Yesterday, after some time feeling decidedly down in the dumps over the horrific year that has been 2020, I dusted myself down, pulled on my engineer’s boilersuit and donned the requisite veil of professionalism to undertake a drum recording session that had been booked, cancelled due to Covid, faffed over and subsequently rebooked. This year has been tough on everyone, not least for those of us in the performance arts who have seen our lifeblood obliterated, and businesses subject to such relentless stop/startary that the possibility of following the shit advice of our Governmental Overlords to “retrain” was looking frighteningly real. Retrain as what? Develop a spontaneous interest in plumbing, perhaps?
And so it was with this frightening prospect ringing around my bowels that I wiped the anxiety from my brow and took to the Captain’s chair in my Control Room once more.
As I entered the familiar environment of my beloved studio, the smell of impending music dancing into my nostrils and the well-worn imprint of my backside beckoning me into the welcoming embrace of my mixing desk, something became obvious immediately:
This Is What I Do.
This Is Who I Am.
And I Love It.
The band arrived, as bands do, and we proceeded to strategise about the day ahead of us, before preparing for what transpired to be a long day of drum recording. There was a lot of material to get through and it was hard work, lasting well into the evening and giving us all the kind of tension headache usually reserved for ambitious car journeys.
It was fucking great.
I loved the company of the band as we quickly formed the kind of bonding relationship that is so often the case with those who offer me the honour of working on their precious material — a collaboration between like-minded outcasts who share a niche interest which exists outside of mainstream society. Confined to our own dorky little music hole, shut away from the outside world and indulging our shared interest in a way that joyously, beautifully, makes absolutely no sense to most “normal” people, I find myself filled with gratitude that I can be a part of that, and to form the friendships that arise from such a shared journey. In the studio we work meticulously hard on tiny details that very few people will ever care about, and then we make jokes and laugh like complete twats.
It’s not uncommon for people to say to me “I bet it does your head in working on music you’re not into!” Such a question barely computes for me. Not because “Oh, I’m into everything, darling!” That kind of response smacks of hubris and I’m suspicious of those who offer it. I’m not “into everything”, in fact the bandwidth of my own personal taste is narrow to the point of just a handful of weird bands who I absolutely fucking adore. No, when people bring me their hard-worked material and ask me to work on it for them, I feel at once such empathy for their creative plight, such commeradary with their desire to shut themselves away and obsess over tiny details, such honour that they are trusting me to be the steward of their artistic vision, and such genuine warmth towards them as people, how could that possibly “do my head in”? Anyone who bestows that gift upon me is rewarded with no less than my strongest efforts to facilitate their endeavour. Your band becomes my band, your fight my fight. We take the journey together, and years from now your music will still hold genuine reverence in my heart.
And so to everyone that has brought me their music — their baby — and trusted me to nurture it; to help it take its first steps, maybe even occasionally change a shitty nappy… thank you. Thanks so much for your trust. I’m so happy I could be a part of it, and when I can, I’ll be there brimming with pride at its birthday party, whooping in celebration like an embarrassing uncle.
I love what I do.
It’s Who I Am.