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    Eddie Kramer Interview - Studio Sound Magazine 1994


    KRAMER VS KRAMER Part 1 - By Paul Lawrence

    It happened at about 10.30am in early April 1976. Paul Laurence was asleep and would usually have ignored the telephone, but in a reflex action he lurched out of bed to answer it.

    'Hello, Paul? This is Eddie Kramer. I'm in town mixing the soundtrack for the Led Zeppelin movie. Why don't you come on down to the studio?'

    Eddie Kramer. Jimi Hendrix's Engineer-Producer. He mixed Led Zeppelin II and recorded most of Houses of the Holy. Engineered the Woodstock albums. Cut three Stones and two Beatles tracks. That Eddie Kramer?

    Laurence first wrote to Kramer in 1974 care of his old stomping grounds, Electric Lady Studios on West
    8th Street in New York to propose an interview. He knew little about him except what his ears had told him: that he was a very creative audio engineer. He had never read an article or even seen a photo of him. As Hendrix' right-hand man, however, he had excellent access to publicity, so the dearth of literature could not have been an accident. The letter prompted nothing. Follow-ups fared no better.

    In late 1975 Laurence happened upon Guitar Player's first special issue on Hendrix, alighting immediately upon Kramer's polite refusal to grant an interview.' Citing both philosophical and professional grounds, he wanted the mystique to remain undisturbed. The journalist resolved to try one more time.

    Eighteen months later, he sent a note in which he poked gentle fun at Kramer's image as a mystery man. Laurence still harboured no hope of hearing from Kramer.

    'Your letter,' said the voice on the phone, 'it was so funny that I just had to call you.'

    Paul Laurence was to meet Kramer at Todd AO studio in South Central Hollywood. John Bonham's drum solo was being mixed as he entered the dubbing room. It sounded thunderous -and most impressive. Over the next few days Laurence saw much of The Song Remains the Same, out of sequence, backward, forward ... The interview, however, remained up in the air. Eventually Kramer queried Laurence: Just what did he have in mind? How did he plan to present him? How much did he want to know about Jimi? What did he think of John Bonham as a drummer? How about Mitch Mitchell?

    The outcome, apparently, lay less with the answers to these questions than with a series of table tennis matches the pair were about to play ...

    Although Kramer has worked with many top acts, he is best known for the records he engineered for the late Jimi Hendrix. The quality of the records, the Hendrix legacy, and Kramer's reluctance to comment have all been factors in making him the subject of greatest speculation yet least known, engineer· producers in the business. He has an active following among his peers who follow his work and glean titbits of second-hand and third-hand information on 'how he did it.' Ultimately Edwin H 'Eddie' Kramer is among an elite group of individuals who truly can be said to have an engineering or technical mystique.

    Unschooled in audio, Kramer received extensive training in music. At five he began music lessons, studying piano, violin, and cello, and later attended the South African College of Music. As a result, he approaches recording from a musical, rather than technical, vantage point. A key concept in discussing Kramer's work is space. He likes a lot of space on his records, and much of his style of recording is based on capturing it. He prefers to get this space at the time of recording, rather than add it later with signal processing. Whenever possible, he records in houses instead of studios, where he uses the different rooms for their particular acoustical characteristics.

    At the heart of this sound is mic technique. Compared to the average engineer, he uses more mics, more distant mics, and more mic perspectives. In the current classical recording style he often records a given instrument or sound source - even a monophonic one - in stereo, sometimes treating each of its channels differently . .,.

    Two of Kramer's specialties are distant drums and complicated mixes. The Hendrix mixes are legendary for being both complex and dynamic. Many were third-hand and 4-hand mixes, as Hendrix had a flair for mixing and often assisted Kramer in this phase of the record making process. Together they explored uncharted sonic realms.

    Kramer continues to work, adding not just rock acts but classical, jazz, and pop artists to his credits: Angel, the Animals, Bad Company; Brownsville Station, Cactus, Sammy Davis Junior, Dokken, Peter Frampton, Lena Horne, The Kinks, Kiss, Mott The Hoople, Santana, Carly Simon, The Spencer Davis Group, Spooky Tooth, Traffic, Joan Baez, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker, Country Joe & The Fish, CS&Y, Jefferson Airplane, Sly And The Family Stone, Ten Years After, The Who.

