To kick off the brand new section, we’ve had a chat to Brisbane based man-about-town Ed Gresack – a busy professional sound engineer and production manager who works at venues around Brisbane including Black Bear Lodge, New Globe Theatre , The Brisbane City Mall (City Sounds) and also on some big events like BIGSOUND, Woodford Folk Festival and Byron Bluesfest.
Ed met up with us over a coffee to give us the lowdown on what he gets up to on a typical workweek. We mainly covered a specific week in mid-November, 2014 (which is when we met up).
As a sound engineer, Ed might work on four or five events per week which usually include three or four bands a night – figuring out their needs, organising the technical side of a show before they arrive to perform, running sound checks and also doing some stage management. Whereas when he works as a production manager, the role involves a great deal more pre-production organisation e.g. working out staffing for an event.
DAY 1 (Nov 11, 2014) – Today Ed was sound engineer for The Medics’ gig at The Hi-Fi. He had a production meeting prior to the show with the band, their manager and also the venue. They decided on things like stage setup and gear changeovers between songs. After this Ed and the band do a sound check before the show begins. On days like these he usually starts around 2pm and works until around 11+pm.
DAY 2 – Ed currently works for Brisbane Marketing who supplies audio and production for all of the free gigs in Queen Street and Brunswick Street. He usually works a 5-hour shift setting up a stage and getting things going, checking back as the day progresses to ensure the sound side of things is running smoothly.
DAY 3 – On this day Ed worked at Black Bear Lodge as sound engineer for a local artist’s EP Launch. This day was similar to the one at The Hi-Fi, where Ed is most needed during the sound check and the actual show. He explained that it’s very important to keep eye contact with performers and take cues from them to see whether levels need to be changed for each instrument.
DAY 4 – Ed started work at New Globe Theatre at around 3:30pm today to do some mixing work for a gig that night. Again similar to his other sound gigs, Ed set up the equipment, miked the instruments and made sure sound levels were well-balanced. The group performing on this night had both drums and a cello, something Ed found really interesting to work with sound-wise.
DAY 5 – Home studio day – Ed spent some time playing around with making remixes of his band’s material.
Perks and Downsides:
Working with some amazing people (himself having worked with Lou Reed and Ringo Starr) and seeing events come together is extremely rewarding and worth the hard work. As for downsides, the majority of live music being at night means working late hours, so making time for family and friends is a struggle. Overall though, it’s clear that Ed loves his job and has had some unbelievable experiences because of it.
Words of Wisdom:
To people who are looking to become audio engineers or production managers, Ed suggests offering to intern. He recommends approaching companies like IJS or Norwest, or speaking to managers at venues and offering to do things like test equipment at first. He wisely says that although you might have to work for free for a while, experience is so necessary when it comes to this very practical, hands-on career.
Big thanks for speaking with us, Ed.