Solo artist VC Pines – aka Jack Mercer – has recently released his second single, Vixen, with Fierce Panda Records. It was produced in a tiny, gear-packed studio located above an ancient coaching inn in St Albans, using, among other things, an ASP880 mic preamp from Audient.
Studio owner, Paul Watson, recorded, produced and mixed the record, having spent the last two years growing his studio and helping develop the VC Pines sound. “It has been a brilliant project to be a part of. Especially after the success of his first single on BBC 6 Music,” said Watson. VC Pines’ first single, ‘Garden Of The Year’ was quickly picked up by DJ Steve Lamacq, chosen as the ‘Lamacq Livener’ (he picks a favourite tune to play on his show every weekday) and securing him a place on November 2018’s 6 Music playlist alongside George Ezra and Joria Smith.
The studio itself is known to Watson and Mercer as The HUB, and it comprises two rooms. “One of them is a fairly large live room, the other is a small but great control room and writing space, which has been acoustically treated and calibrated, now boasting a full-range monitoring system.”
Watson is proud of the Audient ASP880 mic pre: “It’s performed outstandingly and has added character and personality to the vocals. Jack noticed the difference right away. It’s also remarkably clean, and easy to use. I’ve found it extremely warm sounding, and very quiet, too. Pretty much all of VC Pines’ work has gone through it: any piano, or keys; all electric guitars – often direct, as clean as possible, adding post-FX; and all vocals.
“I can drive the unit a bit to get a warmer, thicker sound, or go a little gentler to get a lovely clean signal. The pad is useful, as is the high-pass filter on vocals, and it’s great to have the ability to roll off a little of the low when dealing with a particularly boomy signal from a synth or bass guitar.”
Watson continued, referring to his musical companionship with Mercer: “We have actually become collaborators, which is a real treat. The way we work is very intuitive; we’ll throw in an idea or three, and commit to it, or scrap it – we don’t tend to ponder over stuff. Also, we believe in performance, we’re not about doing five vocal takes and comping it, it’s much more about getting a performance, and VC Pines normally nails it in one or two takes, at a push.
“It’s also remarkable watching him double track a vocal; soul singers are renowned for riffing, but somehow, even when he riffs, he’ll duplicate it perfectly every time. Makes my job a lot easier,” Paul laughed.
As for the future, they’re taking it a single at a time for now. “It’s still early in the VC Pines’ journey,” explained Paul. “There will be more music coming pretty soon after this release, and we’re constantly writing and creating.”