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Dean Stevens
Dean Stevens
Dean Stevens
Dean Stevens with his Aston Spirit

Dean Stevens

Producer, Musician, Studio Owner, Songwriter
Dean Stevens
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One30two Recording Studio

Dean Stevens doesn't believe in excelling on just one area of music – how about four? He's a songwriter, touring musician, and producer, and owns his own bespoke recording studio in Northern Ireland. He records and tours across the globe and has access to the best microphones in the world, but reveals he's been 'blown away' by one in particular…

Thomas Leeb, Chris Keys, Runabay, Amanda St.John, Cormac Neeson, Lee Rogers, Leah McFall, BCC Publishing, Notting Hill publishing, PGI Publishing
As long as my fingers would allow

Music was in my blood from an early age. My father is an amazing Delta blues guitarist and most of my fondest childhood memories are of him teaching me alternate picking and open tunings on the guitar. Those are things that have proved invaluable to me throughout my career. I spent much of my teenage years taking drum lessons under John Wilson (Rory Gallagher, Taste) and playing guitar for as many hours a day as my fingers would allow. The inevitable years of chugging away on the local music scene followed before finally getting calls to play on tours and album sessions. About five years ago I made the full time move into music production and today I own Studio One30two in Holywood, Northern Ireland.

I am also the touring guitarist for Lee Rogers (who is on Zenith Café records) and Leah McFall (from The Voice UK) and work as a producer for BCC Publishing, run by Cormac Neeson (The Answer). I am also a writer for Notting Hill Music (the music publisher in London) and PGI Publishing (in Nashville). I have produced music in Ireland, London, Los Angeles and Nashville and toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

Blown away. Twice.

In the studio I try to avoid live tracking like the plague. I normally guide a guitar, bass and vocal to concentrate on drum takes and then dub over those. I find it still captures the feel I want but gives me much more control for mix downs. The last thing I ever do is vocals. I track through an early 80s vintage Soundcraft 6000 console – I love the pres on that desk. Then it’s into Apogee Symphony converters and finally my DAW. I primarily work in Pro tools. For final mixes I print to 2” on a Stüder B68 tape.

I’ve worked in Universal studios, Nashville, and that place has a mic locker to die for so when I first tried out the Aston Spirit and Origin I was literally blown away. My favourite mic is a vintage Telefunken C12 so to swap that out for a Spirit was crazy talk, but it held its own and some. So now my go-to mic for vocals is the Spirit 99% of the time. (The trusty '58 still has its place 1% of the time.)

The Spirit is also exceptional on double bass. I found that, pointed at the bridge and slightly tilted forward, it puts a warmth in that I’d expect from a large diaphragm, yet it still captures the fingerboard slides and clacks. On acoustic guitar I tend to stay with just a single Spirit on the 12th fret.

My Starlights live as drum overheads. For years I always used C12 capped 414s until I got the Starlights. The voicing switch is a stroke of genius. My first experience was in Vintage mode recording a beautiful ’58 round badge. 'Blown away' doesn’t come close. It was literally everything I’d want from my overheads. I’ve yet to find a source my Astons haven’t excelled at.

My studio has great acoustic treatment but the Aston Halo is always on the stand. It’s a marvel, it really is. Knowing Astons are British made gives me a confidence of complete reliability.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “I trained and worked as a chef In my teens and early twenties so I guess I’d be a fat alcoholic by now.”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “An Aston interchangeable valve/ribbon voicing switch on a large diaphragm? Too much? I’d name it the Aston Excelsior. I want royalties.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “A complete studio essential.”

Q. What was the first song that made you cry? 
A. "Not so much a song but a performance. I went to see my old mate Foy Vance play at a local pub many years before he became the Foy we all know today and he literally brought me to tears during one of his songs. That man is the real deal."

“Chris Stapleton's new album is a masterclass. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are my happy place. The Specials are my heroes.”

Thomas Leeb

Leah McFall 

Chris Keys

Runabay

Amanda St.John

Cormac Neeson

Studio One30two 

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