Could you tell us a little bit about Studio Tao - what inspired you to set up your own company?
After many years working for different artists and producing my own music, I thought it was the right time to start offering my services to more people. Also, the fact that I learnt more about multimedia sound and mastering this year allowed me to widen up my offer.
What’s the inspiration behind the name?
Tao is this ancient Chinese philosophy that inspires and guides me. As it’s about balance of elements, and the fact that things are constantly changing and evolving, I found the relation to the audio and music world I’m into.
How has the Audio diploma course at SAE Glasgow prepared you to run your own business?
Even though I had some experience in mixing and producing music, this course gave me solid skills and theoretical knowledge I was missing. Learning about multimedia sound, synthesis or some music business things were also really important, so that I’m able now to work in many different fields.
You sound like you’ve been working with lots of different artists such as Axizzle, Malik, Duo d'en bas, Meis, Le Carré, Soin 777, Negrodiox, Nostalgik and more. What sort of genres are these artists working within and how did you first get involved working with French/Belgian artists?
As a former hip-hop producer, I found myself working mainly for other hip-hop artists. The French ones are people I've been producing or recording with for quite a long time now, but I’m more focusing on mixes and mastering exclusively. I also used to live in Brussels for a few years and had the opportunity to start working with the local scene.
Your website says that you use a lot of digital and analogue equipment - in what areas do you use each and why do you think it’s important to blend the two together?
In terms of workflow and editing, digital is a great time saver and some tools are simply amazing; I’m thinking about audio restoration plugins or all the crazy and creative ones that would require a lot of real-estate that I can’t afford now. But passing the signal through some analogue equipment brings some dirt and chaos, and mostly it makes space for the unpredictable and the imperfections that digital tools miss. So I would say that 80% of the job is made in the box, then I output it to the desk and add some colour and compression to the mix.
You seem to have your finger on the pulse in terms of the latest industry trends and developments. How do you find and use new sonic approaches and techniques for mixing and mastering in your work?
Most of our work nowadays will end up on the internet and the streaming platforms, so it’s important to monitor the norms in terms of formats and loudness that those services require. They keep on evolving and changing weeks after weeks. I often must deliver different masters to my clients for different platforms. And they don’t ask for crazy loudness levels they’ve been asking before, so it’s relieving for me as I don’t have to destroy the all mix into limiters, rather using other ways to accomplish loudness and maintaining the dynamic of a song.
What other work have you done in terms of doing sound design for media such as videogames and films?
Those things are relatively new to me, so I’m starting creating jingles for artists and podcasts, as well as the sound design for our own podcast we’ll be launching soon. The videogame market is also interesting as it opens up a lot of sonic and musical possibilities, and I’m really into creating sound effects and ambience music, so I hope I’ll find my way to it in the future!
How have you found the temporary transition to online learning because of Covid-19?
I was lucky enough to only have one module left, and it was all about synthesis and electronic music, so staying at home wasn’t that big of a deal. My lecturer was really involved and he kept us busy and creative during this time, with a lot of original and extra content online.
In what ways have you managed to still be creative during lockdown?
As we had plenty of time, I’ve decided to learn about graphic design, so I could build my own website and I’m now able to create all the visuals I need, both for the company and my own music. It also allowed me to get more into synthesis and sound design. And as many artists were stuck home, I got a lot of work coming from them during these weeks!
Where are you hoping to go next after finishing your course at SAE?
I would have stayed in Glasgow longer, because it’s a great city for music and culture, but I’ve decided to go back to Brussels, as I have some good work opportunities there. I can now safely think about running my small business in parallel with another job in the music industry.