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" Big bands will do tiny shows before they do a run, because it's actually fundamental to that band, understanding the way the band works together" - Adam Biggs

In this episode

  • What counts (and what doesn't) for a good live show

  • The interaction between concert volume and the audience

  • How technically complex should a show be?

  • The blessing and the curse of advanced music technology in live shows

  • What you need to know about using a laptop on stage

  • The mental state of dealing with the inevitable technical failures on stage

  • Vocal effects processors on stage - how to get the most out of your gear

  • Stage plans and input lists

  • 8pc a cappella vocals into a single vocal condenser mic - magic, but risky

...

About the 

guest

Adam Biggs, from Biggsound Productions, is widely regarded as a top live sound engineer on the Australian East Coast. His impressive portfolio includes work for notable artists such as Pete Murray and Bobby Alu, at all major festivals.

Tags

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

                                   

                                         

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Jan 'Yarn' Muths or mixartist.com.au, in the studio

Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at mixartist.com.au

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.

transcript

Transcript

(auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error)

Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 52. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that this conversation was recorded on, the proud Arakwal people of the Bundjalong nation, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. Today, we are returning to the second part of the interview with Adam Biggs of Biggsounds. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: We were in the middle of a long discussion about live sound and Adam's musical philosophy and the way he approaches his business and how he got through COVID and all. So if you haven't listened to the first part, yet, my recommendation would be to go to your podcast application, hit the subscribe button while you're on the way, and go back to episode 51, which is the first part of the interview with Adam Biggs. Today, we are continuing this conversation and we were just talking about how bands can prepare themselves for great sounding live shows. And I would like to lead back into the interview with a little example. Adam Biggs: Yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: We're dealing with a band and the band is getting ready to play a couple of shows a tour, and they're rehearsing at the moment and getting themselves ready. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So one of the things is to learn their own stage volume and I guess, you know, working with the singer. So everybody needs to adjust their own volume to, to the singer. So would it be good for a band to, let's say practice, let's say a louder set on a bigger stage, but also learn to play the same set a bit quieter for a smaller stage. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Would that be a good thing to Adam Biggs: absolutely. And, and you, you do get that. You know, in, in, into your bigger tours, you know, you, you have those opportunities where you're saying, okay, cool. Well we, we're gonna have we're gonna have a full day of production in the hor and pavilion. Great. So now we know what it's gonna sound like when we're there. Adam Biggs: Now. What you'll you'll often see and, you know, fans love it. What you'll often see is that big bands will do tiny shows before they do a run, because it's actually fundamental to that band, understanding that the, the way the band works together, like, you know, so, you know, you'll see like, you know, You'll have a touring band, you know, like the, the classic one is bands like the stones and whatever, like that, they'll, they'll turn up and like, or prince, you know, prince would go and do like nightclub gigs, you know, like in the middle of, you know, like sell out stadium tours and stuff like that. Adam Biggs: Cuz you do fundamentally hear and understand things differently on a smaller stage. And those smaller stages are really the ones that sort. Yeah. The men from the boys and fucking, so you use that analogy, you know, it's like, because it's, there's that sense of Where do I fit? You know, because I don't have all the space. Adam Biggs: I don't have physical space, but I don't have the, the, the the, the space to generate a large sound or, or play extra notes or all this sort of stuff, without it just kind of becoming a, a, a mush of everything. So, so those smaller stages of those smaller rehearsal spaces really. Help you understand what, what are the fundamentals? Adam Biggs: What are the important things to deliver musically? And some, sometimes it can be a matter of going, you know, what? You just don't need that much gain on that overdrive pedal. Or you, or you don't need that much reverb on the vocal yes. Or, you know, like those sorts of things. Yeah. Cuz that, that's the stuff where, you know, I went and helped her. Adam Biggs: My, my son's school were having their sort of showcase concert the other week and, and I, I dropped him off and I just stuck my head in to say hi to the music teacher and sort of walked in and was staying in front of the stage and looking at the, the way they had the, the band all micd up and whatever like that. Adam Biggs: And I'm like, well you know, you've, you've got. You might want to think about this with this microphone you might. So I ended up staying, so I ended up staying of course, you know, and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Ah, come on, they set you up. They set Adam Biggs: totally set me up but, but it is that thing of like, like literally having these, these young musicians walk on stage, who, who don't have a lot of experience in playing and a, in a, a live situation. Adam Biggs: They've, they've sat together in a room and they've. Jam things out and they've like had fun and that's, I mean, that's the fundamental reason we do any of this. But, you know, like they get onto a stage and it's like, you know, the guitar player is, is playing, you know, in