    When it happened, the interview soaked up approximately six hours of tape recorded in two interview sessions. We began on April 14th, 1976 at my place in Los Angeles and finished with a 45 minute phone call to his suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in Beverly Hills on November 28th of the same year.

    Later, Lawrence twice asked Kramer if he could release this interview. Each time Kramer requested that Lawrence wait until the book he was writing had been published. That Book, Jimi Hendrix: Setting The Record Straight, was ultimately co-written with John McDermott and appeared in the summer of 1992, hence the publication now of this vintage material.

    So, let us turn back the clock, to a decidedly kinder and gentler time.... The year is 1976, the U.S. President is a courtly southerner named Jimmy Carter, Linda Ronstadt is the reigning queen of the AM airwaves, and a classic MicroMoog Synthesizer costs about $550.00. The stage set, we proceed to the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, California where what Lawrence believes will be Kramer's first major interview is about to begin. Lawrence checks the microphones one more time and starts the Revox. By Tom Goodyear.

    Born in South Africa of an English mother, Kramer moved to England in 1949, staying for just a year before returning. The exercise was repeated in 1956 after which time the family remained in South Africa for four years.

    EK 'In 1960, politically, everybody had a rude awakening,' Kramer recalls. 'The country was in a state of change. There were black demonstrations which were very heavy. My parents said "We're gettin' out." I stayed on to finish college'

    SS Had you been involved in recording in South Africa?

    EK 'I was always into playing records and fiddling about with the gramophone-as we called it. By the time I was about two or three, I was identifying 78s by the label and my father taught me how to put them on the automatic changer. It was an Ultramar radiogram; I was always twiddling the knobs and fiddling with the sound.
    'From that point on, I was fascinated with radio because we didn't have any other forms of entertainment. I had to have my parents come into the room at night and ask me to turn it off, 'cause I had my ear glued to the thing!'

    SS What sorts of records did you get down there?

    EK 'It was all the Elvis things - the Top 50 American records came to South Africa.'

    SS What about black music?

    EK 'Not too much of it, for obvious reasons. Chuck Berry of course, later on, and things like that, but the radio is controlled by the government there. You have Springbok Radio - which is the only commercial station - and Lorenzo Marks, which used to transmit commercial programmes. I was very influenced by jazz in the late 1950s, early 1960s to the point where I went from going to jazz clubs to wanting to play jazz piano. As a result, my studies really suffered.

    'When I came to England in December 1960, my father said, "You've got to get into advertising. It's the only thing that will save you." So I became a messenger boy for this fashion publication firm. On the same floor there was this TV production house, and they had a projection booth which had double projectors - two different theatres, but a central projection booth. And I used to hang out in there all the time.

    'At this point, I was making my own hi-fi amplifiers and selling them to friends, and I bought my own tape machine. I knew nothing about the electronics, I just knew what it could do for me.

    'But I was getting frustrated, and I said, "I want to do something that has electronics and that has music in it". And I picked up the TV Yearbook and I said, "I want to be where there's music and electronics, and that's a studio". So I got to the studio pages and picked out half a dozen names, wrote a letter off to six studios, and a couple of weeks later I got a few replies. I went for a couple of interviews and got a job immediately. Actually it was the first studio I went to - it was Advision. This was 1962.'

    'I started right from the bottom - sweeping the floors, running messages, making the tea, mono and 2-track recording and a lot of film work. I learned how to cut discs, but they would never let me touch the board.

    'I became very friendly with all the young avante-garde musicians at the time, and I used to record them at home. I had a little system there, and speakers, and all that. I never had enough money really to have good equipment, and so I used to bring them into the studio and say to the people, "Look, I'm gonna fool around this weekend. Is that all right?" They'd say, "As long as you use gash tape."

    SS What kinds of mics were you using then?

