Next Generation Spotlight: Dean Glover

Audio Media International, in association with Genelec, is proud to present our Next Generation Spotlight interview with Manchester-based record producer, Dean Glover…

What is your name and what do you do?
I’m Dean Glover and I’m a producer. Based at VIBE Recording Studio in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, I work mainly with rock bands, but I’m just as comfortable with a guitar in my hand as I am a synthesiser, reversing a drum loop and then it all being sent through a Roland space echo.

What inspired you to get into studio work?
At age 16, my band entered a battle of the bands ran by Salford City Council. It was all part of the regeneration of Salford at that time and had been assigned enough funding to offer two days in Blueprint Studios as the top prize. After we qualified through the first few rounds of heats at various local community centres, we were invited, along with the other remaining finalists, to rehearse at Blueprint’s basement rehearsal rooms for the two days leading up to the final event, then we’d have the final event and then the following two days would be for the eventual victors to spend upstairs in the studio.

We were used to rehearsing in all sorts of run-down mills and warehouses with dodgy lifts and sketchy, humming PA systems. I vividly remember, walking through the door and it was like stepping into a whole different dimension. The funky wallpapers, avant-garde furniture, mad pictures on the walls – not to mention all the amazing recording equipment. It was all very cool and overwhelming, but I sensed there was a purpose to it.  Like the national grid control centre, or air traffic control or some big nuclear power plant situation room… it felt like it was serving an important civic purpose, manufacturing audio for an important industry. Especially in Manchester.

Fast forward 24 hours or so later and we arrived to collect our first place winner’s prize. Our engineer/producer for both days was Fred, who’d clearly been tasked with running ‘that kid’s battle of the bands job’ – but seeing him operate the big Neve mixing desk and all the other bits of expensive gear, he just seemed like an actual cool dude, and that was probably the first time I remember thinking to myself; working in the studio and recording, not only as a musician but also in a creative capacity as an engineer or a producer, might actually be a smart thing to do.

I remember asking Neil how much the studio time we’d just racked up would cost. I’m not sure he told me exactly, but it definitely left me with another lasting thought; that if I’m going to get good at this, there’s no way I’m paying that much to come in here all the time… I need to figure a lot of this out for myself.

Tell us about your route into the industry?
After deciding that the recording part of being in a band is something I could get into, I set to work right away. I was constantly capturing new performances of songs we were working on. I was taking on the role of engineer, producer, mixer whilst also being the guitarist, contributing lyrics and also doing the artwork and presentation too. It wasn’t about control, I was on the same wavelength as my band mates and I knew what their skills and talents were and knew we all shared a very similar vision. Understanding this principle became a crucial part of why I took to production, especially producing bands.

Eventually we agreed we needed to raise the standards a little, so we decided to record at a proper studio and ended up recording at VIBE Studios in North Manchester, ran by Martin Coogan. He’d come down to a rehearsal to watch us run through a few songs and was keen to offer some production input and oversee the sessions for us. His engineer, Yves, who was operating the desk and the computer, also contributed some ideas and feedback too. The plan was, to record the drums there, then I’d take it away and record all the bass, guitars and whatever else in my own time, then take it back and do vocals. While the quality of the recordings had improved I was still chasing a bit more control. So, a few weeks down the line, I asked Martin if he’d let me borrow the live room, set up my own MacBook and mics and record the drums on some newer tracks.

He trusted me with a set of keys to let ourselves in and use the room. Sure enough, it wasn’t long after that Martin gotg in touch asking if I was available to record a band he’d booked, as Yves was busy with other projects. I jumped at the chance and made the most of another big opportunity. 

What is your approach to work in the studio?
As I said before, getting on the same wavelength as the artist I’m producing is always my top priority.  Efficiency is also important to me. I’m not big into spending 8 hours of the bands time A/Bing hi-hat microphones. Having the studio configured and ready to capture at the quickest pace possible is crucial to staying focused and alert and also keeping yourself and the artist fresh.

Another key element I try and make the most of is having dual set ups. Having the same, or very similar set up at home as you do in the studio. Being able to sync folders and load sessions up in both locations, plus keeping on top and aware of versions and mix edits makes life so much easier, plus the knock on effects of having more confidence and reliability in your file management can never be understated.

Who/what have been some of your biggest influences in your career to date?
One of my best mates, the aforementioned Rory Birch. I remember meeting him for the first time in college at an induction meeting thing and praying that he wasn’t on my course. Fast forward 16 years and we’re still close friends and collaborators. He was a big force of nature when we first started our music tech studies at college, inspiring me to be more pro-active with his get-up-and-go attitude and a contagious fearlessness that enabled him to hustle various jobs doing live sound at some of Manchester’s most important music venues.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the industry?
Around October last year I decided I needed to take everything I’d been doing up to the next level.

The first issue I had to confront was reducing the amount of work I was doing, and more importantly, the type of work I was doing. I had a regular job as an in-house producer/composer, as well as lots of other regular clients and repeat business. But these took up lots of valuable space in the calendar and they were either not inspiring or not financially rewarding enough to justify continuing them.  

Once I’d managed to cut down my workload, my next step was to expand and enhance the service I was offering. I needed to think about how to make use of all my abilities and experience and deliver them to the artists I wanted to work with. In the past, I would get frustrated when working with talented people, throwing 100 per cent effort, time and money into a record, only to find out they had no idea how to promote it. So I took all the experience I’d gathered from the meetings and emails I’d been privy to with artists, managers, agents etc and formulated a framework that I could use to help artists.  

Now, just over 12 months on, I can say I achieved what I set out to do. My next targets are to start recruiting more talented people to work alongside me, delegating tasks to trusted engineers, producers, mixers and mastering engineers, but most of all to keep offering better value and a more useful product to the hundreds of talented artists who don’t have any industry knowledge or who are overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to progress as an artist.

Tell us about some of the key projects you’ve worked on over the past 12 months?
Revamping the way I was doing business also meant I’ve been able to allocate more hours to bigger projects, such as producing Twisted Wheel’s critically acclaimed album Satisfying The Ritual, which came out in March (2020).

But the most important are new and exciting artists like The Outcharms,, Dogship, Palava, Suave Martyrs, Ror Materials, Lucas Bernard, Tino Caine and Rizzemblance, who not only are unique artists, songwriters and talented musicians in their own right, but are 100 per cent passionate and committed to their music and their creativity. 

What projects do you have coming up?
I’m looking forward to teaming up with Shotty Horroh again and continuing more work on his new album. I’m eager to work with even more exciting new bands such Ventrelles, Afternoon People, Joell Jordi, Aerial Salad, Scott Dunning, amongst many others. I’m confident next year will be a good strong, positive year. Not only for myself and the artists I work with, but for the whole of the music industry. I really do believe that being creative will eventually guide us to a place where we can perhaps tear a few traditional rules up, do things that need doing a bit differently differently, embrace more new technology and express ourselves better as a result.