13 Questions with

Fab Dupont

Great music is being made, we just don't know about it

Fab has been playing, writing, producing, and mixing music on stages and in studios all over the world in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London, and of course New York.

Dupont has received Grammy three nominations. First in 2004 for the Toots and the Maytals Duet album and two nomintions in 2011 for the Kirk Whalum 'Everything is Everything' album. Recently, Fab has worked on tracks for or featuring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, DJ Colette, Sean Lennon, Isaac Hayes, Lucy Woodward, Shakira, Nat King Cole, Babyface, Brazilian Girls, and many other artists. Fab also mixed the 2010 FIFA World Cup Anthem.

Recently FabulousFab also worked with another group Freshlyground. Both Fab and Freshlyground were honored in 2011 with 2 SAMA Awards (South African Music Awards) for Best Engineer and Best AC Album, for the Radio Africa album that Fab produced and mixed.

Personally, I have known Fab for many years through mutual friends, Bob and Chris, from Dangerous Music. He (Fab) helped the Dangerous guys at their AES booth for many years. Since Dangerous Music was using two Mercury EQ-H1 Studio Program Equalizers in their booth and Fab was impressed with the great low end and warmth they were added to the Stereo mix he had been listening to at the booth, he wanted to see who built them and learn more about Mercury.

Fab came down to the booth and struck a conversation, His honest feedback about Mercury Equipment and friendship was very appreciated and we have been friends ever since. Shortly after meeting, Dupont purchased a pair of Mercury EQ-H1 Studio Program Equalizers and still uses them on a daily basis in his studio. Flux (Studio) also has a Mercury M76m as well that is used to track for a variety of instruments and vocals.

Mercury Recording Equipment Company’s 13 Questions

01 When did you know Music was more than a hobby or dream job and was going to be your "career"? Was there one thing that made that happen?

My father gave me a saxophone and marched me to the conservatory in Paris when I was 7 years old. He couldn't be a musician so I was going to be one, that was pretty much it.

02 What aspect of music are you known for (i.e. engineer, mixer, producer, musician)? and What do you do that most people do NOT know you do as well (music related or not!)?

I'm most known as a mixer and then as a producer. I also spend a lot of time helping gear manufacturers make their stuff more usable for the modern world. Incidentally I also make a mean Coq Au Vin.

03 What is your musical "guilty pleasure"?

There are many. Here's one: 'Toxic' by the ever tragic Britney Spears. I wish it sounded fuller but the writing and the track are ridiculous.

04 What do you think is the most important thing is to get a great recording? What stage of a recording is most overlooked?

Best possible cue mix for the performers. What stage is most overlooked? Proper microphone placement.

05 Who do you admire in the recording world (engineers, producers, mixers etc...) and why?

I like producers who have as personal style but can work in many genres, like Sly and Robbie or Daniel Lanois, or early Rick Rubin. I also like guys who create landscapes like Nigel Godrich, totally immersive music.

As far mixing goes, I'm still regularly impressed by some Spike Stent stuff and Tony Maserati as well as Tchad Blake.

06 What are your feelings on TAPE vs. DAW?

My limited experience with tape tells me that if you have a great machine and a great tech and great tape stock, tape does something that is truly wonderful for the sound. I found myself having to use half the compression and still having a controlled dynamic range. I also found that the upper mids area was much smoother than with a digital rig. Unfortunately I found that most musicians these days don't have the patience for that workflow, aren't rehearsed enough to nail a take without at least some editing or tuning and that it's a full time job to maintain and groom the rig to be consistent. And tape stock is expensive. It's a tough sell for most projects. I'm planning to experiment with tracking to DAW thru tape for my next big live project. We'll see.

07 What new Artist/Group is in your "player" right now? What Artist/Group has always been in your "Top 10"?

I've been listening to Yael Naim quite a bit lately. French/Israeli artist. Sounds pretty bad but the songs are great. Prince has always been the one that is on top for me. Even when the album sucks there are two songs that just kill and that no one else can get close to.

08 What generation had the best music and/or recordings? and/or What generation’s music do you connect with the most?

I'm not sure that any generation had better music, It's true that there seems to be a lot less time to make records and less money is made playing out, thus making the development of something truly great much harder than it used to be. That said, I just think that there is a disconnect these days between what good music is actually being made and what is being broadcasted. Great music is being made, we just don't know about it because someone hasn't 'seen a market' for it. The media filter is tighter than ever.

I feel that a big part of the airtime is taken by a new kind of music that is being 'designed' as opposed to 'composed'. It's got its own merits, but it's disposable, because it's supposed to be disposable. I consider it a different thing, it's closer to fashion than music. It's also an art form, but it's another art, and it's very business driven. We definitely have seen a preeminence of business over music in the 'music business' and I think that it has made the music less relevant to the times.

As far as recording quality goes, It's interesting to go back and listen to recordings that we think of as 'better'. Most of them don't sound as good as we remember them to sound. Often the bottom of the record is lacking and definition is kind of fuzzy. I agree that there is a certain grain to older recordings. I'd like to be able to get that grain with modern aesthetics. It's not just tape, it's miking distance, amount of bleed, type of mikes and preamps, pace of the session. I'm working on that. I'm getting closer every session.

The recent over-compression of music as pretty much turned me off to most recent stuff except for the music that is supposed to sound that way, like minimalist Hip Hop tracks that don't suffer from it as much. I think over-compression has been the death of good sounding rock & roll.

09 You get to have one mic for vocals for the rest of your career, what is it and why?

I have a Soundelux 251 that wins most times, it's present but not too bright, it always sounds the same session after session and it makes the pickiest singer feel secure. I have C12 which I also Iike but tends to be too bright for most singers. I've never been able to play with a 67 or an RCA, I'm told I should. I'm always looking for ways to make things darker without being dull, that's my new quest.

10 When did you first hear of Mercury Recording Equipment Co.? What was your first experience using Mercury Equipment?

I met Dave Marquette at a trade show. I first heard the Mercury EQH1s in a Dangerous Music mastering demo rack. I was impressed by the bottom end of the units even on a trade show floor. I made a point of trying them on an actual mix ASAP.

11 What piece(s) of Mercury Equipment do you own or have you used? What applications / sessions have you used it (them) on?

I have a policy to not buy and even get rid of any piece of hardware that I can emulate quickly with plug-ins. My racks have shrunk drastically over the last couple of years but the EQH1s are there to stay.

I like the 60hz band on bass and kick, I like to use the 20 Hz cranked on vocals for added gut without mud and I love how smooth the 12k and 16k sounds of fulltracks. I had nothing that sounded quite like that before these things came in.

I have a hard time mixing a pop track without those EQs on vocal and bass these days.

12 Please describe Mercury Recording Equipment in 5 words or less.

Solid fatness.

13 What has been you most rewarding experience in the studio?

Recording 4 or 5 guys in a room playing together. Minimum overdubs, zero editing, 100% musician driven. I've done a couple like that over the last two months (Forro In The Dark, and Will Knox.) The point being to make sure that when the record is done it's sounds like no producer or engineer was involved at any point. Harder to achieve than it seems.