Into FawcusApr 07, 2020 - 10:52
What made you want to acquire a portable studio?
I suppose I just like to be busy, and when touring with musical shows I always need to accomplish something other than just turning up for the show each day. Looking ahead, I knew that I had over a year’s touring to do, and wanted a writing/producing solution that was easy to carry and didn’t require a flight case.
You recently produced signature music for Mediaspec to use in its marketing materials, videos and telephone ‘on hold’ music, surely a portable set-up was not going to be enough to record, master and export?
Well, in a sense, that’s what I wanted to test. I’d purchased the Ableton Live 9 and wanted to test it ‘in anger’, so to speak, so while away on tour with ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ and ‘Chicago the Musical’ I got to know the system in conjunction with my laptop and iPad to write the music. There’s nothing like diving in to see how cold the water really is!
Did you jump straight back out again?
No, it was great! I started writing rhythm parts and creating grooves and then recorded some of the sax elements on my iPhone into the voice recorder. I got Eric Joseph, MD at Mediaspec, to record his voice on the iPhone and send the file to me, then I used Auria Pro to record more sax on iPad via iRig Pro and transferred the audio via iTunes file transfer. The whole piece was pulled together on my Mac Book Pro in various hotels rooms and digs while on tour. I was really pleased with the system. It achieved what I wanted it to do.
How did you go about choosing the equipment? Did Mediaspec provide advice to help you put the right system together?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve used Mediaspec for years. The team there has a broad product base and a broad product knowledge. Exactly what pro audio people are looking for in specialist audio dealers. They were invaluable in providing honest advice on basically what would work for me and what wouldn’t. If they don’t know something, they certainly know someone who does. Their opinions are not market driven – if they know a product that will work for a lesser price than the current market ‘fave’ then they’re happy to recommend it. They have a keen understanding of the methodology of music making and that is often at the forefront of their advice.
Aside from Ableton, what other tech makes up your portable system?
I needed a preamp, of course, and Mediaspec recommended IK Multimedia’s iRig Pro. This little device is pocket size and very good. You can plug either a jack or XLR into it and 48V phantom power is supplied via a 9v battery. It evens works as a MIDI interface. I also bought iRig Keys, a 37-note keyboard. Although it doesn’t fit in the man bag it is quite portable.
Although a portable system was important, an overriding need was the ability to export midi and audio into a bigger studio once back home or at work. For me, Pro Tools is my weapon of choice and the portable set-up has been chosen to be able to export seamlessly to Pro Tools.
What other projects have you worked on using the portable system?
I’ve worked on sax solos for DJ Phil Bonna and sax solos for producer Ted Carfrae at TCM Music. I’ve also created trumpet overdubs for film-maker Annette Brown and location archive recordings for Clare Teal and Raymond Gubbay Ltd. I’ve also done a few flute solos for dance tracks with it. The system’s been really versatile.
And carrying the equipment across the world? Is the back holding up?
I wanted portable and that’s what I got. The back’s fine. It doesn’t get enough opportunity to lie down in sleep with creativity being so accessible, but the show must go on – even in hotel rooms!
To listen to the music written and produced by Paul for Mediaspec, just give us a call some time and ask to be put on hold!
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