From the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, enjoy this in-depth discussion with legendary producer George Martin at A.I.R. Studio London, conducted by William Wolf. This article dates back to the January/February 1971 issue.

William Wolf: What do the letters “A. I. R.” stand for?

George Martin: Associated Independent Recordings.

WW: Has A.I.R. done any independent production locating the talent, etc. as yet?

GM: Yes, but not much. We left our respective companies just over five years ago—three of us left EMI and one left Decca—and we had to do a deal with EMI which lasted five years; in fact, it ended about a month ago.

This was basically an independent deal but it also covered the servicing of artists that were contracted to the company anyway. Obviously the Beatles came under that, and other artists that we handled—there were quite a few. So we had to maintain those artists and so our time for finding other artists was obviously limited.

But at the same time, as the years went by it became more and more difficult to get new artists not because they weren’t there but because the deal that we had with EMI was limited to an overall royalty which gradually became—well, in fact, very quickly became out of date. So that by the time the contract ended we couldn’t possibly hope to secure any artists because we couldn’t offer them any money. We were bound by that and we couldn’t do anything about it.

Now that we’re free we can really look around—sniff the air—which is what we intend to do. But we decided, in fact, before we did that, to build a studio.

WW: Several of the studios I’ve visited in England are equipped, as is A.I.R., to handle visual material as well as audio. Do you feel that there is a potential in integrating the pop music field with visual technology ?

GM: Actually there aren’t all that many studios here that also do visuals. There are far more—fewer sound ones. But the tendency is, of course, to open up the visual side—mainly because, I think, this is inevitably the future. You’re bound to have video recordings; they’re on our doorstep.

WW: What are your feelings about four-channel sound?

GM: We haven’t built it into our boards mainly because it’s a very new development and most people in this country don’t know anything about it. We know about it because we go to your country. I honestly don’t believe it’s a very important development. It’s quite nice, it’s pleasant, it’s a very nice gimmick, but I can not imagine the average person going to the elaboration of fixing up four speakers in their room so that they can hear the ambiance of the concert hall behind them…

You could have circular sound, of course, but when I was introduced to quadrasonic sound, my comment was that if you’re using four speakers the ideal is not one in each corner of the room, but it is three in an equilateral triangle below you and one above you so that you’re in the center of a tetrahedron. Then you’ve really got all-around sound, in all manners—you’ve got up and down as well.

But this is being idealistic and I really don’t think it’s for the average man. It’s very nice, but I can’t imagine Mrs. Jones of Wiggum or in your case Mrs. Bloomfield of Connecticut taking the trouble of fixing up her drawing room or … whatever you call it … the lounge with four speakers.

WW: Is there stereo radio transmission in England?

GM: Yes, there is, but it’s very limited. It’s third program stuff; that is, you get classical concerts occasionally broadcast in stereo and occasionally you get stereo record broadcasts. I should think the number of people in England who listen to it is about .001 percent. And also, people don’t listen to radio much anyway. The average man in this country is glued to the television set.

WW: Would you describe what you feel the responsibilities of the producer are on a “rock” date?

GM: Yes. I’m glad you defined that because a producer’s responsibilities do vary an awful lot. For a rock date I think he’s got to get to know the group musically and obviously psychologically he’s got to know the people. He’s got to get into their minds and he’s got to try to find out what they’re trying to express and if he can find out, it’s then his job to realize it in terms of sound. So, his function is not to impose his will upon the group and produce his sound using the group as his puppet, but more to draw out from the group the best sound he can possibly get, and get them to play the best possible music.

WW: Then you feel that sound, as well as music, is a major responsibility of the producer?

GM: Yes. That’s the way I see it. It’s also psychological. I think you’ve got to learn how to get the best out of people find out when they’re going past it and so on.



It’s been a few months but Violet Skies has released her second song with us on Awkward Music. It’s called Dragons and it will be available on 22nd June. Could do do a piece for me?



Awkward Music ‘Dragons’ is the hypnotic and captivating new track from singer-songwriter Violet Skies. Taken from her upcoming debut EP – produced by Great Skies ‘Dragons’ is a captivating slice of two-step heaven, blending Violet’s haunting vocals with minimal electronic beats and enchanting orchestral sounds.