this particular tune, he was, they were playing a queen tune and he he's playing the guitar part. Adam Biggs: And I'm like, I'm like, do you want to have a look at your pedal board? And maybe look at taking some gain out of this, because at the moment you're filling up this massive space with this sound and it's taking up all of the room. You've got a keyboard player there doing this thing, and you've got a singer trying to deliver this and, you know, and, and, and it's just things like that, where you go, you don't need to be. Adam Biggs: Super distorted to sound heavy. Super. Yeah. You don't need to be, you know, like super loud to sound big, you know, it, that, all of those things that you learn about your own stuff. So, and, and that's, that requires a huge compromise of ego. Yeah. For all of us, you know, for everyone, you know, like, yes, I want to turn the PA up and, and like have everything just like bam, you know, right there in people's faces. Adam Biggs: But at the same time, if, if what I've got standing on stage is a guy with an acoustic guitar and a stomp box and a quiet vocal singing folk songs. That doesn't need to be delivered at a hundred decibels, cuz that's not what the, that's not the act. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's right. I Adam Biggs: So, you know, I I've literally had a tour manager. A production manager come up to me when I was playing when we're doing a show at the Sydney Meer music bowl in Melbourne. Adam Biggs: And he literally said to me, he said, look, I know you like to mix quiet, but this is the one where you'll want to turn up. And I'm like, my, okay. You know, I've never personally mixed the Sydney Meyer. I'm like, cool. Okay. Well maybe there's, there's a good reason for that. So we start sound checking. I'm like, oh, I'll just give a few more DB. Adam Biggs: I'll just see how it hits. And, and I'm like, well, I don't like how it sounds. You know, like, I, I, I actually don't, that's not the show anymore. Like it doesn't. Yeah. So, you know, like, so I'm like, well, maybe I'm second guessing myself. So I go running up the hill, you know, all the way to the back. You know, it holds a lot, you know, 12,000 people or whatever that place holds. Adam Biggs: So I, when running up the hill to the back to have a listen with it turned up. And then had my, my systems guy, just bring it back to where I had it before. I'm like, there's 3d bear difference. That doesn't sound like a lot, you know, but 3d bear difference. And you're standing at the back of the place and I'm like, it's definitely quieter. Adam Biggs: But it sounds like it should now, like, you know, like pulling that back, like taking, taking that little bit of energy out of it actually worked it's. Yeah. Cool. What that, what that means is that you've got a, you've got a relationship with the audience and the audience is part of your performance. Adam Biggs: And in that case, when you are delivering an act like that, where it's not about volume, it's not about getting punched in the face. The relationship is we're going to deliver this to you. The absolute best. It can sound your part in that. Is to shut up and listen and engage with it at the level it's at. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes. Adam Biggs: And, and that for me, came from mixing jazz in my early Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Adam Biggs: you know, it's no point in having a jazz guitar or a saxophone or a focal or whatever, like that punching over the top of a loud crowd cuz you can't win. It doesn't matter how big your PA is. I've been. Events where the crowd gets louder and it doesn't matter how big your PA is. Adam Biggs: You will not win. If you've got a loud crowd, all you'll do is keep pushing it louder. They'll get louder. You know, the big glasses will get clinged together. The, the people will be just get shouting at their friends from across the space. It doesn't matter how, how much power you have. You won't win against an audience that is not with you. Adam Biggs: So you have to meet that audience. Somewhere in the middle there, you know, you have to have that relationship with them where. We'll literally come back to pin drop choir. I've done gigs at the rails and Byron bay with singer songwriters who were very quiet introspective guys. And they've literally shut the place up, you know, like this rowdy Rous outside touristy backpack kind of bar. Adam Biggs: And you can hear a pin drop in there because they're listening. They're active, they're involved in that performance and they're not there. To drink beer and have something happening in the background. They're there for that artist. And that's, that's an incredible. Thing to be a part of, like to be in a space where the audience feels like they're actually part of this whole thing, you know, like not just there to be delivered to, but they're a part of the experience. Adam Biggs: The artist feels that a hundred percent, the artist feels that. They're standing up on stage. They can see the attention they're getting. They can hear when people sing along with those bits in the chorus that are appropriate or whatever that relationship building is as much part of the sound delivery as it is of the, the actual performance from the artist. Adam Biggs: Sounds wonky though, doesn't it? But it's Jan 'Yarn' Muths: no, no, not at all. Not at all, actually. You know, I can really relate to that because then I experience the same thing when I attend shows or when I make shows it's a give and take, the musicians are just one cog in the big machine. That is the. The show and the audience plays a big role in it. So one of the hardest shows I've ever mixed was, you know, a really good rock band in a huge hall with 50 people. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That was the hardest job I've ever done in my life. You know, that was really difficult to mix because there was this mismatch between the energy. We didn't have the audience there, and I've also mixed dance, you know, in, in small venues that were just packed to the absolute maximum. And, you know, I always prefer that, you know, it's, it's in the end, it's all about the audience. Adam Biggs: Yeah. Look, that's the thing, you know, like I, you know, I've, I've, I've, I've mixed, you know, one person on stage. 