To start the week we've been speaking to another up-and-coming audio professional for the latest instalment of our regular Rising Stars focus.
Currently head technician at Bucks Students' Union in High Wycombe, UK, Dean Cross has experience working in live environments with a range of high-profile artists including Skindred, Newton Faulkner and Andy C.
Here, he outlines his journey from early Music Performance lessons to the hectic world of student events.
How did your career in the industry begin?
I started out by playing drums in bands while studying Music Performance at college. We used to have live sound lectures, which were the basic ‘here’s a microphone, send it out of monitors and get a front-of-house mix’. I also started to observe more at live gigs and spoke with engineers about how they entered the industry.
When I was 16, one of them allowed me to jump onto the desk and I ended up doing sound for [English hard rock band] The Quireboys at a pub. This experience fed into my enthusiasm which led to my decision to attend Bucks New University.
Where are you based?
I’m currently based in High Wycombe, but planning a move to Sheffield in July. I’m originally from Oxford so the move to High Wycombe wasn’t too big of a shift, and meant I could continue with my projects in Oxford easily.
What made you want to work in pro-audio?
I think The Quireboys event was probably the key moment for me. I met up with the guy who allowed me on the desk and had to thank him for the opportunity and boost to my enthusiasm. Attending some amazing live concerts and talking to engineers about their job also boosted my drive to be in the industry.
Who would you say are your biggest influences as an engineer?
Working as an in-house engineer, most of the time you start to learn and pick up ‘tricks’ from different engineers. I think my way of working is very tried and tested. The main engineer I’ve worked with is Dan Bartley, who currently works with Ella Eyre and Ali Campbell as their front-of-house engineer. We’ve worked in the live and studio environment together a lot. I’m an engineer who tries to keep the sound as natural as possible but I’m not afraid to veer off depending on the band.
Can you tell us about any recent projects? What are you working on currently?
Currently I’m the Head Technician at Bucks Students Union, where we have a crew of six. I’ve been at the venue for a year and a half now and every day is a new challenge. We run events every night, so it can become very hectic quickly. Our events vary from club nights, comedy, live gigs and the weekly quiz. The night time role can vary every night from being front-of-house or monitor engineer, system tech, lighting operator or artist liaison.
The last couple of months have been pretty hectic, working in a studio on some demos for an upcoming project, which is under wraps at the moment, as well as working front-of-house for various BBC Introducing videos with bands such as The Scruff while working in the venue.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite gear? What do you find yourself relying on for projects?
I’d have to go for the TC Electronic M-One. It’s one that I make sure I use every gig as the sound you can get out of them is very natural and it’s an easy-to-use unit. I’ve also become very fond of the DS404 Quad Noise Gate by Drawmer and the DN504 compressors from Klark Tecknik. They are just two of the units I constantly use and have had no problems with them since I started using them; they sound natural and are the fundamentals of a show for me.
If you could work with one artist/group, who would it be and why?
I’d love to work with Four Year Strong because their sound is so full and well constructed, as well as possessing amazing dynamics throughout their whole back catalogue. Alongside them, Eliza and the Bear and Big Sixes – both of whom I’ve worked with at the Students Union – for the fact that it’s feelgood music and very spacious reverberant sounds – it’s why I love the M-One. They’re both lovely bands and were a pleasure to work with.
Where do you want to be in ten years?
In ten years, I want to be in a consistent in-house job and have a few bands that I work with as a front-of-house/monitor engineer in order to keep myself busy with new projects every so often. It’s why I enjoy working in-house as every day is new and with different people and music to work with – it keeps me on my toes and excited every time I walk into a venue.
To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Media International staff writer Matt Fellows on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 7354 6001.