    EK 'They had beautiful old Altec mics which you can still find - the old rocket-shaped Altecs - and a couple of old 47s, which if you can get hold of them, are gold today. Generally the older style of condenser mics and some of the very, very old BBC-type ribbons, old 44BX RCAs - things like that.

    'I got pissed off at Advision and I went to Pye. This is 1963, and Pye Records had just opened their studio. It was the newest, the best. Bob Auger was the engineer who was running the place and put it together. Bob's influence is really quite important, because the studio was virtually all-American in that all the gear they had was Ampex. He was a freak for Ampex gear. Big old 300 tape machines - that was when I first worked on 3-track. In fact, the 3-track was only there for a very short while because 4-track came in about six months later. All his classical stuff was done 3-track, straight into the machine, maybe with a small mixer there as well. I learned a lot of classical techniques from Bob, and since I was into classical music, I went out on live recording dates with him.

    'To me, live recording is still where it's at. I think studio recording leaves a lot to be desired, in terms of feel and in terms of spacious-sounding records, which is why I love recording drums in an open room or a whole band together instead of multi-tracking. I'd rather have the leakage and a bit of spillage; I'll have some splash, because it helps the overall impact of the music. There's an old phrase that another engineer who was influenced by Bob Auger - a guy by the name of Keith Grant, who runs Olympic Sound Studios and was a big influence on me too - uses, and it holds true today: "Distance makes depth." If you're into a very up-front, present sound, it's fine for certain things, but it doesn't always work. And unfortunately, most of the engineers today - the guys who have come up in the last couple of years - have had no formal training in classical recording.'

    SS Were there any specific records that influenced you?

    EK 'Every one of them, whether it was bad, good, indifferent. Classical, rock, jazz, early Elizabethan music, Georgian chants, you name it. Records didn't influence me, the music that came out of the records influenced me, and the sound of each individual record I treated as a whole, as a unit. I didn't say, "I'm gonna get that sound". I get different sounds by collecting all the little things that turn me on and storing them up, and then bringing them out when I need them.'

    'I don't try to approach my engineering as a technical exercise. I like to try and use the tools at my disposal to achieve a certain sound. If I hear a group for the first time, I can see in my head what they could possibly sound like, then I keep that frame of reference all the way through to the final mixdown. Beyond that even, to the final disc mastering. The same way a painter conceives of a scene, the same way a cinematographer conceives of a shot - that's what I think it's all about. Instead of segmenting it into little boxes: separate each instrument, sound traps and all that.'

    SS Were you at all frustrated back in the 2-track, 3-track, and 4-track days when perhaps you didn't have total track placement freedom?

    EK 'The whole thing with those early 4-track days was that you conceived the mix right then and there, and that was it. There was very little you could do afterwards; your stereo mix was locked in as you did it.
    'It was very strange in those days. One mic on top - the overhead - and one bass drum mic, that's it for the drums. Mic in front of the bass amplifier, mic over there, and the singer standing there in the studio singing live, chuggin' away. And then they'd overdub a few more voices, and then - if the guy got really fancy - you'd take a 4-track machine and another 4-track machine and mix it down to two and leave two tracks open. Called 4-to-4.

    'Most of the sessions were done straight 4-track. They'd put the band down on one, another thing down on another track and then you'd have a couple of tracks to play with. And then they'd put background voices and maybe strings and horns and that's it . ..,..

    Albums were made in two days and less! Look at what happened to the Animals, when they went in and cut in half an hour -cost them some ridiculous figure like £12, £15 - a million-seller. You know, you just go in - boom - nine in the morning, do it.'

    'At Pye, once again I got very unhappy. I wasn't doing what I wanted to do - I wasn't able to engineer and stuff. People didn't want to take the time and trouble to show me how the board was patched and all that, so I had to sort of guess it. It was a fairly complex board. It was an old Telefunken or Neumann board that started off as a classical console - three outputs, expanded to four, expanded to this, and to that, and it was eventually thrown out.