‘Dragons’ serves as a follow-up to the incredible ‘How The Mighty’, which debuted last year and received airplay on BBC Radio 1’s ‘Introducing’ series and was tipped by the likes of NME, The 405, HillyDilly and Earmilk.

Hailing from a small village in South Wales, Violet’s sound draws on her love of a range of artists from those she grew up listening to such as Joni Mitchell, Sting and Paul Simon, to the unique soundscapes of Massive Attack and James Blake.

Violet’s debut EP ‘Dragons’ is available for pre-order on iTunes and will be released on June 22nd, just days after she takes to the stage at this year’s Camden Crawl (June 20th.) To pre-order ‘Dragons’:


Sound Cloud:



Matt Daniels is a designer, coder, and data scientist at Undercurrent in New York City. His past works include the Etymology of “Shorty” and Outkast, in graphs and charts. He decided to examine the vocabulary of hip hop artists, and this is what he found. – May 2014

Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.

I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

5,000 words covers 3-5 studio albums and EPs. I included mixtapes if the artist was just short of the 35,000 words. Quite a few rappers don’t have enough official material to be included (e.g., Biggie, Kendrick Lamar). As a benchmark, I included data points for Shakespeare and Herman Melville, using the same approach (35,000 words across several plays for Shakespeare, first 35,000 of Moby Dick).

I used a research methodology called token analysis to determine each artist’s vocabulary. Each word is counted once, so pimps, pimp, pimping, and pimpin are four unique words. To avoid issues with apostrophes (e.g., pimpin’ vs. pimpin), they’re removed from the dataset. It still isn’t perfect. Hip hop is full of slang that is hard to transcribe (e.g., shorty vs. shawty), compound words (e.g., king shit), featured vocalists, and repetitive choruses.

It’s still directionally interesting. Of the 85 artists in the dataset, let’s take a look at who is on top.


A video of tree rings being played on a record player has become a viral hit, with the rings playing distorted and disturbing music. Listen below.

The recordings have been created by Bartholomaus Traubeck, who has turned a collection of trees ‘date rings’ into playable pieces of music for a science project titled Years. Oddlyenough, one of the videos online sounds like the distorted closing moments of ‘Contact’, the final song on Daft Punk’s world-conquering Random Access Memories. Listen below.


Focusrite competition

This spring, buy any new Focusrite, Novation or KRK product from a participating UK dealer and complete the form on Focusrite’s website for a chance to win. Once you have entered and answered the competition question correctly, you are automatically included in the daily draw for a £200 Studio Gear Voucher until the final draw.

There are fifty draws in total. The sooner you purchase, the more daily competitions you will be entered into. Winners will be announced daily here excluding weekends and bank holidays when winners will be announced on the next working day.

To enter, follow these steps

1) Buy any new Focusrite, Novation or KRK product between 1st April 2014 and 2nd June 2014 from any participating UK dealer.

2) Enter the competition using the form here.

3) Imagine what other Focusrite or Novation studio gear you would like in your studio!

You can use the £200 voucher towards any Focusrite or Novation product of your choice. Perhaps you have just purchased a Focusrite audio interface and next on your gear list is a Novation Impulse Keyboard Controller – as used by Lorde’s keyboard player, Jimmy Mac. Maybe listening to your new KRK monitors and watching the documentary “The Story of the Focusrite Studio Console” has inspired you to buy an ISA mic preamp? A £200 voucher would certainly help to fund that purchase. Or maybe you have purchased a Launchpad S and would love another one – think M4SONIC.

Go to Focusrite’s website for full terms and conditions, and a list of participating UK dealers. The lucky winners will be contacted directly by Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd.



It’s an old adage, but one that has once again proved to be true: the best place to hide something is in plain sight. So when the powers-that-be at Moog Music wanted to ensure that their largest, most expensive, and arguably most exciting project since… well, since almost forever, remained a closely guarded secret, they told everybody what they were doing. But they did so on 1st April, thus ensuring that nobody believed them. Within hours, the web surged with headlines such as “April Fools’ Jokes We Almost Wish Were Real”, and the forums were full of comments along the lines of, “Dang it, they got me too” and “Moog is definitely putting more time into April Fools pranks now”. My favourites, however, were, “Hahahahahahahahahaha!” and “April Fools – assholes”. Well, I have news. Moog’s latest synthesizer is indeed a recreation of what is arguably the world’s most famous synthesizer – Keith Emerson’s modular monster, once dubbed “the most dangerous synthesizer in the world”.