10,000 people. And then I've mixed, you know, like whole bands in rooms where they almost outnumber the audience. And it's like, at the end of the day, like all of those things are valid and all those things are like, can be the best gig you can have, you know, like bigger gigs aren't necessarily better gigs, you know, it's, you know, it's, I think that the big year go the harder it is to have that connection with the audience. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Right. And these days with technology, you know there's so much possible now with digital technology and time core productions where there's electronic elements coming of computers and computer generated light shows. And does that take away from it? In some ways, is, is that a contradiction in some ways? Adam Biggs: I don't think it fundamentally takes away from it. I think that the technology is a tool like, like any other tool whether we're talking about an you know, whether we're talking about a band that is playing loud on stage with 15 wedges on stage and, and everyone's cranked and everything, you know, you, you take that same act and you put everyone in ears. Adam Biggs: And yeah, maybe the guitar players and bass player moved to modeling gear and, and and you know, maybe the drummer is triggering things on pads instead of like hitting symbols or whatever. Yeah. All those things are just tools. Like it's, it's all just a means of delivering and absolutely things like, you know, mid triggering time code and things like that. Adam Biggs: Those things are incredible. Like the, the, the level of precision you can get out of things like that. Can certainly make for a, a, a, an amazing integrated, you know, passionate experience, but just as much they can. Turn it into Aland and disinteresting yeah. Show, you know, I, I there's, there's a touring act that I, I, I sort of chose not to continue working with because when, when we first started working with 'em, we were like, man, these guys are just, there's so much Angie in this show, you know, and that you really feel the songs and you really like engage with it. Adam Biggs: And as time went on, they added more and more. Elements of, of backing tracks and, and, and triggered things. And last show I did with him, like, They didn't enjoy it anymore than anyone else did. You know? Like you could see it, you know, like they're like standing up there and, you know, like literally saying, like, I just, just be the vocal back into the backing tracks, you know, cuz it's like the vocals in the backing tracks anyway. Adam Biggs: So, you know, the person's essentially just coming forward to do like shout outs on the microphone while they swing a beer around and, and it's like, they're playing guitar, but. For long periods of time, they just don't play guitar, but there's still guitar there. And there's like, that stuff is like, it's about a show then it's not, not about delivering music. Adam Biggs: It's just like we could walk off stage. And nothing would change. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, I see. Adam Biggs: And that's, that's a really fundamental difference to we're using these things because we can't afford to bring a keyboard player on this tour or we can't, you know, that that's a really different thing. And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So there's something it's overproduced in some ways. Yeah. Adam Biggs: overproduced or, or, or leaning too hard on the tools. Adam Biggs: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. A bit overthinking, I guess, comes into play as well. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Good. So these days it's very common to, you know, see a band on stage and there's a very good chance that there is, you know, a laptop among these days. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Give us a bit of a checklist. You know, a lot of things can go wrong. What should somebody operating a computer on stage? Prepare for? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Make sure everything runs Adam Biggs: There's, there's an, there's an old adage in in recording that I remember is it's like, it doesn't exist unless it exists in three places. And, and I think in live sound that is. That is just as applicable. You know, if you are, if you are taking out an Ableton rig or something out to, to sort of, you know, time code into a and show or whatever like that you're taking two Ableton rigs, you know, like you're not, you know, there there's there's, there is just so many little things that can go wrong. Adam Biggs: You know, when, when, you know, people were plugging gear in, in the fifties and sixties, you know, if you show them a USB connector, They'd laugh, you over the room, like you you'd never use something that flimsy on a band stage, you know, like, so, you know, things like, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and mini cable, Adam Biggs: cables, mini Jan 'Yarn' Muths: not really built for Adam Biggs: They're not, they, they were never, never thought that they would kind of go that way. Adam Biggs: So I guess they, you know, there's just things like that where they're just like, cool. Well, you know, certainly, you know, How sturdy is your laptop, you know, are you casing it? Are you carrying in a decent case? You know, you, if you're flying, you know, how, how are you packing that? And, you know, and what's your backup, you know? Adam Biggs: So it's like, well, okay, well you, you probably wanna back up in a face, you know, if you're like running multiple tracks and stuff like that, then you absolutely gonna need a backup interface. We've worked with bands where they, they literally have fail safe playback systems running, where they, they have switches set. Adam Biggs: And the switcher will take all the inputs from one laptop and all the inputs from the other laptop. And, and there's, there's gear that's designed to switch over in a failure. So these, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: if, if a computer dies on stage, it switches to the backup solution and that has to run in Adam Biggs: parallel. Yeah. And, and it runs in parallel and it's it's you know, and, you know, we've, we've had those kind of systems where it's like, well, we've done a show like that on a festival stage where it was a direct