    'I left there and met this guy who was working for ATV as a Video Engineer - Ron Pickup, if you can believe the name. He was a singer part-time and was interested in electronics and I said to him, "What do you think about opening up a studio?" He said, "Sure", so I went to my uncle and he put in £300 and he put in my share - he loaned me £300 - and Ron put in £300, and we started a studio called KPS Sound Studios. We begged, borrowed, and stole equipment. An Ampex 2-track machine, a Revox, an 8-channel tube mixer with two outputs, and I had two very nice Tannoy monitors, which I bought from Pye. We bought some microphones and discounting equipment second hand from some weird guy up north-old 78-rpm cutting gear which we modified to 45 rpm with different pulleys.

    'We found this building in the back of a travel agency. The door was so narrow that you couldn't get an organ through there, you had to have an upright piano. Below us was a photographer - he used to bang on the ceiling when we got too loud - and behind us was a playground full of kids! My uncle's company used to display work for big exhibitions, so he and his carpenters came in and we redid the place a bit.

    'We did some great demos there. The Kinks came in, cut some stuff, and John Mayall, and Zoot Money and His Big Roll Band -that's the sort of group that was coming in to us. I was really proud of it - we got a really nice little sound out of that joint. This is the whole year of 1965, and towards the end I just couldn't hold it together 'cause I was doing everything - engineering, the books, and all that, and I was terrible at the books. I was paying myself about £7 a week. It was nothing, just existing. We had a lot of ups and downs, and towards the end of it, my uncle got very pissed off and he said, "Okay, these things don't make any money, you've taken money from my pocket". We were breaking even - barely. So we had to sell it. We put the word about and one day we had a call from a guy at Regent Sound. Regent Sound is in Tin Pan Alley - Tin Pan Alley being Denmark Street, Denmark Street being the street where all the publishers are. Regent Sound was owned by a Lord Baring, who was a gentleman studio owner, and he had this gay man, and this big burly guy used to run the studio for him. And they were doing the Stones' early records. I think the most important early stuff was done at Regent Sound.

    'The Regent Sound stuff was very interesting because it was all mono, and mono overdubs. In other words, record on one machine mono, and
    then overlay. It was a good rough studio, that - a really a good demo studio. Anyway, they started making a fortune, Regent Sound, because they were doing the Rolling Stones, and everybody wanted to go and get that sound. We're talking late 1965, early 1966. It was all mono in those days, had no 2-track. All the big studios were 3-track, but the smaller guys were just mono and 2-track.

    'So Regent Sound came up and said, "We hear that you're for sale. Let me take a tape back and we'll listen to it". So we get a call back the following day, guy comes up with a check - "I'm gonna buy your studio" - wrote out a check then and there. Sold the whole place lock, stock, and barrel, and we got back all the money we had spent. He said, "I like the sound you guys are getting here, how'd you like to build us a new studio?"

    'The upshot was that Ron and I were hired to run and build the new Regent Sound Studios on Tottenham Court Road. "She'll have a brand new 4-track Studer machine and a new transistorized board", which was the biggest piece of rubbish I ever saw. After six months of working there, I couldn't handle Lord Baring. He was overbearing. He just didn't know what was going on.

    'At the time, I was pretty friendly with most of the studios in London. I knew Landsdowne and I knew Olympic, and I knew the people who ran them. One day, I got a call from Keith Grant at Olympic. He said, "I'd like you to come over. I want to show you something." He took me down to Barnes, to this really dilapidated - looking building, and we went through the front door and there's this most incredible studio being built! The main room was about 70ft by 50ft by about 30ft high - it was a big room. You can hold about 90 people in there, although we actually had about 110 in there, I think, at one point when we did a big film date.

    'I said, "Holy ... " And he said, "Well, you've got the job" because Terry Brown had left and he needed a new engineer.

    'I started there in 1966. Carton Street - the old Olympic - was in an old church which was a synagogue many, many years ago, and it's a haunted place. Great sound came out of that studio. The control room was upstairs and you looked down over the studio. We had to move out of the building because it was going to be knocked down, and I remember I was the last one there, cutting the umbilical cord from that console.

