Me, my iBook and I

Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick, songwriter and frontman of Incognito, talks about his cutting-edge studio, his beloved notebook and about retaining the human in his music
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Incognito is 20 years old this year, and I think we've survived because we've always embraced technology. From the beginning, we wanted a studio that could compete with the big boys without spending millions of pounds. And with digital technology we could achieve almost the same end by spending 50 grand rather than half a million.

Incognito is 20 years old this year, and I think we've survived because we've always embraced technology. From the beginning, we wanted a studio that could compete with the big boys without spending millions of pounds. And with digital technology we could achieve almost the same end by spending 50 grand rather than half a million.

But while we have invested a lot in technology, we've tried hard not to let technology creep into our music. Unlike a lot of music created today by cutting-edge technology, we always wanted to stay sounding like a band, and keep the live essence. Even though we might use a drum sample, we'll still use live musicians and recordings.

The main part of our studio is the mixing desk, with three Yamaha 02Rs cascaded together. On the recording side, we've got a Pro Tools 24 mix plus system by Digi Design that's a program and a hardware package. The Yamaha desk is the equivalent of a desk in a big studio and the Pro Tool is the equivalent to multiple analogue tape machines. Finally, we've got a mini network that's run by a blue and white Mac G3 server running Apple Share and a Windows file sharing system. It has been built up over a period of time.

Our fans would be surprised if they saw how our music is recorded. Like me, they are probably more interested in the music, lyrics, and emotions than the technology. I finance the technology, but I'm not a programmer and most of what's in the studio is beyond me. The sound-engineers laugh at me because, while I'm in the middle of all this, I don't really know how to use it. I'm not totally tech-illiterate but my son, and engineer Simon Cotsworth, are so advanced that they are like Jedis using the Force.

And I get the benefits. I work faster as a songwriter and producer thanks to the recording studio being networked.

When I'm writing in the studio I can connect directly to the server and access all the sounds, software and everything that's available to encourage the writing process. At the touch of a button I can get the same files that someone else is using in the room next-door. And I can even go on my laptop if both studios are being used, tap into the system and start creating music.

I've never been the guy who wants to do it all himself. I know what the machines can do, what's possible and I have experts to operate it. I am here to create music as a songwriter and a creative force and I embrace and encourage it with financial resources to keep it growing. But I also know that there are people more suited to it and I don't want it to block my mind, to keep it open for the musical, the lyrical, the harmonic.

But my iBook is my baby. As a producer, I'm not only in charge of making music that sounds good, I've got to keep track of the budget. I have all that I need to work on, either music or administration, with a combination of my iBook and my acoustic guitar. One is a raw, crude form, the other is as up-to-date as you can get. The marriage is perfect.

Favourite websites

Sky News

I spend a lot of time in the studio, which means I can become insular, and logging on to Sky's "Witness the Event" allows me to keep in touch.

Akira Kurosawa database

I'm interested in searching for dedicated websites by fans, and at the moment I've found a fantastic database for the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

He influenced many film directors the world over, and some of his classic films have later been redone, such as The Seven Samurai which was made into the classic, The Magnificent Seven.

Incognito's latest album 'Future Remixed' (Mercury/Talking Loud) is out now

Comments