What do you do? Could you talk a little about your history as a musician?
I’ve played instruments since I was 6 years old. I studied Jazz Performance on the drums when I left high school. I’ve played countless gigs covering a huge range of genres on the drums. I moved to Australia in 2001. Since I was a kid I was interested in making records. My dad worked at Radio New Zealand. I probably would have studied production if there had been a course available in Christchurch at the time but there was nothing.
In the late 90’s I started messing around with computers, trying to make Jungle/Drum&Bass. This would become my passion and obsession for many years to come. Fast forward 20 odd years and I’ve had a 10 year live sound career that evolved out of producing dance music in my bedroom. I’ve since wrapped that up in favour of putting my production skills to good use mixing and master music full time in the studio.
For people with no idea (me) what does mastering actually mean?
Mastering is the final stage of making a recording. It’s a mixture of quality control, preparing the media for physical production (CDs, vinyl etc) or digital distribution and putting subtle finishing touches on a recording such as adjusting volume, tone and texture.
What makes Increase Audio special?
Increase Audio is an outcome-based enterprise. I am interested in helping people realise the vision they have for their recordings whether by mastering or mixing. There are a lot of people in the music industry that only want to do things their way, and to stamp their sound on peoples’ projects.
My mission is to work out what you want for your music and to deliver that and more. Of course I have a fantastic acoustic space to work from and great equipment, but it’s that level of care that sets me apart from the rest.
What did your business look like before COVID 19 and how has that changed?
The biggest change is that I was doing quite a lot of tutoring and mentoring before lockdowns hit. It was all one on one stuff in my studio and I haven’t managed to adapt that online as yet. I also had a good stream of overdub work (I have an excellent vocal booth for recording) and a handful of clients that only like to do attended sessions. I still have my bread and butter mastering and mixing work that I do by myself in isolation but the other stuff has dropped off.
I am interested in helping people realise the vision they have
Are there any apps or technology that really helped you make this transition?
There’s a system called LISTENTO by Audio Movers that allows you to stream audio between remote audio workstation computers over the internet. I think this will be the key to resuming some of my tutorial work and more collaborative sessions during covid.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this time?
Funnily enough time management has been the area I’ve had to put the most effort into. I haven’t yet figured out if that’s because it’s harder to stay focused in isolation or if it’s due to a shift in the type of jobs I’m getting but I’m actively collecting data on my days and getting into CRM software.
Events and live music have been hit so hard in 2020, how do you see the industry evolving from here?
It’s really hard to say. A lot will depend on what socially distanced events and spaces look like. I have no doubt there’ll be an initial boom in events with everyone dying to get out and party / socialise. I hope that travel bans and no access to overseas performers will be great for local artists. There is a perception shift that needs to take place for that to really happen though.
Have you seen any musicians and venues respond in really creative ways?
Before lockdown I had a little to do with a new venue project in North Coburg called The Industrique. Its an open plan warehouse bar / music venue that will be able to accommodate physical distancing measures. I could be accused of having my head in the sand but I’ve been completely consumed with my clients and closest friends that are focusing on their creative output while there are no gigs. I’ve mixed or mastered some brilliant records from Jordan Dennis, Yung Shogun, Dub Princess, Josh Owen, Oakley Grennel and many more.
Do you have any thoughts / advice for other musicians navigating these challenging times?
I think the best advice I can give to creators is to use this time to try and maximise your output. Obviously I have a vested interest in people making records but I think the real importance of developing high output models is in things like streaming revenue, social media presence and just honing craft. The most successful artists I know have massive discographies. Even if you have a handful of song formulas that you can bang out at will, all your processes slowly improve over time with repetition. With greater efficiency in your processes you’ll find it easy to explore new ideas within, and outside of your existing frameworks.
Are there any business decisions that you have made with sustainability in mind?
The operational data collection and CRM that I mentioned seems to be the way forward to understanding and developing my marketing strategies. Fundamentally people are going to continue making records. I don’t anticipate a great shift away from people needing professional help to finish their music, but if there was I would channel my efforts into tutoring and mentoring.
Are there any local businesses or suppliers you have collaborated with?
Increase Audio occupies a studio in Jack The Bear’s Deluxe Mastering facility. Jack (Tony) has been incredible generous to me since I attended one of his mentoring programs in 2018. He is a truly great engineer and a fantastic human being.
I’m always in close contact with Jerry from The Operatives. He’s been busy with his artist roster and is cooking up some great things for when we emerge from lockdown!
All photos by Melissa Cowen Photography