Rising Stars: Mark Johnson

Audio Pro International’s commitment to showcasing the brightest young talent operating in the industry continues this week with the latest instalment of our Rising Stars section.

This week we speak to audio engineer Mark Johnson…

Where did you study?
I spent some time at Leeds College of Music learning music production but the course didn’t really work for me so most of my experience and knowledge has been gained in real world environments. I did a lot of unpaid work experience when I started out and got a couple of lucky breaks as a result of that.

Which band/project are you currently working on?
Most of 2011 was spent working with a reggae band (East Park Reggae Collective) with an extensive festival tour in the summer but I am currently looking for new projects to get involved in.

Where are you based/working at the moment?
I am based predominantly in Leeds working at the University Student Union venues but I’m always looking for new opportunities and ways to gain more experience.

Which audio console are you currently using? And how many channels?
The Union has a Midas XL3 40 channel console, which I love, but I also get to utilise a Yamaha LS9-32 on smaller gigs and tend to hire in a Soundcraft Vi1 when I’m mixing monitors in the venues.

What decision process was behind the choice of this console?
The XL3 belongs to the main Union venue (Stylus) and has been in situ for about eight years. It’s big but even after all this time it is still very rider-friendly (none of the touring engineers ever turn their noses up at it) and coming in as a new technician I always found it very easy to learn my way around. It also sounds great and with 16 mix outputs and matrices it’s great for pretty much any situation we’ve used it on.

Do you use any outboard effects/EQ, and if so, what are they used on and why?
With the reggae band I used a Roland RE-20 quite a lot for vocal delays because it can just sit on the end of the console and you can grab it whenever you want to go crazy. In Leeds I’ve got access to a whole bunch of Drawmer gates and compressors, which are real easy to get a good sound out of. I love the versatility of the TC Electronic d-Two multi FX processor (some nice delays in there) and whenever I get the chance I like to use a DBX 160a for vocals because when coupled with right pre-amps (Midas of course) there’s a really warm and full sounding tone that shines through.

What is your console of choice?
At this point I don’t get a lot of chance to choose but given the option I’d always go for a Midas analogue console (Heritage ideally) as they sound great and you can drive them pretty hard when you want to. When it comes to digital I really like the layout of the Yamaha PM5D but I’m quite keen on the Soundcraft Vi series as well for the same reason.

If you could tour with any band/artist who would it be?
The style of music isn’t really important to me as I’ve always applied the same basic approaches to mixing artists but I am definitely more comfortable working with more traditional line-ups. As such, I’d be keen to mix FOH for artists like Sarah Bareilles or Lana Del Ray. I am starting to get quite into mixing monitors and when that happens I relish the challenge of big line-ups, so mixing for a Michael Buble or a band like Reel Big Fish would be exciting.

To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Pro International editor Daniel Gumble on daniel.gumble@intentmedia.co.uk or 01992 535646.