May 19, 2010
I quit my job yesterday.
It’s a big deal for me – I’ve worked at SRT for over fifteen years now, so I hope you’ll forgive me if this turns out to be a slightly self-indulgent, sentimental post !
Working at SRT was my first “proper” music industry job. I didn’t even know it was a mastering studio when I wrote to them in 1994 asking if they had any work going – it was only listed in the White Book as a cassette duplication facility.
Luckily for me, it turned out to be one of the UK’s leading independent mastering facilities, and the reason they were hiring was they’d just signed a deal to record, edit and master over 120 albums for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Using (then!) cutting-edge 20-bit digital recording technology at CTS studios in London, the series won wide-spread praise, with big names like Sir Charles Mackerras, Ronan O’Hora and Carl Davis, plus breaking new ground by being sold for only £4.99 per disc.
But I didn’t get to work on any of those releases at first ! Like everyone else, I started out coiling cables and copying tapes for budget releases, while being trained from the ground up in the art of digital audio. (Analogue came later, for me.)
I was lucky to get an incredible number of opportunities, though, at an unusually early stage in my career.
After only a few months I was re-mastering and restoring “vintage” material for labels like Castle/Pye, RPM, Sequel (now Sanctuary) and Strange Fruit, plus recording and mixing a fantastic range of material – everything from local metal bands to classical solo piano, string quartets, jazz ensembles and progressive guitar rock right through to legendary jazz trumpeter Kenny Ball.
(Kenny was kind enough to say I’d got him the best sound he’d had since he recorded at Pye twenty years earlier, which coming from an artist with over 30 years experience in the industry was a compliment I’ve always treasured ! He’s still going strong – I mixed and mastered his latest album a couple of years ago.)
SRT were always at the cutting edge of technology, and being the gadget-loving geek I am, I jumped at the chance to get involved, first with Enhanced CD authoring (High-point: helping deny Westlife the Number One slot for the first time ever with my work on Bob The Builder’s “Can We Fix It” ;-p) and then with DVDs (High-point – 5.1 surround mixing for Culture Club’s 20th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and a year-long labour of love post-authoring Deja Vrooom by King Crimson).
I’ve loved the fact that I’ve been able to work in so many different fields, and this is something I plan to build on in future – watch this space for more details.
I’ll have to cut this short before it gets hopelessly self-indulgent, but I can’t resist mentioning a few more of my favourite projects from my years at SRT, in vaguely chronological order: mastering Back To Basics “Cut The Crap” feat. Andy Weatherall; “Jurassic Shift” by the Ozric Tentacles (you can’t beat a bit of Ozrics!); recording, mixing and mastering “Change Of Sky” by Tina May (the beginning of my real appreciation of jazz); winning my first Talkie mixing Roald Dahl dramatisations with Mellie Buse (including live FX fro ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’…!); re-mastering “A Ruff Guide – The Best Of” by Tricky; playing trombone (!) on the Silva Screen re-record of “Get A Bloomin’ Move On” from the soundtrack to “The Italian Job”; mastering the legendary Split Knee Loons album with John McCoy; re-mastering “Kid In A Big World” by John Howard; recording, mixing and mastering Phil Robson‘s album “Impish” (plus all the work I’ve done with Phil, Christine Tobin and and Partisans since); “This Is Who We Are” by Jonas and Plunkett (my wife loved the album and the name Jonas so much, that’s what we named our youngest son !); mastering “At The BBC” by The Orb and the “Hopes And Fears” Deluxe Edition by Keane…
I’ve loved working at SRT – there are some fantastic people on the staff there, I’ve made some amazing friends and worked on some amazing music.
But now, the time has come to move on.
So, what next ?
Well, lots more Mastering Media and Production Advice – I’ve been neglecting the sites a little recently, and I want to fix that – and, I’ll still be mastering at SRT, so if you want to work with me there, please get in touch. But I also have several other projects I want to get started on, a new website to build, and more ideas than I have time to think about properly, so – feel free to sign up for the newsletter and RSS updates, come and say Hello on Twitter and… watch this space !
Oh – and there’s a free “If you do one thing” Production Advice package on offer to the first person who can tell me where the title of this blog post comes from
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