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STUART ROSLYN STUDIO


There’s no definitive answer to how you fit everything in, but I think you do have to be disciplined at times. If I’ve got a production to finish, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t answer the phone or get sidetracked by emails and just make sure that the production gets done. If I’ve got The Musgraves, that can take up a lot of time because we’re working on styling, making videos, promotion and radio and the kind of stuff that takes a long time to set up and involves a lot of meetings. I can’t physically be in the studio and do all that. We try and juggle it so that we can fit it all in, but sometimes it gets tricky when everything comes at once and I’ve got a film score to finish, publishing deals to sign and three productions to complete by the end of the week; that’s when it gets a bit hairy and I become a hermit. When you’re self employed and doing it for yourself, you’ve got to make sure that you’re keeping up with every thread that’s going on, because ultimately, the buck stops with you. You can’t just go to bed and pull the duvet over your head. But if you’re ambitious, it’s good to have that pressure – it’s what you thrive on.


How have you arrived at what you’re doing now with so many different elements to your business? There’s not been one single thing that has made my career a success, it’s just been many smaller things that have grown and snowballed. It’s been a long evolution from when I was very young, but I’ve always written songs since I was a kid and that’s where it started. I use the term ‘songs’ very loosely, but I began by writing music on the piano.


Along the way I’ve done every job under the sun; I’ve been a window cleaner, a milkman, a butcher and I’ve delivered pizzas, but all that was in order for me to be able to afford the next bit of gear or help me make music in some way. I once worked in Harrods selling towels and I went down to the piano department and said: ‘you’ve gotta have me in here because I’m a pianist’. I did whatever I could to be involved with music because I never saw anything else as being a potential career.


I’m a musician first, but I started earning money from TV and film before I started making money from songwriting and production. The songwriting and production was something that I was always doing, but the income from TV and film enabled me to spend a bit more time doing the songwriting and developing artists and production. I got good at production because I wanted my own songs to sound good enough to pitch to artists and labels and so on, so it all went hand-in-hand really. Being in the Matrix complex has really helped. We’ve got Modest Management and Crown Management here, plus a lot of other great producers, including Pete Martin, who is only 20 feet away. Pete Tong, who I’m doing some work with, is just next-door. Being around people who are in the industry offers you an extra ear that you can trust. When you work at home on your own I think you can lose touch with what is happening out there.


At what point did the technical aspect to music making and recording come in?


As soon as I could afford to buy gear. I didn’t just spend 20 grand on a studio or anything; it was literally one keyboard, then a drum machine, then a sequencer. Then I bought a Yamaha MT8-X, which was a cassette eight-track. It took a normal C90 cassette that you could buy anywhere and that’s when I really began to learn about recording. I mean it was bloody awful, but at least it helped me understand the process


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and you’ve got to cut your teeth somewhere. Then I started sequencing with Cubase on an old PC, but it couldn’t record audio because it had no memory, all you could do was sequence with it. That was synced to my eight-track with MIDI timecode. It was a very complicated process, but it gave me a good grounding.


Bring us up to date then, what sort of setup do you use these days?


When you’re self employed you’ve got to make sure that you’re keeping up with every thread that’s going on, because ultimately, the


buck stops with you. Stuart Roslyn


I use Logic now and I still have a an old Mackie 24-8 analog console, because it’s great to have a nice analog desk to run signals through rather than it all being digital. I love that board. Some people still say that it’s like having a 100-grand console in the studio. I found an old copy of Sound On Sound when I was moving this year from around 1993 or something, and it was on the cover. It cost something like six grand at the time and I thought: ‘wow, that was a lot of money back


then, equivalent to something like a 20-grand desk now’. And it’s a real workhorse, everything still goes through it. I plough drums through it because it gives me more headroom and I can fire them a little bit and then stick them back into Logic.


Regarding microphones, I use SM58s and my Charter Oak SA538B, which is a fantastic all round mic, especially good for vocals. I don’t compress anything to tape and I get a great live, organic, raw sound that is very well suited to the Musgraves. I used a £5,000 mic in a big studio once and the result wasn’t what I hoped. Next time, if I do go into another studio, I’m going to take my own mics and tell them that we don’t want it going through any processing, just straight to tape, and I’ll deal with it afterwards.


What parts of the recording process do you handle on your own?


In terms of producing my artists, I do everything. I do all the recording myself. I do everything in my own studio in the Matrix. I can’t really fit a drum kit in my live room, it’s more of a vocal booth that doubles as Brian’s office, but it’s totally perfect for me and if I need to record live drums, I’ll just use another studio, but I don’t have to do that so often. I’ve used external studios, but I actually recorded The Musgraves in my house. We made the living room the drum booth and the dining room was guitars and we had wires running all over the place and it was great fun for the five weeks last summer that we did the album.


The times that I have put a band in other studios hasn’t really been that great. I think, unless you’ve got it locked out for three weeks, just going in and doing a day or two can be a bit difficult because you’re under time constraints. You’re in someone else’s studio, the band don’t feel quite as relaxed, you’re not used to the sound in the studio and all these contributing factors mean that actually, what you end up with is not as good as what you could have achieved yourself and yet you’ve spent £1,000 a day. Also what it means is, at midnight, if you fancy doing a drum track after a bottle of wine and everyone is more relaxed and up for it then that’s fine, you can do it without being charged overtime. I think it’s a difficult balance to find, and like I say, if the record label is paying 30 grand for you to have the studio for three weeks then great, that’s a different ball game because everyone can relax, but if you’ve got 12 hours and you’ve still got four takes to do and it’s 11 o’clock and everyone’s moaning... I can’t work like that. > intrusionuk.com


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