Striking out on his own has done mix engineer, music producer and remixer Trevor Lancaster-Smith no harm at all. Armed with his ASP8024-HE mixing console and a fully stocked studio in east London, he is enjoying picking up with his producer friends and working with an array of talent, old and new. The last few months have brought a variety of artists into his orbit, including Soul II Soul’s Charlotte Kelly, Dizzee Rascal and brand new punk rap band, Dogz Or Godz produced by Karl ‘KGee’ Gordon.
His Audient desk is central to everything. “And I don’t just mean just the room,” clarifies Trevor. “The desk has actually enabled a whole group of people to get the kind of sound they want. After being barraged by ‘in the box’ mixes for the last ten years or so, a lot of producers and artists are longing for the sound they used to get. When budgets were bigger and pretty much everything went through a large format console – with an ‘actual engineer’ recording and or mixing it.”
Moses Latif, aka Social Security counts among the producers who appreciate the analogue sound Trevor has cultivated. Previously signed to Hospital Records, Moses is a big name in the jungle and drum and bass communities, he’s now working full time with him in the studio. “We are currently mixing the new Social Security album he’s putting together, which features Charlotte Kelly, her daughter India and a spread of decent jungle and drum and bass artists including Alaska MC, Monty Joseph (co-founder of ‘Loose Ends’) Shokin, 3 Wise Men, Noor, Human and Cu-rse,” explains Trevor. He particularly appreciates Moses’ “‘bat’ ears,” which he describes as “a fantastic resource on a session.”
An unapologetic analogue fan, Trevor had originally wanted a 24-track tape machine but ultimately found that he never found the opportunity to use one. He has however been enjoying the fact that everything else in his room is fully analogue. “To the point that I hardly ever use plugins! I have been building up my outboard to really complement and enhance what the Audient console can do. This setup is working great.
“I’m finding that 32 DAW outputs are about enough for what I’m doing. The console can easily accommodate that with plenty of room left for reverbs and extras. My ASP8024-HE has 56 usable faders with balanced inserts on everything, so every fader on it is mix usable. You can do quite big mixes on it with a bit of planning.”
Acid house dignitary Paul Chivers, aka Ramjac Corporation – and a professor of electronic and produced music at The Guildhall School – is also bringing in some engineering and mixing projects. “Apart from being a great producer and well-versed analogue engineer, he has also bothered to keep up with the times and is about the best Logic operator I’ve come across,” explains Trevor, happy to be working with him as well. “Classical education, modern tools – hard to beat and we make a great combination on a mix!”
He finds an easy flow whilst working with his desk. “The Audient does not screw your sound up in any way, leaving a clear palette that can be influenced clearly by the flavours you are trying to add or subtract. You can pretty much decide how your mix can sound in advance. The console is very musical, very clean, and as warm as you want to make it. It works equally well mixing vintage softer sounding music, as it does mixing modern urban music, which can be very bright with extended bottom end and a lot of chainsaw business on it,” he laughs. “We’ve done a couple of ‘pop’ tracks with it as well and it loves that too.”
Indeed, the Dogz or Godz debut single, Scum was remixed using the Audient earlier this year. “To submit mixes to super-producer, Karl Gordon was a bit of a privilege,” admits Trevor. It was an introduction from co-founder of the label Visionary Underground, Coco Das that set this project in motion. “Coco and Moses worked on these remixes, whilst I was on tinkering and mixing duties. We love what these guys are doing.” So does Liam Howlett, as he’s added some ‘Prodigy’ magic to the single.
The console continues to be central to Trevor’s work, and he’s really pleased to have tuned his room more accurately. “It took some doing,” he says. “Now I can be even more sure of what I’m sounding like, more so than even some of the pretty decent rooms I used to mix in back in the 90s and early 2000s.
“Basically our workflow is the same as in those ‘vintage’ kind of studios, with everything outside of the DAW being fully analogue as before, but with the added editing and production possibilities a DAW brings. It’s just a tape machine with easier editing options and lower noise floor.
“Compared to other consoles in its price range, it’s a game changer for me. I’ve used every console; probably nearly every SSL4000 series in London and quite a few Neve beasts of various natures. So I have perspective, and the Audient is very pukka indeed. And I could get it up four flights of stairs – just about!” he adds.
As for the future? Trevor’s keeping it flexible. “We’re always on the lookout for more projects of course, mostly mixing, remixing, production and supporting my colleagues’ projects and trying to help with the development of that as best I can. I’m taking it a step at a time to see what this wants to be. It could be anything… it just depends on who pops out of the woodwork!”