Michael Green Interviews... Emily Curtin
Originally posted on 26th August 2016 here is a Q & A with sound engineer Emily Curtin. We talked about her experiences working in live music and working with solo artists & bands.
Photo by Neil McCarty Photography
So where did it all start for you getting involved in music?
It all started at a very young age when my parents brought me my first guitar at the age of five. My dad started taking me to gigs when I was 15 and absolutely loved it. I'd go to Esquires every chance I had and soon realised there was so much more to gigs than just watching the show. I applied for college to study Music Tech and managed to get a job at Esquires on the monitor desk. Are there any other sound engineers you say were influences on you? Caroline Adcock, without a doubt. She is a brilliant engineer and taught me everything I know. Caz trained me up on the monitor desk at Esquires and helped to build my confidence doing front of house. She also took me out to different venues and festivals and gave me the opportunity to work with some awesome artists. I can't thank her enough. How do you find watching gigs when you're not doing the sound, do you find you're able to switch off and enjoy it? I tend to switch off as best as possible when I'm not working so I can really enjoy the gig. I don't get to go to as many as I would like to so make the most of the experience when I do.
Photo by Neil McCarty Photography
Do you think it's important when not working to watch other gigs in different size venues and spaces indoors & outdoors? Does this help you when you have to do sound somewhere you haven't done before?
I definitely think it's important to go to gigs and be in the audience. I find it interesting to see what different venues sound like and the way that other engineers mix. All rooms are different, so if it's a venue I haven’t been to before, I tend to arrive early and have a chat with the in-house engineer to see if there's anything in particular to listen out for. A lot of the time they will advise the sound will differ when the audience start arriving and filling the room.
What advice would you give to artists and bands when it comes to working with Sound engineers? e.g what time they should arrive how they should communicate with you off and onstage?
It's always best to turn up at the time the promoter has given you. This is usually so you have a decent amount of time to load in and sound check. Be polite... Let the engineer know if you need more in your monitor or say if you have a specific effect you want on your vocal, these things help us to do our job. Oh, and remember, a sound check is a sound check, not a rehearsal ;)
As you watch a lot of live music what tips do you have for performers to have as smooth a gig as possible? e.g if problems arise during the gig what would be the best way to handle it?
Always take spare equipment; cables are really important, along with a spare guitar if possible. Stay professional if something goes wrong, engage with the audience to try and keep their attention away from the issue.
Finally what advice would you give anyone who was interested in going into sound engineering?
Get stuck in.
Get down to your local music venue and ask if there's an opportunity for some work experience. Go to your friends band rehearsals and see how they set up their equipment and get involved if they don't mind you helping out. Most of all, have confidence and love what you do.
You can contact Emily, for more informtaion of her sound engineering services at firstname.lastname@example.org
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