Edd Hartwell Q&A with mixing Audio Pros

In our continued quest to give you more info on our engineers through our interviews entitled ” the man behind the desk”; we bring you an interview with one of our UK engineers Edd Hartwell. Edd has worked for acts such as The Jim Jones Revue, Jamie Cullum, Jeff Beck, The Prodigy, Jamiroquai and worked as one of the in-house engineers at the internationally acclaimed SARM studios in the UK

mixing Audio Pros: How and when did you start your musical career? I understand that you played in several local bands in London before discovering a passion for recording studios. Can you give us a bit of background info about how it all started?

Edd Hartwell: I was brought up in a very musical home, my dad played in local bands so there was always music playing! I started guitar at around 8 years old, which seemed to come quite naturally and my parents paid for me to have classical lessons, which at that age wasn’t cool! I’m very grateful now, as I learned to read music and have all the music theory as well.

Like most people, I join various bands during my teens, most of them pretty rubbish, but it’s all great experience! I went to college to study music, which touched on the recording/mixing side of things, so got myself a Boss BR 1200 CD recorder and figured out the basics of overdubbing etc. University followed college, where I got more into the studio side of things, and more and more annoyed with band members being unreliable, so I really pushed myself in the studio side of things, left Uni and started work!

 

mixing Audio Pros: Who and what were your early studio influences and which recording studios did you work in etc?

Edd Hartwell: I can’t really think of any early studio influences as such, I just loved the process of recording and figuring out how to get the sounds I was hearing in my head, or trying to get something to sound like a song that I liked.

As for early studios I worked in, there wasn’t really any… I spent a lot of my time in the university studios, either recording myself or friends bands. I used to spend all the spare time I could down there!

 

mixing Audio Pros: How did you come about working at SARM with Trevor Horn and Can you tell us what you think helped you to become one of the two in-house engineers at SARM?

Edd Hartwell: Landing a job at SARM was a mixture of hard work and luck! During my last few weeks of university, after giving up on the “I want to be famous and in a band!” dream, I sent speculative CV’s to every recording studio I could find an address for. I think I sent around 150 letters, got 8 replies, 6 of them were rejections for whatever reason, and I got 2 interviews, one for the post production studio De Lane Lea, and the other was for SARM.

The De Lane Lea interview went well, but they got somebody with more experience in post production, so it was all hanging on SARM! I don’t know if this is still true, but you had to do a little entry test to land a job at SARM. This included everything from “what is a triplet?” to “how should you store tape?” I don’t know if it helped or not, but I remember trying to put down funny answers for the questions I didn’t know the answer to!

As for becoming one of the in-house engineers, again, this was down to hard work and luck! You do enough sessions that get good reports back to the studio manager, you are going to be trusted more and offered more work. Also, a lot of people (I think) don’t realize the amount of work and time you have to put in to the job, right from the beginning as night receptionist, you have to say goodbye to weekends, sleep and your social life! That tends to weed out the people that can’t hack it! So if you can stick that for however long it may be, you’re in with a good chance of succeeding.

 

mixing Audio Pros: Can you tell us about a memorable experience that happened to you with one of the world class music producers or artists when working at SARM?

Edd Hartwell: There are load of memorable moments; I think that just working with somebody you admire and great acts such as The Prodigy or Jamiroquai is one of the biggest perks of this job.

 

mixing Audio Pros: Do you have any particular methods or preferences that you tend to us such as certain gear for certain sounds?

Edd Hartwell: There are always particular things you always do, and being an engineer, you need to adapt these for each music producer you work with, or for individual needs of the song. But I think the main thing is that people aren’t paying you to experiment and use their studio time to try out some new mic, so initially I tend to stick to what I know in the interest of speed. The great thing about being employed by a recording studio is that you have the nights, or set-up days, to try out new things, and you have other audio engineers there to learn from.

 

mixing Audio Pros: As all of us, you have seen massive change in music industry over the last 10 years, what are your thoughts about online audio engineers. How do you feel that the industry is adapting to these “‘remote services” such as online mixing and mastering for instance?

Edd Hartwell: The online audio service seems to still be in it’s infancy a bit if I’m honest, but more services are being set up all the time, and more recording studios are offering their own online audio service. Personally I think it’s great, it keeps the costs down for the client, yet still keeping the engineer in business. I don’t think it will have a positive impact on studios, which I guess is why they are adapting and offering their own services.

 

mixing Audio Pros: I see that you are a full-time member of The Music Producers Guild, how has this helped your career?

Edd Hartwell: Apart from the obvious discounts you are offered, they put on speakeasy’s where it’s great to go and network with other engineers, producers and artists.

 

mixing Audio Pros: If you could buy one piece of equipment and money was no object, what would it be?
Edd Hartwell: I hear AIR Studios is still for sale…!!

 

mixing Audio Pros: How did you come about working with Jeff Beck?

Edd Hartwell: While I was at SARM, Stephen Lipson was also based there. Over the years I’d struck up a working relationship with him and had done a few projects. I was initially an assistant, so during this time was doing any editing, beat detectiving etc; but as the project went on, and inevitably took longer than it was meant to, the original audio engineer had to move on to other projects, so more audio engineering opportunities came my way. It was a great experience and learning curve, as it was my first full album project with a full band, done live etc. The album did very well, so I’m quite proud of that one!

 

mixing Audio Pros: Can you tell us about any current up and coming acts that you are working on currently?

Edd Hartwell: There are a couple, I’ve just recently finished audio engineering the forthcoming EP and following album by a band called The Family Rain, who are signed to Mercury I believe. It was produced by Jim Abbiss, and we did some of it in the UK, but most of it was done out in Berlin, so there’s one to look out for!

Also, an album that’s just been released by Vienna Circle, called “Silhouette Moon” was mixed by me. They are an excellent progressive rock band from Wiltshire. It’s been released completely independently, so we’ll see what happens with that!

 

mixing Audio Pros: When mixing, is there a particular method that you use to approach the music or does this depend on the material or artist?

Edd Hartwell: Pretty bog standard answer I guess, but I like to see what the main feel, or section, of a song is and work on that and then getting a general sound going before getting more involved in the intricacies of it. Also, when it’s got to a certain stage, I do like to experiment with effects to see if it can be taken somewhere new… artist permitting of course!

 

mixing Audio Pros: What has been the biggest professional decision that you have made so far in your life?

Edd Hartwell: To do this for a living! Be that in the early stages where I had to spend a load of money for university courses, move to London and sleep on sofa’s for months on end to work at SARM or to go freelance myself.

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