Rising Stars: Stuart Allen-Hynd

Allen-Hynd discusses his career at Soho post house Jungle, including work with a range of high profile stars and brands.
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We're always looking for the next star in the industry here at AMI, and we have another for you right now. Starting out putting beats together in his bedroom as a teen, Stuart Allen-Hynd eventually landed work experience at London post house Jungle in Soho. He chatted to us about his numerous projects at the studio, including work with some big names, and why he'd hypothetically want to work with Justin Beiber. 

How did you start out, and where did you study?

When I was 14, I saved up and bought myself an Apple PowerBook G4 with Logic Express 7 and began to make my own beats, locked away in my bedroom for hours on end. All I wanted to do was engineer full time, but instead I had to finish school. I went to a Steiner school where art, craft work and the great outdoors were a major part of the curriculum and this really helped develop my maturity and independence. While at school, I completed an NCFE Level 2 qualification in Music Tech and Production and in my final year I managed to get work experience at Jungle and absolutely loved my time there. At 18, I had a place at Leeds School of Music to study Music Tech and Sound Design but over that summer I was offered a job as a runner at Jungle – after nine months in the role I realised that this ‘apprenticeship' was too good to let go, and I gave up my place at Leeds.

Where are you based?

Jungle is based in Soho, London. We have 10 studios and a Dolby certified cinema studio. The location is ideal for our clients and the voice overs, not to mention having some of the best restaurants and pubs on the doorstep.

What made you want to work in pro-audio?

I always loved visiting different studios and creating sounds. I would spend hours making and writing music, DJing and playing at local festivals, and so creating sound design full time became my ambition. A family friend who works in audio gave me some great opportunities to set up and mix live sound at local festivals and concerts with him, which proved to be an important asset in my career development.

Who would you say are your biggest influences stylistically?

I think on a global scale people like Ben Burtt and Gary Rydstrom, for their award-winning work on Hollywood films over the last few decades. I don’t think any sound engineer can say they haven’t been inspired in some way by their work, as they have pushed the boundaries of sound design, especially in an era when synthesizers and samplers were a lot more primitive then they are today. 

Musically, I’ve definitely been influenced by producers like Quincy Jones, Daft Punk, Neptunes, Amon Tobin, Dr Dre, The Glitch mob to name just a few.

Closer to home, I am inspired by a lot of the jobs we do at Jungle, as I am surrounded by talented engineers and composers every day. Having worked on some top campaigns alongside skilful engineers with decades of experience, it’s almost impossible not to be inspired, especially when you find yourself in the booth with a pile of dry sand, granulated sugar, gravel and weights in an attempt to re-create camel hoofs in the sand as part of the Qatar tourism campaign.

Do you have any achievements you are particularly proud of? What are the big landmarks of your career?

At 21, I was given the task of managing Jungle’s transfer department, which I took to with great enthusiasm, and it gave me a good grounding and understanding of people management.

Picking up the company’s employee of the year award at the age of 23 for my work on an Acer campaign alongside Megan Fox and Kiefer Sutherland was a particularly memorable and proud moment; I was the first person of my grade to get this award.

Jungle also allowed me to take a one year sabbatical to travel in 2013/14 and I’m now able to draw on a working knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese back in the office, which is very rewarding.

Can you tell us about any recent projects? What are you working on currently?

Recently I completed a short documentary alongside Asylum Films about the influx of refugee’s coming across to Europe from North Africa to seek a better life. Due to the poor quality of the sound recorded on location I had to totally rebuild the sound from scratch, making it sound as authentic as possible.

I had a very busy Cannes Lions 2015 where I was multi-tasking – I produced, mixed and recorded a live podcast alongside The Drum, Creativepool and Jungle, which featured a host of content and big names, including exclusive interviews with Pharrell Williams and Brian Cox. In between interviews, I was also live sound mixing for a host of artists such as Bondax, We Were Evergreen and Kiko Bun, who were performing on the beach in the evening.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite gear? What do you find yourself relying on for projects?

The iZotope RX 4 has been a lifesaver when it comes to removing and isolating specific sounds, cleaning up dialogue, replicating an ambience or an EQ. The development in audio software over the last few years is very impressive indeed, and never ceases to amaze me.

I worked on a short film, Minimus, which was produced and directed by the Hopkins brothers formally at M&C Saatchi, and used a lot of sounds from Heavyocity’s Evolve to build atmospheres and tension sounds.

I often find nothing helps more than to Foley the object to give the intimate, detailed, authentic sound needed to cut through in the final mix.

If you could work with one artist/group, who would it be and why?

Probably Justin Bieber so I could get to grips with Melodyne and auto tune his voice!
Seriously though… it would be amazing to spend a day in a studio with Ben Burtt or Dr Dre; to see the creative process of an artist who has innovated and defined a genre.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

The internet has opened up a world of opportunities to work with top directors and producers from all over the world so I would like to take advantage of this. I would love to be working on a range of audio jobs, from Dolby 5.1 mixes, to sound designing some top commercials and long form projects. A few awards under my belt wouldn’t go amiss either! 

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 mfellows@nbmedia.com or +44 (0)20 7354 6001.

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