iD4 A Worthy Addition To Massy’s Massive Gear Hoard
Producer and all round studio legend, Sylvia Massy was introduced to the smallest Audient audio interface, whilst producing the forthcoming God Damn album.
Initially impressed by their demos recorded using iD4, it was ultimately the experience using it under time pressure in the abandoned London tube station that persuaded her to get her own.
A big fan of ‘adventure recording’, when an opportunity arose for God Damn to do some recording in subterranean Aldwych station, she jumped at the chance. “The station had two platforms with no power outlets,” says Sylvia. “I had brought one battery operated recorder on the trip but needed a second unit so we could work on both platforms during the short time we were allowed to be in the station.”
Knowing that God Damn vocalist, Thom Edward had the iD4, she asked him to bring it along so they could set up another recording rig for the second subway platform. “Our recording session in the underground was a high pressure situation. It was extremely expensive to get access to the Aldwych station and we had to work quickly. There was no room for equipment malfunction. I had never used an Audient before and I was tasked with setting it up quickly and operating it. Miraculously, I plugged it in, opened up a session, connected the mic to the iD4 and I was up and running! It was flawless, easy and sounded great. An instant hit!”
Thom already knew he could rely on the Audient, having put it through its paces recording demos for the album in the preceding months. He describes God Damn as a “noisy, loud band, made of hard hitting drums, fuzzy, aggressive guitar and scuzzy, hefty synth.” There is also an element of screaming. “Demoing the vocals for the record were interesting because I’d not long become a father and didn’t want to piss off the neighbours too much (I scream pretty loud).
“I’d have to go off in the band van onto Cannock Chase near where I live and scream down some beaten track in the woods. The iD4 was perfect for that, powering a small handheld condenser mic with phantom power, all off a USB on my Mac and Logic. Pretty much all the lyrics were written and demo’d that way; the Chase and that experience featuring as a lyrical theme on the record in part. I began to really enjoy that handheld vocal mic approach too. That was just one of the things that attracted me to Sylvia, as she’s known for it from the Tool record.”
There was obviously a mutual respect for each other, as Sylvia explains, “I love a band that pushes boundaries, and God Damn is a band that goes right to the edge – and then over it. They are a f*ck-all crew that intends on offending the ears of the world with the most disgusting raw noise, with a pop-sensibility! I love their songs, I love their sense of humour and could work with them forever on their many-pronged thorny horny songs.”
With Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Prince and Red Hot Chili Peppers on her resume, she’s no stranger to big names – and that goes for gear as well as clients. The fact that she owns a big, vintage mixing console and has just purchased the world’s largest microphone collection is testament to her passion for studio gear.
And yet… as she says herself: “One of my favourite styles of recording takes place outside a studio.” She lists caves, a nuclear cooling tower, cathedrals and tiny houseboats in Yukon as examples of where she’s worked. “This type of recording captures a different type of performance that is not achievable in the studio,” she explains.
Now with the addition of the portable British audio interface, she’s prepared for all eventualities. “I’ve had such a positive experience recording off-the-grid with the Audient iD4, it is now my secret weapon. I pack it when I travel so I am ready to record anywhere. The unit is bus-powered, simple to operate and just makes loads of sense. And it sounds great!”
Thom couldn’t agree more. “I like that it’s plug and play, I don’t need a power supply – just my Macbook and a mic. It’s simple to use, low latency, the pre’s are idiot-proof and sound as good as any high end pre’s costing ten times as much.”
So when he had a few tweaks to add to the record (“some vocals were bugging me”) and Sylvia had already gone back to the US – what did he do? “I grabbed my trusty iD4, took myself off to the Chase again and those parts made it onto the record.”
According to Sylvia, “God Damn’s record is the most abrasive, disgusting album I’ve ever produced. A true work of art. Painful and rewarding.” Praise indeed.
Have a listen to Dreamers, the first single from the Massy-produced album, pre-order the record here, put its due date – Valentine’s Day 2020 – in your diary and stay connected to God Damn in the interim.