After studying applied maths, physics and music at college Mat decided to persue a career in the music industry rather than continue in full time education:
“The institutions available to offer the relevant training for my chosen career as a sound engineer were extremely limited at the time, in complete contrast to what is available now. I always had an incredible enthusiasm for music technology – I would be the one recording my bands demos with a borrowed 4-track cassette recorder, being creative, bouncing tracks etc.”
Mat’s first employment was running a rehearsal studio in South London.
“To be honest the money was better than being a studio runner or tape op and at the time I felt it would enhance my skill base – learning how to repair amplifiers and how to acquire basic but essential skills, soldering, valve replacement etc.”
In a surprising change of circumstances, Mat’s career took a u-turn and ended up on the other side of the curtain with a major record deal as an artist.
“It was an absolute dream come true and it happened over a very short time. I found myself recording in places that I’d always dreamed of engineering like Abbey Road and Trident studios to name a couple. My interest in Music Tech was still at the forefront of my mind and it was a time of big changes in the way music was being recorded. Pro-Tools had just, pretty much, overtaken the way audio was being recorded and edited and our album was being engineered on a mobile ‘beta’ Pro Tools desk that our producer was testing out. Seeing first hand, and understanding what this new technology was capable of was truly mind blowing.”
After a few years of being a successful recording artist Mat decided that the touring/rock and roll lifestyle wasn’t for him.
“I have to be honest, the constant late nights and being away from home didn’t suit me at all and I wanted something that could keep me grounded.”
It was when a job offer to work as a Music Technician at the BRIT School things turned around.
“This was a perfect opportunity for me to work alongside young musicians and be with likeminded professionals, of whom a lot came from the music industry, to create and support in a completely unique environment.”
Like, Declan a lot of acquired knowledge and experience came from necessity, an ethos that they both adhere to whenever considering how they are going to manage a project.
“Over the 17 years that I worked at the school the technical demands and expectations were nothing short of ridiculous, mostly because we inspired the possibilities to provide the extraordinary. Additional skills like networking and storage management for data became a necessity for us to learn to provide, mostly because specialist companies that we approached to provide this thought that we were nuts. As a result we came up with our own programming and solutions that has been a stable platform for delivering education in audio and music tech to this day.”
It is widely appreciated that Mat’s skills and vast experience as a live audio engineer was the driving force for success within the country’s leading performing arts institution.
“I’ve always believed in the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and when you’ve worked in the kind of environments that I have it actually becomes a mantra, that is, if you want to succeed and impress the people that you’re working for. When you’re given a situation that you have to put a show together with 24 different bands, doing one song each, with a day to sound check, and one run before showtime, to make it slick and professional, whilst also being responsible for training a young engineer and trying to maintain a calm relaxed environment for learning to take place – that’s when you realise that over 20 years of experience of dealing with that kind of pressure is a reward when the curtain comes down and the audience are on their feet.”