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Exclusive Interview for The School ES2A

Mark Needham  the Engineer who recorded Wicked Game

José Mujica

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     In Spanish

Chris Isaak

His Work of Art

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Enjoy this 25 years jewel in this video

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Now listen the instrumental version in this classic scene from Wild at Heart Movie with Nicolas Cage an Laura Dern

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And here recorded wiht the camera microphone in a demo of the Altec Lansing Model 19 loudspeakers.




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ES2A.-Mark, like you know now the song Wicked Game you recorded for Chris Isaak is like an Anthem in our subject Psychoacoustic, to teach the pupils about the elegance and good taste of a deeper bass. Tell us something about how did you record the bass?

Mark.-I should probably answer the drum question first. After MANY live takes we still weren’t getting the hypnotic feel we wanted, so I programmed the entire drum part on an AKAI DD1000 ( an early digital recorder) with loops I made and quantized from the live tracks.

Then we made the bass track on a Synclavier and synced it with the programmed drums.(all of this running from SMPTE) from analogue tape

ES2A.- Wich microphones did you use?

Mark.-The vocal mic was a Sanken CU 47, the guitar a Shure SM 57, and the Sanken was also on the acoustic and hi strung acoustic.

ES2A.-Wich monitors did you use? In how many loudspeakers did you hear the master?

Mark.-Estaba usando unas Yamaha NS-10 en esa sesión y grabamos las voces justo en frente de los altavoces.

ES2A.-Did you use analogue tape machine? Why?

Mark.-Yes we were on analogue tape because there really weren’t any other options back then (this track was recorded in 1989). The digital recorder I used for the drums was a 4 track, recording to optical disk, and I just recorded the kick sound , several snare brush loops and a hi-hat on that, and then put together the part.

ES2A.-Tell us about how did you mixed it?

Mark.-I mixed the song on a Neve VR console and the biggest issues were dealing with the speaker bleed into the lead vocal mike and the guitar sound. If you listen in the verse, you will hear the room ambience come up when I raise up the vocal fader right before he sings. On the guitar, I was using a long delay going to a stereo chorus and riding the send to the delay, so that the guitar spreads out after he hits a note. The reverb in the vocal was a snare plate setting on a lexicon 480 L.

ES2A.-how much do you think an Audio Engineer must know about tuning instruments?

Mark.-I’m a guitar player and drummer, and I think the more an individual knows about music in general, the better mixer that person will be.

ES2A.- Do you think the amount of instruments in a song could always get this deeper sound?

Mark-I believe it’s more about the arrangement of the instruments that you have, rather than how many you put on. Wicked Game was 22 tracks total. “It’s Time" by Imagine Dragons (that I also mixed)) was about 150 tracks, but both songs sound big in their own way.

ES2A.-Do you believe an Audio Engineer can play with the mixing levels to avoid the sound of the music instruments fight. Example, take down the kick drum to avoid the collision with the bass? Or maybe play with center frequencies and range?

Mark.-That is what I do. Manipulating the sound, levels, ambience and arrangement of the instruments to make the song build and have space. In addition to helping deliver the emotion of the lyrics.

ES2A.-Anecdote? Advise for the new generations?

Mark.-My advice to anyone is to just jump in and start making records! I started my first studio in 1972, with no idea what I was doing! However with my love for music, I’ve made it my life.

ES2A.-In the name of our School, forever Thank you Mark.


For more information on Mark and other projects he has produced and mixed, go to: www.markneedham.com

Some Pics from Mark to the School

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The RIAA Prize (Record Industry Association of America) Mark won to commemorate th sale of more than 500.000 copies of Wicked Game.

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The note on the box talks about the SMPTE Code (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) to synchronize devices.

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The  2" open reel  2400 ft with  Wicked Game

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