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Next generation of live sound: Chris Drohan, sound designer

PSNEurope shines a spotlight on the brightest talent in the live audio sector.

PSNEurope continues its focus on the brightest young talent shaping the future of the live audio sector, as sound designers Chris Drohan takes the spotlight…

How did you get into the theatre side of the professional audio industry?

I began as a musician when I was young, with an interest in both recording technologies and theatre.

As I grew up, I kind of merged those interests and discovered there was a career where I could do them all. I went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) where I learned about all aspects of the theatre industry, and after graduating I worked my way up through the industry as a technician and creative.

Can you name some of your influences within the industry?

I’m often influenced by my peers and those around me making work that is exciting. Influences include sound designers such as Gareth Fry, who has worked in such a varied way while also creating so many opportunities for designers of all levels, are a huge inspiration – creating new work while ensuring there will be a new generation to take over.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever heard?

I fortunately don’t think I’ve been given much bad advice, thankfully. I often hear people say that to pursue a career in theatre, you need to train at a well-known drama school to succeed. However, I believe that there are many ways to get where you want to go; it’s about choosing the best for you, not for someone else.

And the best tips you’ve been given?

The best tips I’ve ever been given were to be nice, and show up on time. It’s two really simple things, but gets you such a long way. No one wants to work with the person who is unreliable, and as one director told me, the person you want to work with is the person you could bare to spend a three-hour train journey with.

What’s your favourite thing about the industry you work in?

My favourite thing is definitely being able to move around and do di erent things every day. I’ll often find myself in multiple cities in the same week, working with di erent people and creating di erent shows. It’s tough sometimes, but really exciting.

What are the biggest challenges of the job?

The job often involves long hours, high stress situations and being away from home a lot of the time, and it’s important to strike a good balance with your social life. Being able to work at your best means being selective about the jobs you do. It is always best to do one job to the best of your ability than do a bad job on multiple shows at once.

What other interests do you have outside the world of audio?

I love to run, it’s a great stress release and good to get some fresh air (which is often lacking in theatres). When I can’t, a quick yoga session can often give much the same e ect.

What advice would you give to someone else – your best tip or trick?

It’s totally mindless and not sound-specific, but always be the person in the room with phone chargers on your desk, it’ll make you very popular! Bringing baked goods is another way to guarantee you’ll be asked back. In sound terms, my best tip is to trust your ears. Sit in every seat in the theatre and listen with an unobstructed view, with no screens or read outs.

Yes, computers can be helpful and give you lots of information, but there’s nothing like sitting back and hearing it yourself.

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I’d like to be pushing boundaries with new technologies and new ways of sharing stories with sound. Sound is a hugely powerful tool and we’ve really only just scratched the surface of what we can achieve with it. I want to be on the forefront of that, and helping to bring a new generation of sound designers into this industry with good opportunities.