Dave Swallow

 

THERE SNEAKED ONTO THE WHISKERED FACE OF THE MAN SITTING BEYOND THE GRAND MAHOGANY DESK A LOOK OF DISAPPOINTMENT; THE WOUNDED PUP LOOK THAT DECLARES TO THE WORLD YOU HAVE ONCE AGAIN OVER ESTIMATED YOUR OWN ABILITIES. THE CAREERS ADVISER, ADVISING THAT I SHOULD NOT PURSUE A CAREER THAT INVOLVED MATHEMATICS, ENGLISH OR SCIENCE, PATTED ME ON THE BACK AND PUSHED ME OUT OF THE DOOR WISHING ME A GOOD LIFE WITH ENOUGH FORCE FOR TWO CAREERS ADVISERS.

Born with all the correct fingers, toes, arms and legs into a cockle-picking town, Southend-on-Sea offered many delights. The world’s longest pleasure pier, for example, mud and the inability to sound a consonant. Leaving school, minus a tooth (cousinly inflicted), was a daunting prospect as I hated salt water, so cockle-picking was out, and I was about as gangster as Harry Potter.

There are moments in Life when you need to grab Opportunity by the hand and push it in a forwardly motion, much like a shopping trolley. As anyone who has pushed a shopping trolley will know, there is a certain element of fortune that goes with commanding such a vessel. In rookie hands they become a lethal weapon; browsing for biscuits then veering off connecting with a pyramid of tinned fruit. At moments like these I find an adaptive attitude comes in exceptionally useful. On this particular occasion it was Life that reached through the tinned fruit, grabbed my grubby collar and pulled me into the local music venue where I met a man that changed my life; Billy Idol.

Shrouded in darkness at the back of the room, except for the pearl-pale light of one of those giant sound desks with all the knobs and flashing lights, Billy Idol, knew what the thousands of tiny knobs and buttons did. With no qualifications, a CV filled with famous bands and armed to the brim with a ridiculous haircut, this guy, had forged a career in a profession that I never knew existed. I had finally found my calling. The house lights came on and it became apparent that Billy Idol was not in fact Billy Idol he was just the sound engineer. I would have said something but the mind was so astonished that someone would walk out their front door like that that it made speech pretty much impossible. But still, I was packed full of wonder.

My impressionable mind stubbornly set on the road to rock 'n' roll. I enrolled on a college course and pestered my way into a job pushing and painting speaker boxes with the local sound system supplier, who also happened the own the local rehearsal rooms, recording studio and venue. I watched and helped many touring artistes come through the venue, and many local bands have forms of success. One day a band by the name of Engerica asked if I could step aboard their tour bus (a Ford KA and Vauxhall Corsa) and take sonic responsibility. Since then I've mixed the sound for Basement Jaxx, Amy Winehouse, La Roux, James, DJ Fresh, Corinne Bailey Rae, Underworld, Ali Campbell's UB40 and one of the biggest EDM bands to come out of Italy, The Bloody Beetroots. Together we've taken on the smallest and biggest Festivals, TV shows and worldly venues and in 2011 and 2012 I was honoured with the award Live Sound Engineer of the Year.

It was at one of those conferences, you know the ones, where an entire industry gets together for an orgy of back-patting, where I met a man who changed my life; Tony Andrews, founder of TurboSound and now Funktion-One. Tony had just come off the back of some really hard show where it was made clear that his journey ahead was to be met with ignorance, malice and fraught with tension, I, on the other hand, had no idea this was going on and told him that his sound system was the best I'd ever used. All the instruments sounded so clear and most importantly the sound felt so intimate. It was at that point that our friendship grew and he taught me a lot about our innate feelings in music and how important the sound is to the connection.

In the July of 2010, on a sun-bleached rooftop, as is so often the way to get any work done when in West Hollywood, my mind wondered back to that grand mahogany desk. Pen in hand, forehead in the other, there tiptoed a slight smile as the words 'Thanks for reading, happy mixing.' were penned. My first book, Live Audio: the art of mixing a show, was concluded.

Audio Architect Apparel is an extension of my thoughts on international culture, creativity and the role science, technology, design and each and every single one of us has to play in it. I hope you enjoy the quality and the designs.

 

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