sun into the tech area on that particular afternoon. Adam Biggs: And while the laptops got hot and, you know, there's your show gone, you know? So, so that sort of stuff you have to. You have to assume, assume that nothing works as it's supposed to, you know, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, yeah. Right. Yeah. Adam Biggs: so you you've always got spares, you know, if, and that that's, that's laptops, that's, you know, spare vocal mic. That's having some cable sing size stage for the inevitable. Adam Biggs: Something goes down in the middle of, you know, you've sound checked, everything, you've line checked, everything, and then you go to walk up and the vocals, not on, you know, these things do happen, you know, and they, they happen. All levels. It's not, it's not a something we can look at and go, oh, well, they just didn't prepare. Adam Biggs: It's like stuff does happen. You know, dirt gets into connectors or, you know, like, you know, you're a blues Fest and you know, there's been mud tracked in and out of the, you know, over the top of your cabling for the, for the last four days. And it's like, yeah, things do happen. So you, you have to be prepared for those backup contingencies. Adam Biggs: And I think part of that preparation is, is mental as well, because if you panic, when these things happen, then Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's the end of it. Adam Biggs: that's the end of it. It's the end of Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Yeah. Adam Biggs: So, you know, we, we had a festival event the other day where something happened in the middle of the show and it was, yeah, one of those random, like, wow, I never thought that would happen sort of offense. Adam Biggs: And, and your choice is flap and panic and stress out about it. It doesn't get it fixed any quicker. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's Sue, Adam Biggs: And when you do finally get it back, back and running, you are stressed. You are, you are like trying to come back down from there. And trying to get back into the head space where you actually just wanna make the music as opposed to like waiting for the next thing that will go wrong. Adam Biggs: So that mental preparation, that mental comfort, which comes from knowing you've done your job, you you've, you've thought about things that might happen and you've accounted for staff and, and you are you're ready for contingencies. And when those things do happen you roll with it. You just go. Yeah. Adam Biggs: Okay, cool. That didn't work. Yeah, that's fine. What's our plan B. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see, and I guess, you know, when people stress, it, it sort of prevents good troubleshooting. I find, you know, that you know, it might be just a very obvious solution, but when people really freak out, they won't see it, even if it was right in front of Adam Biggs: Right. Exactly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it's, it's about staying calm Adam Biggs: Exactly. Yeah. So that's Jan 'Yarn' Muths: clean and logically methodically. Adam Biggs: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, like, and, and it's, you know, just the, as per all these things, it's usually the easiest and simplest simplest thing that goes wrong. Adam Biggs: And it is just that matter of like being able to stand. And, and maybe stopping before you actually fix the problem to go, actually, what is the problem, you know, is it simply that I haven't unmuted the channel on layer three of the desk or, you know, is like just the, the simplest things that you'll like, oh, like, oh my God, no, we don't have the guitar. Adam Biggs: Oh, that's right. That's because they plugged into di two instead of di four, you know, like all that stuff. Yeah. Where it's just. Just being comfortable and relaxed in your work and present and, you know, and just, just focusing on that stuff so that you can actually then solve these things without them becoming a big issue, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And, and I guess one part to that is as well to keep it as simple as it can be and avoid unnecessary, complex setups. I once ran a, a show at a venue where the microphone focal microphone was plucked into, you know, input 15, which then came through on the other side on 18 and then was patched through input 13 on the console. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And I was just like, you needed a mathematical degree to understand where things were, you know, why not just keep numbers straight, Adam Biggs: And, and, and there, there is that there's that sort of lazy sort of mentality in, in digital consoles nowadays, because you can literally, you know, refer to a soft patching, you know, like literally you can go, oh, I won't move it on the. Cons, I won't move it on the stage rack because I can just soft patch it. Adam Biggs: Like that's, that's the beginning of the end for me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, yeah, yeah. Wherever Adam Biggs: possible, I'll, I'll, I'll change a physical connection because it's yeah. Keep it simple because at that point, mid show where the stage is dark and you're like scrambling around, underneath something, trying to figure out why something is not working like that stuff saves. Adam Biggs: You saves you a lot of time and a lot of stress. So Jan 'Yarn' Muths: otherwise backfire when, when things get heated. Adam Biggs: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: One more thing that I would like to talk about quickly is that I've seen more and more singers arriving these days patching their vocals through their own effect. Paddles. What is your take on that? Is that a good thing? Is that a bad Adam Biggs: How do I say this without, without offending people? