Streatham – Behind the doors

We are very fortunate to have a wide variety of retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops and bars in the High Road with many being recent additions.  However, there are an increasing number of businesses that are not visible and work very successfully behind the scenes in Streatham.

One of these has been established here for over 10 years, moving to Streatham from Brixton, to take advantage of suitable studio space.  This is the well-known music producer Dan Carey.  With a large discography and two Mercury Prize nominations in 2014 with albums from Nick Mulvey and Kate Tempest he has established a high profile as writer,  mixer and producer for a wide range of musicians, working with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Franz Ferdinand, Emiliana Torrini, Bloc Party, Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes), The Kills, TOY and Django Django.

Whilst his very early influences were artists such as the Beach Boys and Jimi Hendrix he has moved from a dub background to an interest in developing sounds not heard before.  Highly regarded in the indie-rock production scene he has a number of current projects on the go including new work from Tempest and Mulvey with some exciting sounds coming from the Tottenham based band Pumarosa (great videos on YouTube).  With all his skills and a keen interest in astronomy we may well yet see some interesting alternative sounds.

His studio is equipped with loads of gear and musical instruments, amps, mixing desks and whatchamacallits which allow him to record songs in a slightly unconventional form.
One of his more recent projects is his own label Speedy Wunderground.  Dan produces all releases at his studio.  The recordings are done in one day and mixing is completed the following day.  The musicians, the producer and engineer are together in one room, with no control room.  As the name suggests Speedy Wunderground work quickly and the limited 7” runs will be in the stores and available much sooner than through traditional channels. Speedy Wunderground releases each year’s recordings as a compilation at the end of the year and a third issue is imminent.

Somewhere on the recordings you will hear the unique sound of the Swarmatron.  There are maybe only two of its kind in the country and Dan has one.  Up until last year only 83 had been made.  The Swarmatron is a handmade analogue synthesizer or electronic musical instrument that uses a ribbon controller rather than a keyboard, playing a chord of eight notes arranged around a single note.  A finger is placed or slid from side to side along a ribbon controller.  The distinctive feature of the Swarmatron is its use of eight individual oscillators, under a single control. These oscillators produce an equidistant chord, where their spacing is under the player's immediate control.  You can manipulate those eight notes so that they diverge further from the home note, creating swarming noises that can appear unsettling.  We hope to hear more of this in the future.