Interview

With SoundBetter

SoundBetter:

Tell us about a project

you worked on

that you are especially proud of

and why.

What was your role?

Chris Tuck:

Once upon a time,

I went to a Tori Amos concert.

The support act

was a chap

with an acoustic guitar,

who's songs and performance

so totally captivated me.

His name is Yoav.

I remember walking out after the show,

thinking and saying to myself,

'I really have to work with this guy',

but not knowing

how I could ever make that possible.

Ironically, the next day, my phone rang.

It was the head of Yoav's record label

suggesting we work together.

All I can say is,

things work in mysterious ways.

We ended up working together

for several months,

the results of which

are the album Blood Vine.

I am very proud of it,

because Yoav turned out

to be as obsessive an individual as myself.

I think of it as a magical album.

I recorded and mixed.

Yoav and I produced.

SoundBetter:

What are you working on at the moment?

Chris Tuck:

I'm actually indulging

my love of composition

at the moment.

Whenever I get the chance,

I pick up my guitar,

or go to my keyboard,

and write.

It's great being able 

to slowly build on ideas over time.

Total recall, is so taken for granted

these days.

SoundBetter:

Analog or digital and why?

Chris Tuck:

Both. If budget allows,

analog dynamics and EQ

going into the DAW,

and then digital from there,

and possibly back out to analog

for the mix bus / master stage,

once again, budget allowing.

 

In all honesty,

digital has come along

leaps and bounds over the years.

The complexity of the productions

we are able to dream up now,

just could not have been achieved

that easily, if at all,

in days gone by.

I am quite happy

doing a production fully digitally,

and have every confidence

that it can compete.

SoundBetter:

How would you describe your style?

Chris Tuck:

Putting genres aside for the moment,

I would say that my style

is detailed and textured.

I can spend a huge amount of time

on the tiniest of details.

As an example of this detail ...

when it comes to editing vocals,

if it's required,

then I will end up comping

the perfect take together

from the tiniest snippets,

of many many different takes.

I know I am obsessive

about the best possible vocal performance.

SoundBetter:

What do you bring to a song?

Chris Tuck:

Each song

should be an evolving journey

for the listener.

From the first to the last bar,

it should hold their attention.

I feel that I am able

to interpret each artist's vision

for their songs,

and then convey this at an emotional level,

through creating

the most engaging mix / production

that I possibly can.

SoundBetter:

What do you like most about your job?

Chris Tuck:

I like the variety.

Each day is quite different from the last.

I also like the freedom

that self employment affords.

This of course, can be quite scary at times,

but I feel that it's ultimately worth it.

 

SoundBetter:

If you were on a desert island

and could take just 5 pieces of gear,

what would they be?

Chris Tuck:

My wife, my cat, my dog,

my acoustic guitar and

my solar powered smartphone ;-)
.

SoundBetter:

Tell us about your studio setup.

Chris Tuck:

I have a recording and production /

mixing setup,

which is fairly portable.

This is generally setup

in my personal studio space,

or I take it out on the road,

to unique recording locations,

when required.

I love being able to get the studio

closer to nature.

I spent the whole of my 20's

in a window-less studio,

so working with fresh air and a view

is quite important to me now.

Luckily modern technology

allows us more opportunities

to get out and about.

I have Quested monitoring

which I have been relying on for 20+ years.

It will be a lifelong relationship.

I would actually say

that I have taken a minimalist approach

to my studio setup.

Less is definitely more.

Especially when it comes to software.

These days, a person could drown

in their software options.

I am pretty ruthless about the software

that I choose to use.

I hire larger studio spaces,

when necessary.

It always depends upon the requirements

and budget of the project / client.

SoundBetter:

What was your career path?

How long have you been doing this?

Chris Tuck:

I first entered studios in 1987.

I was fresh out of school,

and had just started

my tertiary education in electronics.

I had also just started knocking about

in dodgy alternative bands,

playing guitar.

I did some studio installations

and maintenance work,

eventually landing an assisting job

in a 48 track, tape based, multi room recording studio.

This studio actually housed

the exact Harrison 4032 console

that was used to track

Paul Simon's - Graceland album.

So this is the console

I was lucky enough

to learn the ropes on.

I of course started

as cable roller and tea boy,

but quickly became

the studio programmer

armed with an Atari ST

and banks of Synths.

From here I progressed

to engineer,

slowly working my way up the ranks.

Days were filled 

recording jingles for TV commercials,

nights and weekends 

were filled with album work.

 

It was definitely a baptism,

by sheer work load. 

SoundBetter:

Which artist

would you like to work with

and why?

Chris Tuck:

I have always dreamed

of working with PJ Harvey.

I love her ability to tell a story

through her songs.

She also comes across as the most genuine

and down to earth person.

I reckon I would thoroughly enjoy

the opportunity to work with her

and her collaborators.

SoundBetter:

Describe the most common type of work

you do for your clients.

Chris Tuck:

What I tend to do the most,

is full album production.

This is where I see the realisation

of an artist's album,

from song selection,

through to the early

song arrangement decisions,

and then through

recording, mixing and mastering.

I like to be completely hands on at all stages.

 

The other aspect of audio,

that I am very busy in,

is mixing.

I always bring

my production sensibilities

into each mix that I do.

I love the unique challenges,

that each and every song presents.

As I mentioned elsewhere,

mixing is my happy place.

SoundBetter:

What's your typical work process?

Chris Tuck:

My typical process,

is more of a non-process.

I like to start

each and every production,

mix or composition

with a blank slate.

 

I do not use session templates

in any of my DAW software.

Perhaps I'm crazy,

because I could be saving some time.

I find the benefit of this approach,

is that it keeps everything fresh.

I end up going with my gut,

rather than an approach

that worked countless times before. 

SoundBetter:

What's your strongest skill?

Chris Tuck:

It's not really a skill,

more of a personality trait,

but I would have to say

that being incredibly patient with people,

and the whole process of making records,

is probably my strongest skill.

SoundBetter:

What type of music do you usually work on?

Chris Tuck:

My career has seen me working

on practically every style imaginable.

My speciality however,

is to work predominantly with

the alternative and electronic genres.

I have always been drawn

to the merging worlds,

of organic / real instruments,

and synthetic sounds and atmospherics.

I guess this is why, as a youngster,

I loved Martin Hannett's work

with Joy Division.

In fact, I still love it. 

SoundBetter:

Can you share one music production tip?

Chris Tuck:

I'll share two ...

a) Listen / work at low volumes.

It really helps you to gauge

whether your track is working or not.

If you are getting excited by what you are hearing at low volumes,

then you are on to something.

b) Mono is your friend.

Listen in mono while mixing in stereo.

It's revealing,

and can get you results faster.

Keep flipping back to stereo

every now and then

to check your progress.

SoundBetter:

What other musicians or

music production professionals

inspire you?

Chris Tuck:

The music producer Flood,

and his partner in crime Alan Moulder

have always been an inspiration to me .

In fact I was a fan of their productions

long before I was aware

of their involvement

in the records I was loving.

I guess I was drawn to their sound world.

Other notable heroes

would be Martin Hannett,

Butch Vig and Andy Wallace.

Truly inspiring.