Friday, 14 June 2013

A Masters in Reverb

Recently, I've been applying for MAs in Music.  Various faculties offer a wide range of Creative Arts, Studio Composition and Digital-themed Masters Degrees... Newcastle University have already replied in the affirmative, I'll have to wait and see what other offers come through.

The prospect of applying a more intellectual form of analysis to my production techniques, not to mention spending a dedicated year on producing solo work, is inciting.  It's also very expensive.  We'll see.

Below is a draft of my personal statement, which includes the concept of extracting the production treatments from an arrangement, in order to create an entirely new piece of music.

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Andrew Gardiner – The Personal Statement of a Music Production Lifer

I've been working as a freelance producer, engineer, studio owner, promoter, musician and record label owner for the last eight years.  The range of material I've been involved in has been varied: math-metal to ambience; acoustic folk to art installations, choirs to voice over artists. 

Whether acting as a studio producer for clients, or working on my own projects' recorded output, I have always been interested in getting different, unorthodox sounds onto the records.  Experimentation from microphone placement, to using instruments in unusual ways, to mixing techniques that encompass both analogue and digital manipulation, have been a feature of most of my projects.

I want to dedicate my MA to further exploring innovative and unusual production techniques:  both in how to achieve them, and the effects they have on the listener.  By the end of the year I would like to have compiled a body of work that draws upon all the different practices I have covered in my research, with a full critical analysis of their efficacy.  Other production trail blazers from past and present could be studied and used as a jumping off point for my own experiments.  I hope the MA will eventually help me pursue further opportunities in the world of experimental music, by broadening my own tastes and skills, and by introducing me to like-minded peers.

One area of particular interest is removing crucial elements of a recording, to form something completely new.  For example:  taking away the 'core' of a song by muting the guitar, voice and other instruments that form the backbone of the piece... leaving only the overdubs, reverbs and embellishments as being audible.  Often, a completely new work is revealed that can exist outside of the original piece of music.  And yet without the muted elements having been there in the first place, this new, often ambient work, could never have been conceived.  It's something that's fascinated me for a while, and I hope to explore it via my upcoming radio show in greater depth.  This approach has been the focus of my forthcoming Basic.FM radio show.

My studio facility has occupied a number of different spaces over the years.  From abandoned churches, to isolated rural cottages, to cramped basements, all the locales where I have recorded have contributed inextricably to the finished result.  Therefore the idea that a space, with its history, atmosphere and acoustic properties, can colour an audio recording so vividly is something I would like to disseminate and understand in greater detail.  Often the room is the extra character in a recording, something which is often missing from more conventional modern recordings.

In recent years I have also taken to recording the sounds of everyday life on my handheld recorder, from birdsong, to the hum of mains electricity, to the cheering of a distant crowd.  Having composed a sound installation for the 2011 Heaton Arts Festival which comprised of a series of samples cut together into a collage, I'm keen to pursue how these organic samples could be arranged into viable pieces in their own right.

Musical Background

To date I have produced over 30 studio albums, including work for Fortuna Pop! Records and Tusk (formerly No-Fi Records).  I hold a Foundation Degree in Music Production from Newcastle College, as well as a 2:1 Hons in History from Durham University.  I am Apple Certified Pro in Logic 9 and hold a Certificate to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector.  I've used this to teach Music Production at Degree level at Newcastle College. 

I have run my own record label ( - still somewhat under reconstruction) since 2005, beginning first with a specialisation in folk, before concentrating on more avant-garde/punk material.  The outfit operates with a strong DIY ethos, as it seeks to document the artistic endeavours of a tight knit group of musicians.  Artwork, packaging, press, distribution, recording and internet duties are all carried out in-house. 

I've promoted in excess of 20 shows in London, Belfast and Newcastle for local and national touring bands alike, including handling all the live sound engineering duties. I run my own fully equipped studio, currently based in the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle.  I play in a variety of local outfits; including the noise punk of Future Loss and the melodic scattergun of My Attorney.  More recently I have turned my hand to songwriting for commercial clients, including Nikon, Kew Gardens London and Swansfield Music.

More information on all these endeavours can be found at or