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Honest, be brutally honest with us Adam Biggs: and we're not just talking singers here, you know, like this, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Horn players. Adam Biggs: Yeah. Horn players, you know, like, you know, like guitar players. You know, like that's, that's kind of been a thing for a long time. You know, most guitar players obviously run through a whole of their own stuff and that's, that's part of their sound. Adam Biggs: And, and to a degree, you have to accept that because maybe that is part of that vocalist sound is that they, they want these specific sounds. My experience personally with them is that there are no good vocal processes out there. Now having said that there are people who make them work You know, I there's certain acts where it's just like, I get it. Adam Biggs: I get why you're doing it this way. And it does work for you. What I generally find, and I've, I've used this as a solution a couple of times when I've had people turn up with these things, generally the preamps in those kind of units are terrible. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Buzzy noisy, Adam Biggs: varied. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: fuzzy around the edges. Yeah. Adam Biggs: and, and, you know, either overly sensitive or unders sensitive and, and what, what you're trying to convey to an artist when they turn up with something like that, is that what they're doing is that they're taking the mix out of your control. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm-hmm Adam Biggs: So what sounds good to them on headphones or in their speakers in their bedroom when they're practicing and they're seeing it up and they're like, oh, that's the tone I want that's, you know, whether you're a guitar player or a bass player or a drum or a singer or a keyboard player or whatever, like that, the stage is a fundamentally different space to your practice room. Adam Biggs: And so the things that work. And that sound good in a practice space don't necessarily translate. So it's a conversation and again, it's back to that communication and respect thing of just going, you know? Oh, cool. Okay. So you've got your digit deck or, or whatever vocal processing your TC held on or whatever it is. Adam Biggs: And you've brought that in and you'll, and you love plugging it in and getting this big cathedral reverb on your vocal, like, cool. So I'd just like to point out to you that we're in a cathedral. So, you know, like, You know, like that's, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, no, Adam Biggs: it's like, it it's. And it is that thing of like, cool, well, that might be the vocal sound that you hear in your head, and that might actually be what you want to deliver to the audience. Adam Biggs: So you know, again, it's about communicating in solutions and, and like working with the artist. And so I'll have things where people will turn up like that and I'll go cool. Here I've I've got a, I've got a splitter here. I've got a mic splitter. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put the mic into. Adam Biggs: The splitter, I'm gonna take a dry signal off one side of that splitter, and I'm gonna send the other side to your effects unit. And then at the console, I'm gonna have two channels. I'm gonna have the dry vocal, and I'm gonna have your affected vocal. Now, what that gives me the ability to do is blend phase align, get everything, right, everything out front, so that I still have, regardless of what else is coming to me, I still have a vocal I can work with. Adam Biggs: And I have a vocal I can send back to you. That's gonna sound good. Mm-hmm because that is one of the biggest challenges with working with those vocal processes is you could do so much with them out front, you know, you can go, okay, cool. Well, I'll work with that. When you start sending back a really heavily affected and processed vocal into a fallback wedge or a, an ascend or something like that, that person's not hearing what. Adam Biggs: Thought they were gonna be hearing and that becomes challenging. And that, that sort of breaks your relationship down where that person's going. But this sounds great, cuz I I've used it previously and it sounds great and now it doesn't sound great. Why doesn't it sound great. And there's your relationship gone? Adam Biggs: You know like then, then they, they don't trust you. They don't feel like you're doing your job properly. So that, that level of being able to say, work with me on this and I'll show you why. I wanna do it this way. And you know, you, you might have a full band on stage and maybe the only person that wants to hear that super heavily affected reverbed pitch shifted vocal is the vocalist. Adam Biggs: Everyone else just wants their cue. So those sort of solutions where it's like, it's not about saying that's a piece of crap and I don't want it on my stage. And you know, like don't, you know, I've got effects on the desk and I can put a big reverb on your vocal. If you want a big re the people don't wanna hear that they don't, they don't want to, especially like on a one off, you know, like if you're talking about a tour you know, if you are working with Kimra or someone like that, who's like, that's such a key thing on their, on their whole thing is like, I wanna be able to loop and I want to be able to, you know, pitch shift and, and, you know, harmonize and things like that. Adam Biggs: You can't say that's not part of their thing, cuz it is. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: such, can't say that. Of course. Yeah. Yeah. Adam Biggs: So the, the thing is around like, well, how do you work with that artist so that they. Fundamentally get what they want and you can also deliver what they expect out front, because I'll guarantee you, the reverb that sounded great in their bedroom is not gonna sound great on a big stage. