There was a great feature piece in this weekends Otago Daily Times looking at Dunedin sound engineers:
- Dale Cotton
- Tex Houston
- Paul Sammes
- Michael Holland
- Iain Sweetman
Read full article: http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/373767/quietish-achievers
Paul Sammes’ house is not far from Houston’s.
Sitting proudly on the corner of a street, its wooden weatherboards hide a treasure trove of technological wizardry, much of which Sammes packed into a shipping container when he returned to Dunedin in 2010, having lived overseas since the mid-’90s.
A tech-geek’s dream, the top floor of Samme’s home (his business is called arthousemedia) is brimful of state-of-the-art digital recording equipment, amassed over a career that spans three decades and includes studio work in Australia, Asia and the US, lecturing at the Australian Institute of Music, marketing for industry giant Digidesign, as well as film post-production and sound design.
“Most of my time now is predominantly as a mastering engineer,” Sammes explains.
“I produce stuff for local bands, but also do fly-ins from Australian and American artists and some film post-production work, including voice-overs.”
His list of clients ranges from pop, rock, electronic and folk acts, to a Samoan choir and Christian groups.
This week, he has been working on a contemporary country album with Dunedin performers Bevan Gardiner and Georgie Daniel.
Having played in a range of Dunedin bands, Sammes understands most of those involved in music in the city are not the “most well-financed”.
For many, it is a hobby as opposed to a career.
“So for New Zealand Music Month last year, I did a deal where I scaled my hourly rate to the earnings of the person doing the recording. So if a person was on minimum wage, I’d work for the same. I did that because you always get accused of ripping people off.
“The thing is, equipment costs money. I have a million dollars worth of gear here; some of my microphones cost $5000 each. I have a lot of money invested in it.”
Sammes acknowledges there is a strong DIY ethic among Dunedin musicians who, like their peers around the world, have been able to access relatively inexpensive recording equipment, including the rise of computer-based platforms.
Yet, such technological empowerment does not necessarily equate to quality, he says.
“Sure you can record stuff on your laptop using Garageband – and people have made good recordings this way – but if you want to compete with others … it’s like driving a Mini and hoping you’ll win a Formula 1 race.”