The Artist Perspective

So who would have guessed that a 60-year-old performer would be given the very first Surround Artist of the Year award at the recent Surround Music Awards? I must say that to still be viable and accepted in a brand new format is, quite frankly, a thrill — especially a format as progressive as surround sound.

I remember well the first time I ever heard a 5.1 surround sound music mix. My friend and colleague, Nathaniel Kunkel, took me over to David Tickle’s house in Hawaii, where David played us some Sheryl Crow and Sting pieces in 5.1. Everything sounded so fresh, present, and clear, and I realized that music should be a 360-degree experience.

So why was I going to do my own album, Songs for Survivors, in stereo?

Because when I started work on the album surround sound technology wasn’t where it is today. So we began in stereo, but, fortunately, Rory Kaplan from DTS Entertainment heard Nate and I mixing the album in stereo and asked if a deal had been struck to release the project in surround. Rory expressed great interest in the project and love for the music, so we trusted him.

I realized after we had finished mixing Songs that it was a shame that the technology wasn’t around when I first cut the album. At the time, Nate and I were working on several projects at once, and we found that we couldn’t move from 5.1 to stereo because everything sounded crushed together, so Nate and I had to finish all the stereo mixing first and then, after a break, go back to the 5.1 mixing.
After production, I found the surround sonic environment so enticing that we decided to release the album in 5.1 first — before any stereo version was made available.

Since I worked on Songs, I’ve become much more aware of the possibilities that exist to create music for this particular format. For one thing, it is possible to approximate the recording conditions for the pleasure of the listener, and give them an interesting perspective.

I have big plans for surround sound in the future — including remixing the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album, Déjà Vu, and Wild Tales.

As with the recent release of the 1971 Crosby-Nash live recording, mixed for surround and released by DTS under the title Another Stoney Evening, it is exciting to have a new format that can breathe as much excitement and life into legacy recordings as to new releases. Even at this stage in my career, it is a technology that has helped me become enthusiastic about reworking the old and creating the new.

Surround Professional Magazine