This sound can be described as contemporary Blues / Rock, with Influences from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steely Dan and many more.
Based in Liverpool, TOSIN SALAKO began working with Big Smoke Studios back in late 2015. Originally just recording guitar and vocals guides, it was for the in house producers at Big Smoke to then build the rest of the music around his demos.
From these initial demo sessions two tracks emerged as the strongest: Money and Storey Story.
The aim was to go for an overdriven, slightly saturated and weighted sound to ‘Money’, pushing the microphones and preamps to the edge. Cranking the guitars and amplifier stacks to maximum allowed us to extract full tonality from Tosins’ performance, which created a lively and energetic vibe for the record.
‘Storey Story’ was approached with more of a delicate touch. Tosin and the team went for a more laid back, Red Hot Chilli Peppers type of feel to the production with a steady back beat groove and rhythmic guitars leading the way throughout the track.
All were achieved with the right selection of preamps with colour and saturation settings like the Manley TNT for example, along with the classic and punchy API 3124+ and an old DDA desk, allowing us tailor the sound to how we desired.
“Recording at Big Smoke has started to become a creative home. With the studio set in an unassuming building, it amazes me how it always provides such a big sound from an intimate space. Above all it's a privilege to work with a production team who truly believe in the progress and development of recording artists. Their attention to detail and sonic expertise make every recording session an exciting and motivating experience, and by working with [in house engineers and producers] Mark and Josh, I've been able to bring my sonic imagination into real life” – Tosin Salako
You can take a listen to ‘Money’ and ‘Storey Story’ via Spotify here:
Storey Story –
Joined by drummer Abeeku Lewis from Halifax, and bass guitarist Daniel Clague, from Liverpool, The Tosin Trio have appeared on the local underground music scene throughout 2016 playing at arts culture festivals such as the Threshold, and local music awards ceremony Get Into This.
Find out more at: http://tosinsalako.com/index.php
Jack Le Breton came to Big Smoke Studios to record several parts for his next EP. This included a string quartet consisting of two violins, one viola and a cello that was for the track titled ‘Moths’.
Jack originally composed and arranged his work using samples and MIDI. However these lacked emotion and depth so he replaced these parts with real players and instruments. This would bring another dimension to his work and give it a ‘real’ vibe.
Jack said: “Up until then, all of my compositions had been sample based and whilst they sounded good and professional (he says modestly) I knew that they would never sound as I heard them in my head.”
Capturing the string section involved using close or ‘spot’ microphones on each instrument and a room microphone to capture the overall sound of the strings and acoustics of the live room.
Layering these recordings allows the balance and blend of the strings to be altered in the mix. This meant we could go from up close and dry to spacious and ambient.
The violins and viola were recorded with AKG C451Bs, as they provide a clean and crisp top end, with a nice boost around the 5-10Khz area, allowing for detail in the higher register. The cello we used the Brauner Phantom V for its naturally open and bright sounding characteristics, that includes a fast, detailed transient response and a smooth dynamic range.
These were running through a selection of Manley TNT and Neve 1073 preamps and roughly placed just over a foot away from the instruments.
To capture the room sound, we decided to use the R88 stereo ribbon microphone. It gave a lovely wide stereo image which worked beautifully with the positioning of the string in the room.
I was really happy the final product once all four tracks were recorded at Big Smoke Studios. It may not be the biggest studio in the world, but size isn't everything. Big Smoke Studios is a wonderful recording space. The staff manage to create a wonderful environment that is both friendly. During the recording of my EP, they were simply fantastic at catering to my personal needs as well as the visions for my EP
Moths is the second track that comes from Jack’s first EP, titled 'Inspirations From My Imagination' which was released on 24th August 2018. It can be found on the usual digital outlets such as Bandcamp, Spotify & Amazon Music.
Oli Duke has been playing in bands on and off for the last 10 years. The last couple of years he has been writing his own songs and creating demos. He has recently graduated from music college, where he had been learning some of the more technical aspects of recorded music.
As part of a work experience field trip to Big Smoke Studios he met with fellow student Arjun Doel. Realising that they both shared similar tastes in music they discussed ideas about working together on some of Oli’s projects.
The best way to describe Duke would be funk/disco, with strong influences from soul, r&b and rock. Some of his biggest influences are Chic, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Jamiroquai, the latter of which his sound is probably most similar to.
To make it fit in with modern times producer/engineer Arjun is going for a slightly aggressive, in your face sound. To achieve this, the sound will be clean and hi fidelity, but with a little bit of dirt - evocative of Duke’s core influences.
"Oli had a pretty clear vision on how the song should be. Our time at Big Smoke Studios was to finesse each part of the song, improving upon its foundation with real instruments, slightly rewriting parts and also improving on the sonic quality". - Arjun Doel, Producer/Engineer at Big Smoke Studios, 2018
"The best thing for me about Big Smoke is having the freedom to experiment with the tools available to design sounds that are perfect for my music. Especially working alongside a great engineer like Arjun, who always knows how to get the best out of the gear as well as throwing creative ideas into the room, it ensures the sessions always run smoothly and we end up getting brilliant results". - Oli Duke, 2018
Duke will be releasing 3 singles which will run up to an EP later in 2018. The first single, ‘Illusion’ was released at the beginning of March 2018.
You can follow Duke on his Instagram and Facebook.