Back in August 2018 we reported on the success of the first outing for the Unheard Studio. Built into two, glass walled shipping containers, filled with the best of Danish audio from Dynaudio and DAD, this studio was a feature at the Danish music festival Smukfest. Conceived as a way to bring recording facilities to the bands who need them most - the unsigned, unheard artists, this project was such a success they decided to repeat it at the 2019 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim California in January.
91 per cent of artists are completely undiscovered. Dynaudio wanted to do something to help level the balance. Together with the organisers of the NAMM Show, they gave unsigned artists the chance to get a gig and a quality recording at the same time. They received sign-ups from aspiring and exciting new acts. They listened carefully to all of them and selected 14 unheard participants. A group of bands and solo artists representing a wide variety of genres from metal and hip-hop to singer-songwriters and latin.
At the show we checked it out in person and we were impressed. The studio is built from two shipping containers and one wall of both the control room and the live area is fully glazed from floor to ceiling. With deep absorption as acoustic treatment the sound in the rooms is very dry but considering how, acoustically speaking, a shipping container is far from an ideal shape the results are very acceptable. This studio works.
The live area is set up like a stage with performers facing the glazed wall. Monitoring is via cans or IEMs courtesy of a Dante system from Klang. Audio IO and routing is via a DAD AX32 in combination with a Waves eMotion LV1 operating over SoundGrid. Keeping things Danish DPA mics were in use in the studio and the monitoring was supplied by a pair of Dynaudio’s new Core 59 3 way DSP monitors which sounded extremely nice. We hope to try a pair of these very soon.
The sound from the control room is fed to a PA system outside the Unheard Studio making what was a recording session into a festival stage for spectators outside.
We spoke to Christian Bennike from Dynaudio about the project, why they were doing it and how he felt things were going:
Why do The Unheard Studio?
“Everything we do is somehow connected to music this is very much a music project, It’s about the passion that artists have for music and the passion that people who listen to music have. So the “why” is about supporting that passion people have for creating music. It’s to support music because ultimately that is the point of what we’re doing. It’s very basic, It’s about the power music has to bring people together. I haven’t heard this band before but as I stand here I have an emotional response to their music and that’s important and if their session here in the Unheard Studio benefits them and helps them further their careers then that will benefit everybody.”
In terms of taking it to people who aren’t otherwise heard, what would you say to people who say that the technology to create and record music is more accessible than ever? Who are these people who aren’t recording and why aren’t they getting heard?
There’s people who don’t have access to equipment and don’t have knowledge and skills, they might know how to write a song and might be good singers, they might be great at playing the guitar but they don’t have access to professional help or professional studio equipment. So let’s say that you have that part covered, it’s so hard to break thought “sound barrier” and get noticed. If Unheard helps then everybody wins.
OK so you’ve got a recording, you’ve maybe even got a video, do you provide any support or guidance about how best to use it? What happens to these recordings once they are made?
Obviously we don’t claim any rights over the material beyond permission for us to use it. That is because the way we support it is to use our company platform. We reach about a million people a month and we put this content out on our platform because the people following us on our site and through out social named channels might be the people who can help.
So you’ve done two events with the Unheard Studio, one in Europe and one in the States, is it unfair to ask whether you have a favourite from the artists or bands through the studio today?
Yes, today’s favourite was Amber Ryan, they were great, you could see they were really skilled musicians with a singer who could sing and rap and a really tight drummer. They were young and inexperienced and you could see they were nervous getting in there and when they started doing their thing it was like - this is why we’re here, this is what we want to support. You could see people outside with their heads nodding, they were really great.
We’re used to seeing live recordings of gigs and festivals, we’re also used to seeing crossover events where an audience is invited to a filmed recording session of an established artist at Abbey Road or the like. The really imaginative part of the Unheard project is that rather than turning a gig into a recording session it turns a recording session into a gig. Musicians at the beginning of their careers often have to choose between recording, often with limited resources, perhaps overdubbing their parts, or performing live where they might get a recording off the desk but on a small stage this will often be vocal heavy with lots of bleed. The Unheard Studio prioritises the quality of the recording of the performance from the outset so the thing which is live about these recordings is the way they were performed, not the way they sound.
We hope they bring the Unheard Studio to the UK soon.