Aisle 6 is a production company that lives and breathes audio, lighting and vision and specializes in events, live audio production hire and operates a recording studio facility. Noisegate have had the privilege of chatting with owner Scott Mullane about all things live audio production and the audio business in general.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the Music Industry?
I was a musician and songwriter and needed to learn how to put my ideas down into a recording device. As an Auto Electrician at the time and electronics tinkerer I taught myself about audio and audio equipment by dismantling it and rebuilding it. As I was playing in bands, I was asked by other bands to record their albums and then progressed into being asked to mix live shows. I learnt a lot quickly and read whatever I could.
When did you start Aisle 6 Productions and what was your motivation behind it?
I was in the Music Retail business for about 9 years and learnt quite a bit from two of the best, Greg Dodge and Kevin Wilmot. I wanted to pursue my band and recording career further and so left this and went to work full time as a musician for myself. It was very risky, but I worked very hard and it paid off.
Can you spill the beans on some of the artists you have worked with?
In the studio I have worked with many and varied independent artists, some who have gone on to interesting and great endeavors. Possibly the most well-known band that I produced would be the Amity Affliction. However, there are literally 100’s of EP’s, singles and albums that I have recorded. In the live environment, again I have worked with many high profile acts as a one off or a run of shows, but I have had a career and long running relationship working for the likes of The Screaming Jets, Short Stack, Darren Middleton, Baby Animals and Marina Prior to name the most well-known.
What is the go-to gear that Aisle 6 uses in any major production and why?
In the live world Aisle 6 specify both for my own tours and for others tours, the Allen & Heath D-Live system for mixing consoles and the Adamson S10 line array for speaker systems. The A&H D-Live is a beautiful sounding board, it is super easy to use and modify on the fly and the results are stunning. What is not to like. The Adamson S10 is a very powerful compact array with a beautiful stereo image, honest reproduction of what you are putting in and is really just spectacular! The combination of this pairing is just next level.
Baby Animals on the NRL Footy Show
What’s the most challenging event you worked on and how did you get around it?
I think that this years Red Deer Music & Arts Festival may have been the most difficult. We encountered torrential rain at the start of the day and as we had PA towers leveled on soil, we chose to lower the PA, tarp it up and play background music while we waited for the small storm to pass. Checking footings regularly and mopping the stage to keep everything and everyone safe. Unfortunately we had to cut two acts from the billing while we lost time waiting, but the festival was able then to go ahead and the promoter was ecstatic. During the performances we continued to monitor everything, making sure that stage remained dry and the PA footings remained sure, and we got through the event and the punters loved it. So a safe and successful outcome from a bad situation. The bump out was a whole other story with the generators and stages staying in place for over two weeks as we could not get them out. That will give you an idea of how bad the weather got.
What’s the most rewarding event you have worked on?
WOW! So many to choose from. The Screaming Jets/Baby Animals co-headliner tour last year was amazing and mixing both acts really kept me busy, but it was very rewarding. However, possibly the Earth Harp Collective for the Key opening event for the Sunshine Coast Horizons Festival last year was super rewarding and a stunning result. Actually, the Darren Middleton/Guy Pearce (yes the actor) tour was one of my most rewarding tours. The people in the touring party were beautiful and amazingly talented and the show was really one special shows that only come along once in a while. Every night was incredible.
Are there any major tours/artists on the horizon that Aisle 6 will be providing production for?
Well I am personally on 3 separate Red Hot Summer Tours from the beginning of January to the end of March mixing The Screaming Jets and then the Baby Animals on an L’Acoustics K2 rig being driven from an AVID S6L. So that is a strong start to the year and already the Adamson S10 rig is drawing strong interest so I see that developing across the year as well.
If you had a big Audio crystal ball, what’s your predictions for the Audio business?
Well it is still changing, but that has never stopped. I read an article from 1993 recently that mentioned how touring was dying and it seems we are still having the same conversation 25yrs later. So it is more of a case of changing the way we do things. Evolve or perish I guess. The companies that can identify trends early and invest in those avenues will still prosper and those that keep doing the same thing and expect a different result will pay the price. Amazon will certainly shake the tree and as far as distribution goes, that tree dropped a lot of fruit recently, so watch this space I guess.
Any advice for future budding sound engineers getting into the industry?
I think the best advice I can give is to align yourself with a successful audio business, ask to work in a work experience role and learn. Most of my staff did this and as soon as they added value to my business I told them that I would create a role for them and they started to get paid. Sometimes it is only a few shows and they show initiative and I can then pay them as a loader while they learn some more. The key though is as an employer, I never put work experience crew on jobs as a part of my crew that I require for the job. This way, if they do not turn up, then I am not suffering and I am not exploiting their contribution as they are simply an assistant who is there to learn and hopefully become valuable to me. The next step is to not get an inflated ego as you get better. By that I mean, do not look at a 20 yr veteran and think that you are worth their pay just because you can pull as good a mix as them. They have experience that you will only really identify in those high pressure, trouble shooting instances. They are also likely to hold licenses for working at heights, operating lifters etc. and carry their own insurances. These are the things that rookies who can mix fail to identify and then their value, at least for me, is diminished.
What are the future plans for Aisle 6?
(If I told you that I would have to kill you …)
Simply developing our business within our own territory and remaining a strong and effective business. Knowing what we do well, keeping business as our decision making priority and managing customers to the best of our ability is at the core and from there we just want to expand those ethics and broaden our reach.