Fergal Davis is mainly a Mastering Engineer, but also occasionally a Recording & Mixing engineer from Laois.
17 years ago, Fergal was playing bass in numerous bands, when it occurred to him that he really enjoyed the process of recording the demos for his bands. This prompted him to look into sound engineering courses, which led him to our college. He graduated from the Sound Engineering and Music Technology course in 1997 and has been working in the industry ever since, working with a vast array of brilliant acts.
What did you like most about STC?
The best thing about STC was the very hands-on approach to learning. I was constantly in the studio either during class time or during allotted session time or whenever no-one was booked in. I really made use of the access to the recording studios which were all using tape when I started.
Would you recommend the college to people who are thinking of attending a course in Sound Engineering / Music Technology, and why?
I would recommend it and do to anyone considering it. The course has great facilities and covers a broad expanse of production and recording techniques, with practical experience with the equipment and in the studio environment to back it up.
How did the college help you in your career after you graduated?
Through meeting producers and bands while I was at STC I started to build a network of professionals and clients that I still work with to this day.
Since you left Sound Training College, how has your career developed?
I have spent most of my time working at mastering but I have done a lot of recording and mixing too. I started working in other studios in Temple Bar and then progressed to setting up my own studio which has mostly been geared towards mastering.
Can you give us an example of some of the projects / artists you’ve worked with?
Mastering certain albums would be hightlights for me, especially some of the early albums I mastered. Republic Of Loose –Aaagh! was amazing. I loved working on the Redneck Manifesto’s “Thirtysix Strings” and “Cut Your Heart Off From Your Head”. I also mastered a number of live albums and B-sides for Muse over the years that always sounded amazing. In the last year I’ve worked mastering lots of bands including Hozier, Ryan Sheridan, Delorentos and too many more to mention.
Other career highlights are recording and mixing Ben Folds’ “Stems and Seeds” album, recording The Divine Comedy’s album “Bang Goes The Knighthood” and recording and mixing Pugwash’s “The Olympus Sound”. I also loved writing and producing all the music for the TV series “Naked Camera” years ago.
Could you give us an example of your typical working day/workflow?
Once I get into the studio, I switch on all my gear and reply to any emails I might have. I then download any mixes I’ve been sent. Some days I could be working on maybe four or five different artists’ music, other days I have an album for one artist. I normally spend about 45 minutes to an hour per song. I master all the songs for the album, which takes about 7 hours. Then I put the sequence together and prepare the files for all the different release mediums with any important codes or text. Finally I upload the files and send the links to the Artist, Label and Manufacturers.
Have you got an amusing story from your time working in the industry?
I remember when I was young and working as an engineer in a small studio in Sutton the owner came in to chat to me. When he was leaving he stopped to tell me and the band, that if someone rang the studio purporting to be Bono then it would actually be Bono! I never did get that phone call from Bono...
Who are the best clients that you have worked with, and why?
I won’t name specific clients as that would be rude to other clients, but I will talk about the best kind of clients. Normally my favourite clients are extremely talented musicians or singers or producers who have experience and appreciate my talents and experience. The more experienced people understand what my job is and trust me to do it without micromanaging me. Normally it is the people who have zero talent or experience who are the most awkward and disrespectful.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of pursuing a career in the music industry?
Figure out which facet of the industry suits you best and make sure you are in love with it because it’s a tough game. Perhaps do an introductory course first to see whether you might be interested in recording or production as a career. You have to have an aptitude for it I think to be able to make a career and just doing a course will not guarantee a job for everyone.