Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us



Incubator interview by Baz Bardoe

For many Melbourne musicians, Adrian Akkerman’s name is a bit legendary. As the man behind the desk at Incubator studios he has recorded a bewildering variety of artists, and always seems to retain his composure. He has worked with John Reece (Men at Work), Hugo Race (The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), The Fireballs, Mike Peters (The Alarm), Kim Salmon (Beasts of Bourbon), Spencer P. Jones (Beasts of Bourbon, The Johnnys, Paul Kelly), Mick Harvey (Beasts of Bourbon, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey), Brian Hooper (The Surrealists, Beasts of Bourbon, Rowland S. Howard), and  Cathy Freeman (Olympic Gold Medalist), who did some voice over work in the studio.

Like many sound engineers Adrian got his start by being in a band that needed a professional sounding demo. 

“I got into sound recording to assist my band at the time (Westgarth) with getting our music out there and to record a demo to get some gigs”, he explains. “My dad had an old two track reel to reel from 1977 that also had a record function, 1/4 inch tape sounded pretty good!”

His heart is definitely in the sounds of the 1970’s.

“Musical influences would mostly be from the 1970’s,” he agrees. “Aside from a wide variety of music I like. Just like emotion your taste in music needs variety suit or alter your moods.”

“Technical influences would be 95% Tape Op magazine.  Absolute treasure! So much information and inspiration in one magazine. Hunt it down! And hands on working in the field. My starting recording set up would be the TEAC 2-track reel to reel player/recorder. Then 4-teach cassette and ADAT’s…my current rig is Pro Tools and Universal Audio APOLLO interface. Plus using my API pre amp and EQ and Manley Vari-MU…”

Like most sound engineers he has plenty of funny stories. Musicians are a different breed, with quite different ideas about what is acceptable behavior.
“One band was, well … into drinking … the guitarist passed out at 11 am and spent the whole day asleep on the studio floor while everyone simply stepped over him till about 5pm. Or when a session drummer was about 3 hours late and when he arrived he didn’t bring his kit because he thought we would just talk about his part. When it was clearly communicated to him it was a recording and 4 other musicians were waiting on him before they could start. Even on the phone after we were inquiring on his whereabouts he even said he was bringing his drum kit but didn’t … musos!”

An ongoing problem for any sound engineer is expectation management.

“The biggest challenge with recording an artist is expectations versus preparation. And sometimes dubious sounding instruments. Sometimes it feels like there is an attitude that “If you book it the songs will come. I think this can work for seasoned musicians, however probably not a good game plan”.

I put it to Adrian that the music industry is pretty much stuffed, at least in the sense of it being able to generate a viable income for smaller artists. This has affected all sectors of the industry from recording artists to studios to journalism. I asked him what he thought about the current state of play.

“I think the music industry is thriving and more popular than ever, however the making a living off music has become almost non-existent. So in that sense it is dead. Something has to give, artists/musicians don’t spend as much time in the studio as before. The attitude is “that will do, I am going to give it away anyway or it will be streamed so whats the point spend more than time on it…” In 1971 to hire a professional studio average was $55 per hour, now in 2016 the average professional studio price is between $30-$55 per hour! WTF! Everyone needs to try and exist 1 month without music and art to see how integral this is to our existence. Music can change your physiology in about 2 seconds from bad to good! This needs to be supported not stolen, the artists who make the music need to be able to live.”

“Partially artists are to blame, you do not have to list (give away) your songs (income) on streaming services but foolishly artists have and have buried themselves with the “dangling carrot” that leads them to believe that someday I will be rewarded, when the future is now and someday was yesterday”.

I asked Adrian what you needed to consider if you wanted a career in sound engineering.

“Getting into sound engineering now as a career is tricky do.  It is very rewarding however you need to pay bills, so you will need a day job to finance any of your sound pursuits that you may have”.

Finally I asked Adrian to give a brief over view of Incubator and what it has to offer the recording artist.

“Incubator Recording and Mastering is an inner city recording studio located in Thornbury, Victoria. Incubator has been in operation since 1997. It is a purpose built building for recording, Live room, Isolation room and control room. Large enough to record a 6 piece band live. The biggest asset is 19 years recording experience recording all manner of music from Death Metal to Opera singers and voice overs”.


Share this