate has such a perfect vision of what she wants, and it really is tiny little details. But it never feels like you go in one direction and then have to change it.
Stephen W Tayler A master craftsman and composer, producing and engineering refined recordings, whose diverse skills include visuals, installations, mixing Kate Bush and a solo album talks to GEORGE SHILLING
is early years had all the right ingredients for a professional music career: a chorister at Oxford, a scholarship to public school, clarinet and organ study at the Royal College of Music — and time spent fiddling with the family’s Grundig tape recorder. This led Stephen Tayler to the BBC who offered a job, but while waiting for it to start he strolled into Trident and landed a tea-boy job, working up the engineering ladder, often with the prog artists that he already loved, like UK, Bill Bruford, Peter Gabriel and Brand X. Following a spell of disco records he went freelance and worked extensively with Rupert Hine at Farmyard, with multiple albums for The Fixx, Chris de Burgh and Howard Jones, and projects with Tina Turner, Underworld, Stevie Nicks and Rush. In recent years he has partnered with installation artist Sadia Sadia and they have a production company, Stephen also released a solo album Ostinato, and recently performed it live. In 2010 he mixed most of Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut album, mixed the whole of her next album 50 Words for Snow the following year, and was ‘Kate Vocal Navigator’ for her 2014 residency at the Hammersmith Apollo. 32 / Digital • April 2018
Is it more acceptable (these days) to diversify? Absolutely, and I’ve found that it’s been collaborating with certain people over the years that this ‘reaching out’ into other areas has become very useful. Particularly as people are being pushed with budgets. But for me, you get
If you’re doing sound for an installation, how do you deal with the acoustics of the space? Sadia developed an installation that was destined to be three large projections of manipulated images of water through the gorge in Tasmania in a large exhibition space. I’d helped her develop the sound. There were eight speakers along a fairly narrow space, so as you’re walking the soundscape changes. We were working remotely, and I wanted to know how the space sounded — it was quite echoey. So they recorded a clap and sent it to me, and with convolution I recreated the acoustic in here with eight speakers in a corridor, so that it would work in this emulation. Apparently it was great — I never heard it! Another thing I worked on for Sadia was 30 poems that had been recorded and were played simultaneously on 30 miniature speakers all round a room. Many years ago we worked on one installation with two 5.1 systems, one above and one on the floor to create a more three-dimensional space. It’s experimenting,
/ Chimera Arts Studio at Real World - live rig in foreground for rehearsal
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