Ken Allardyce is a sound engineer, mixer and producer who has been based in LA but has recently moved back to Nairn.
Not only did he move back but he also moved all of his equipment back with him and has built his own loft studio. Ken has worked with various artists over the years from Fleetwood Mac, Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte, Weezer, The Yardbirds, Supertramp, Diana Ross, Nina Simone and many more artists!
I was lucky enough to meet with Ken at his new purpose built studio and ask him a few questions:
How has work gone with creating your studio?
Yeah it’s gone really well. I done it all myself when I moved back from the states and brought all of my gear back and needed somewhere to put it all. When I emptied out the attic I realised it was a great space for the studio. It took about a year and a half to do.
Have you had anyone in working in the studio yet?
I mainly work by myself, mixing, but I’ve recorded a few people here already
How does the British music scene compare to America?
It’s quite different. I lived in America for 35 years so that music was all I really knew. In America it’s very different music in different states.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yeah I’m working on a couple of projects. I’m just finishing a project for Fort George. I have a friend in Nairn who is a Gaelic singer and she was asked to put together a few songs for the opening of the museum at the fort. We did about 10 songs. I’m also mixing a live album right now for Chris Spedding who’s a 60’s rocker. He’s got his own band that I’m mixing for at the moment. I’ve also got a few other things right now as well. I’ve done a few songs with a young girl from East Anglia.
How do you decide who you will work with?
When it’s a sound engineering job I’ll pretty much work with anyone because it’s just the recording of the songs, it’s the same with mixing, I’ll mix for pretty much anyone. When I’m producing I’ve got to believe in it myself because you’re investing a lot of your time and soul into it so you have to believe you can do a great job with it.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest bands in the world! Are there any bands or singers you would like to work with who you’ve not had a chance to?
Yeah there are loads! I feel really lucky to have worked with a bunch of great people. I just like working with really good talent
You started off as a musician before moving on to sound engineering, mixing and producing, would you say that your own musical background has helped you when you are working with musicians?
Yeah definitely. Especially with engineering, in my experience some of the best engineers have come from a musical background. To be able to think about what you’re doing on a musical level is really important
How do you work out the exact sound that you are going for? Is it something that can be learned or is it an instinct?
I think you do have to learn. I had to, but some people are probably very talented in that area and could just do it. There are certain techniques and it is quite a technical thing. It was sort of a second career for me, making records, because I was a musician before that and touring with bands. When I went into this I was really lucky to work with some of the top guys in Los Angeles. You normally just start off making tea for the people who work there and don’t get to work in the studio straight away. I was lucky though because I started a bit later and I had worked with successful bands already, so I was really fortunate and got to learn off some of the best guys. The business has changed very much in the last 10 years with new technology though.
You deal with music as your job, do you listen to music a lot when you’re not working?
I wish I could say yeah but the truth is no. I used to listen to it all the time but now when I’m working I’ll only listen to what I’m working with. I work really long days for about 12-15 hours so there isn’t actually much time to listen to music. If I haven’t been working for a while I do and I’ll listen to something completely different from what I’ve been working on.
Who do you like listening to?
The Beatles! They were the first ever band I saw when I was 13 and I still really like them now
Do you get any spare time to enjoy the local music scene?
I’ve only been back in Britain for a couple of years, so no I haven’t really had a chance. I would like to see what’s going on locally though.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to work as a sound engineer?
You have to be sure that you really want to do it because it’s a big commitment and not for the faint hearted. It’s very long hours of work and you have to be prepared to work really hard. You can’t give up. If you really want something though, it will happen if you want it enough.
You can contact Ken via firstname.lastname@example.org