When I was just a wee lad, in my early teens, my friend Alex and I were already heavily into audio production. We cobbled together radio studios from old valve radios, record players and cheap DJ mixers we found at yard sales or a good will store.
We soldered together our own little FM transmitters from baby monitor kits. We had no real clue how to wire these components together, but somehow we managed. Thus two new radio stations were born in our neighbourhood.
This was highly illegal, of course. But these were the glory days of pirate radio and our little baby monitor transmitters flew way below the radar of the authorities. Those men (yes, mostly men in those days) in their detector vans were after much bigger fish with multi thousand watt transmitters. Of which there were several in our vicinity.
From radio pirating we moved on to music production. Mostly in the same solidly amateur way. Old mixers, old tape recorders and effect pedals that had seen better days several decades before.
This was the basis for a long association with music and music production. Alex went on to become a very well regarded studio owner/producer/mastering engineer and I went on to switch careers so many times that I lost count.
But one constant in my life has been music. I always had some connection to music, if not professionally, than as a hobby. From internet radio shows (later to be known as podcasts) to making music for all kinds of projects.
I did work in Alex’ studio for a few years and learned the finer points of the craft – and it is a craft- of being a studio tech and music producer. We hadn’t worked together for years at that point. What was quickly apparent though was that we hadn’t lost that inventive touch. No matter that we had a very well equipped studio at our finger tips, we still loved to use tricks and stunts from our days of necessary improvisation. This often gave productions a certain je ne sais quoi. It made them stand out.
These days I make music in my humble home studio. I say humble, but in many ways, thanks to the computer power that is at most people’s finger tips these days, the studio in the computer is more powerful than some of the high end studio’s in the 1980’s.
And still I can’t let go of the old days of cobbling together stuff. The main difference is that some of the cobbling together is now done digitally. Although I still also use many analog tricks to create a sonic effect. I mix old and new methods together and I am often as surprised as anyone at the result.
So a daw, plugins and a modular synth emulation; an almost antique Akai S2000, an equally venerable Korg microKorg; a few mics and a brain that knows the new but still remembers the old days are the driving force of the sounds and music I create. And I have fallen in love with producing music all over again. These may be the best of times to make noise ever. The perfect time to mix old and new.