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Chris Cracknell
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Chris Cracknell

Producer, Engineer, DJ
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chris cracknell

Chris Cracknell is a Producer/Engineer who recently built his studio in Brighton where he welcomes young artists and bands to work on exciting projects. He also regularly DJ's accross Europe and at festivals such as Glastonbury. 

Nick Franglen, Mark Fry, Super U, Boog, Barr
It's in my nature to throw myself into things...


Music became something more than casual listening when a friend taught me how to beat match on two turntables one Friday night when I was about 20. Apart from learning the guitar when I was 7, I hadn’t given much thought to actually manipulating or controlling sound and this BLEW. MY. MIND.


It’s in my nature to throw myself into things, and that was it, all spare cash went on records and a set of decks soon came into my house. I remember starting to fiddle about with my turntables, laptop and a program, well a game, called Ejay, but I always thought it was just a game, so I never thought it would have a purposeful place. Fast forward to Serato and Ableton coming along and I kick myself for not seeing the possibilities back then.


After years of using Logic to record and edit mixtapes, I just got drawn into the production side, firstly making samples and edits to compliment my DJing, to sampling from tracks and then making all original compositions.
My main influences have been a guy called Andy who worked as a tutor at City Lit college in London, who taught me the foundations, which I still find some people don’t know,. Then Nick Franglen who, very generously, let me join him in the studio one day, and through a quirk of life, ended up working for him for nearly two years on various projects. He taught me to make noise, lots of joyful noise, and how to get busy editing.

Chris' SET UP

After years of temporary set ups, I’m lucky enough to have spent this year putting together my own workspace where I can make as much noise as I like, with everything in easy reach, cabled up ready to go. My biggest bug bear is setting down to work, only to find something isn’t working properly and then spending ages figuring out why, feeling time and the creative juices flowing away.


Although, I am forcing myself into a period of learning too, I’m not new to Ableton, but I’ve only used it for certain tasks, until now. I’m trying to use Push 2 a lot more to develop ideas, ideally using it as a hands-on controller to avoid reaching for the keyboard and mouse. It’s really hard to take, what feels like a slower route, but, in the long term it will take my eyes away from the screen and force me to use my ears more. Then once I’m at a certain point in a project, I rewire into Logic and finish things off there


I’ve got three synths, a Sub 37, a Minilogue and a Juno 60, all of which a capable of producing great sounds. Having worked mostly in the box, I’m still learning their subtleties and really enjoying the hands-on approach, using my ears and not clicking a mouse. It’s a luxury to have hardware these days but for me that is the difference, using your hands and ears to alter the sound, not a mouse. I have a Space Echo connected to all three so I usually add a bit of that to anything except bass sounds.


I use NI Guitar Rig when I’m looking for something a bit different on guitars, run through a Vox AC15, captured using a pair of Aston Starlights, then through Rupert Neve 511 pre amps, which sound amazing.
I also have turntables and my vinyl collection in my studio, and I'm always digging for samples. I do cherish the NI Maschine, Kontrol and Komplete stuff too, although I prefer looking at ‘traditional’ instruments and twiddling knobs. You can’t fault the sounds and the speed in which you can create with plug ins and I’m not sniffy about analogue vs digital, I think they all have a purpose and place, just use each wisely.

The right sound is the right sound

On my own projects, I usually spend an amount of time making noise in as free a way as possible, having everything turned on and tracks armed, and I’ll go whichever way the music goes. Then I’ll go into edit mode and start pulling everything into some sort of structure which I’ll leave it running whilst I am doing other things, like pulling tunes out for my radio show or having a tidy up. Listening out for little sections or elements that stand out. Then I’ll take those and go back into noise mode using that as a starting reference. I’ll keep going like that, until something comes together and then I’ll arrange and try and leave mixing as late as possible.


The trouble (or the luxury) these days is that you can have almost limitless possibilities, so it is trying to find a an aesthetic that tells the story and sticking with that. That is why once I am committed, I tend to mix and work with what I have, otherwise it is endless.


When I’m working with someone else, I’ll try and find out what they are trying to achieve, if they have any references or if they would like some input from me as to what it could be. One of the things I love about my radio show and the family around the radio is that I am exposed to such a diverse range of music and I try to take something from everything, so, I hope, I can turn someone onto something which comes out in what they are writing.

 

 

The answer is a resounding YES

I’m interested in products that follow strict design rules, that don’t compromise for cost or looks. When a product then achieves those goals and surpasses them, that really gets me going. Aston have done just that with their range. From their ‘British’ build quality to the eco packaging, to the performance, they become something more than the sum of their parts.

I assumed they will only be so good, or aimed at a budget market, that was until I used one to record myself after I had been using an SE Gemini II, and I was blown away by the quality of the sound. I haven’t got a budget for loads of different mics, so can I use this across a variety of sources and will I get good results? The answer is a resounding YES.

I think a big part of the Aston identity is wrapped up in it being The UK manufactured Mic brand. Having such a close eye on detail and the production process, tackling the problems that will be inherent in placing such barriers on themselves, when it would be easier to get a generic company to knock up some mics and put a logo on, is what has produced such a product. British engineering is one of the last industries in this country we can be proud of, Aston have used that industry to great effect.

I’ve been using a stereo pair of Starlights to mic up my guitar amp and the results are great, capturing every detail and I swap voicing quite often, or have them on different settings at the same time. My Origins and Spirit I use for vocal work and for acoustic instruments, depending on what sound I’m trying to capture, but they are my go-to mics for most applications. I've also been using a pair or Origins to capture audio for my new podcast. They always generate some interest and capture conversation really well, I’ll have my guest with one set up on a stand, and I’ll just hold mine and they work great. They have become my go-to mics, I even used a pair of Starlights to record my daughters Nativity play last Christmas.

 

 

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists? 
A. Four Tet, Melanie De Biasio, DJ Shadow, Gaz Coombes, Gorillaz, Dollar Brand, Wotjek Mazolowski.

Q. If you weren't working in music what would you be doing? 
A. Snowboarding!

Q. What would your fantacy mic be?
A. Maybe one that could actually emulate all others, but then everyone would have one, so what would set me apart?

Q. What are the four words you'd chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. Family, Sound, Design, Awesome. 

Credits

Melanie De Biasio

Four Tet

DJ Shadow

Gaz Coombes

Gorillaz

Dollar Brand

Wojtek Mazolowski

©2018 Aston Microphones Ltd, All rights reserved.
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