    'When Olympic Sound Studios opened in Barnes in late 1966, it was the finest studio in the whole of the world, I think. There were several factors involved. Firstly, the room is great. I mean, there's nothing you can't do in there. Number two, the board is fantastic. For years it was the leader. Every module broke down into further modules inside, and it's very flexible. You can get an incredible rhythm section sound, you can get anything from a big orchestral sound to a terrific rock sound. Quite often one studio gets one sound, and that's it - that's all they get. What the Record Plant has tried to do and what Westlake tried to do is make a happy medium, where most of the stuff that comes out is fairly good, which is nice, I guess. Whereas at Olympic, you can get anything from terrifyingly bad to brilliant, depending on who the engineer is. Now here's the tertiary factor: not only good acoustics in the room, the board was terrific and the engineers were terrific.'

    SS Who were the first engineers at the new Olympic?

    EK 'Keith Grant, of course, and myself, and Glyn Johns, though he wasn't a resident engineer there - he was totally independent.

    'There was a great spirit that existed in the early days of Olympic - something which will change inevitably in any given situation. It happened at Pye, it happened at Olympic, it happened at Electric Lady. It's a spirit, a camaraderie, a genuine belief in what you are doing, and for the fun and sheer hell of doing it. Everything was new in those days. Four-track was new, the board was new, the sound that we were getting was new, everything we tried was new. That console that Dick Swettenham built was fantastic because it showed people what could be done with a very intelligently laid-out board. He had the board so laid out that you could do panning and equalisation and changing levels all within a very small framework, right here. Right in front of you. You hardly have to move your hands further than nine inches to get anything done. Dick Swettenham is a brilliant Engineer - a Designer. All the sort of things that you see today in consoles I can almost attribute to that man - things like modular, transistorized consoles in England were his concept. He was the one who first did it.

    SS Did I hear Andy Johns say he seconded for you at Olympic?

    EK 'All the time. I had other tape operators, but he was certainly one of the first I had. I used to be a tape operator for his brother - for Glyn - and then when I became a Senior Engineer, he was second for me, and so on and so forth.
    'He had his problems in the beginning. Like any young person starting off trying to be an engineer, it's hard - it's really tough. I'm a very demanding perdon. Glyn gave me the runaround and I, of course, gave everyone else the runaround correspondingly. But I think it is part of the thing that you have to go through in order to learn.'

    SS Do you use second engineers now?

    EK 'I've found a couple of really good assistants who can engineer for me - once I set the sound up, I leave them to it to ride the gain and generally look after things. That frees my time more effectively - I can go in the studio and work out with the musicians, which is what I like to do.'

    SS When did you come to America?

    'I worked with the Animals - with Tom Wilson - and he said, "There's this friend of mine who's putting this studio together in New York, and I want you to come over to the States." It took them six months to get a visa for me. They had to fly a lawyer into England, and had to go and talk to the American Embassy and all that crap. Eventually they got me a visa, and I came over and started the Record Plant.'


    KRAMER VS KRAMER Part 2 - By Paul Lawrence

    Eddie Kramer recalls the end of his relationship with the famous Record Plant studio and the beginning of his involvement with Hendrix' legendary Electric Ladyland.

    EK 'At the Record Plant, I felt that I was being taken for a ride, so I split and for a year I was independent. During that year I built Electric Lady. John Storyk was the architect, and I put the board together in terms of what I wanted and laid out the control rooms, John and I and a guy called Bob Hanson. We were lucky in that it was a good room to start with. We'd had a few problems, but we managed to solve them with some unusual sorts of techniques.'

    SS Like what?

    EK 'The fact that the studio was ... below grade, and that when we knocked out all the walls to get the complete square space, once we'd removed all the rubble and leveled the floor, we discovered that a tributary of the Manhasset River decided to come up. The whole studio actually floats on water. And there's two sump pumps up in the ladies' room and two down in the workshop. And they're on two different levels, of course - if one kicks in, then the other one will kick in, depending on how much rainfall is happening.

