Before Christmas the guys at SohoSoho dropped in to ask Disco Dave, our resident Dolby specialist and house music guru, a few questions about his life and career as one of London’s top sound designers. The interview was posted on their much loved website, but we wanted to share it again here for those who missed it…

What inspired you to be a Sound Engineer/Designer?
During senior school I got into DJ’ing which developed into a love of all things audio. Then after leaving sixth form I went on to do a HND in Sound Technology at Salford Uni and eventually found myself here at Angell Sound getting paid to do something I’d probably be doing as a hobby anyway! I’ve always been a bit of a tech-geek so I guess I was also drawn to the idea of using the equipment in a creative way.

What does your job entail?
Working with clients to create audio soundtracks based on a script or idea they bring to us. This typically involves recording voiceovers and actors, feeding through direction to ensure that the desired performance and timings are achieved. We then combine this with sound design or music. We have access to a large SFX database and various commercial music libraries but the project might also require us to build a layer of unique sound design from scratch or even compose a piece of bespoke music to fit the scene. Above all, it involves managing the sessions as efficiently as possible.

What skills do you need to be a good Sound Designer?
A good ear, first and foremost. And by that I don’t just mean being able to hear well. It’s also knowing instinctively what works and what doesn’t for the job in hand. Another important skill is the ability to isolate and focus on specific elements of a mix while at the same time being able to take a step back and view the overall mix objectively as a single piece of work. Being a people-person is very much an advantage, if not a necessity, in this industry. You have to be able to offer up guidance and advice when needed while encouraging good ideas in the room to come through. I find this generally makes for a better end product.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
The whole process really, from start to finish. Taking an initial idea and working with clients to achieve what they set out to do. It’s a great feeling when they leave happy with what we have produced. Facing down unexpected issues head-on and finding solutions to any problems that may crop up is also very rewarding.

If there were one thing you could change about your job what would it be?
On projects with a tighter budget I would sometimes like to spend a bit more time ‘crafting the mix’ but I suppose that could be said about most projects – you could carry on tweaking forever if money was no object!

Has your style been influenced by other Engineer’s work?
I don’t really think I have a style, I tend to just go with what feels right for that particular job. That said, coming up through the ranks, I was definitely influenced by the more experienced engineers around me, especially in terms of how to manage sessions.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a Sound Designer?
I was always quite good at drawing (I got an ‘A’ in A-Level Art, which I always like to remind people about!) so maybe an illustrator or something similar.

What projects are you most proud of?
One of my favourites is a Cinema and Binaural job I did for Drum & JA Digital for Hewlett Packard featuring the artist Plan B (watch it here.) It is a very immersive mix and, uncommonly, one that was constructed from the ground up completely from an audio point of view. It was a bit of a mammoth task at the time but certainly worth the effort. I’m extremely proud of that one.

What are your latest projects?
I’ve recently finished a nice, emotive Binaural mix in aid of Guide Dogs UK (watch it here.) It tells a story of what it might be like to grow up blind. When listening with headphones it puts the listener in the centre of the soundscape, in this case from the point of view of Team GB Paralympic gold medalist Libby Clegg. It’s definitely one of those I’m most proud of recently.

Lastly after a long day in the studio what do you like to spend your spare time getting up to?
I suppose it’s an even split between relaxing and socialising. Staring at screens for hours on end along with the concentration can fry your brain a bit by the end of the day so it’s often nice to have a bit of peace and quiet. It’s also good to give your ears a rest! That said, as weekend approaches, you might find me down at The Ship for the odd pint! I’ve also been producing music with a friend for years now so we might get together (at another studio!) and write some music. There’s also my beloved Liverpool of course. I have a season ticket so I try to get up to as many matches as I can… Come on the Reds!!!

To see a selection of Dave’s best and recent work, click here.