Let me share with all fans my new blog interview…about music, technologies and recordings with well known musician, composer and record producer Ade Fenton.
Fundamental question: creating music – what does it mean for you? Is it a long-term process with inspiration coming gradually or it can be spontaneously done – due to modern technology – in a few days?
Fundamentally, creating music is my job, my passion, my hobby and my livelihood. To be able to make a living out of something you really love doing is a blessing, especially in these times of uncertainty in the music business. Most of the projects I work on are what you’d call long term I guess, usually lasting 12-16 weeks. For me, having more time on a project equals more time to fine tune it, and usually, with better end results. However, that’s becoming more of a luxury and a rarity, particularly in the film and TV world where the deadlines are almost always ridiculous. Personally, I like to be given time to experiment with sound design or processing techniques, but it’s not always possible so sometimes you just need to adapt. Of course, some of the best ideas are often spontaneous or even accidental, so when they happen they are a lovely bonus, but generally speaking, working on an album or a film score will take experimentation, time and patience before arriving at the right sound or theme. Technology has made the art of experimentation less time consuming, some of the plug-ins available right now are outrageous in fact, but you still need to have a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
Looking at it from a distance, how do you perceive the changing nature of recording technology? It seems that an album could be actually recorded on just one notebook with a good piece of smart software. Still I feel that it somehow sounds pretty much the same (take s works with all types of I-gadgets).
Well it’s obviously becoming much easier to record music to a very high quality with a pretty minimal set up. Personally, being a technology geek, I think that’s great and I’m constantly on the look out for what’s been invented today and what might be invented tomorrow. Regardless of how great that is though, it’s still down to the human being who’s operating it to come up with something good. As for it sounding the same, I agree to a point, but some things, like a Neve 33609 for example, really do sound better and can’t be replaced.
What would you keep/restore, if you could – what type of recording?
If you’re talking about formats, I’d keep nothing. If you’re talking about studio gear, same really. I mean I’m really pleased there’s been an analogue renaissance, but the updated versions of classic synthesisers are built for the modern world and I don’t really have any desire to have a vintage Moog in my studio for example. I’d much rather buy the updated model based on the vintage Moog as I know it won’t misbehave.
Do you see any connection between recording in the 60s and today, technology left aside?
Yes, there’s many similarities. We still record vocals, guitars, drums, strings and a whole ton of instruments with a microphone. We might use better microphones and record directly into a computer now, but the human process is the same. It’s still about capturing the best performance, or mic-ing up the best guitar sound for example. However, in my world, the technology available now has made the post recording processing of those performances much more rewarding, so I’m glad I’m doing this job now and not in the 60’s.
Can you describe how is going your long term cooperation with Gary Numan?
Our working relationship has been ongoing for a good 10 years or so now and we’ve been friends for much longer. We definitely bring the best out in one another, helped by the fact that we really like what the other one does. Before I got to know him, I’d always been a huge fan, so for me to have the opportunity to work with one of my musical heroes was and still is fantastic. We’ve just finished working together on ’Savage’, Gary’s forthcoming album, and I think it’s probably the most rewarding experience so far, and it’s now the fourth album I’ve produced for him. He’s brilliant to work for, he allows me to go off and do my thing with the demo, there’s no ego, no demands. It just works and I hope it continues for many years to come.
How do you approach marketing/promotion of your music?
I’m rubbish at it to be honest. One of the reasons I decided to look for an agent is because I’m really shit at self promotion. I don’t use Facebook, rarely use Twitter, my website gets updated about once a year, it really is piss poor. I guess I expect my body of work to speak for itself, for example if someone wants a recommendation on my production work, I can point them to various places, the same with the film and TV work. Because a lot of the work I do is behind the scenes and I’m not trying to sell a t-shirt or an album with my face on the cover, I’ve perhaps forgotten that I do in fact have to sell myself, hence getting an agent to do it for me.
Do you still believe in a concept of album? My young friends or kids listen 60 sec from song and skip to next…can full album alive?
Yes I 100% still believe in it. I think part of the problem is that music has become so disposable with the younger generation, so owning it, or even fucking paying for it, is alien to some of them, so I’m not surprised that it’s now got to the stage where some of them are not even listening to it in its entirety. The whole point of a song or a piece of music is to tell a story and sometimes that story doesn’t evolve until you’re three minutes into a track, so although I’m not surprised, it’s fucking tragic if kids are now effectively speed dating with music. Albums are meant to be an experience in which you immerse yourself for 50 minutes. Hopefully, the majors and corporates will have learned their lesson by the time the next generation comes along and we’ll look back on this phase of disposable music with relief.
What about Ade F. in a next years?:)
Hopefully, lot’s more of the same. I love doing music for film and TV, so next on my wish list is to compose music for a drama series, preferably something dark obviously.
Big thanks Ade for your interview time!
Over the course of the last 15 years, Ade Fenton has established himself as a respected producer of electronic music, amassing over 40 singles, albums and remixes on some of the world’s finest techno and industrial labels, with a live and DJ schedule that has taken him across the globe. He has regularly appeared on BBC Radio One, recording live sets for their Maida Vale and Mary Anne Hobbs sessions.
Ade went on to work producing, engineering and co-writing with Gary Numan for over 10 years. He has produced three critically acclaimed albums, Jagged, Dead Son Rising and Splinter. Artrocker described Dead Son Rising, which Ade also co-wrote, as “one of the great dystopian rock albums of all time”. Splinter was released in October 2013, scoring Numan his first Top 20 album in over 30 years, with the album enjoying widespread global acclaim, with many critics hailing it as the finest album in Numan’s career. It is no surprise, then, that Numan has just signed up Ade to produce Savage, the much anticipated follow up to Splinter, set for release in Autumn 2017.
Alongside his work as a record producer, Ade has produced numerous scores for film, TV and advertising. His recent projects include an original score and soundtrack album, composed alongside Gary Numan, for From Inside, an epic animated film released by Hollywood’s Lakeshore Entertainment.
Ade has also formed a partnership with multi-instrumentalist Tim Slade, specialising in the creation of original music for Film, Television and Digital Media. In 2016 they completed original scores for the Investigation Discovery/October Films produced thrillers ‘Angel Of Decay’, ‘The Chameleon’ and ’The Head Hunter’ (all currently airing on US TV screens), and have just completed an original score for British horror film ‘Nails’, which will receive a theatrical release in Spring 2017