    'In terms of separation between two studios, there was a problem because we had Studio A backing onto Studio B, with no control room between it. So we had to have a special wall designed and built that would not touch any of the other walls, that was about 3-foot 6-inches thick, floating on cork and rubber, each brick was hollow and sand-filled. It was an amazing piece of construction.

    'When Electric Lady was finished, there was no studio like it in the world. Period. For the first three years of its existence, it influenced many major studios, in terms of construction, design, lighting, environmental control - all that kind of thing. But after its initial burst and staying in there with the best and beating them ... When Michael Jeffery died, I left the studio - I just didn't want to become involved anymore. I was too busy doing production and my own engineering.'

    SS With what sorts of ideas in mind was Electric Lady built?

    EK 'The story goes that Jimi said he wanted a nightclub, so Michael Jeffery and me bought a place called the Generation, which was a nightclub, and they did nothing with it for the first six months they owned it. One day Jimi said, "What's happening with the club?" so they called in some people to help them put it together, one of whom was a guy called Jim Marron. He used to run the Scene in New York, where Jimi used to jam a lot. And they liked Jimi because he was like a maitre d'-type character.

    'Jimi and Michael wanted to put this studio in this nightclub down here. And I contacted John Storyk, who came up with a beautiful set of drawings. Jimi said, "Just put a small control room in there somewhere so I can make recordings from the stage and all." And I walked down there one day, I took one look at the place, and I said, "You guys have gotta be out of your minds - I want to make this the best studio in America. This would be a tremendous waste of money if you made just a nightclub." Thirteen months later and $1,000,000 later - Electric Lady.'

    SS What were some of its initial specifications?

    EK 'Studio A console was 36 in/36 out, Studio B console was 30 in/30 out. It was the first new 24-channel board, with switching for 24 tracks. Bus ins were equipped for 24 - if there was such an animal - but there was no demand for it at that time.'

    SS Did Hendrix influence the choice of equipment at all?

    EK 'The only way was on some of the aesthetics. He wanted a nice, close, warm environment in which to create, with coloured lights, and with the ability to change the atmosphere for the artist. In other words, what we created for him was a cocoon. He was never happier than when he was working down there. He loved that studio very much - couldn't stay away. He was early for every session practically. He would sneak in and watch somebody else's session.'

    SS Do you remember your first meeting with Jimi?

    EK 'Vaguely. I remember him coming into the studio .. .'

    SS Had you heard his music before that?

    EK 'No I hadn't. I just remember seeing these huge amps being rolled in. He came down with Chas [Chandler, Hendrix' Manager] one day to have a look at the studio, just after they had done 'Hey Joe' 'cause they were looking for a better studio to record in.'

    SS Did you see excellence in his music right away?

    EK 'It was apparent to me from the first few chords that he played. He was very, very, very sensitive; very, very, well-spoken; very funny. A gentleman, a true, true gentleman. There was such an aura about him - a tremendous presence. There's a - the current terminology is a vibe - that is very strong, a presence that is strongly felt even to this day at Electric Lady. After he died, it took me about three months before I could get back in the studio. It took a lot of courage to start working on his tapes, because you hear the guy's voice and ...

    'We were putting the Cry Of Love album together and one of the guitar tracks - of which he did many overdubs, each one of them beautiful and perfect within its own right - he'd keep saying, "How's that one?" I'd say, "Fantastic! Incredible!" "Well, I'll do another one ... ", and he'd do one better. We'd often have six tracks of guitar solos in there, seven tracks, eight tracks of guitar solos, and upwards!

    'There was this one in particular where we'd lost the amped track. For some reason, it had gotten erased or something had happened to it, but I had the direct. So we fed the direct through a transformer out to the studio through a Marshall amp. And all the lights were out in the studio, and somebody walked in the back and I thought it was Jimi playing. It was very scary, very spooky, when you hear his sound coming out and you know that the man's not around. And to this day, quite often I'm mixing and I'll turn around and think there's somebody there and there isn't. Just a feeling, just a presence, just like the guy's sort of tapping you on the shoulder.'

    SS How technically orientated was Hendrix?

