How I began in sound design

Part 1 Sennheiser PRO TALK with Colin Pink and Gareth Fry

Colin and Gareth remember the early days and how they got their breaks as sound designers.

Video Transcript

Gareth: “So my name is Gareth Fry. I’m a sound designer and I work all over the world but particularly in the UK.”

Colin: “I’m Colin Pink I’m a sound designer and front of house engineer and we’re here at the National Theatre Studios in London.”

Colin: “Just after I left school in my first summer holidays out in the big wide world, I was with the National Youth Theatre that happened to be be run, the technical side was run by Yello Jones and Dave Bryant who ran Midnight Design and and Yello was the main sound engineer at the Marquee Club so he got me in there and my first gig there was Terence Trent d’Arby. I was assisting on that but on my second night, my second professional working date was assisting on Guns and Roses who were this little-known band over in the UK promoting their first album so I should have given them my card but there you go!”

Gareth: “Yeah I’ve always been really interested in sound and music and I used to make mixtapes you know at the weekends on my dad’s hifi. That’s what sort of got me interested I think in sound and was making those mixtapes and so I wanted to become a recording engineer. I went and trained in that and then discovered theater and it was doing this production of Amadeus which is this play about Mozart essentially that I sort of discovered the live connection that a play can have or theater show can have between an audience and music and language and it’s that connection between those things that got me hooked on theater and sound particularly.”

Gareth: “ I think the first theater show that I ever saw was the production of Miss Saigon in the West End and that was one of the shows that just sort of opened my eyes a little bit about what theatre could be. Previously I’d seen various sort of productions of Shakespeare at school and had been bored senseless and I saw Miss Saigon and when you know it can be quite anarchic and fun and entertaining and it doesn’t have to be so serious and people don’t necessarily have to die, well they didn’t die in that one but you know it was a really sort of interesting experience to sort of open my eyes my ears a little bit about what theatre could be and that it didn’t have to be Shakespeare.”

Colin: “Luckily enough at school we had a theatre. I had no real knowledge or interest in theatre. I was just walking past one day and someone called out saying you know we need to try and make a telephone ring onstage do you think you could help because I was quite good electronics and they just thought I might know. So I went in and made their telephone ring and just kind of found it an interesting environment and kind of stayed and Got into it from there, at which point my kind of understanding that there’s more to music than just playing it kind of came out of that. So yeah it was school really that got me into theatre and the audio side of it and the fact that you know you don’t have to be able to play an instrument to make one sound nice and so I went on from there. I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama doing the technical theater course and it was great there because primarily it’s a music school so if you were doing a musical in the theatre there you had fifty in the orchestra because it suited them to have that amount so you know we were doing some great old-fashioned musicals with orchestras of fifty or sixty which is kind of unheard of on the West End or Broadway nowadays so it was a great kind of introduction.”

Gareth:                        “I’ve been working professionally since about 1996 which is when I graduated from doing a design course at Central School of Speech and Drama and the first professional job I did after that really was designing a play a place called the Soviet Playhouse which I like her was like a 50-seat theater and it was making the sound effects for that show and the whole show ran off a hi-fi and off two cassette decks so everything had to be put onto individual cassette tapes and then queued up for the stage manager to operate. So that was kind of my first professional gig, I think I got paid like fifty pounds for it maybe.”

Colin:              “ At which point Vaslav Havel our playwright became president of Czechoslovakia and he invited us over to do his plays. So yes it was amazing as our first little job we went from an ATC to theater to the National Theatre in Prague performing there two weeks after the Velvet Revolution so as a first experience that was that was amazing.”

2018-05-19T12:48:48+00:00