Rick Camp (right) and Noel Edwards
were not only Jennifer Lopez’s FOH and monitor engineers for the AMAs, respectively; they’re also a father-and-son audio team.LOS ANGELES, CA—It’s a family affair for Rick Camp and Noel Edwards, who are that rare thing, a father-andson live-sound mixing team, working together respectively at front of house and monitors. The pair most recently teamed up to work with Jennifer Lopez on her performance at the American Music Awards, which was broadcast on ABC.
In fact, Edwards is equally happy at front of house or monitors, and equally at home in the studio as he is in a live venue. But when they work together, he says, his dad plays the seniority card and stakes his claim to the FOH position: “Every time I work with my dad, he doesn’t want to do monitors, so I end up doing them!”
“I’m too old for that!” laughs Camp, who affectionately refers to Edwards as “my baby.”
Edwards is quick to note that his father, who maintains his own studio facility and has toured with Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, didn’t push him into the business. “I grew up watching my dad do what he does for his profession, so I was always around it. But I never had any ambition to be a sound engineer. I was really big into sports as a kid, but in my senior year at high school, I broke my knee playing football, so my plans had to change. I naturally fell into something I’d been seeing my whole life, which was audio engineering.”
That said, his father has always been ready to offer support. “He said, ‘If you’ve got questions about anything, just ask me.’ When I had obstacles, I always had somebody to fall back on and ask, ‘How do you do this, how do you fix this, how does this work?’ But it came to me naturally, and I got really good at it really fast. It became an easy thing to transition into.”
It wasn’t until after he graduated college that he was able to work with his father. “He had always turned me on to work, but we had never had the opportunity to work together as a team.” But then they had the opportunity to work with Brian Culbertson, with whom they’ve been working for four years.
Edwards was initially hired for the J-Lo gig: “I brought him in on this one; I returned the favor. I got called in through Kim [Burse, a music director/ composer who also worked with Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé]. I showed up ready to work and after a couple of days, asked where the front-of-house guy was, as I would like his input on mic preferences and things of that nature. They told me they didn’t have one, and they needed one. The first person in line was obviously my dad.”
Of course, there’s a familial bond, but there’s also mutual respect for each other’s professionalism. “I much more enjoy working with my dad, obviously because he’s my dad but, more importantly, I know that his end of the job responsibilities get taken care of, and he knows I’m not going to let the artist walk out onstage until I know everything’s all right. We work well together because we know it’s going to get done, regardless of what situation gets thrown in front of us.”
Edwards is happy using a digital desk, although he grew up using analog, too. But, he confides, “I’ll be honest; I’m lazy. I like to stand in one position and have everything right there in front of me. Racks and racks of gear, and hooking that up every day? No! That’s for the old-school cats.”
The old-school cat in this family is also comfortable with digital gear. “We’re both big Digidesign people,” says Camp. “Digital has come a long way. At first, it was kind of cheesy but now it’s come to the point where it’s hard to tell sometimes, especially live. In the studio, give me the vintage gear, but out here, you can’t tell.”
The EQ on the Avid Venue series is great, he continues, but he’ll also reach for a plug-in. “I don’t go overboard with it. Most of the time, I use the desk EQ, and then for something special, like the lead vocals, I’ll put the Sony Oxford on it. I may tune the PA with the Sony Oxford. And I use Waves’ SSL compression and EQ and L3, and MaxxBass for the hip-hop stuff.”
Before heading back to the monitor position, Edwards says, “It’s really cool to work with your Pops. A lot of people can’t say that, but it is actually really cool that we’re hanging out and we’re working at the same time, and we’re providing for our respective families.”
“My baby,” chuckles Camp.