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Producer's view - Ian Curnow

A record producer's view of the recording process.


Keyboard player and programmer Ian Curnow, together with his engineer partner Phil Harding, came through the Stock, Aitken and Waterman PWL 'Hit Factory' and now have their own studio at The Strongroom which allows them to offer a complete production package to record companies.

On working with the band

"I know musicians who can play fantastic things that can just blow me away, but whether it's right for the record is another thing. It's part of the producer's job to limit players of awesome technical ability to just doing the right thing! Especially drummers."

Problem singers

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"Many of the people we work with have problems. Since our PWL days of manufacturing records, as people have accused us of doing, we have got used to working with people who can't actually sing very well. For the last two years we have made full use of Steinberg's Time Bandit with Cubase Audio. Quite often we will only push a singer until we have what we feel is a good performance, knowing that we can retime and retune it later. You can correct tuning, timing and volume with technology. The one thing you can't get from technology is the performance. If the performance is there and the singer is delivering a message to the listener, we can make it palatable by putting it in tune. It's nice if they can sing it in tune, but once you recognise that you are not going to get that, it's a question of going for lots of takes and getting as much of a performance as possible."

The vocal session

"Both of us will sit there during a vocal session. Phil will push the singer to the limit of their performance, while I will consider whether I can retime or retune it. We try and record a vocal quite quickly these days. If we have a performance there in two hours, we'll leave it and and work on it later for six or eight hours. We usually record the vocal in chunks. We'll record the chorus and then tackle the first verse. Anything that is going to be repeated, we will only record once and use that performance each time."

By David Mellor Tuesday February 1, 2000