The La.M.P. Studio
The LaMP studio is François Evans's film music compositon and production facility.
The studio began with a trip to the London Rock Shop in Camden, London, where my Dad helped me to buy a first synthesizer: a Roland Juno-6 which I still have and use. In the 1980s I bought a drum machine and a 4-track portastudio to learn multitracking, but I could only ever get demos out of it.
In the early 90s I grew a MIDI studio at my parents' home in Rickmansworth, with outboard synths, hardware samplers and effects boxes which made it possible to layer sounds and make orchestral mock-ups, but relied on maintaining a lot of gear. The studio moved to Hackney and grew a bit.
I moved to Barnet, North London. Along came faster computers and big hard disks. I switched from using MOTU Performer software to MOTU Digital Performer. The digital version took a year to learn properly, it's perfect for film scoring and synchronization. I never lost my interest in and love for older analogue synthesizers from the 1970s (see Influences).
My folks retired to France. They discovered an abandoned nursery school an hour inland from La Rochelle on the West coast. Dating from 1906, it had a high-ceilinged classsroom with an oak floor and an interesting acoustic. There was a side room that could be adapted to become a control room. It took a long time to figure out how to configure things. I wanted a live empty space to record groups of of real musicians, and a separate room to programme and record in-line.
The LaMP studio is now a hybrid facility with 32-channel digital recording through an analogue Soundcraft DC2000 desk with flying faders. Tracks are recorded through two Focusrite ISA428s or valve Ferrograph pre-amps, which give a glowing sound.
Special software for making 'spectral' sound transformations is still in its infancy. I like to give time to incorporate sound morphing into music scores. This can blur the boundaries between real and electronic instruments; chords and sound identity in hair-raising ways. It's pleasantly disorientating but helps to integrate music with effects.
My best friend in the studio is a small 1930s' Gaveau upright piano, which has a character of its own. It was going to be chucked on a junk heap, but is being restored.
Having vintage kit is fun, but a responsibility to maintain. I can understand why so many composers have opted for a minimalist studio of desk, keyboard, computer, amp., speakers and DAW. For me, that relies on the composer or plugin patch providing most things. Each piece of hardware I use has a life of its own that participates in the scoring. I like to think that, like film actors, those characters bring life, interest and originality to the music I compose for films.