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Adam Biggs: So it's, it's that, it's that balance, you know, and it's, it's, again, it's just about respect, cuz it's not my decision at the end of the day. If someone goes, no, that's my sound, then that's their sound. And I'll do the very, very best I can with it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm. Adam Biggs: But I I'm yet to come across. One of those units that has delivered to me what the artist thinks it's going to. And it's some of those artists now carry a splitter with them cuz they get it, you know, like they they've like done the show and then they've, they I've helped them set that up and they're like, all right. Okay. Yeah. And you know, you can get to a great point where you can sort of work with one of those artists and they're like, there's a wet, dry control on their effects unit and you go run it all the way. Adam Biggs: So I'm not getting any of your vocal through there. I'm just getting the effects and then I've got two channels to work with. They're basically independent. I can get a great vocal tone and then add that sound that you want on top of it. And that's like, It Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That gives you all the control. It's the best of both Adam Biggs: Exactly. So, so again, that's, it's right down to communication and preparation. So if, if someone knows before an event you know, like, I don't know how many, like it's, it's a running joke in the industry that you've never, that no one's ever seen an accurate stage plan. So, you know, it's. Turning up knowing what to expect. Adam Biggs: So, you know, I've got, I've gotta show out on the weekend. Pete Murray, the beautiful girls, and that'll be heaps of fun. You know, it'll be, it'll be heaps of fun. I know all those guys have toured with them. I'm not personally mixing either of those bands this time. They're, they're coming through one of my venues. Adam Biggs: But I know what to expect and. They've forwarded me everything. We've had those conversations with the, the production team. We've said, you know, any, any surprises, you know, anything that we dunno about? Because last weekend I did a show where the band sent me through an input list. And no stage plan and no set up and no whatever. Adam Biggs: And they turn up and I had set up for them and they're like, actually the drummer sets up on the front of the stage over here and he needs this in terms of his monitoring and that sort of thing. And you're working a really tight window of time on this smaller shows. You're like, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, we can make that work. Adam Biggs: And so you're like, repatching things and you're running things from different places and you've got, you know, all that running games and that's just a distraction. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and that's time, you don't have to pull the song. Right. So Adam Biggs: exactly. So like, right. So now we're gonna lose 15 minutes or whatever it is from your hour long sound check, just to do something we would've done for you beforehand. Adam Biggs: So that sort of communication where you can just say to people it's like preparation, you know, like, know what you're bringing. Know what the sound person can expect. You know, some bands are great. Like they literally will give you a, a breakdown of what they want in their monitors, you know? So, you know, you you'll have like six people in a band and you'll have like some I've I've had people where they've had like pie charts and things like that of like what they want to hear in their monitors. Adam Biggs: I'm like, that's awesome. Cuz it's like, Yeah. You're like you basically soundcheck two minutes into the sound check. Everyone's like, yep. Cool. I'm happy. Fantastic. It's like, you know, cuz cuz they, they prepared, you know, like I might never have worked with that band before, but you know, the, if the drummer walks in and says, you know, let's say Vodville smash comes in and they go cool. Adam Biggs: Well basically an eighties concept band playing original music. So. What we want is we want really heavily gated reverbs on the drums. And we want, you know, like this slap back delays and we want, you know, this kind of, you know, these kind of bass sounds, and we want this kind of guitar sound and like, and you're like, sweet, awesome, cool. Adam Biggs: I can work with that. And then even before they hit their first note, you've got in your head, how to make that work Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You've got the facts dialed in Adam Biggs: everything dialed in Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you organized and yeah. Yeah. The queue set. Adam Biggs: Yeah. So like, like literally from the get go, you, you, you're kind of relaxed and you're like, yeah, cool. I know what the, I know what to expect if that same band turns around. Adam Biggs: So it's actually our latest albums, a screamo album. That's gonna really mess you up. But that's, that's the thing is it's like those last minute change was where they go, oh, actually we couldn't bring the keyboard player on. Run. So we've got a playback R so, okay, cool. So how many challenges do you need this, that, and the other, those changes. Adam Biggs: If, if your crew and your musicians are all communicating and, and preparing those things are no big deal, no one stresses about that stuff. But you know, if you turn up on the day and say, actually we need another eight DI's because we've got a playback rig. And, and we expect to just have a three piece band with 10 inputs or something. Adam Biggs: It's like, oh, actually, we're not prepared for that. We don't have Jan 'Yarn' Muths: show starts in two minutes. He is also prize orchestra. Adam Biggs: exactly. Yeah. Like literally, like that stuff happens, you know, like it's. Yeah. Like, so, and then it's like, everyone's stressing, the artist is stressing, cuz they're not getting what they thought they needed. Yeah. Yeah. So Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I once had a band. They had vocals and keyboards and we had, you know, literally they arrived a minute before show start and then they told me, oh, you know I'm not gonna use my keyboard. I can see you've got a grand piano. Adam Biggs: Yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: one minute to go. I was like, yeah. Adam Biggs: minute to go. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Oh, absolutely. