Paul Butler, founder member of the Isle of Wight-based The Bees and owner of The Steam Rooms recording studio, has purchased a Prism Sound Orpheus FireWire multi-track audio interface from Funky Junk to help expand his work with other artists. Not that he seems to need too much help, his work with Michael Kiwanuka already attracting enough attention to see Kiwanuka top the BBC’s influential ‘Sound Of 2012’ poll.
“I’m a sort of producer/musician/engineer/writer/performer: it’s the integrated approach to recording and playing music that helps me do what I do,” explainsButler. “The Bees has been my training in many areas of music and the industry, and recently I’ve had opportunities to branch out into the world of producing other artists. I run a studio on theIsle of Wightthat uses choice pieces of kit from the last six decades.”
The Orpheus has now joined the kit list at The Steam Rooms, following The Bees borrowing one fora writing session, and will be added toButler’s mobile recording rig. “The idea of the rig is that we rent inspirational spaces (out of season), utilising the room and surroundings forthe perfect creative environment forwriting,” he says.
Certainly his work with Kiwanuka, first on a couple of EPs and then his recently released and critically acclaimed debut album, Home Again, has shown the dividends such an approach can take.
“Our mobile rig consists of four additional lunchbox Mic/Line pres, one channel of quality compression, a laptop, a bag of mics, and a pair of small near field speakers,” saysButler. “Along with some quality instruments and reasonable musicians, the Orpheus sat at the heart. The results were much better than expected. It was like an older-era style of recording, only using a handful of outboard bits, and its success was down to strategic mic placement and good use of the large room we rented.
“The amount of channels available meant we kept it raw, but the quality of the recordings has opened up the possibility of not needing a full studio,” he continues. “Headphones were split out the two outputs on the front of the Orpheus to accommodate the four musicians – everything was covered.”
Butler’s sound has been described as ‘colourful, idiosyncratic, and retro-modernist’ (though he himself prefers to describe his approach asorganic rather than retro) and plans forthe future now include making full-time use of the Orpheus in his set-up, both forThe Bees and other artists. “I use it formaster recordings, but it’ll be with us foranother ‘recording holiday’ soon.”