Joshua Faulkner Harnesses the Intuitive Power of Merging Technologies
Over the past year, the music industry has witnessed a surge in activity as lockdown restrictions gradually lifted. Mix engineer and producer Joshua Faulkner, with his extensive experience and reputation, found himself at the epicenter of this bustling environment. While artists had managed to maintain productivity from home, the collaborative energy that ignites in a studio setting remained unparalleled.
For Faulkner, a large slice of those lockdown months has been spent holed up at London’s iconic Battery Studios, a Miloco Group establishment founded by legendary producers Alan Moulder and Flood, where he teamed up with UK grime pioneer Skepta. Faulkner and Skepta formed a ‘bubble’ during the most restrictive social distancing measures and have embarked on something of a new creative partnership, which has kept the pair active throughout the past year of the pandemic.
Sitting at the SSL 4000 console, previously owned by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Faulkner shared his experience with Headliner, emphasizing the seamless process of working with Skepta. Following the completion of their collaborative album, Skepta approached Faulkner with an offer to work together full-time. The absence of stress during their previous work surprised them both, thanks to the remarkably smooth workflow they had established.
While Faulkner enjoyed a close collaboration with Skepta, he also showcased his versatility by working across diverse genres with various artists. His working process, he explained, revolved around infusing each project with a fresh perspective—an ability he had cultivated since a young age.
Faulkner took his first foray into music production when he was 14, immersing himself in the world of FruityLoops on his mother’s PC after each school day. He experimented with every genre he could think of, diversifying and progressing his skillset as he went. His pursuits eventually led him to take a hand at recording too, which he quickly realised was a beautiful but different beast entirely. He soon realised there was more to meets the eye, but embraced the learning process, and was soon recording and mixing for full bands in the studio at only 17-years old.
“Most of the time I do a board mix on the SSL 4000, and then plugins wise it’s all just about cleaning things up,” he explains. “I always start on drums, then bass, then effects and then vocals after. Most of my vocal mixes are about cleaning it up and making it sound as if I had recorded it personally. From there I’ll start the vocal mix again from scratch.”
Within Faulkner's audio arsenal, the Merging Technologies Anubis interface plays a pivotal role. He explained that he had experimented with numerous interfaces, always in search of the best sound, including preamps, EQs, and compressors. However, when he started using the Anubis, he was blown away.
"Just using the Anubis alone, I was like, 'Wow'!" Faulkner exclaimed. "Even simple features like switching to mono and flipping the polarity on the interface make it easy to identify heavily out-of-phase elements. It's just two clicks—check and move on. It has become second nature; you don't even have to think about it. This way, you can focus more on the creative side rather than getting too technical. While the technical aspects are important, you don't want to make things sound overly technical. Anyone can handle the technical side, but creativity is something that must come from within."
“The first time I used the Anubis was on the Sarz and Obongjayer Sweetness EP,” he continues. “It was very ‘80s sounding, and Obongjayer has a very deep, full voice, and I wanted something that could capture the whole spectrum of his voice. It was great to use it on the project because it made his voice sound 3D, which was really interesting. And the way the low-end translated on the pres is so lovely, it’s like silk but you still get this huge warmth.”
Faulkner’s commitment to versatility and dynamism in the studio is clearly reflected both in his studio techniques and in the gear with which he equips himself. It’s a way of working that has served him well to date and looks set to do so long into the future.
“Some people look for a product that specifically targets their audience - I’m not really into that,” he concludes. “I want something that can be solid the whole way round. One day you could be recording a string section, the next you could be recording a rap vocal or a soprano. So having something as solid and easily portable as the Anubis interface, which sounds amazing every time, is priceless.”