Our regular Rising Stars focus is back with a new entry on the latest up-and-coming figures in the industry.
Producer and A&R and artist manager Huib Schouten works for a Dutch management agency that operates globally in the electronic music field. He tells us how a love of drums opened him up to all kinds of musical genres, where he found his calling in electronic music – and that calling was strong enough to pull him across the world from The Netherlands to the US, where he studied Audio Engineering.
How did you start out/where did you study?
My relationship with audio started when I was a kid. I love playing drums. This is also where I first got in touch with music, as in literally playing an instrument instead of just listening. Playing drums went hand in hand with my exploration of genres of music until I reached high school age and was confronted with electronic music. This discovery changed everything for me, since this is where I became interested in composing. Drums gave me the rhythm, and the computer and its software gave me the chance to express myself even further and venture of in the world of melody.
I applied for College to study business management, but over time I noticed this was not what I wanted to do, and that what I really wanted to do was to learn how to engineer properly. Together with my parents we found out that Nashville truly was the best way to learn how to engineer, since the amount of iconic studio’s and vintage gear present in that city is unseen anywhere else. The city breathes music, which I found out when visiting. So I decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the Audio Engineering course at the SAE at music circle. The knowledge I have acquired at the school and at my internships give me the right mindset and skills to work in this professional but creative environment.
Where are you based?
At the moment I reside in The Hague, which is a coastal city in The Netherlands. This is also the place where my own recording studio is located. The Hague is a melting pot of musical styles, mostly Rock oriented, however there are a lot of electronic music producers at this time and electronic music is making its presence known in this city on a frequent basis.
What made you want to work in pro-audio?
I was riding the bus to high school and to pass the time I listened to mini-disks that me and a friend shared back and forth. While being exposed to many different styles of electronic music the enthusiasm grew. At that point I realised that I wanted to become part of the music industry. At first I always had aspirations to become a label manager, for which reason I enrolled for business management at the University of science. But as mentioned, I followed my heart, and decided to go to the USA to learn the technical aspect of recording. This decision has changed my life completely. Being able to work in a creative environment with various producers and mixing engineers gives a certain feeling of happiness, especially when something works and the end result is a song that tickles your senses.
Being able to share this knowledge is something I find very important as well. My job as an A&R and artist manager is very challenging, yet great fun because I get to advise producers how hone their sound, and give advice regarding mix downs and sound design.
Who would you say are your biggest influences stylistically?
The music that I produce under the name of The Storks is a style of house music that has a lot of influences from the 80s. This is a time in music history where the industry changed due to the uprise of early digital implementations in the signal chain. What I find amazing is that the French duo Daft Punk, legendary for their electronic productions, decided to make an album such as Random Access Memories that feels like its made in the '70s in a time where everyone expected them to follow up on their electronic sound. People who are able to express a certain emotion in their music while changing the rules in doing so, artists such as Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Mark Knopfler, The Doors, Laurent Garnier, Funk D’Void, Groove Armada are my biggest influences. Their music has soul, making it timeless.
Can you tell us about any recent projects? What are you working on currently?
There are a lot of projects that I’m happy to work on at the moment. Some I can not disclose, however, I have made a record together with guitarist Alan Shacklock from the legendary '70s rock band Babe Ruth, which we are planning to release.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite gear? What do you find yourself relying on for projects?
At the moment my studio in The Hague is equipped with a Tascam DM4800 digital console. The console being digital makes a lot of features like automation and various editing opportunities easy and quick. I have a couple pieces of outboard gear, including an Avalon 747SP, which I love to use. Logic is my DAW of choice for most of my projects. Digital is quick and handy, however my true passion lies with analogue. This is why four years ago I purchased a D&R Avalon console combined with a Studer A80 MkII tape machine. This restoration process was really fun to do, especially now that the console and tape-machine are in great shape, and I am looking for a suitable location for what will be an analogue playground.
If you could choose one artist/group, who would it be and why?
This here is a hard question, especially since I like a lot of different music. There is one band however who fascinated me ever since I saw them perform live at Pinkpop, and this band is Groove Armada. This band (live) or duo (in the studio) has never failed to amaze me with their intense groove and soul in their records. Tracks like Paris and Lovebox just seem to stick with me as time progresses.
Where do you want to be in ten years?
Ten years from now I want to work and live in Nashville as a recording engineer. I will be running my own studio with a great team of people and interns that get to work with analogue tape with an inline console, as well as on the digital domain. It’s important to know the history of music if you want to look at the future, and being able to teach the next generation of engineers how to work with tape will put a big smile not just on my face, but also on theirs.
Pictured (left to right): Huib Schouten and Alan Shacklock.
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.