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Producer · Engineer · FOH
Damien Quintard

Damien Quintard

Engineer and CEO of The Mono Company
Damien Quintard
The Mono Company

You can't categorize Damien Quintard. He has engineered huge acts, managed recording studios, produced huge events and helped broadcast massive festivals. He has now set up the Mono Company which does all of the above, and more, with the biggest names, the best equipment and no compromises…

Teodor Currentzis, MusicAeterna, Olivier Baumont, Julien Chauvin, SONAR Festival, Dimitris Pappaioanou, European Games and many and various classical recordings for Sony Music
Gaga for an Emmy

When I was a kid I was always interested in recording stuff, literally anything and with whatever equipment I could find. I became passionate about it and got lucky getting a job in a studio. I then became the studio manager at a big French Studio and we were mostly doing classical music. I started working with some top acts in the classical industry - including Teodor Currentzis, the rising classical star who is now one of my best friends and mentor.  We worked on a lot of projects for Sony Music and released amongst other things the Mozart Operas. The fast pace of all the productions made is so that I was doing 10 CDs a month. After four years of intense work and learning I decided to quit the studio and focus on special projects, because I wanted more time to focus on the beauty.

During this transition in my life I got to work with many artists and on other things such as the opening ceremony of the European Olympic Games in Azerbaijan where we had artists like Lady Gaga. Having such artists made it such a big project for me as an engineer. That ceremony helped me a lot as I learned so much about what a real deadline was like: when you have 30,000 people who are just waiting for you to do something! I was really happy that it worked well and we ended up getting an Emmy award for it.

Shocking the critics

I have a more rock n roll approach to sound. I have my own band and we tour and are signed to a big label in Brazil. I started mixing for them around 12 years ago so when I got into the classical world I thought it was missing something. The recordings were very tame, with no emotion, and I just wanted to put the balls into the sound. When I first started telling musicians about this they were a bit scared of what the critics were going to say. In the beginning the critics were a bit shocked but they got to like my more modern sound eventually.

The Mono Company has been a long time coming. It is my continuation of this modern way of recording CDs. Also, when you go into big events or small productions you kind of have to be able to do everything. Sometimes 'everything' is seen as bad because people think if you are, say, just a mastering studio you must be good at it, but I don't agree with that. If you are able to change your mindset into a different mode, it opens up new possibilities when you come back to it later on, and you feel refreshed, so I really don't want to be put in a box. So we do mastering, mixing, recording and we also do development and consulting. I guess it's a philosophy where we try and get a big sound and try not to make it boring.

We coproduced the broadcasting and shooting of the whole SONAR Festival and were lucky enough to shoot the main stage and all the artists. The bands had individual engineers who did a great job and my job was to manage all of the stages at once. It was hard and we didn't sleep for three days, but we recorded everything that was sent to us including the special effects and the crowd. We got some crazy multitracks, but it worked out very well.

Absolutely no compromise

The Mono Company is new but our ethos is to have absolutely no compromise. The first step is the discussion with the artists on what they want. It's of paramount importance to have a big preproduction period with the artist and then the second step is the actual recording where we only use the top of the line technology – in fact we are even developing some of this technology. We use the best microphones from the fifties and sixties like RCA, and we also use the best microphones that we have nowadays like Aston. They have this raw, vintage sound but the precision of the modern world so they are very interesting.

Basically I use Aston gear for everything. I have the Spirit and the Origin, like ten of each. In the classical world they are very closed to the microphones they use in recording so we use mainly DPA and Neumanns, nothing crazy and nothing too modern. But when I saw the Aston Origin and what it was supposed to do I used it on an orchestra recording the Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony and this recording actually won most of the major awards across the world. At first I put them on the strings, the woodwind and flutes as secondary microphones. But then I heard what they were recording, I stopped the orchestra and changed the microphone position because I wanted them to have more importance as I really liked the sound I was getting from them. It kind of became the base for my sound for symphonic recording and now I use Astons for rock, electronic, everything.


Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. “It would be a weird crossover between Mozart, the Beastie Boys and Led Zeppelin!”

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “I went to a school that specialized in aerospace mechanics, so I guess a rocket scientist!”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “I have two RCA 44-BX mics and they are fantastic, even though they are like 80 years old. They are only bi-directional so I would love them to take the sound in stereo.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “Sturdy, precise, reliable and boom…”

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?
A. “Casta Diva from the opera La Norma. It can be a very emotional song. My sister is a soprano and she once sang it for a very difficult family occasion and it just shut everyone up, even though she wasn't singing the right lyrics. It just goes to show that the right frequency and the right melody can just change the mood of everything.”



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