Me in my studio: Brett Domino
Imagine the Yorkshire-born lovechild of Prince, Bruno Mars, Grandmaster Flash, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake and you’ll be somewhere close to the phenomenon that is Brett Domino.
Having made their name on YouTube - and reviewing gear for MusicRadar, no less - Brett and his trio (him and Steven Peavis - don’t ask about the third member) have just released Funk, their first album of original material.
Funded entirely by fans on Kickstarter, the majority of this diamond-encrusted love letter to contemporary and classic pop was recorded in Brett’s attic, with the exception of a 50-person choir (recorded in a church), some live drums (recorded at a rehearsal space) and upright piano (recorded at a shopping centre in Leeds).
You can buy Funk now on Bandcamp, but before you do, you need to find out more about the gear in Brett Domino’s studio and his unique working methods. Read on for his entertaining and informative show and tell…
“This is the real studio workhorse - which you may think is unusual as it’s essentially a 30cm QWERTY keyboard laid out like a piano - but this is what I record most of my music on.
“I think the main reason is probably that it’s permanently attached to my computer, so I don’t have to get up to plug anything in. Sure, it’s difficult to play complex melodies; yes, it’s almost impossible to play a two-handed piano part; granted, the top G sticks 80% of the time… But, to reiterate, I don’t have to get out of my seat.”
“There are some keyboard parts that simply can’t be played seated. Sometimes you’ve just gotta sling on a keytar to really rock out. Luckily, I have a choice of two - the Roland AX-Synth and the Korg RK-100S.
“The AX-Synth has an incredible electric guitar sound that really gives the Fender guys a run for their money, whilst the slightly smaller RK-100S is great for more electronic sounding synth patches and is red.”
Hammond T-202 Organ
“Much in the same way that Tinie Tempah has to keep some of his clothes at his Aunt’s house (simply due to him having so many), I have to keep some of my keyboards at my mum’s house. Except, when I say ‘some’, I really just mean one - my Hammond organ.
“Like Lenny Kravitz, you’d never believe that it’s around 50 years old - although for some reason it makes a sound like a traction engine for the first hour or so after turning it on. I assume it’s probably the same with Kravitz. Great organ anyway. (The Hammond. Although Lenny doesn’t have anything to grumble about from what I’ve seen).”
“This egg has featured on the majority of the songs I’ve recorded over the last 15 years. A guy I used to see on the bus sometimes once told me he ate a single boiled egg with almost every meal. “There’s always room for an egg,” he used to say. I apply very much the same philosophy to music production. Not with my food though. That’s mental.”
“Whereas the planet after which it’s named is supposedly composed of a rock core (thought to be silicon and oxygen compounds) surrounded by liquid hydrogen, liquid helium and a gaseous outer layer, and is known for its inhabitable, sub-zero temperatures, this Sontronics Saturn microphone is made of solid metal (not sure which) and offers incredible warmth.
“I use it for vocals mainly, but (like the rings of the aforementioned planet) it’s a great all-rounder.”
“I wasn’t able to take a photo of this one as it’s currently at (my bandmate) Steven’s flat. Instead, I’ve drawn you a rough sketch.
“I’ve had this one since about 1993 (when it was launched). It’s the keyboard I learned to play keyboard on. It’s got some great sounds on it - particularly the drum kit, which we always use when we perform live. The ‘rock’ demo (#1) is in my top 30 songs of all time. Hugely underrated tune.”
“There was a time when the words ‘Stylophone’ and ‘Rolf Harris’ were intrinsically linked. Nowadays, the latter brings about much darker associations, but luckily, the Stylophone seems to have avoided any such stigma.
“This is the S2, a 2012 “pro analogue synthesizer” version of the original. Some of the buttons aren’t labelled, and I still don’t know what half of them do, but if you press enough of them you can get it sounding pretty good.”
Peter Vogel CMI app
“This is an exact replica of the legendary Fairlight CMI - the first commercially available digital sampling instrument - but compressed into the form of a smartphone application. It has loads of playable iconic sounds - as used by people like Trevor Horn, Kate Bush and Thomas Dolby - but (and I’ll say it again) all on your phone.
“It’s great, and I used it a lot on the album. Some people might argue that the inferior sound quality from a smartphone mini-jack output is something of a flaw - to those people, I would say: ‘yes, you’re probably right’.”
“The Elite Electronic RR5880. I bought this for £20 off a chap in Wombwell. It’s got some buttons missing, but it still looks cool AF and it’s great for playing cassettes or listening to FM radio.
“Because it’s so portable, I can take it almost anywhere to check how my mixes sound in different environments (public spaces, conference rooms, the woods, etc). Unfortunately, it seems to have some kind of alarm feature which automatically arms whenever it’s on standby - a loud siren is triggered whenever there’s any movement nearby - and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to turn it off. So, I have to remove all ten 1.5V batteries whenever it’s not in use.”