London (May 1, 2006)–As Morcheeba’s engineer, Chris Harrison has certainly experimented with various mics to determine the best for vocal recording, a major element of the band’s lush sound. Harrison used the sE Gemini to record Daisy Martey, the singer replacing original Morcheeba chanteuse Sky Edwards, on the band’s most recent album, The Antedote.
Chris Harrison and the sE Gemini mic”I’ve done four records and co-produced and engineered the last record which has done well,” Harrison explained. “They’ve gone through a few changes and have a new singer now so it’s kind of a restart for them.”
Replacing the original singer was obviously a huge decision for the band. They hired Martey for The Antedote and the recording of her vocals was a crucial element, especially given that she was following such a big act. The decision over which mics to use was therefore a massive one for their engineer to make.
Harrison described, “Daisy has a very slick, powerful and thick tone and I was like: ‘what am I going to use?’ They had a few suitable mics available: a four and a half thousand pound Sony C800G, a Neumann M147, A Royer R121, EV RE20 and a Beyer M160. I tried these various mics on her and they just weren’t really working. Morcheeba always write the songs before we record and I recorded a demo of them so the band could listen to the tracks and go away with them before the main recording takes place. I used the sE Gemini valve mic for that whole demo. I’d just gotten the sE so decided to give it a go on the demo and to try it out on her. For the record we tried out all these more expensive microphones but we kept coming back to the demo vocal sound, which I was really happy with. It just worked really well with her voice.”
So after having beaten off the more expensive competition, the Gemini has become a firm favorite. “We’ve got the whole sE range but I primarily use the Gemini,” said Harrison. “What I like about it is that it has a bump around 2k and another bump on the top end so it has an immediate feel about it and you will know straight away whether it’s working. Some mics you will need to adjust this, that or the other. The Gemini is a very characterful mic and generally sounds very good on most things.”
And it’s not just Morcheeba who have benefited from Harrison’s expertise and sE mics. “I’ve also used the Gemini on Marlon from Mattafix, MC Mello and Will Young,” he said. “I’ve got into writing and producing and doing different projects and I mixed Cibelle’s last record which I’m particularly proud of. I’m assisting Paul Stacey in his studio and I’m getting right back into miking techniques and mixing. I’ve just assisted him on mixing the new Black Crowes record, we did The Kooks debut Eddies Gun, Oasis, the genius Texan, Robert Harrison and probably my favorite band right now, The Noisettes. My new project is called the Sound Makers and we’re currently doing a new record kind of like hip hop with a bit more music. There are so many little things I do–I never stick on one thing.”
He might not stick to one thing but Chris does have a single studio philosophy that has stood him in good stead over the years. “Use your ears,” he stated. “Don’t touch anything before you use your ears. A lot of people use the buttons before they actually listen.”