You find me in Asheville, North Carolina, sitting in a small studio within Moog’s factory. To my right is Keith Emerson’s mighty modular synth… and to my left is Keith Emerson’s mighty modular synth. Of course, that can’t be true but, to the casual observer, it’s almost impossible to tell which is the original, and which is the clone. Look closely, and you’ll find that the one on the right has a bit of a bash here, a bit of wear there – battle scars that suggest that it may have been on the road since 1970 – while the other is in pristine condition. But the similarities are unbelievable, to the extent that, when presented with both, you start to look for the mirrors. What’s more, this attention to detail is far more than skin deep. Wherever possible, the new synth has been built using original components and, while Moog’s engineers are aware that this may make it difficult (or impossible) to export it to some countries, authenticity was the sole guiding criterion. So, unlike recent re-releases from elsewhere, you’ll find no surface mount chips and miniature equivalents in the new Moog; it’s all solder tags, chunky inductors, massive capacitors, and circuit tracks so wide that you could drive the 7:56 to Paddington along them.

The new Moog (which, at the time of writing, doesn’t even have a name) was still being completed on the day that I arrived in the USA but, being the type of chap I am, I couldn’t resist pulling the two synths into an ‘L’ shape and playing them together. Having patched Wodin’s favourite bass sound on the clone, I selected the Aquatarkus, Welcome S/H, Hoedown and Lucky Man presets on Emerson’s, and proceeded to play excerpts from Emerson Lake & Palmer’s greatest hits. Very badly. But the staff at Moog tell me that I was the first person in the world ever to play two ‘Emerson synths’ simultaneously, and that has been (literally) a unique privilege. And the sound? My god, the sound! But it still leaves a number of questions unanswered, the most significant of which are, “why did they do it?” followed closely by, “will I ever be able to buy one?”. Over the next few days, I’ll be talking to the people behind the project to bring the whole story to you.

The ‘Emerson’ Moog Modular (together with some other, somewhat smaller, goodies) has just been unveiled to the public at Moogfest 2014, which is running in Asheville, NC, from 23rd – 27th April. Gordon Reid



Streaming is already a red hot topic for 2014, with the format having grown over 2013 and a high profile publicity campaign warming up for Beats Music, which launches on Tuesday.

The expectations are that Beats will spend significant sums on marketing to a mainstream audience (evidenced by its AT&T Family Plan and planned Super Bowl commercial) and cannily leverage the branding of its signature premium headphones.

Despite this positive start to the year, it would be brave to bet that there won’t be more high profile artists expressing their concerns about the economics of streaming, as Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich did to incendiary effect last year. If streaming really is the future for recorded music consumption, then worries about meagre payouts and baffling royalty calculations, exacerbated by a shroud of secrecy, must be addressed in order to secure the support of artists.

Given the way information and opinion travels across the Internet, it is entirely plausible that Beats and the upcoming YouTube music service – if successful – will face a similar grilling to that endured by Spotify over the last year. Already, Beats’ messaging has raised questions, despite efforts to be reassuring to artists, with the New York Times and others reporting things like “The company declined to specify its rates, but said that it pays all labels equally” (NYT) and “Another selling point that Beats is talking up is it being an “artist-friendly” service, paying the same royalty rate to everyone” (CMU).

With no mention of what those rates are, or, unsurprisingly, any comment on other financial aspects of deals struck with labels and publishers, you can almost hear the wheels of scepticism slowly spinning amongst some industry commentators.

Regarding the services already launched, if artists are confused by their royalty statement it is hardly surprising. We hear of calculations that are frighteningly complex to a layman, including overlapping and interlocking variables like maximum and minimum rates per subscriber, differing mechanical rates and territorial weightings.  It is no wonder accusations have been flying. There are questions unanswered about ‘digital breakage’, such as what happens when one subscriber pays £9.99 a month but only plays a handful of tracks?  Are royalty accountants and artist managers told enough to understand the granularity of statements on streaming revenues?

Added to this the rumours and accepted wisdoms about licensing deals offering everything from signing bonuses and delivery fees to ‘halo’ payments to big artists and equity, and one can understand why artists might be distrustful.

