SlateFest Europe and Cucumber Sandwiches
I was lucky enough to attend the very first SlateFest this year here’s my thoughts and why you should try and grab a seat when it comes round in the future!
Welcome to my review of the very first Slate Fest 2017
So what is Slate Fest? SlateFest is hosted by the Slate companies and is an Annual Slate Fest Europe event for users to hear and see demonstrations of everything Slate. There are also recording clinics from top industry pros, master classes, production courses and networking opportunities.
If you’re a Slate Digital or Slate Technology user then you’ll have probably heard or seen on various forums that Steven Slate, his crew of merry men and women and the great guys at SX Pro were throwing this event for free!
Yes you heard me right FREE!!
This event was at Metropolis studios in London, which I’ve used a lot for my work as a composer so I know the place well, Streaky is my choice of mastering engineer if you’re interested, he’s awesome check him out and say the Darren the Disney guy sent you. Now hiring the studio for mastering isn’t cheap but Slate hired out the bar, two recording studios, a catering crew to feed us all who loving made very English cucumber sandwiches, something of a revelation to Mr Slate, there was three expert master classes with producers, mixers and superstar engineers, along with hands on demos and a very interactive and accessible Steven Slate and his team.
As Steven said at the start he wanted to try something new, trade shows are great but there’s limited time to really connect with your customers and he therefore wanted something where he could not just promote his ingenious products but would be able interact with us and more importantly encourage a community of like minded musicians, producers, mixers whatever all happy under one Slate roof.
The event started at 9am in the bar and by 10 we filing into the live room of Studio 2 in a very polite, English orderly fashion, Steven kicked the days proceedings off with a his welcome and introduction; it was as if a God like hero of the tech world had entered our presence as he skilfully entertained us whilst giving us a first look at some super cool secret products, I could feel the room reaching for their credit cards right then and there.
We were sworn to secrecy about some of the upcoming products so I’ll leave others to spill the beans but what I will say is if your a synth head or mad about creating your own sweet sounding unique synth patches there’s something in the pipeline that you’ll love.
There was one product in particular that caught my attention. The VRS8 and ML1 and 2 mics, demoed with a clean signal path, no colouring from third part preamps and using just the virtual mic software this stuff is just awesome. Ok we were in Metropolis a great studio listening on massive PMC’s but this product was seriously good and you could really hear a difference in sound particularly for me when demoed on drums.
It’s rare I’m truly impressed let’s face we live in a digital age of literally thousands of products emulating just about everything apart from cumber sandwiches but this for recording is going to satisfy a lot of studio engineers, particularly small to medium sized studios, if you record live musicians or vocals you should be seriously looking at these products.
Aside product demos one thing that really came across during the day was it definitely did not feel like a sales pitch, Steven really made you feel that he genuinely wanted you to have a good experience and appeared to be as keen to learn from the masterclasses as much as we were. He sat with us and talked to us not just about his products but production a geeky stuff too.
So the day consisted of three masterclasses, kicking things off was D-Ramirez who set out to produce a whole track, he got as far as programming the drums and bass, he did say it was a tall order to get a whole track done. It didn’t matter though he was generous in demonstrating his process, talked about his gear, showed us his trusted techniques and demoed his working process on the Raven, which looks like a huge time saver in the studio.
Second up was mix engineer and Grime aficionado MsM, who’s mixed the likes of Drake, Professor Green and Ed Sheeran to name a few. This class I’ll be honest was quite hard to follow I just don’t think they were used to demoing and didn’t connect with audience quite as much. There were a few that left the room to hang it in the bar probably trying to convince Mr Slate to try cucumber sandwiches, which was unfortunate because there was some gold in terms of mixing tips and concepts.
MsM Mix Tip
The best tip I took from them is not to reinvent the wheel when mixing, one thing MsM said that was gold is that his aim for the mix is to “chase and match the rough mix”.
That might sound strange to most but what he understands acutely is the fact that when you’re mixing someone else’s work they’ve spent a long time producing their music and know it far more intimately than you. If you go changing their reverbs for example even if they are cheap ones it won’t sound right to them so you have to be aware of what you’re working with.
He was essentially saying be aware of how the artist intended the music to sound and don’t try and create the perfect mix you might just miss the point or intention of the artist.
Last up was the headline slot with Rik Simpson and he delivered a Glastonbury sized Coldplay esq performance. Rik Simpson long time producer of Coldplay recorded the band Some Velvet Morning live in studio one. Who are a great band and you should definitely go check out their music.
He demonstrated mic placement, engineering tips, tips on how to work with the artist, showed us his Slate Digital chains and settings, I think I might have been the only one in the room to have scribbled them down, which I’ll share with you at some point!
Amazingly we were given the opportunity to record in studio one singing and clapping on the track directed by Rik himself and the band. So I can now say I’ve been produced by Rik Simpson….. kind of 🙂
SlateFest was it a banquet or soggy cabbage?
So was the first SlateFest any good, was it worth it for the one guy that flew all the way from Australia? Did I learn anything, was I convinced to buy anything new and did Slate Fest make me feel like I was part of a community of musicians and was it worth the sum total of ZERO pounds?
Well of course the answer to all of the above and I’m sure I speak for everyone especially the guy that came from Australia and the other guy that won a Raven was a resounding HELL YEAH!.
Steven showed generosity, kindness and heart and I use those words because there’s very few companies out there that sell products to their customers with a genuine interest in connecting with their users, the Steven Slate brand achieves that above all others.
For that alone you should buy their stuff I don’t need to talk about how the plugins sound we know they’re good. I may not use all of what he and his team offers but the Pied Piper that is Steven Slate has certainly convinced me that I should.
So Steven thanks and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all that was there we salute with Cucumber Sandwiches!
Check back soon for new videos using the tips and tricks I learnt at Slate Fest 2017!!
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