8 of our favourite moments in My Forever Studio Season Five
Recap on the most educational, emotional and bizarre bits of everyone’s favourite music tech podcast, My Forever Studio
Left to right: Jessy Lanza, Flava D & Amon Tobin
Season Five of the My Forever Studio podcast, in partnership with Audient, had it all: emotion, scandal, laughter… sofas. Morphing into much more than a podcast that simply sees producers, musicians and engineers dream up their fantasy studio, this riveting season was crammed full of anecdotes, unique production tips and straight-up whacky moments.
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Unless you’ve been hiding under your mixing desk for the past few years, you’ll know that we speak to artists and figureheads in the music industry to find out what would go into their fantasy Forever Studio. They’ll be making music here forever, so must design the space, pick a DAW, studio monitors, an audio interface and just six studio items. They also get to choose one luxury item that can be anything, music-related or otherwise.
Our good-cop-bad-cop hosts, Chris Barker and Will Betts, had a thrilling time hosting Season Five. “This was certainly a season of mind-blowing moments,” says Chris, “from Amon Tobin‘s description of sampling to VNCCII schooling me on the metaverse. It was also a season filled with nostalgic gear and proved once again how instruments and studio kit can become heirlooms and hold memories and meaning for people.
So you can recap, MusicTech, along with the mighty dream-upselling duo, have gathered the season’s most memorable moments, from the heartbreaking and beautiful to the inspiring and straight-up silly.
Amon Tobin’s sampling analogy
When Amon Tobin came on the pod in episode two, the experimental electronic music producer known for his innovative sampling techniques, discussed the concept of capturing the “energy” of a moment through sampling.
The way he described this analogy was spectacular. Tobin compared sampling to taking a photograph that freezes a specific moment in time, encapsulating the moment. He explained how sampling allowed him to extract the essence of a larger recording and create dynamic and unique sounds by re-contextualising and combining various samples.
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Will Betts told us: “Over our five seasons we’ve interviewed tons of music icons, but the Amon Tobin episode was really special for me. He’s one of my heroes. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager and I’ve seen him play live several times. So, to hear him articulate the concept of sampling – and so beautifully – was a career highlight.”
Dot Major’s “nice, big (but not awkwardly big)” seating
Dot Major, London Grammar’s keyboardist, percussionist and solo electronic artist, kicked off the season. If you give it a watch or a listen, you’ll find that the hour is jam-packed full of silliness and, towards the end, there is some rather intense studio furniture debates.
Dot reveals he’s never experienced the feeling of a good studio sofa and was often embarrassed when others came round to record – where were they going to sit? So what’s this dream studio furniture going to look like? Well, firstly don’t presume that Dot Major is an expert in upholstery. Secondly, it can’t be leather. That’s awkward, apparently. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the ideal studio sofa cannot be “awkwardly big”.
Flava D’s Serum tip for crunchy drum ‘n’ bass
British bass music producer Flava D made many revelations in episode nine. She told us about how she’d made much of her recent releases in a camper van in California’s Joshua Tree desert. She also revealed that her dream collaboration would be with British dance duo Disclosure.
One of the more educational insights Flava D revealed, though, was her signature production technique in Serum for drums and basslines. “I noticed with drum ‘n’ bass,” she said, “if I was to duplicate my drums bus and then I really high-passed that and I synced it to white noise in Serum, it just added that rhythm in white noise. And I was like, ‘Hang on a minute, if I stack this on the top layer of my drums, it just adds crunch’. Then I was like, ‘I can make a hi-hat with this and I can make a shaker. And then it just stemmed like a whole new way of my working that I hadn’t done before with garage or house.”
Jessy Lanza’s Dad’s 909
“Jessy Lanza was incredible,” recalls Will Betts. “She’d deeply considered the show’s premise and walked us through her musical history in six items. She was a delight to interview and was not afraid to get sentimental about these instruments and experiences that had shaped her as an artist. Even down to the pawned Roland TR-909 from the studio her father forbade her to enter.
“Episodes like hers are the reason we wanted to make the show in the first place. Everyone loves studio toys, but it’s the emotional attachments we form with them that make nerdy gear chats so much more than talking about knobs and faders. These pieces of equipment shape the art and the artists using it,” Chris Barker says.
Jessy’s dad once owned an original TR-909 and gave it to her cousin, who later pawned the iconic drum machine out. “I want it back,” Jessy demands in the episode. It’s all about sentimental connections to gear for Lanza, who goes on to tell the hosts about the late DJ Rashad and his connection to his MPC.
Jordan Rudess’ David Bowie and Moog stories
In his episode, Jordan Rudess, the composer and keyboardist for Dream Theater, reflected on selling his original Moog Minimoog synthesizer in 1973 and how it has made him overly attached to synthesizers today.
Rudess also told a brilliant story about working with David Bowie and Tony Visconti, when they used a famous “Brian Eno trick”.
“[Bowie and Visconti] said ‘okay, we got an idea’,” he says, “and they move the upright piano right up against the baby grand, and they tape down the sustain pedal on the upright. They put the mics up against the open upright piano, and they said ‘now play’. So what they ended up doing is recording a big part of the resonance from the upright piano, just from my playing on the baby grand.”
VNCCII’s AI utopia from the future
VNCCII’s episode of My Forever Studio was like nothing MusicTech had recorded before. VNCCII is a virtual multidisciplinary creative futurist, Metaverse story creator and electronic music producer so MusicTech knew we were in for an out-there and other-worldly studio in this episode.
During the show, we were indeed taken to another world – an AI utopia in space where VNCCII’s studio is located. It was fascinating to hear about AI super intelligence in the future, the singularity and how cool it would be if her Prophet-6 could talk to her. Yes, that’s right – a talking synth. We’ve come a long way since season one.
Callum Marinho steals Noel Gallagher’s studio gear
It was refreshing to have Callum Marinho on the show; a young engineer whose career is already skyrocketing from behind the faders. Marinho is a studio engineer and assistant who currently works as an in-house recording engineer at Noel Gallagher’s personal studio.
“When Will and I were pressing Callum, a young engineer, on what it was like working for Noel Gallagher and if he was comfortable advising him on the music he was making,” says Chris, “he gave a brilliant answer explaining why he’s not going to tell the guy who wrote Wonderwall about music, but as an engineer, he’s now comfortable to do whatever he needs to do the job well.”
Marinho reeled off lots of stories – building a drumkit for Coldplay, working with and mixing Tom Jones, and gave a general insight into a life spent in studios. Our favourite moment, however, was when Callum decided to essentially uproot his current boss’s studio and pinch a bunch of studio equipment for his own dream studio.
Watch the moment he decides to steal Gallagher’s Gibson guitar:
Laurence Guy’s warm mix techniques
In the episode, UK house music producer Laurence Guy set the scene of his Ex-Machina-esque studio housed in a building in a French forest, Fontainebleau, a popular destination for avid boulderers. It turned out Laurence was a bit of a rock climbing expert himself.
Once the stunning location was confirmed, Laurence talked gear and delved into some of his favourite production techniques. For achieving a warm, full mix, he says, he simply doesn’t cut too much off the low end on his sounds and samples. He also talks about recording his out-of-tune upright piano through his iPhone to achieve a slightly lo-fi feel.
When quizzed on studio monitors, he confessed that he doesn’t actually have any monitors at home but just relies on laptop speakers and Apple headphones. This has its benefits, however, as if a track sounds good on his laptop, he said, then it sounds even better when he takes it to the studio and feels the full punch of the project from monitors.
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