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Have you got the Epps factor?

Renowned recording engineer and producer Stuart Epps is preparing to launch his own take on the X Factor auditioning original songwriters for a one-single recording deal.

Stuart Epps worked as Elton John’s engineer under his good friend, and Elton’s producer, Gus Dudgeon, for decades. Responsible for engineering many of Elton’s hit songs such as Nikita and Song for Guy, Epps has also worked with George Harrison, Jimmy Page, Paul Rogers, Chris Rea, Kiki Dee, and Chris de Burgh; and is about to embark on his own reality-type project: The Epps Factor. Tongue-in-cheek as it may sound, Epps hopes hundreds of songwriters will compete in a series of X Factor-esque auditions to battle it out for the first prize: a fully engineered and produced single, which will be plugged, promoted and released. The idea stems from a current X-Factor spin off Epps has been working on, for UK Live and Unsigned, alongside fellow panellist Noddy Holder. “It’s been quite an experience watching these kids – I have been listening to up to 200 people audition in just three hours. They only get twenty seconds or so each; and it’s funny, sad, and actually frightening at times to be perfectly honest,” Epps explains. “So I thought, sod this, I’ll do my own – I mean, I’ve engineered and produced plenty of hits in my time, and everyone wants to be a star, so to an extent they don’t care if it’s Simon Cowell or not that’s listening to them.” Epps is hopeful that he can attract some of his long-time industry friends such as Kiki Dee, Paul Gambaccini, and Tony Blackburn to join him on his panel, which he hopes will come to fruition sometime in the coming months. Epps is also working with a number of international bands re-mixing their songs over the internet from his home studio in Cookham. Artists send him bunches of .wav files – sometimes 40 or 50 at a time – and he transfers them to his CoolEdit! [eventually became Adobe Audition – Ed] software, mixes them on his trusted Yamaha NS10 monitors, and sends the artists their new mixes. “It’s really taken off, and I’m actually getting a lot out of it. I am working with over 30 artists around the world now, mixing tracks from the US, South Africa and even India. People don’t use studios anymore sadly – it’s a dying breed, but mixing isn’t; and it’s a different art, or course. “Not many songwriters know what they’re doing in terms of mixing, but I’ve done a lot of that in my time – and at the highest level, so it’s nice to be able to apply that skill to these artists’ work and transform it a little from the comfort of my own home.”