With a new album out now on his own Disappear imprint, Chris Coco shows us around his studio.
Chris Coco – My Studio
I love this classic old analogue synth. It’s fully hands-on, which makes you play it properly. It’s great for bass and weird noise. Most tracks on my How To Disappear Completely album have a wild take of swooshes and audio glue from this beauty. It’s an instrument that everyone wants to play with because it makes such mad noises – once you have the sound you want, it’s super easy to integrate it into a track because you can do a whole track pass and change the frequencies as you go.
Last year I bought a piano because I was fed up with spending so much time trying to make virtual pianos sound like real pianos. This one was chosen from a few sittings and, even though it was above my original budget limit, I kept coming back to it. It’s got a really warm, friendly sound – almost everybody who visits sits down straight away and starts playing. It has a soft pedal and a felt setting so the hammers hit a piece of felt before they hit the strings, for that extra mellow feel.
UAD Apollo and Calrec EQ
The downside of buying the piano was that I had to upgrade my audio interface and buy some new mics to record it properly. The sound from the UAD Apollo has definitely been worth it, mind you. You can add virtual pre-amps before you record, which really helps too.
I bought the Calrec EQ from the BBC when the World Service shut down. It’s a lovely, powerful thing that can deal with any ‘problem’ sounds. I’ve kept the sticker with BBC WS Do Not Remove on it for authenticity.
Metal Gong Spaceship Thing
I bought this in Ubud, Bali after becoming a little obsessed with the sound of the Gamelan orchestras that play at all the religious festivals on that wonderful island. It’s a thing that they make to sell to tourists but it has some amazing harmonics going on that create a lot of space in a track. Another live thing that does stuff you can’t do digitally, and it looks cool too.
AKG Reference Headphones
These are great, I always use them for checking mixes. That’s especially important making ambient stuff like ‘Leave No Trace’ on the new album, it takes a lot of concentration to make sure the subtle changes and all the different delays and reverbs are working properly. I also have a few Aiaiai studio and DJ headphones to use when players come round. I use Aiaiai for playing out too, they look plain and slick and they go loud.
It’s broken at the moment, because I blew it up. Not in some rock and roll ‘red mist’ moment, but just by leaving it on for too long. When it works it makes even my average guitar playing sound a lot better – there’s a crunch and a grit in there that you just can’t recreate digitally.
Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo
Another old bit of gear for making things sound real and dirty, thanks to the very physical spring and the bit of 1/4-inch tape whirring around inside the box. It’s a bit of a pain to maintain because the tape breaks or gets stuck quite a lot but it’s worth it. I used it quite a lot on ‘In My Humble Opinion’.
Butch is the studio mascot and guard dog. His bite is much worse than his bark – he’s got used to sitting around for hours and being really quiet while I am recording and mixing. He’s lazy too, so he doesn’t mind that I never take him for a walk.