Q&A: George Murphy, PSAwards Rising Star7 November 2016
While studying music and sound recording at the University of Surrey, George Murphy did a placement year at Ignition Studios in North London. This was the first time he got to see how records were made by professionals and the idea of spending time in the studio with a band, trying to make their music sound the best it can, seemed like the perfect job for him.
He then went on to work as a freelance assistant at a few different London studios before eventually being offered a full-time position at Eastcote Studios.
Described as “the fastest Pro Tools operator in the West”, Murphy has worked on a wide range of projects at Eastcote with artists including Adele, Ellie Goulding, Mark Ronson and Mumford & Sons.
He is looking forward to the day he can open his own studio space…
What made you want to work in the industry?
I’ve always been a huge music fan and a bit of a tech geek, so music production was the perfect blend of the two for me.
How did you get started?
I was in a band in school, and eventually we got to the point where we wanted to get some demos done, so I bought a cheap Tascam interface and hooked it up to a PC running Sonar. We ended up recording everything in the spare room at my parent’s house. The results weren’t really anything to brag about, but I enjoyed the process so much that I kept it going and ended up recording a bunch of other local bands as well. After I left school I went to study music and sound recording at the University of Surrey.
What was your big break?
It’s hard to pinpoint any specific moment that really accelerated my career, it’s all been kind of a gradual build. I guess I would say getting a position at Eastcote, as that has allowed me to work on so many amazing records.
You are based at former MPG Studio of the Year winner Eastcote Studios. What’s it like to work there?
It’s a fantastic space. The gear is amazing but most importantly the vibe is perfect. It has this incredibly relaxed atmosphere, musicians tend to feel right at home there. Nothing feels too formal, so it’s really easy to get the best out of musicians when you record there. For me, the most important aspect of a studio is that everybody feels comfortable and at home there.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been working with a band called HMLTD, their first track was released a couple of days ago, it’s really exciting stuff and so far has got a really good reaction. I’m also working with singers Molly Warburton and Noah Francis as well as engineering for a couple of film projects.
Can you tell us about the three bits of kit that you couldn’t do without and why?
An RCA44 ribbon microphone: a classic sounding mic. Everything you record with this comes out with bags of character.
Second, a Urei 1176 compressor: super fast for squeezing maximum amount of life out of sounds.
Finally, a Roland Space Echo: amazingly grungy, the perfect bit of kit for stopping anything from sounding too clinical.!
Who are your biggest influences?
On a personal level, Eastcote owner Philip Bagenal has taught me an extraordinary amount about working in recording. He has been a part of every conceivable type of session and knows more about the technological and psychological aspects of a successful recording session than anyone I’ve ever met.
I’ve also been lucky enough to engineer records for producers Chris Kimsey and Eliot James, who’ve both been responsible for some of my favourite albums. Seeing both their approaches to recording and how they get their sounds has taught me a huge amount.
In a more general sense Jerry Finn, Rick Rubin and Alan Moulder pretty much produced the soundtrack to my teenage years, so I’m always striving to capture the sound of a band with as much energy as their records. I’m also really interested in anyone that’s creating sounds that I’ve never heard before, especially in the dance world, so producers like Feed Me, Noisia and Delta Heavy.
What have you learned about the pro-audio industry during your career so far?
That it is incredibly interconnected. Being a small industry everyone knows everyone and it’s a lot less cut-throat than people imagine, in my experience everyone’s usually willing to help each other out.
What advice would you give to youngsters working in the industry?
I can only speak for the recording studio part of the pro-audio world, but try you hardest to work for someone who can teach you the realities of a recording session, there’s a lot more to in than what you learn at school.
Also be aware that it can be a fairly stressful world to be in so you’ve got to really want to be a part of it. A lot of stuff happens at the last minute and planning ahead can be difficult. That said when everything comes together it’s incredibly rewarding.
Where would you like to see your career go?
Carry on producing records for exciting bands and hopefully some day end up with my own studio space with big giant windows and a great view!