Counter arguments to the views expressed by Yorke and Godrich included criticism of artists who complained about Spotify (and others) whilst happily submitting to YouTube and SoundCloud, services with little or no promise of remuneration. Also, there were accusations of impatience and naivety: if streaming services could just reach greater scale, then all parties had the potential to benefit.

Spotify should be applauded for its attempt to clarify the issues and be more transparent via its site. It is, after all, a company striving to become profitable through gaining and exploiting competitive advantages, and transparency can hardly be a USP.

One should also appreciate that streaming IS in its infancy. The problems of how to account to rights holders are new, and will surely undergo adjustments in years to come. Each point in the value chain is trying to understand and find ways to exploit what is an inherently complex system.

There are also significant administrative problems that, in theory, will get ironed out in time. Getting the problems around metadata fixed are as important in some cases as transparency of accounting. If, for instance, the metadata relating to a track’s publishing in a particular territory is wrong, having been supplied by a party other than the actual publisher, key revenue could be missed or redirected.

A cheeky criticism of competing services by Beats’ Ian Rogers was that his would not be a “database list”. In terms of serving creators though, services and suppliers would do well to keep their databases as accurate and up to date as possible – something the Global Repertoire Database promises to assist with.

Perhaps there is no bogeyman here, no comedy villain to condemn, afterall. Perhaps this is a situation where creators, rights holders and technologists are all working towards a future where the value of recorded music stabilises and even grows. Perhaps there is a path from this point forward that leads to clearer, fairer and more accurate accounting to artists.

But negative perceptions, however inaccurate, could cost the industry dearly, as with the Napster years. Can something be done? Are there some reasonable methods of calculation common to all services that can be shared with artists to help them understand this new music economy? One thing is for sure – if streaming is the future of the recordings business, artists deserve a better explanation of its economics than is currently on offer.

Editorial by Tom Quillfeldt



lready famed for its samples and plugins, Vengeance Sound has introduced two new audio processing devices that look set to further enhance its reputation.

First up is Glitch Bitch, the company’s contribution to the ever-growing range of glitch plugins currently on the market. Promising to let you create “the craziest glitch and stutter effects you ever heard,” this enables you to shorten or increase buffer sizes, sync buffers to your host tempo, add high- or low-pass filters, apply rate reducing, reverse the buffers, use the “advance buffer mode” to create previously unheard effects, pitch down your buffers, apply volume and pan modulations, draw custom envelopes and use the internal sequencer for triggering.

Glitch Bitch can be yours for £40, though an eLicenser USB dongle is required.

Secondly, we have Tapestop which, as its name suggests, can be used to create the classic tape stop effect. This ‘deluxe’ plugin, however, promises to go beyond this one simple effect and let you concoct all kind of pitching madness, with a built-in sequencer, volume and filter envelopes and “tape slip” feature all on hand.





Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is today confirmed as the UK’s most downloaded track of all time, according to a new countdown compiled by the Official Charts Company and unveiled by BBC Radio 1.

Blurred Lines (which also features T.I. and Pharrell Williams) has sold 1.54 million copies since it was released in May last year, according to the All-time Official Download Chart Top 100, which was unveiled today (Monday April 21) byBBC Radio 1 across seven hours on air.

Speaking to, Robin Thicke said he was delighted with the success. “I’m so honoured, the success of Blurred Lines is a dream come true.”

In taking the all-time title, Blurred Lines overhauls the previous biggest selling download, Adele’s Someone Like You, which has now sold 1.53 million copies to date. These are now the only two tracks to have sold more than 1.5 million downloads in the UK, with a total of 27 tracks having passed the 1 million mark.

The All-time Official Download Chart Top 5 is completed by 2011’s Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 FT Christina Aguilera, 2011’s Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye FT Kimbra, and I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peaswhich was first released in 2009.

The fastest growing new million-seller is Pharrell Williams’ Happy, which has now surpassed 1.3 million sales– making it the 9th biggest selling download of all time.


After going quite for a short period, West London’s Ratlin comes back with a deep heart felt freestyle outlining where he is at in his life and then mentions that his highly anticipated #SummerTimeInMexico2 will be out soon.

We look forward to hearing more!

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* T: @Ratlin

* IG: Ratlin

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