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29 October 2014

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    Industry Interviews

    Industry interview: Paul White

    Learn more about music recording with the Editor-in-Chief of Sound on Sound magazine!

    Paul White
    Paul White

    Paul White was born at a very early age and started his career as an electronics engineer with music and recording as a serious hobby.

    In 1984 he joined Music Maker Publications as technical editor for Home Studio Recording magazine where he reviewed products and also designed electronic projects for the readers to build.

    Paul White with his mic!
    Paul White with his mic!

    A few months later he became editor of Home and Studio Recording as well as technical editor of the existing Electronics and Music Maker magazine. He also took on the role of technical editor for the new Music Maker titles including Guitarist and Rhythm.

    In 1991 Paul left music Maker Publications to join SOS publications as editor of Audio Media Magazine and founding editor of Recording Musician. When the existing editor of Sound On Sound left the company, Paul took over the post until 2004 when he was made Editor In Chief, which essentially means more lunches and less editing!

    Paul continues to run a semi-commercial studio at his home and still plays guitar in public whenever possible.

    Big George talks to Paul White
    audio Listen to the interview with Paul White >
    Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

    When did you first plug a microphone in?

    Paul: My dad bought one of the very first tape recorders when I was about 11. I spent ages hand cranking it to get varispeed sound effects!

    How would you describe your approach to recording music?

    Try to capture a good performance as accurately as possible so you have less messing around to do with it later. It doesn't always work out that way of course!

    What are your musical influences?

    Anything before Sergeant Pepper. No just kidding. I was brought up on British rock as as well as the obvious Beatles and Rolling Stones. I loved bands like The Who, The Spencer Davies Group, The Yardbirds, Alex Harvey, John Mayall and Pink Floyd. Guitar bands really.

    I'm also one of those rare people who thinks Bob Dylan has a great voice. These days I gravitate towards tracks that I like rather than bands or artists as I find very few people consistently produce material I like.

    Some of the best music is still made by the 'old timers' who've had years on the road to polish their skills. Too much chart music today falls into the category of perfectly recorded blandness but there's some great production work out there just the same.

    When did you start in the recording / publishing industry?

    Paul on the guitar
    Paul on the guitar

    I went into magazines in 1984 Very Orwellian! The recording started much earlier when Teac came out with the first 4-track open reel tape machine. Being an electronics engineer, I built a lot of my own processors and mixers at the time.

    Have you ever played in a band?

    Always have and still do.

    When you buy a CD are you listening for the reverb settings or the music?

    Maybe after I've listened to the songs I listen to the production. You can't help but analyse music but in the main I buy records because I like the music.

    What’s the best recorded song ever, and why?

    That's so hard to say because some of the best recording from a technical viewpoint are obscure jazz of the type I probably wouldn't listen to other than to check out the production.

    Of course Donald Fagin's 'The Nightfly' is always a good reference for checking out monitoring systems and shows what good results could be obtained from those early digital recording systems in the right hands.

    What invention has made the biggest difference to the recorded industry?


    What’s the most enjoyable aspect to recording?

    Not having to! I'm lucky because I can pick and choose who to work with and who to pass on the studio down the road as I don't have to record for a living.

    When it comes to the session, I like getting the sounds right at source by choosing and positioning microphones, then it gets exciting again at the mixing stage. The tracking part is pure engineering and takes a lot of concentration but it isn't always the most fun part of the job.

    What’s your most memorable session?

    I recorded an Album organised by Gordon Giltrap where be brought in lots of players who used a certain make of guitar. As well as working with Gordon, which I've done many times since, I also recorded Bert Janch and other top notch acoustic players. A real treat.

    What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever been called upon to record?

    The most difficult jobs are those where the musicians are not prepared and/or their instruments not adequately maintained. Some of the younger players think you can fix anything in the mix, but there are limits.

    What’s the weirdest sound you’ve ever recorded?

    Probably my guitar playing!

    If you could go into a studio with anyone - who would it be and why?

    Probably David Gilmore, just because I like the way he plays and he also has a much better voice than he's sometimes credited with. It would also have been great to sit in on some George Martin Beatles sessions. Then there's Angelina Jolie. I don't know if she can sing but who cares?

    How long have you been in a studio without seeing daylight?

    My studio has windows so no problem, though I have done a few all-night sessions.

    What’s your favourite fruit, and favourite sweet, and what wins a bag of fruit or a bag of sweets?

    Fruit and nut chocolate!

    Name one unusual fact about yourself.

    I'm immune to football! I also broke both wrists in a skydiving accident when I was 25 which means I find playing barre chords really hard going.

    Does anything really bother you to the point of boiling point?

    How long have you got? The way the world is run and the type of people who run it  could keep me going for days!

    What piece of recording equipment do want invented next?

    The crash proof computer!

    What do you prefer, analog or digital?

    I like aspects of both. Analogue sounds great but you can't do much in the way of editing and there's always tape hiss to worry about. Digital sometimes sounds too ruthlessly honest but it is much more maleable.

    Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

    I plan to live forever and so far it is working out!


    Rumours of my immortality have been greatly exaggerated!

    last updated: 29/05/06
    Have Your Say
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    The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

    Wise Mark Gopez
    First Class!!!I really enjoyed the interview. What a nice epitaph!!!

    Steven Smith
    If timing is bad for the Jolie sessions, send them down the road to me. [;^)

    James Kum
    Thanks Paul for all your advice. From books to interviews and seminars. Legend.

    Guy Johnson
    Glad the interview is in 'print' as I don't and wont have real-player. I enjoyed the interview. Nice epitaph!

    Peter Brown
    First class. Really enjoyed the interview. Well done.

    Chris Swinn (El Puerco)
    How many Copy Fender Telecaster has Paul(El Blanco)hand built in last 40 years? Ask him to play Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" with his Teeth! El Blanco is not a bad drummer,too. Rock on O'Immortal one! Hasta la Vista El Puerco

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