Multi-platinum selling record producer and song-writer Paul O’Duffy has worked with a variety of musical talent since the late eighties ranging from Swing Out Sister, John Barry, Dusty Springfield, Was Not Was, Lewis Taylor, Amy Winehouse, and most recently, rising stars such as Ella Eyre, Charlotte OC, Will Heard and Purple Ferdinand. When Audient caught up with him, he told us about his love of production techniques and gave budding producers a few tips, including: “Do something good that lasts.”
We’d love to hear about your studio in North London. Is this where all the magic with Amy Winehouse, took place? Do you work exclusively here now?
The studio is in my home, it’s basically one largish room, no separation. I use it primarily for writing, recording vocals, keys and guitars, smaller overdubs and mixing. For bigger stuff like a band, drums, strings, brass etc I’ll use an outside studio. I don’t work exclusively there but probably everything I do work on tends to end up going through there at one point or another. Yes, I worked with Amy in my studio at the start of the process of making her second album.
iD22: “transparent & easy to use”
Tell us about the set up there. Do you consider yourself to be ‘into audio gear’?
I’m more into music production techniques and sounds than obsessing over audio gear really, but saying that I do have my moments of audio lust. I was recently working in Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and was lucky enough to record using Frank Sinatra’s actual U47 microphone – that was really something for me. Or the good things that happen when processing a vocal, mix or basically anything through a vintage Fairchild compressor. I even have the serial number of a particular stereo one I like to rent if I’m working in NY.
On reflection I’m probably in denial about being into audio gear, but I’m only really into the tools or combinations of factors essential to best capture performances or create music and sounds in a desired way, I’m obsessive about finding the right recording tools to this end as opposed to the best HiFi reproduction or mono block amplifiers; if I’ve done my job correctly you can listen to it on any setup.
“the quality of finish […] suggests that what’s inside will conform to this same design philosophy”
In terms of how I work today, I’m mostly now, as they say ‘in the box’ as much as I can be; it gives me the flexibility to take a project elsewhere and recreate my set up fairly easily. For the first time recently I found myself comping performances in my laptop on a flight but got distracted thinking about how much gear would I have needed to do the same thing 20 years earlier? A lot – and my own jet!!
What drew you to Audient in the first place?
When deciding to upgrade my interface I made a short list of the main features most important to me: clean sounding ‘Class A’ preamps, two multi inputs- probably at most, a balanced insert point for external analogue compression/efx, ADAT light pipe to connect to my analogue setup for more inputs when required and a balanced monitor output if possible – oh and the given of very low latency.
“the design is very clear & functional”
The iD22 looks like it’s going to sound good! The design is very clear, functional – not fussy – and the quality of finish from the metal casing to the aluminium volume knob suggests (to me anyway) that what’s inside will conform to this same design philosophy, and I think it does. It’s all subjective whether something sounds good or bad, it depends what you’re looking for sonically. What I’m looking for from an interface is transparency, I don’t want to hear it ‘colouring’ the sound too much or at least be as clean as possible. I want the flexibility to colour the sound elsewhere post or pre. The iD22 is very clean to record through, as is the monitoring output option which has gotten rid of my external monitor selector, giving me a direct, truer signal path to my preferred KRK VXT8’s monitors and my old NS10’s.
I looked at a few of Audient’s competitors to this product before deciding what would work best for me and yes, there are some others close in spec on some features and functionality but not all had what I was looking for in the same box. So by process of elimination I was left with just the iD22.
Most recently I’ve been using it to record lead vocals and mixing.
“the iD22 is very clean to record through”
Can you give us any tips to share with budding musicians and producers wanting to get into the music industry?
There are easier ways to make a living I’m sure, but if you really can’t see yourself doing anything else and love music and have the drive to want to be creative as an artist, writer or producer (or any combination thereof) or have a career as an engineer or programmer then learn everything you can about the process, how it all works, from the music to the business. As a creative, understand your influences and have an idea about what you are trying to create and how best to get there and make it count, do something from the heart. Basically, do something good that lasts.
What else are you working on at the moment? What are you most proud of doing more recently? Anything exciting in the pipeline that you can talk about?
I’m working on finishing off my productions on artist Ella Eyre’s debut album (Virgin), which is released early 2015, also an artist signed to Colombia Records called Purple Ferdinand and another artist I just finished writing and producing for Verve in the US called Genevieve. In the pipeline are some interesting projects, a new artist signed to Island Records called Cosima, Charlotte OC (Stranger Rec), Will Heard (Black Butter) and Zak Abel (Atlantic).