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Gautier sheds light on his grass roots studio

Vastly experienced audio engineer and producer Bill Gautier has ditched his frantic Soho lifestyle in post-production to make high-end recordings in the comfort of his own shed.

Bill Gautier (pictured) is a famous name in the post-production industry and was based out of Soho for more than 25 years. In a twist of fate, he has found himself working in a different side of the industry, making records with a string of top musicians and bands out of his new base: his own back garden, in a rather quirky Roger D’Arcy-designed shed. After befriending his boss at the Ealing Transfer Department in his early career at the BBC, he managed to blag a few months training as a sound supervisor, and soon found himself working on Top Of The Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test, the latter of which he says was where he learned the foundations of his trade. Top Of The Pops, at that time, was all playback. He then went on to work as a freelance engineer after the music industry was in decline in London, working for Nick Angell’s Angell Sound; and eventually left Angell to join Silk Sound. Soon after, he built and directed The Bridge Facilities Company, then developed Mag Masters – a film-based post house for audio looking to expand to audio for video. Gautier went on to developed the Mag Masters business with the creation of Mag Masters 2 and Mag Masters Burbank (the L.A operation), but got stung by some fraudulent business partners, and went into what he refers to as “a dark place” for six months. Thankfully, along came lifelong friend Andrew Christie (who sadly passed away last year) with a new opportunity. The pair had talked for more than five years about opening a facility together, and it was about to come to fruition in a mammoth premise in London’s West End. “The operation lay empty at the Shelton Street side of Covent Garden, so I built two audio for video post suites and we made a holding company,” Gautier explains. “It was a one stop shop for the media industry – film, TV, corporate, advertising for both radio and TV; and it worked very well.” Christie then expanded the business to New York City and Los Angeles, and although life was “fine and dandy” according to Gautier, he was starting to think fondly back to his time as an engineer and producer – his original passion. “As the companies grew, we were travelling all over the place doing business, but three years jaunting around on a plane did my head in,” Gautier reveals. “I am a working class brummy bastard after all, and I’d had more success than I could have dreamed of in post, so I felt it was time for a real change of scenery.” And that change has literally happened on his doorstep. Just down the road from Hampton Court Palace, Gautier’s new studio abode is located literally in his own garden shed – OK, a state-of-the-art shed designed by renowned acoustician Roger D’Arcy, that is, but a shed all the same! “I knew I’d have some cash out of the company to be able to do what I wanted to do, and that was to work with up-and-coming artists; and I’m now getting by very happily,” Gautier insists. Gautier is now producing master quality recordings out of his shed using an array of classic and modern gear, and recent projects include The Blues Band’s new album Few Short Lines and a new collaboration titled Snowbird, which has had members of Radiohead and Lanterns on the Lake guest on it; and John Grant’s album Queen of Denmark which was Mojo’s Album of the Year. Mixing on Steinberg’s Nuendo, Gautier is a huge fan of the Smart AV Tango controller, due to its ergonomic design and its integration with the Nuendo software. “I hit things – I don’t pussyfoot around; all I wanted was a bunch of touch-sensitive automatic faders that I could pick up and drop in whenever I wanted,” adds Gautier. “The great thing about Tango is it’s built like a brick shithouse; it’s interfaced perfectly with Nuendo, and all I want is eight to 12 groups that I can sit in the middle of, and for me it’s been absolutely marvellous.” Gautier’s studio is capable of producing stereo and 5.1 recordings, and boasts a 12-into-2 Neve 1073/1081 broadcast console along with Neve mic-pres, Lynx A-Ds, and PMC monitors powered by Bryston amplifiers. He is also a big fan of UAD plug-ins. Other equipment includes a selection of Neumann, AKG and Soundfield microphones. “It’s essentially a selection of gear that I have had over the years, and I just happen to have bought the right things, really,” he continues. “If I had real estate, I would like the old Neve console, but that means adopting a business mentality – and my intention here was not to worry myself about having to have a business mind; I have a lovely job just getting by and working with great artists.”