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: doesn't have to be that way. Yeah. Adam Biggs: And, and some of those can be really amazing events, you know, like when you, when you turn, when you turn and act on its head and you just go, well, let's, let's take all those other things away, you know, let's, you know, I, I, I had a show with a bunch of touring acts years ago where they, everyone was sort of, you know, there's a bunch of. Adam Biggs: Known acts and they're all playing their own songs one after or the other, but they're all playing on each other's songs too. So, you know, it was great. It was really nice, some mix of stuff. And then after sound check one of the guys said, oh, you know what I'd love to do. And we tried it once and it didn't work. Adam Biggs: But what I'd love to do is just have like a single microphone set up in the front and a condenser mic set up at the front of the stage. And for everyone just to come on stage and do an acapella version of this song, and it'll just be me playing banjo. And one of the guys will play fiddle and there'll be eight vocals. Adam Biggs: And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: a single condensor microphone. Adam Biggs: and around a single condenser mic and, you know, with a big PA and it's like, Yeah. Okay. Look, I didn't bring a single large diaphragm condenser because that wasn't in the writer and the whatever. But look, the video guy is still on his way and I know he's got one at home, so I just called him up and said, look, can you throw this in the kid? Adam Biggs: We set it up, checked the, you know, checked the game and no, one's there for sound check. So we're literally like the video guy staying on stage talking into it. So I know that it's not gonna feed back if it's, you know, on stage, then the band comes in for that song. And they perform and we've never done it before and they've never done it before. Adam Biggs: Well, and it becomes this moment where. The music just transcends the technology and it's, it's literally eight people on a stage singing to a room and there's nothing in between, you know, like that microphone disappears because it's like, literally you've taken all of the tech out of it and you've taken all of the, the, yeah, well this work, how are we gonna do this? Adam Biggs: And how's it, you know, where's the volumes that for this and, and it literally becomes eight people on a stage singing. An audience, you know, and it takes all of the tech out of it. The PA disappears basically magic, absolutely magic, you know? And, and in a moment that literally years later, people who are at that show will come up and comment on that one song. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right. Adam Biggs: You know, like, you know, they'll come up and say, oh, is that, that was that, that gig, you know, a hundred percent, a hundred percent could have just Jan 'Yarn' Muths: risky. That's so risky. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The odds of this going well Adam Biggs: yeah, yeah, yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: your favor, Adam Biggs: Not in my favorite at all, and have done it since with bad results. But you know, that, that trust, you know, that, that thing where the artists have gone, you know what we think this will work because we're really comfortable on stage and we've done our sound check and we feel comfortable and we feel like you're listening and that you're doing your job well. Adam Biggs: And. That's when they come up and say, Hey, this is a curve ball. Could we do this? You know? And because you've got that trust and you've got that relationship and communication, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: work. Mm. Adam Biggs: you can go, yeah, let's give it a go. You know, like, it's not like, no, sorry, that's on the rider. Yeah. It's like, yeah, I can. That, that could be a really nice moment. Adam Biggs: And And, you know, it does, it brings those moments where you're just like, wow, that's one for the ages. And you know, so, so yeah, I think that's a great story. Yeah. I think, I think it is one of those things where, and I recorded that gig and, and yeah, I listened to it ever again and again, still, you know, it's like, it was just one of those cracker shows where it's like everything worked and And as I said, you know, I like literally have people from, you know, I do a gig in that town now and people come up and go, oh, was at that show like eight years ago. Adam Biggs: And I, I remember this song they did. And I'm like, yeah, I remember that song too. And yeah, like, that's super cool. Like you, why wouldn't you wanna do cool things like that. So, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. Adam Biggs: yeah. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. Well last question. Adam Biggs: sorry, I'm chewing Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you. Yeah, no, no, no, I'm loving it. I'm loving it. Keep going, keep going. But yeah, if I ask you to look into your crystal ball and what will the next five years bring, Adam Biggs: Wow. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: For the live szene and music industry as a whole, what is your prediction Adam Biggs: from, from seeing people coming back. To events and seeing people come back back to music after COVID people need it. Like people need to go out and be in their spaces and listen to music and, and feel that connection. So people will keep coming out. You know, regardless of if we have outbreaks and things, yeah. Adam Biggs: People will keep coming out. There'll be changes. Then there have been changes and and the new normal is, is getting rewritten every time we do a show. So I don't. I don't even wanna risk an idea of like, what that looks like, but I, I know people will keep coming out to see music. I know that the technology advances incrementally nowadays rather than in giant steps you know, the next model of console is not going to change the game. Adam Biggs: It's not going to rewrite the way we do things, but it might add a couple of nice tools to the kit. That make it easier for us to do what we do. And I welcome that, you know, like I think, I think the more tills you have the better a again, it's just that judicious use, you know, in the same way that I, I don't want a, a, a singer turning up with a vocal process and, and taking all the, the control away from me. Adam Biggs: I don't, I don't want to have a console that is so complicated. It takes away the sense of control. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm, Adam Biggs: From the engineer. I see it all the time with people coming in with like massive racks of, of plugins loaded on a console and and really struggling, you know, really struggling to connect with it because they just, you know, there's, there's so many things between the nice pristine vocal and, and the speaker that, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I know the problem. Adam Biggs: yeah. Adam Biggs: So, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: used all the plugins that I have and its still not sounded Adam Biggs: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let's add twice as many. Yeah. Yeah. Adam Biggs: exactly. You know, that, that's the thing is at the, yeah. At the end of the day, you know, like start with, start with the good source. