For their latest album, The Third, Durham siblings Kitty, Daisy & Lewis moved their home studio from the two tiny back rooms of their mother’s house to a derelict Indian restaurant. Gaining space, the British trio added more classic gear to their wholly analog setup. Among these pieces are a 16-track tape recorder (a step up from the 8-track used on the first two albums), a new homemade mixing desk with echo sense for all the channels, EMT plate reverbs, Altech equalizers, RCA limiters—a huge leap forward in processing for the group.
The new studio also allowed for space to bring in The Clash’s Mick Jones as producer—a first for the trio, who until The Third has been self-produced. Instead of recording live, which is what they did on the first two records, struggling with separation of sounds, on The Third, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis strip back to only drums and sometimes piano, then rebuild with overdubs. Initially reticent about working in analog, once in the swing of things, Jones didn’t know why he ever changed over to digital.
Lewis, who along with his father, Graeme Durham of mastering studio The Exchange, engineered The Third, says, “We’re using a lot of older gear, but we’re using it in a very modern way. We wanted to match the bang of pop music. A lot of the vocals are bright and tons of 16k dB was added. The equipment we use doesn’t have an old sound. It just doesn’t have the synthetic brash sound of modern equipment.”
Preferring the unrestrictive nature of the originals, Lewis stays away from plug-ins. “When you’re using the older-style EQs, you can get away with pushing of frequencies without going into harshness,” he says. “Plug-ins of old EQs are not even the same. They’re 100 million miles apart. On an old Pultec, you can crank up loads of top end. It may sound wrong, but it doesn’t sound bad.”