Laying Tracks at ‘The Studio’

Facebook! What an extraordinary tool for social networking…

Originally based in Brisbane I had recently moved to Canberra and was not familiar with the live music scene here. Doing the networking thing – I joined another group and told their membership about myself and my interests.

It was then that I was surprised by a message from an industry professional whom was also a member of the group and with it an invitation to come out to his recording studio and have a chat.44942784_315001369090484_8063013427007717376_n

David Pendragon is the owner of “The Studio” located in the suburb of Chapman in Canberra’s west. He has over 40 years experience in the industry as both a musician and recording professional.

Among other accolades David can be credited for, I came across an article highlighting his recording and producing skills at  an excerpt of which is below:

David Pendragon, winner of the International Online Music Awards “Producer Of The Year” honours for 2006, has succeeded in creating the first full-length double music CD, using the internet as the primary means of file transfer and collaboration with musicians on four different Continents. The product of over two years effort, the CD, labelled “The Journey” after the metaphorical process of it’s creation, is comprised of 24 pristine tracks of crystal clear audio production that experts in the field of recording are completely amazed by. ( )

I eagerly took up the invitation , prepared myself with questions and set off to get a more intimate knowledge of the man, his profession and the ‘The Studio’.

Hi David, can you give the readers a brief history of yourself and ‘The Studio’?

Basically, I started as a musician back in the 70’s and after awhile I started going into studios to do demos with my own band – just going in to record and found it fascinating!

I just always loved anything to do with being able to record something and then play it back, so I’d often record on little cassette machines and just sit there for hours trying to balance my guitars and vocals so that I could hear both on this cassette machine.

But then I decided to learn how to do it properly so I could make my own music sound as good as everyone else’s and I worked for a year in a very good recording studio in Melbourne called ‘Crystal Clear’ and that was the studio that taught me pretty well most of what I know. Then I started working across studios in Melbourne so I spent most of the 80’s working in big tape oriented like and on studios tape machines.

When I came back to it all in the 90’s with digital, I relearned that and in 1999 I started to build the idea of a studio and basically all those years ago this studio exists because I started doing that then.

I’ve been in this house 17 years now and it’s a good room to be able to bring small bands in. We get a really good professional sound because pretty much anything that has been earned in any way from recording here goes into high quality gear, so we’ve got some of the highest quality gear available.

We can do things in this small room that can be done in many big studios the only difference is the size of the room.45004860_255534861738809_2776202689028030464_n

What sort of services do you provide here for the artist?

Here the idea of what we do is what’s called tracking – just record music from scratch with acoustic instruments only. I don’t do a lot of electronic work here. Most of its acoustic drums, acoustic guitars err…. amplifiers miked up, vocalists all that sort of stuff. So we record it first and second thing is we’ll mix it and make the song into a mix and then I’m also a Mastering Engineer, so we also finalise the master stuff ready for CD.

What to you are the main goals of recording, editing and mastering?

To end up with a product and there’s no other way to put it but a product that is of a standard that would be accepted as a top-class professional release.

How much of a role does gear play versus the talents of the engineer?

That’s a very, very good question actually because I believe as a sound engineer we’ll always strive for the best gear, but you can put the best gear in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing and it will not be the best gear. It’s only the best gear when you’ve got the talent of the engineer to know what to do with it. You could give somebody a Maserati and they’ll wrap it around a light pole – because it’s a really good car but some people don’t know how to drive it.

With all the options available here at ‘The Studio’ – What’s your ‘Go To’ piece of equipment and why?

I think that is a little bit to narrow of a question really because there are various areas – if you were to talk about microphones, there’s a specific microphone I currently have that I wouldn’t want to do without. There’s a specific set of software that I would not want to do without. Everything I do here is done in a style that’s called ‘ In the Box’ which means you are recording into a computer and then you are mixing and doing everything on a computers screen like this here *points to screen laden with all sorts of prettiness* or that mixing channel there that’s how I do all my mixing so that’s working ‘In the Box’.44982888_1735061533269293_7044438989046022144_n

In your opinion – “Why doesn’t a ducks quack echo”?

*Chuckles* – I have no idea! *laughing*…I have heard this is true, but I’ve never taken a duck into an anechoic chamber to check it! I don’t know, and I’m not even convinced that it’s true! Any sound that hits a flat surface will reflect and if it reflects it will echo.

What are three mistakes artists make when coming into the studio for recording?

The first one is lack of preparation – they need to know everything that they want to do and want to be recorded and not work it out in the studio. The second one is alcohol or drugs – DON’T – in fact I don’t allow people to use alcohol or drugs here and that might sound somewhat dictatorial. I like a drink and I’ve had my own history, but I find that it’s just pointless and a waste of time. As to a third one – “Don’t be late”!

On average over a typical 2-day studio session, how many songs would an artist record?

Again, if there’s preparation and they have pre-prepared and pre-produced and they know exactly what they are recording, the actual recording part of the process in two days…they could in two days get down probably about five to six songs. But they would need to be super well practiced and recognise that’s an important part of the process! That’s the tracking and then on top of that it’d be the mixing and that tracking would involve doing more than one take of a song and more than one process so when you do the back track for a song you record it with everybody doing their part and then you go back and you redo the vocal and you redo the guitars and the only thing you really hit is the drums. So, it’s a very involved process so yeah, I’d say a well-rehearsed band in two eight-hour days is five to six songs.

Who are some of the local artists you’ve collaborated with at ‘The Studio’?

David Williams, Andrew De Teliga, a band called Carnival Road, Marji Curran, um – young bands Partly Cloudy, Neon Highways, Dalmatia that’s just to mention a few.

How are enquiries made regarding booking a recording session at ‘The Studio’?

That’s now an interesting one because we don’t have a huge amount of time available at the present because I’m doing my own album so the first things the facility is focusing on is the work we’ve already got and doing my album starting next week. But I am very open and willing to talk to anybody who has an idea for a project and if I can’t do it here I’ll suggest places where they can go.

Any last words?

I think one of the things I would like to say to all of Canberra’s musicians is we have some of the most incredible musicians in this town anywhere – some of the older guys are fantastic some of the younger people are fantastic. I think we’ve all got to recognise thought it’s a small country town and you’ve got to step outside of here. You know you’ll go around in circles if all you do is Canberra, step out and take your music out to the world!45008494_337930223422838_6644310240793722880_n

It’s clear that David has the interests of artists and bands first and is passionate about giving them the best product possible from their time in the studio. In this time with him I myself gained a lot of knowledge about the process that recording artists and bands must go through to showcase their craft for mainstream supply and fan bases…If only we could have solved the mystery around a duck’s quack….Perhaps another day!

Contact ‘The Studio’ via their Facebook page –


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