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm, Adam Biggs: you know, but I think, yeah, I think in terms of live music and live sound I, for me personally, I, I I'm really happy to be working with specific. Adam Biggs: Genres and specific musicians that, that speak to me. I'm very happy to support my crew and my venues to do other things. But for me personally, as I get older, I guess I just look at and go, you know what? I don't, I don't want to go and do an EDM gig. I don't want to do. A screamo band. You know, I might occasionally like to listen to some of that stuff, but I don't wanna mix it. Adam Biggs: And I think a lot of engineers are going that way, the way they're just like, you know what? I there's enough work around that. I can be doing the stuff I love and focusing on the stuff I love and not be, you know, hating my job. Four out of five shows. And I think that's great. You know, it's, it's really hard for someone like me. Adam Biggs: Who's like trying to employ people to do gigs. There's a band that no one on my entire team likes working with musically nice people, really lovely people, but just musically. No, none of us can deal with this band and they get a lot of gigs and. It's literally become the running joke of what excuses are people gonna put on the calendar for not working with this band and, you know, it's I think it's, it's, it's sort of one of those things where it's just like, yeah, we, we, we have all those kind of things, but at the end of the day, like if someone comes to me and says, I don't wanna work with this music because it doesn't, it doesn't bring me joy. Adam Biggs: I just don't enjoy it. I don't want to do that. I don't do it well. Because of that. I feel like it's gonna kind of keep going that way, like, like more and more people in the industry are just gonna go, you know what, that's not me. I'm not gonna do that. And more and more artists are gonna be like, you know what? Adam Biggs: I don't wanna do these venues anymore, or I don't want to do you know, this kind of touring anymore, or I, you know, I've got options now I can, I can look at, you know, like, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm. Adam Biggs: you know, I can, I can tour small venues. Do. Do more shows to less people per show. Yeah. Yeah, like, yeah, like that thing of like, I think people have, have learned, like, I think that's one of the fundamental lessons now this whole COVID thing is people are going, like, why do we do what we do? Adam Biggs: Because it can all get taken away. So you may as well do it well and enjoy it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Passion. Adam Biggs: Yeah. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I, I can sense it when I'm at a show. I can hear whether the engineer's heart is in it or not. It, it is, it is. Super obvious. And you know, I I've been to bands where, you know, the engineer clearly had a different genre in mind, you know Adam Biggs: yeah. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: like a reg band mixed, like a rock band, you know, that just doesn't work. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And we don't want that. It's, it's much better for somebody who heart is fully in it Adam Biggs: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So, so yeah, so he is hoping for an industry where there's enough work and enough shows and enough people to fill those roles that we can all do what we want to do because we actually love it. Adam Biggs: You know, that's, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Adam Biggs: that's a, that's a perfect world. Isn't it? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: All right. If one of our listeners wants to reach out to you and connect and maybe possibly book you, what's the best place to find you, Adam? Adam Biggs: Look, my, my most active communication streams are on Facebook, big sounds productions. And Jan 'Yarn' Muths: is in the show notes. Adam Biggs: Yes. Great. And and on Instagram, I think it's big sounds.com.au. Adam Biggs: And yeah, you can, you can certainly reach out and have a conversation and yeah, we can swap emails and do all that sort of stuff. Fantastic. Awesome. Thanks so much for having me, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thank you so much for this conversation. It took a lot out of it. You know, it's really good to hear your take on Adam Biggs: yeah, it's been a real pleasure, man. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thanks for your time. Cheer, Adam Biggs: cheer. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Thank you so much, Adam BS for sharing all your wisdom with us, some amazing stories. I'm so glad that you shared these special moments with us. I believe that the information that you've provided you in this interview is super valuable to most of our listeners. I hope. And I really believe that this is some great stuff that our musicians who play live should tune into and listen to more than once. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So please do me a huge favor share this episode with everybody, you know, especially musicians and touring acts who might actually take something valuable out of, of this and therefore produce better sounding live shows. If you ever need of a livestock engineer or audio production for your event, head over to big sounds.com you that's Adam Biggs website, where you can contact Adam directly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thank you so much for tuning in today. I really appreciate you hanging out with us. Please hit the subscribe button, hit the like button and share this episode on your social media channels. Okay. If you want to reach out to me, you can do so via my website, a mix artist.com are you? This is, or for today, I hope you have a great week. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I shall speak to you again next week. Bye. For now.
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