Phil Kieran has toured the world many times over, released music that has found it's way on to the likes of Cocoon, Soma Records and of course his own label Phil Kieran Recordings which has seen output from the likes of Jamie Jones, DJ Hell and naturally Phil himself. Here he talks to Sonic Academy about the workflows and processes that have kept him at the top of his game for over 15 years...
Where did you learn your skills from. Self-taught or education route?
I would say very much self taught, i went to a media course when i was 19 but to be honest that was more just to keep my parents off my back :-)
What is your current studio set-up?
I use an old G4 , running Cubase and sometimes Ableton for some things .
Plug-ins are many like Imposcar , Oddity , Moog , Poly 6. For
outboard, I've started using more analogue through the desk, aka reel to reel , Universal Audio 610 , TL Audio Ivory , Mutator, Akai sampler , Nord Lead, Nord Electro rack, Lexicon effects all into an old Soundcraft 600 desk with Mackie speakers .
What made you decide to use your current DAW?
No real plan , just everything has came naturally myself over the years
Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception…..
It can be anything from a melody in my head, or a few words, or sonically just an idea for sound, then sometimes a sample can just set you off in a direction, i try all sorts , don't really have a set way to start to finish
What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
Recording live drums !!!! is the hardest . I've got my head round guitars , vocals and instruments , drums is my next challenge , its a skill on its own, and i want to get into it very soon
How do you deal with 'hitting a brick wall'?
Start a new track, move on, go for a walk, never get stuck on one thing, life is to short to stay on one idea, move on , then leave it for a few weeks and revisit it. If it dosnt jump out at you what to do , maybe even dump the idea, you got to find the balance between perseverance and knowing when to pull the plug.
What piece of software and hardware could you not live without?
Well Cubase/ computer to sequence and record. I'm getting more in love with my outboard stuff these days , just a new sound off it. I'm listening to a reel to reel as i type now, just mangled a bass sound !! awesome.
What piece of equipment would you most like to own?
A Yamaha CS80 or a synth by EMS , both set you back about 10k each.
Is there a piece of equipment you regret getting rid of?
Yes i got rid of my old Juno 60 and 106, years ago, but im in the process of buying some back, coming home to daddy !!
What piece of software or hardware are you most looking forward to launching this year?
Not sure i know of any equipment about to be launched that i want, i have a hunger for old gear, kind of a collector thing i want to get going as well.
What's your current live/DJ set-up and why have youchosen this over everything else available in the market?
I keep it really simple , just Mac laptop with Ableton and use the Akai APC40 to trigger.
In my new live sets I'm singing playing keyboard and have two other people playing bass guitar and singing , so no time for looking into laptops with the new live set.
Is there too much choice in the music technology market these days?
I don't look to often , i just feel once you have a certain amount you should just make that work as best you can, at some point you have to stop wanting and just get the job done .
How do you think the technology affects the music producers release?
It can get in the way, its just a tool to get your ideas out, you should not dwell too much on all the gear out there, some kind of sampler or audio recorder / sequencer and your sorted
What's the secret to good mastering?
No idea, I leave that to somebody else, mixing down is another matter, which like recording drums is a whole other world and skill. I love mixing it down to pre-master , and then passing it over to a pro , actual mastering i leave that to somebody else.