Acle Kahney is a UK based musician/producer who plays guitar for the prog metal band TesseracT. He has worked with bands such as Sylosis, Heart of A Coward and many more. He works out of his personal studio 4D Sounds in Milton Keynes, UK. We spoke about the early days, why bashing in the box engineers is rather pointless, innovative plugins, explorer mentality and much more.
- What was the thing that got you into Music Production?
There are a few occasions I can think of which made me want to start recording or delve further into the world of production. The first I can think of, weirdly, was hearing the Limp Bizkit video for Mission Impossible. I must have been 15 and I loved the guitar tone and production in general (I just opened it up now…still sounds great haha). I used some crappy recording software which I had free on a CD and downloaded a bad, random 5 second drum loop…and then plugged the output of my Marshall G80 combo at the time direct into the PC. Tone! It kind of started from there.
Soon after Toontrack came out with Drum Kit From Hell 1 which was a big turning point. Also Meshuggah were a big influence on me in my late teens/early twenties when it came to experimenting with production.
- What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?
This is kind of a tricky one. Straight away I’d say a hybrid setup works great. I do everything in the box (except for the very occasional bit of outboard compression using my Distressors or Manley EQ) however when it comes to mastering I use a lot of outboard which I think works great. I started to look into getting more outboard gear for mixing, however I much prefer the conveiniance of instant recall with plugins. Especially when dealing with many projects day to day. There is something to be said about analog compression…which is why I will always use it on the master and if I had a 2nd API2500…would use on parallel compression for drums also.
I do know of engineer’s who are lucky enough to own NASA sized SSL’s and Neve’s which sound amazing. If you can at least record through them that’s great and then mix in the box which is what we tend to do in TesseracT. However some of these engineers are easy to bash in the box mixing…not all of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouth and can spend £10,000 on a 2 channel AD/DA! I’d love to be able to mix more with analog gear…but I’d also like a house one day haha.
But for me it all comes down to the conveinance…the amount of constant tweaks and experimenting I do works so well in the digital world.
- Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?
Perhaps its possible? I don’t know enough about the science of analog gear as to whether that would be possible. I do adore some of UAD’s plugins. Their recent release of the API2500 really captures the hardware unit I feel. Theres something about cranking the make up gain knob (I’ve been told it drives the transformer) which didn’t really seem to do anything in the Waves version…however the UAD version sounds great.
- How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?
There does seem to be an abundance of new plugins and plugin companies lately. It’s great to have the choice but its difficult to keep up. A lot of them seem to offer the same thing. I’d love to see more inovative plugins. Just some new plugin…something that hasn’t been done before instead of oh another reverb/compressor/eq.
- What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?
Like I said earlier, probably the UAD API 2500 compressor. I’d been waiting ages for a compnay to recreate it. I was always using the Waves version in my mixes and my hardware one on the mixbus. The UAD version sounds way closer to the hardware I feel.
I also love the UAD VSM. It adds subtle saturation in M/S which I love to use in the mix and on the master. I used the hardware version years ago and fell in love with it however at £5000…the UAD plugin version was very appealing!
- Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?
Vocal resonance/harmonics. Perhaps this is just me but I really don’t like some of the hi mid whistles which sometimes are present in vocals. Also in clean and acoustic guitars sometimes. I find it distracting and sit above the mix. As soon as you remove it, the result is really smooth. However as soon as the note changes, the resonance/whistle/harmonic changes. I usually use a few instances of a dynamic EQ to combat the most trouble some peaks, but there are always some that peak there way through!
- If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?
Turn your input gain down (Unless you want a driven sound in a preamp, then whack the input up and the ouput down). When I realised this my mixes became instantly clearer. In the box at least!
- You play in a band that has pushed boundaries of heavy music into new levels, incorporated unusual instruments etc.. where do you get that explorer mentality? What kind of instrumentation would you like to see in the future heavy music that’s not the usual guitar, bass, drums?
Explorer mentality. I wish I knew then I might find it easier to write new music quicker! I usually get good results trying to write music to a bit of film. I find that sometimes I’ll write in a different way as I’ll be writing with a visual stimulus and also for a part.
There is an electronic artist called LORN. I love his production its huge and the music sounds quite haunting (check out Acid Rain or Anvil). I’d love to be able incorporate sounds like that into my music…but currently have very little knowledge about analog or digital synths! Production wise, LORN does have a less is more approach in terms of layers which does really work, but is easier to implement in the electronic world (compared to my 150-200 tracks in a TesseracT project)