R.A.P. Interview: Chris Nicoll

JV: What are your greatest challenges right now?
Chris: I guess the greatest challenge is always trying to have a goal to work towards. I find I don’t work well unless I have a goal to achieve, and for the last couple of years, my goal has been to win some New Zealand Radio Awards. This year I picked some up, and now I’m kind of at a loss as to what I want to do next.

JV: Tell us about your awards.
Chris: Well there were a few categories that I entered, Best Promotional or Image Trailer, Station Imaging, and Best Commercial or Trailer. I had four nominations in these three categories and I picked up all three, which was amazing and very embarrassing all at the same time. I’m not much of a speech giver, and gosh, they make you go up and give speeches. I’d rather just wave at people and stay sitting to be honest. But it was amazing, and I was so humbled. I couldn’t believe it. But having done that now, it’s kind of like you’re only as good as your last award or only as good as your last promo. I completely agree with that. I’ll do the New Zealand Radio Awards again next year, but let’s see what else I can go for.

JV: How much work are you doing out of the home studio?
Chris: Not as much nowadays. When I was doing stuff outside of the hours of my day job of doing ads a couple years ago, it certainly got used, and I have done a little bit of freelance stuff here and there out of my home studio. But it’s sitting gathering dust nowadays because I have the luxury of my own studio, which I have access to twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. I don’t need the home studio so much at the moment.

JV: You came into the business in 2002 or thereabouts. The technical revolution in audio production had already exploded and most of the dust had already settled. You probably have never worked on an analog reel-to-reel machine, have you?
Chris: Never. I’ll tell you what though; I bought one for ten bucks, and I was going to use it, just to see what it was like. Some of the other production engineers in the building are aficionados at tape; that’s all they’ve known, and computers are so foreign to them. Every now and again, you’ve got to go to the other studios and show them various things you can do on the computer because it’s a little bit beyond them, which is completely understandable. Tape is just so foreign to me. I bought it and then I sold it because I decided, “No, I don’t think I even want to try.” It was an Otari MX5050 2-track. I think I sold it for a hundred. If that makes people cry, sorry about that.

JV: What is your first recollection of working on a computer or being on a computer?
Chris: The first time I used a computer, I would have been about five. I was born in ‘83, so it was 1988. My dad brought home an old Apple Mac from work for the weekend so that we could all play some new fancy computer game that he got for it. That’s my first ever memory. Then maybe two years later, we had our own computer at home, and my first ever foray into music with a computer would have been when I was about twelve, in terms of recording and messing around with stuff.

Chris-Nicoll-CheerleaderJV: Are you a musician?
Chris: I am as well, yes. I wouldn’t say I’m a good one, but I can play a variety of things well enough to record them and have a laugh at myself.

JV: How many producers are there at your facility?
Chris: We have myself and I look after ZM, and I actually look after another station, which is Radio Sports, for a couple hours a week here and there. Then we have four commercial engineers and that’s it. A lot of our imaging is farmed out to a couple of freelancers based here in Auckland. I’m the only full-time imaging guy on staff. One of the commercial engineers does half a day of commercials and half a day of imaging for our hip-hop brand. Her name is Megan, and she is outstanding. She’s going to be huge.

JV: Any plans for the future, or are you pretty content doing what you’re doing at this stage of the game?
Chris: Yeah, I think I really love this. It’s so much fun. There’s an element of day-to-day stuff, but there’s always something different happening or I’m always constantly trying to learn something new. I never went to a school where it taught you all about EQ and compression or anything. I just used the net to learn, so I still surf the net for new ideas and tips and tricks and stuff. I guess I just want to keep doing this and keep getting better, and I’d quite like it to help me see the world somehow, but I haven’t figured out how that’s going to work yet.

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