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Jez Ashurst
Jez Ashurst recording his guitar
JezAshurst
Two Spirits being used a stereo pair

Jez Ashurst

Jez Ashurst

Jez Ashurst is a London-based Songwriter and Producer, part of the music team behind the X Factor,  who has penned and produced hit songs for many world-famous artists including the million-selling single "Secret Love Song" for Little Mix.

Little Mix, Ella Henderson, X Factor UK
Karaoke King

 

I was always into music and played guitar and keys. My music A-level teacher was a lovely man who let me borrow the equipment over the summer holidays. My brother helped me to find a job as a tea-maker/tape op in a studio in Bradford when I was 18, and I worked there for a couple of years for very little money doing karaoke tracks for the Japanese market. There was an old Trident desk there and a 24 track Studer. I learned about mic’ing things up and programming on Atari ST and a program called Notator. I was also playing in bands in York and writing and recording songs in my downtime at the studio. Luckily my parents were supportive!

At 21 I moved to London and spent a long time on the dole but being in bands and playing. Eventually, I got to work as a session player and the band I'm in (Farrah) also got signed to a small deal.  Suddenly I had a publishing deal and started writing for other people other than the band. I also wrote music for TV as well as well as helping out in a rehearsal room. I now mostly write and produce for other people as well as providing additional production and programming on projects.

 

Gear Junkie

 

I share a studio with another writer so we have lots of gear… our main aims are to create a creative atmosphere and be able to get ideas down quickly. I’ve used most of the DAWS but I work in Logic X for the whole process now. My studio/writing room is full of guitars, banjos, accordions, melodicas, percussion, a Wurlitzer 200 and a U3 Upright. I have a couple of Apollos and a lot of outboard. For vocals I have multiple chains running simultaneously, one with a Brauner VMA into a UTA preamp and IGS LA2A clone, another a Flea 49 into A Phoenix. The Spirit gets vocal chain duty as it can take a real thrashing from a loud singer, and it’s nice and bright with a bit of a ‘forward’ sound. I have an SM7 in the room as well through a cloud lifter into a 1073. That sometimes ends up being the vocal chain! With multiple options I can quickly see which is best for the singer. I use the Aston Halo here too… my room is treated of course, but it means any Laptop hard drive noise is kept to a minimum. The piano is Mic’d with a Pair of Spirits and I have a stereo pair of Starlights for recording acoustic guitar. Speed is important. I want to record and ‘do no harm’ on the way in.

Work them to destruction… or not…!

I generally focus on writing the song first and getting a good vocal and very rough track down at the time and then work on the production after. I don’t want to write a song and stare at the screen rather than engage with the other writers.

I’ve recently been on a writing trip in Nashville, and although I have a LOT of mics in my collection, I only brought my Spirit and my 2 Starlights. That’s like an arsenal in itself. They are rugged, even my three year old girl can’t seem to destroy the starlight (though she’s tried!), reliable mics, and their performance amazing. With Starlights on acoustic in XY configuration, I get a simply amazing stereo acoustic guitar sound. One pointing to where the neck joins the body and the other to 2nd or third fret… not too close, then into an NEVE 1173.

I don’t really have to EQ… I can just change the character on the mic depending what mood I’m trying to create. They sound great on Piano too and the Laser sight helps when you want to get a good image. The Spirit is simply a great mic at any price. It sounds superb on most voices I’ve tried it on and is a great all-rounder instrument mic too.

And as for artists I’ve used the Astons with, well it’s almost everyone I’ve worked with… they really are easy to use, hard to fault, and almost impossible to get a bad sound out of.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “I would probably be driving a van. I used to do that job and quite enjoyed it.”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “My fantasy mic would be one that had zero spill but sounded like a top quality condenser so we could track a vocal in the room without wearing headphones.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “Enthusiasts, groundbreakers, helpful, forward-thinking.”

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. "I went to the Fleadh in 1996 and saw this guy singing this song. I had no idea who he was but I was transfixed by the lyric, and suddenly I was crying (the guinness might have helped). He was John Prine and the song was Lake Marie. He is an amazing songwriter and I've seen him live every time he comes over to the UK."

Credits

Tom Walker is a new artist doing great. I mixed the piano on my recording of Blessings in my usual setup of the Spirits mic’d up close going into a stereo 1073 and 1176. That’s my go-to piano sound.

Maisie Peters

Ella Henderson 

Little Mix 

X Factor UK

Stephanie Rainey

Matt Terry

Boy George

Susan Boyle

Kylie 

Gabrielle Aplin

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