“It’s like a glorified scout hut with cows right outside my window.” Ben Davis shows us around his studio in the West Yorkshire countryside.
Flash Atkins – My Studio
I wanted the studio to be comfortable and cosy, to create a relaxed and creative environment for myself and the people who come through. There’s a small kitchen and another room where I keep most of my vinyl including the Paper Recordings back catalogue, which means I can run the mail order from here. We did most of the editing for our film Northern Disco Lights, which meant we could eat dinner, make brews and have a beer at the end of the day.
Studio and Fields
I lost quite a bit of gear in the Hebden Bridge floods of 2015 so I had to move and replace a load of stuff. Now my studio is like a glorified scout hut at the end a business estate surrounded by fields which can be quite bucolic in the summer with cows right outside my window. It’s big enough to have a band practise and no neighbours to complain about the noise.
The Novation Supernova has been my studio workhorse for the last few years and is great for pads, leads and arps. I’ve just bought a DSI Prophet Rev 2 to replace it with something more versatile and high-end so I can’t wait to get deep with that.
My other studio staple is the Moog Voyager that I use for the bass on most tracks I do.
I got a drum kit recently so I’ve been thrashing around on that, adding breaks and fills to programmed beats. All these things give my music an all important human element, mistakes and all. I’ve got a new downtempo project called Stubb with an album coming later in the year and I’d like to take it live, so all the gear means I can do it pretty organically.
Fender Rhodes and Selmer Amp
In these days of plugins, it’s easy for dance tracks to start sounding the same so I’m constantly striving to get things out the box and it doesn’t get more out the box than my Fender Rhodes and vintage Selmer amp. Both are things of beauty.
Maschine is where I do most of my drum programming. The first ever bit of kit I got was an Akai MPC 2000 so it feels very familiar and I can get ideas together really quickly. The choice of drum samples can get too much so I tend to stay with the tried and tested. This also means my music develops a certain sound.
I try to use vocals on most tracks, so I’ve got a selection of mics including a Røde NT3, Røde NTK and Aston Spirit. It means we can find one that fits the vibe and voice the best. Once the vocals have been comped they all go through the Focusrite Voicemaster which needs to be treated with caution as it’s got some grunt!
If I’m using plugins I like to put them through some outboard and most sounds get routed through the Neve 5042 Portico Tape Emulator and the Drawmer Tube Station for extra analogue warmth.
I got a PolySix because I used the plugin so much I thought why not get the real thing? I thought about getting it MIDI-ed up but decided it would take away from the moment and the randomness of old analogue synths. We used it for most of the synths on my last release with Charlie Sinclair called ‘That Hit’. I work most of the time on my own so its great with somebody like Charlie who is a great player and you can get ideas down and moving quickly.
What studio is complete without a stuffed hedgehog?!