Newly formed music Production House and music mixing service, Offbeat Crew has installed an ASP8024-HE at its Ilford headquarters. The brainchild of producer, Charles McGougan (Lee Perry, Dennis Bovell, Zion Train, Dreadzone, Redseal) and engineer/mixer Trevor Lancaster-Smith (Beth Orton, Dru Hill, Mica Paris, Sugababes, Faith Evans), the outfit comes under the banner of a forthcoming label, Offbeat Records, which is being developed as a vehicle for some of their in-house productions.
Offbeat Crew: “You are hiring expertise and experience, not studio time”
Already working on a project with Earl Sixteen (Leftfield/Dreadzone) and an EP for the band Love Grocer, they are also working on a couple of development projects in the drum & bass and dance music areas, so production has got off to a flying start.
Offbeat Crew is made up of a core team of four and comprises two in-house music studios: a mix studio and a production/writing suite. The 24-channel Audient console is the centrepiece of the Offbeat Records mix room, which is also Trevor’s personal studio. Describing it as “a fairly modest affair” he has spent the last two years building it up. “It is totally geared towards being an analogue front-end mixing environment for DAW based production work (Logic/ProTools etc) although we do plan to incorporate a 24-track analogue tape machine at some point, partially as a comfort blanket for me, but also as an option for clients who appreciate tape. The Audient console is brilliant with either tape or DAW.”
“The Audient console is brilliant with either tape or DAW”
Strong believers in traditional analogue mixing techniques, each member of the Offbeat Crew has over 25 years experience in their area of the music industry. Trevor himself has spent the last 30 years recording and mixing on “literally every analogue console there is, including most of the extreme high end consoles that a lot of people these days find impractical.”
Priding himself on never mixing ‘in the box’, he continues, “Charles and myself have been on the studio scene since the 90’s, so all recording and mixing processes are carried out exclusively with hardware, with the only concession being that the tape machines have been replaced with computers to facilitate modern practices.”
“I really like the VCA bus compressor”
He explains how the studio is focussed on the idea of creating a space where they can create and mix to a similar standard achieved in those larger studios they inhabited back then, “but without the time constraints of an expensive ticking clock. This gives us a lot more experimentation time with our production work.”
Drawing on his decades of experience, Trevor has nothing but praise for the new desk. “The Audient overall is actually my favourite console. It’s very musical, extremely quiet (fantastic for modern DAW applications), has a totally sensible and familiar layout, great EQ and I really like the VCA bus compressor – again very familiar in use, as well as sonically. He adds, “We knew it would do the job, but we were surprised how easily and nicely.
“As well as all these great characteristics, we feel we can really rely on it. The build quality and features are completely unmatched at this price point and Audient’s great customer service and technical support are very well known. Self manageability is a very major factor for us.”
“The build quality and features are completely unmatched at this price point”
Musician, producer and composer Andrea Terrano (Basement Jaxx) who counts Ennio Morricone as a close mentor, and multi-instrumentalist and producer David Fullwood (Ital Horns, Lee Scratch Perry, Aswad, Morcheeba, Dreadzone) complete Offbeat Crew’s creative foursome. Trevor confirms that when it comes to working with this team: “You are hiring expertise and experience, not studio time.”
In terms of feedback from clients, Trevor says, “Everyone who’s come into contact with the board so far has loved it. It has a big appeal for clients who are normally more equated with ‘mixing in the box’ kind of studios, as well as the older guys (like myself) who are used to large format analogue consoles, but don’t like the day rate any more.” So things have got off to a great start. “It’s definitely working out well, and although we obviously have continuing plans to develop the studio further, the console isn’t going anywhere!”
Audient is very pleased to hear it, and wishes them all the best with their new enterprise!