The name Mick Glossop immediately conjures up associations with several industry touchstones, among them: the Music Producers Guild and its reinvention as a nurturing organisation for the 21st Century – with Glossop as one of the executive directors for the last 12 years; Townhouse Studios with Glossop as a key engineer, user and designer; and Van Morrison with Glossop as both his longstanding engineer and producer.
As Glossop takes a step back from his dedicated MPG duties and settles into something of a personal analogue synthesiser renaissance in his West London studio, it’s time to look beyond that Phil Collins drum sound and reflect on where production is headed...
MPG: job done?
You have to step aside from time to time to let other people come in, and recent elections have shown a real upsurge of interest from people who want to get involved. They’re younger than me, for a start! It’s a lot more inclusive, and attractive to new generations of producers and engineers. It was important to drop the average age of executive directors, and happily there’s plenty of new blood. I’m confident that new arrivals Olga [FitzRoy] and Rhiannon Mair will address the priorities – such as gender diversity.
Is there a corresponding desire to pursue new musical projects?
Yes, there is. As you’ll notice in this studio, I’ve really got into synthesisers – although it’s the rekindling of a very old passion. I’m building a humungous modular system. I opted for science at school, rather than the arts, and that became electronics. At the same time, my musical interest extended to electronica and musique concrete, as well as playing in bands and singing with choirs and folk clubs, and in the end I left my Electronics degree to do something more creative. There was only one solution really: to become a recording engineer.
Not exclusively for electronic acts, obviously…
No, it was a whole career path that took up all my time – although recording Tangerine Dream at The Manor combined all of it, naturally. Now, I’m in a position not to worry about where the next gig is coming from and I’ve got time to get back to that initial inspiration at 16. I’m off to Berlin next week for Superbooth, a massive trade fair for electronic music gear.
How has recording changed since the early days at Townhouse/The Manor and the rest?
The whole workflow has reversed. With tape, you spent ages on getting the sound before capturing it; now you grab the sources a lot quicker – completely flat – and then get to work on the sound. It’s now all about the possibilities, and not about remedial work with EQ and compression to compensate for the mechanical artefacts and other shortcomings of the medium – which is immensely more powerful and creative. But… something about the restrictions of working with tape made it more fun. Working up sounds with musicians inspires their playing; doing it later means they miss out on that process. The exception is when the artist is also the producer or engineer. It began to happen a little in the ‘70s but now it’s much more common, which is why we created a specific category for it at the MPG Awards.
I see no mixing console in your studio…
I’ve now got the Slate Media Technology ‘Raven’ MTi-1 multi-touchscreen controller for DAWs, which does have some of that positive haptic feedback. It takes up a lot less space but still provides something of a centrepiece for the workflow, which I think remains important. At least the plugins try to emulate the original interfaces, and the knobs turn as you touch the screen. That’s better than the mouse. But I do try and balance ‘in the box’ and outboard. There’s still plenty of rackmount hardware I can get my hands on, even if there’s no desk as such – plus, there’s also the TLA 8:2 M1 Tubetracker for warm overdrive; the Avid Artist Mix hardware controller; and the PreSonus Central Station passive speaker controller for monitoring.
When can we expect your first album of electronic music?
Ha! I am mixing for Paul Clark who was in The Bolshoi, whom I mixed in the ‘80s, and that’s very electronic. But, yeah… I could make an album. It’s just another extension of the hobby, really.