Next we chat to Barrie Pitt, a freelance Sound Engineer currently working with Jungle, Bonobo and Disclosure amongst others.
We chat to him about his life in the industry….
What inspired you to work in audio for live events?
I’d always had a love of music from my early teens, but when I left school I got a 9-5 office move before I went of to uni to study chemistry.
2 years later I was still there and could see me getting stuck in that job and it definitely wasn’t for me hahaha. So I packed it in and applied for music college while I was studying got a part time job in a comedy club.
Apart from being a good laugh (obviously) it gave me an understanding of the basics of live audio in practice (one mic and the occasional guitar/ playback), but I got a real buzz from it. I realised it was where I wanted to be, so slowly I worked my way into the music side of the industry.
Although my first ever paid gig was Bill Bailey which is pretty cool.
You have worked with some huge names; Jungle, Bonobo, Disclosure, Ben Howard, Catfish and the Bottlemen… How did you get work with these artists?
Like a lot of people in the industry it’s word of mouth a lot of the time. If you’re good at what you do and have a good work ethic and are easy to get along with then people will gladly have you back or recommend you to others when something comes along.
Nearly all of my work has been linked in some way to another band or event I’ve been involved in. Obviously there are things that just come along occasionally out of the blue, but generally I can trace it all back to previous work.
The tech world moves quickly – how has it affected you in your role over the past few years?
I came into live engineering when analog technology was still the first (and only) choice for live acts.
The introduction of digital (consoles, recording, automation) has been a real game changer for me. I think generally the quality and consistency of live shows has really grown over the years as digital kit becomes cheaper and more accessible to acts that historically would never have had access to touring consoles and in ears etc.
I mean most people have access to recordings and virtual soundcheck now which enables engineers to fiddle and tweak (not always for the best haha) but it’s meant that you go to festivals nowadays and the bands that are on first , second, third etc can sound incredible and have a great crack at making an impression on new fans.
We’ve all heard of the post event blues that comes after working 24/7 on a tour or festival – how do you manage your wellbeing between events?
I’m pretty lucky that I have an amazingly independent wife and three kids. That keeps me pretty grounded and doesn’t really allow for the post tour blues to set in. I definitely feel the post tour come down but obviously having kids means they never really have a chance to take hold.
I think personally you have to not be selfish. It wouldn’t be fair on my family (especially my wife) who have it pretty dialled these days so that it’s not a massive struggle when I’m away for potentially weeks / months. So the last thing they need is me coming back and moping around on a low after a tour.
I also live out in the countryside so it makes it easier I guess to switch off. My tour life and my home life are very different indeed.
You must have worked at countless venues and spaces – what’s been your favourite and why?
The O2 in London will always be one of my favourites. I graduated from college in 1999, so from the very start of me finding my feet in this industry the O2 was on my radar and it was probably my bench mark for success (I realise now that’s not always the case haha). I always dreamt of one day working with an artist who was at a level where they could play there.
Having been through the O2 a bunch of times over the years it still makes me smile a little when I go back in. It’s a pretty decent sounding arena too, all things considered.