Live from the wasa-corner
with Mike Bew
Producer / Engineer
Mike Bew is the in-house producer/engineer at Foel Studio - a legendary recording facility set in the idyllic countryside of Llanfair Caereinion in mid-Wales. Its wealth of high-end gear and a reputation for being a place of experimentation and top-quality production, has attracted many eminent artists, including My Bloody Valentine, Napalm Death, Porcupine Tree and The Stranglers.
Mike has been a big Wasaphone supporter for a few years now and so we had a chat with him about his experiences with his menagerie of lo-fi beauties.
"The Green Rockets are brilliant for drum overheads but equally suited to guitars – they give some real bite to snare/cymbals and distorted guitars. I love using them for parallel compression on drums, squashed and driven almost to the point of distortion."
Wasaphone collection: Green Rocket pair, Big Boy MKIII
Q.1: What song have you got going around your head today?
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. I’ve been trying to teach my cockatiel to whistle it!
Q.2: How would you summarise your approach to music-making in one sentence?
I'll try anything, sometimes even if I don’t think it’ll work and especially if I don’t know whether or not it will, that’s the best way to find cool new tricks/ideas.
Q.3: What have you been up to with your Wasaphone mics?
I’ve used them on several projects now and had some really interesting results. They work really well for lo-fi break-downs or intros.
Q.4: You own a burgeoning collection of Wasaphone microphones – do you find yourself using certain models for specific applications?
My experience of Wasaphone mics is that they do one thing – “lo-fi” – but do it really well. The cool thing is each one does it in a unique way. The two models I have (Green Rocket and Big Boy MKIII) couldn't sound more different considering they “do the same thing”.
The Green Rockets are brilliant for drum overheads but equally suited to guitars – they have a much more metallic sound than the Big Boy (as you’d expect) so they give some real bite to snare/cymbals and distorted guitars. I love using them for parallel compression on drums, squashed and driven almost to the point of distortion.
The Big Boy works really well for piano and vocals. Being made of wood, it has a really unique character which, if just thrown on anything can sound honky but with the right application can bring out the tone of a piano, for example, in an incredible way. Used in conjunction with the Green Rockets on piano, I can get a nice stereo vibe in the top end but keep the mids focused centrally, which sounds really cool. On vocals, think the opening lines to Foo Fighters – Something From Nothing.
Q.5: Have you come across any unexpectedly fun and/or interesting ways of using your Wasaphone mics?
Every time I use them is fun, from explaining to artists what they are to the sounds you can get from them with really minimal effort. Unexpectedly though, I’ve used the Big Boy on kick drum (along with other mics) which worked surprisingly well. They usually add something that I would otherwise get with EQ or processing but quicker, easier and more authentically.
Q.6: What do you think your Wasaphone mics will bring to your future recording sessions, and do you have any specific projects in mind for it?
If nothing else they’re a great conversation starter! But of course, that’s not all they are. Like I say, they do one thing but they do it well. Whenever a lo-fi vibe is needed I have two unique sounds to choose from or combine, which sound like that from the moment you plug them in, no faffing about and telling artists “It'll sound better once I’ve put this plugin on it.” I've got a few sessions in the pipeline which I can see these mics working really well with, at least in parts.
Q.7: If you were giving a Wasaphone microphone as a gift, to whom would you give it and why?
I’d give one that I haven’t already got (maybe a Pipe & Slippers or Signalman) to a close friend so I could borrow them for my own sessions!
Stay tuned with Mike: