For about 8 years, I went into a studio roughly every 6 months and recorded a new album.
Back then I had a low-paying job (I am currently unemployed, having been fired for refusing to take the “vaccine”) and so had a miniscule budget.
Fortunately, I knew Brian Speaker. Brian, a singer/songwriter himself, was also a crack producer and sound engineer. He developed a style of recording me which he named “guerilla recording”. In about 5 hours, he would set up the mics, record me singing all of my songs, mix and master them, and put the album on bandcamp.
It’s the only way I could afford to record. (I rent a room in a neighborhood too loud to record in, even if I did own equipment.)
Brian has since moved to Germany. He has agreed to answer a few questions and allow me to post them on my blog.
I sent him the questions and he sent me the answers. This is not an interview or an exchange of any kind. There was no back and forth.
Brian, you’ve been in Germany for at least a year now, right?
Yes, I’ve been living in Berlin for nearly 18 months.
Overall, what would you say are the biggest differences you have seen between living in the U.S. and living in Germany?
Besides basic things like language and road sign differences, the bureaucratic nature is very tedious. From getting my visa worked out, to filling out paperwork for taxes, and the kid’s schooling, the paper trail, and privacy policies are quite intense. Expanding on privacy policies; data protection is very important here. In the US, citizens give up their rights to their data all the time with complete disregard for its importance. In Germany and the EU in general, your privacy and the right to your data are protected at every step.
Climate change and reusable and sustainability are also very big here.
Another thing that is a noticeable difference is the way food is represented. There are far fewer hidden ingredients, preservatives, and processed sugars. Sugar in general shows up less in ingredients lists. A lot of the FDA-approved additives are illegal here.
Rules are very strictly followed. Ex: In America, you can bring your kids to the movies, no matter what the rating. Here, children under 6 are not allowed in movies for kids under 6 regardless of parental accompaniment. It’s funny how many little rules like this there are that we as Americans would say, “that is ridiculous!” The bureaucracy is deep.
How is the sound engineering work going over there?
I’d say that sound engineering is only part of my job. I am a producer first, and if I have to engineer, I can do that as well.
I made sure that I spent time getting to know the studio community when I arrived. I made visits and took tours of a bunch of different studios to acclimate myself to places that I might need to hire out for sessions. That was fun and I met some terrific people who I keep in touch with. Just recently, I recorded a drum session at The Famous Gold Watch studios.
It took me a while to find some clients here in Germany, but I’m working pretty steadily now with a few artists that I’m excited about including Harry Taylor from Harry Hudson Taylor, Calum Ingram, and Roxanna Rawson.
I’m still making trips to NYC for projects as well. You and I recorded late last year in December. I’m also making trips to Scotland, Ireland (in the future), Paris, and wherever I have a project to partake in. It’s great being an hour or two flight from Glasgow, Barcelona, Rome, or anywhere in Europe!
Can you share with us a few things you have noticed about the U.S. since being in Germany that maybe you did not see as clearly while living here in the States?
The political circus and shitshow is something that I feel like I have a different perspective on. The conversations with people and their absolute awe of how completely backward America is when it comes to leadership. It’s like having a mirror placed on you pointing out things that people find confusing, disturbing, stupid, and weird. Germany has been, and is still, trying hard to make amends for what happened in WWII. They know and understand it was wrong and have put, within the infrastructure of its marrow, that acknowledgment. It appears to the outside world, with a leader like DT45, that America is heading in the wrong direction concerning race and religious relations.
Do you have any plans to record an album of your own stuff ever again?
I’ve been going to an open mic pretty regularly over the past 5+ months. I’m playing my old songs in front of people again and that feels great! The thought has crossed my mind to record myself, and I have experimented a bit with the process. So I’ll say maybe. Maybe I will if I can carve out the time. I’m raising 2 kids and working around their schedule, so time is everything.
I am 99.9% sure a Republican, possibly Trump, will be elected President in 2024 here in the USA. Do you agree?
I do not agree that DT45 will be re-elected. I cannot and will not accept people, with the truth and knowledge that is out there now, who will want to put that guy back in a leadership role in America. I recognize his following, I feel like there is a fear that he will be re-elected and that spurs people into believing it will happen again, and fear is a powerful tool. I believe there’s an entire swath of America who voted for him previously and who will not again. Normal, rational people, who want/appreciate his policies but do not want to risk putting him back in the leadership. He’s too dangerous and self-focused and that is obvious now to the droves of level-headed people who voted for him. I’m not happy with Biden and I would prefer someone stable and youthful, as it were. IMO, this aged billionaire leadership is unjustified and completely out of touch with real people. Rep or Dem, it would be smart to have someone who has an actual genuine understanding of basic human needs without clouding it up thru religion, prejudice, criminal behavior, or capitalism as the focus.
What is the political situation like in Germany? When are the next elections? Any guesses as to who might win?
Elections were held here last year (every 4 years) to replace the retired Angela Merkel with Olaf Sholz. There is a multi-party system in Germany that is vastly different than the 2-party American system. When a leader is chosen from one of the parties, they have to unite with one or more of the other parties to create the new government system. You have liberals working with conservatives, moderates, or environmentalists to create a multi-party-based government. There is one leader who is in charge, but without approval from the group, things can’t be steered in a singular direction. It’s smart and it would be good for America to take note. The 2-party system is busted.
Any advice for people interested in becoming sound engineers when they grow up?
Learn, experiment, find a mentor, ask questions, research, and try try try! Many roads can lead to being the one who places the mics and presses the buttons, but the consistent task is problem-solving. Being in “the hot seat”, and it is called that for a reason, you face a constant array of evolving problems. People problems, mechanical problems, computer problems, noise problems, listening environment problems, communication problems, psychological problems, the list is endless. Learn by doing, prepare yourself to be sidetracked at every step, and gain as much experience with grace as you possibly can. You are in the service industry. Do Not Forget That! Network and advertise your work, here’s mine: www.brianspeaker.com
Are you happy?
Covid threw us all a curveball and with my little family, it led us to move three thousand miles away from our “home”. I am happy with our decision, I adore my family and I am facing life with sobriety and stability. I love what I do, it is challenging but worth the effort. Yes, I am happy. And yes, I am an eternal work in progress.