    EK 'He knew what sound he wanted and he described it in his own way, and then I usually got it for him. He wasn't terribly technical. He enjoyed getting involved with the mix - and I would give him about three or four faders.'

    SS Was it usually the two of you mixing together?

    EK 'The first album was Chas sitting at the board with Jimi's ideas thrown in from behind. The second album, though - Axis -Jimi was sitting there for most of it, and from then on we worked as a team. Certainly Electric Ladyland.'

    SS You had such complicated mixes.

    EK 'We spent a few hours with them. Usually Jimi grabbed the voices, and I had the rhythm section and the main guitar tracks. Usually I gave Jimi a couple of vocal tracks and maybe one guitar track that was going to be a problem, where he knew he wanted to pull it in and out. There were certain passages where my hands were full - I was doing five or six different things - and he would grab a chunk of the board. I'd preset certain things, and then he would ride 'em up and down, and pull a guitar in and out, or pull a voice track in and out, or hit an echo button or something like that. But the panning he left entirely to me - we used to get off on panning - we used to fall on our faces laughing at the panning.'

    SS You used to do a 'circle'.

    EK 'It's a technique of pulling down the fader as you're pulling the pan pot up, and pulling it back up again. Yeah, he's grabbed a few pan pots in his day.'

    SS I read that Jimi used to come in at night to do a mix and still be there mixing when the janitor would arrive in the morning.

    EK 'Jimi wanted to mix a lot of things, but he didn't have the technique for it, and that was the only time we ever fell out. In fact, from the time just before I left the Record Plant to become independent to the time that I saw him again about six months later - when I started to build the studio for him - we did have a falling out, because he wanted to take over everything. He wanted to have control of every single area - the music, the creation, the mixing, and all the rest - and I wasn't about to allow him to do that!

    I mean, the way we had worked in the past, which was very successful, was that each person did his particular function well, but that we still worked very closely together on the mixing. Within the confines of mixing an album of the complexity of Jimi's, I would suggest things to him and show him some wild ideas, and he'd say, "I love that, but I don't like this" or "Can you get me a sound which sounds something like somebody swimming underwater?". It was a team - the same way I worked with Jimmy Miller, and that's to me the way a mix should go. Whatever means you utilise to achieve that end is valid. If I have to stand on my head and mix with my toes, that's valid if it produces a sound. But to go into the fine details is nonsense, it doesn't really mean anything.'

    SS Was Jimi's first album the first time you'd ever done backwards recording?

    EK 'I can't remember. Jimi was into that - turn the tape over, do a backward solo. He knew his stuff backwards anyway. It was innovative only in the sense that he was doing it.'

    SS So it had been done before?

    EK 'I imagine it had been done before. Yeah, I can't really claim any credit for it. The only thing I can really claim is the use of phasing in a way other than it had been normally used. We used it to much more dynamic effect - you know, phasing the drums as they come in on Axis: Bold as Love'

    'There's a story Jimi told us one day: "I had a dream, man, and in this dream I heard a sound. I can't really describe it to you, but it's like swimming underwater. I wish I could create that sound". About a week later, we came up with this phasing thing and he totally freaked. He said, "My God, it's like I've relived my dream! It's exactly the sound I was looking for."

    SS Were you doing it with two tape machines?

    EK 'Yeah, real flanging. All that other electronic stuff is rubbish! Listen to electronic flanging and then listen to real flanging - you tell me if there isn't a difference. It has none of the dynamics, it has none of the depth.
    'It was George Martin that turned us on to phasing. I did some work with the Beatles at Olympic - 'All You Need Is Love' and 'Baby, You're A Rich Man', was done all in one session, Keith Grant and myself engineering, all in one go mixed and everything.'

    SS Just how did he turn you on to it?

    EK 'When we were doing those sessions, we asked him - we were very curious about the phasing on the Beatles records - and he told us how they did it. In fact, it's a very old technique which dates back to 1949. It's even listed in the BBC Radio Handbook, as a certain technique to be used for special effects.'

    SS On 'And the Gods Made Love', did you do some recording at 7 1/2 ips?

    EK 'It was definitely not recorded at 7 1/2 - at anything else but. There was every speed from 0-100, if you want to know. Figure it out from there. That whole side is one 14-hour mix. Apart from the stops and starts for editing, that was pretty much one thing straight through.'

    SS Where was 'Voodoo Chile' recorded?

    EK 'That was the Record Plant. Live. Straight live. Jimi was jamming at Steve Paul's Scene with Stevie and Jack Casady, and he brought them back to the Record Plant. It's not a great recording, in fact. Stevie Winwood was a perfect keyboard artist for Jimi. He should have joined them, should have gone on the road with them.'

    SS Did Jimi play any of the keyboards on the Electric Ladyland album?

    EK 'I showed him the chords for 'Spanish Castle Magic' on Axis. I showed him one chord that he really flipped over- on 'Crosstown Traffic' the piano chords are my chords. He was good on drums too. Loose, but really nice.'

    SS What are your memories of The Cry Of Love?

    EK 'There was a lot of pain and a lot of frustration in finishing it up after he was dead. How do you finish up somebody else's work? Two or three of the mixes were actually completed with Jimi there, supervising. And he was very, very happy with the album al that stage. He went lo England and he got very depressed, and he wanted me to come over and bring the tapes to England. I said," Jimi, we just opened your studio for you, why do you want lo do that?" And he said, "you're right. Can't do that." I said, "I'll see you in a week or so," and the next week he was dead.'

    SS Because The Cry of Love is somewhat of a departure from Electric Ladyland, I was wondering, did he say, "Now for this album, I want to do so-and-so"?

    EK 'It would flow like water. It would just be a sound that he was working on. He had fantastic ears, and he knew exactly what he wanted to hear. I just got used to the way he would describe sounds - he would have a very weird way of describing what he wanted. He would often use colours.'

    SS Did you find that your idea of a 'red' guitar sound was close to his?

    EK 'Pretty much. Certain chords, certain keys have a different mental image of colour. I'm sure Jimi had his version of what they sound like, but by working with him, I knew what he was talking about.'

    SS Do you think that part of your appeal to Jimmy Page was the fact that you had worked with Hendrix? Did he ever ask you do to what you did with Jimi, say?

    EK 'Never, of course, he was influenced by Jimi- I think he'd be the first person to admit it - as is every guitar player. And it's perfectly legitimate.'

    SS Houses of the Holy perfectly exemplifies your kinds of tones and your ideas about space.

    EK 'That's back to the house technique. It was recorded in the Stones' house at Stargroves, with the Stones' truck, and the sound reflects the liveness of the rooms.'

    SS At the beginning of 'The Rover', there's a curious movement of whal seems to be another image of the main guitar. Do you remember what you were doing there?

    EK 'You want me lo give all my secrets away?'

    SS Not all. Just some.

    EK 'They're not really secrets. It's just a question of applying common sense to what's going on in the studio. I react lo how the thing sounds; if a thing sounds a certain way, I'll apply a certain technique to it. It's just how it sounds to me in the room.'

    SS You were just manipulating a leakage image?

    EK 'You're close lo it.'

    SS You mentioned that you've cooled on recording studios in general.

    EK 'In the last couple of years I have, yes.'

    SS Because of a less live sound?

    EK 'Precisely. Studios are all very well, if you want lo control the situation to such a fine point, but I don't think rock 'n' roll deserves lo be shut up in a studio. Look at a lot of the albums that have been released in the last two years and show me, out of the Top 10, how many were actually recorded in the studio. A good portion were either recorded in houses, on location, live, in theatres, in mansions ... The reason being rock 'n' roll doesn't sound good in the studio. I feel that those days are over. I feel that there's a new era about to dawn on us, and I certainly intend to be in the vanguard of that.'

    SS Do you think the era of 'great studio recording' is over?

    EK 'No, I think studios'll always be there, studios'll always produce good sounds. The "old days" of getting it all on 4-track once are over. Last lime I saw Olympic, it was looking a bit worse for wear. And it's the same with Electric Lady. It goes in fashionable waves, and depending on how efficient the management is in keeping up with the times.'

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