Eric Wade is a man who wears many hats. Depending on who he’s working with, Eric becomes a production manager, tour manager, front of house engineer and monitor engineer. Ultimately, he takes an artist’s vision and works out how to portray it sonically and visually, using mastery of light and sound to create a multi-sensory experience.
When he’s not working from our co-working space at The Collective Old Oak, he’s off collaborating with various artists, one of whom is the Manchester-hailing Dario Darnell aka Youngr. The pair sat down to have breakfast while on this year’s tour, and we got the inside track. Here’s what happened.
Youngr: What made you start your career – were you always into music and sound?
Eric: Standard everyday sound engineer thing, tried to be musician and failed. I was in a band called Grade A. I was the bass player. It was so great, we made one song. ONE song.
Youngr: Sing a bit of it.
Eric: I can’t remember our track. There’s a recording that exists that I don’t have.
Youngr: What have been the biggest challenges for you professionally?
Eric: Ah… working for you, mate. You know what I mean, it’s the biggest challenge to make sure you’re happy.
Youngr: [laughs] Come on, what’s the biggest challenge?
Eric: Starting. Just trying to find my feet in the industry to begin with and waiting for that one person to be like: “Hey, do you want a gig?” And I was like, “ Yeah, I’ll take it!” So I just said yes to any gig here, there and everywhere. It just all went from there, really. And after I got that initial yes and that first door opening, eventually it all kinda flooded in.
Youngr: What do you enjoy most in your job?
Eric: Trying to encapsulate the vision the artist has, and trying to portray it sonically, as well as visually.
Youngr: What is it like working with several artists? Are there many differences between people and if so, what are the main things that are different from one artist to another? Be careful with what you say…
Eric: (laughs) It is obviously a challenge to work with different artists cause you have to cater to their different needs, they all have different ideas as to how they want their shows to go and all that kind of stuff. There’s different personalities to get used to. I’m not gonna lie, I change the way I speak to certain people because of who I work for.
Youngr: You are like a chameleon…
Eric: That’s it, I am a chameleon of sound.
Youngr: Is that detrimental to your personality traits – do you feel like you tone down one side of you, and you think certain artists bring out the best in you?
Eric: I understand what you’re saying, you’re asking if it’s almost like I’m selling my soul for each and every client…
Youngr: Or you’re hiding a bit of you?
Eric: Okay… I am still myself, but I’m just using different words to explain myself. You know what I mean? I’m trying to get to the same goal, but using different terminology to get there. The hustle!
Youngr: Thank you man, not many people understand the hustle! What has made you most proud in your career?
Eric: Okay, this is genuinely me not gassing – in any shape or form – but what has made me most proud in my career is actually working for you. I mean seriously, I’m not trying to be a soppy bastard. From the get-go, I said I want to work for an artist that: a) I’m already a fan of their music, and b) I help them come up. Don’t get me wrong, it is sometimes nice to work for an artist that already has all of it.
Youngr: But when you’re on that journey together, it’s magic.
Eric: Yeah. You see it transform.
Eric: Did you always know you wanted to work as a musician? Did you have any other aspirations? How did you end up where you are now?
Youngr: I wanted to be a snooker player.
Eric: Oh, for real?
Youngr: Yeah, I had a 3-piece suit when I was like 7 years old. I used to have suit changes… I wanted to be like Stephen Hendry (a world famous snooker player), no idea why.
Eric: Where do you draw inspiration as an artist?
Youngr: Everywhere; the sights, the sounds, the trees, the sky… the people…
Eric: That’s the hippiest thing you’ve ever said in your life.
Youngr: Bangers. It is actually everywhere, you never know. Yesterday I was in the car driving to the studio, had my windows down. Someone on a bike said a line, I was like: “Oh!” Got my voice note out, sang the song, got to the studio, sent the voice note to myself and made a tune out of it.
Eric: You love your cheeky voice notes don’t you?
Youngr: They’re great! I tried to re-record it on a microphone and it sounded too good. I wanted it to sound like a sample.
Eric: Want to tell us which song you actually used a voice note in and incorporated it into the song?
Youngr: Drive (humming the song). That was in a car as well. Inspiration everywhere!
Eric: Do you have a memorable experience with me you’d like to share? I’m actually scared for this one…
Youngr: I’ve got to think of something great, I’ve got so many… Just any gig that we ever do. It’s not really a story, it’s a moment: at every show when I look up and see you with half your shirt around you, a fag in your mouth, you’re Instagram filming and dancing and have your shades on. That makes me smile.
Eric: So not even me shouting down a mic into your head?
Youngr: That one’s good as well. But it’s mainly the combination of all the things.
Eric: It’s the imagery of me. Obviously sound plays an important role in your life. How do you feel your team has influenced your art; how did you gather your team around you?
Youngr: That’s a good question. I usually hire people based on looks.
Eric: So obviously then, I was straight away hired.
Youngr: Never on talent. Looks first, personality second, and talent third. That’s Youngr’s requirements. Actually, my team influences the sound quite a bit. I’ve kept this project close to heart for five years now. It’s nice to have myself surrounded by people who have the same vision, who want to smash our show and make it sound like a party.
Eric: Boom! To be fair I had to battle you for a bit to give me full stems. But I understand why.
Youngr: The great thing about surrounding yourself with great, talented people is that they can help turn your mind into new things.
Eric: Science. I appreciate your time, sir!
Youngr plays Village Underground in Shoreditch on 18th January. For tickets head here.