Meg Lee Chin has been recording since her college days in San Francisco, when she recorded Faith No More's first ever recording on her 4-track, and the vocalist was one Ms Courtney Love! An American who's based in the UK, Meg grew tired of being ignored by chauvinistic male engineers who ignored her in the studio so she rolled her sleeves up and produced her debut album (out on Invisible Records) at home on a PC.
You did your new album (Piece & Love) on a really low budget. What gear did you use to do it?
Not much. A home-built Pentium II 333 PC customized for recording audio with 128 meg RAM, 2 SCSI Barracudas, a Ricoh CDRw and an Event Gina pci card. Yamaha Pro Mix 01 desk, TLA preamp/compressor with Langevin CR-3A (by Manley), AKG 451 and C1000 mics. Tannoy PBM 5.6s with a Quad 303 power amp. Peavey DPMSP sampler for piano, organ, synth and drum sounds. Digitech Valve FX preamp for guitars. For mixdown I would either send the basic tracks to Martin Atkins (Invisible Records owner & in house re- mixer) to mix on his (better) gear, or persuade a friend, Steve Critall, to come by with his vintage Alice 8 channel analogue desk (which had built-in compression on 4 groups) and his Roland DEP 5.
You can make a grown man weep with your recording equipment bargains. Give us a few secrets to buying second hand gear cheaply!
It's largely a matter of timing and it's also a numbers game. There is always someone out there who is fed up and just wants to shift the stuff and get rid of it. Offer a ridiculously low price and get prepared to duck! You never know — they may just go for it! The more times you do this, the better your chances are.
You use a PC instead of a Mac, are you an insane masochist? Why not use a Mac like a normal person?
Macs cost more and PCs are more flexible, customizable and have more software available. When I started out I didn't have much money but I had the will, the energy and the brains! The customized hot-rod approach to PCs is cool, but you really gotta love it... I no longer like Macs. I find them boring...
You are touring a lot and sold all your old studio gear, How is your 'all laptop studio' build going?
I've got a Dell Pentium 3 600 laptop with 192 meg RAM. I'm using the Egosys U2A USB audio in/out box and holding out till the jury's in on which firewire device to get for audio. I'm looking into MOTU's 828 and Metric Halo's firewire in/out.
What are your top 5 software programs.
Sonic Foundry's Acid, Cubase Audio VST, Wavelab, Waves plug-ins, Reason and Rubberducky.
Has using Acid changed your life?
Yes, it's my all-time favorite program. I hated dealing with time-stretching beats, only to find out they sounded terrible on top of each other. Samplers are a pain with all the mapping of the keyboard and stuff. Acid makes the whole thing so much more fun!
How do you see your next album coming together technically? Will it be completed beginning-to-end on your laptop?
It will be recorded on my laptop and mixed somewhere else. I did release one track — the Ministry cover "Just one Fix" (off the Invisible Records 2nd Tribute to Ministry album) which was recorded and mixed entirely in my computer with no outboard gear at all (except the TLA on the way in), but I'm unhappy with the way it sounds... For the moment, I'll stick with outboard mixdowns.
Do you use any of your studio equipment on stage?
Just the Digitech Valve FX — it's good on guitars.
That Langevin mic you lent me (while touring the US) is quite cool! I've used it on guitar several times. How do you like your new AKG SolidTube?
I absolutely LOVE it. I first heard it in a recording session for KROQ DJ Jed the Fish. They asked me what I wanted done with the vocal sound and I said, "Nothing, it sounds great!" Sometimes when purchasing a new piece of gear, I have to walk around the block of the music shop about a hundred times and drink 100 cups of tea before I can decide what to get. In the case of the SolidTube, I just knew.