Esben Just is widely recognized as Denmark’s finest interpreter of that certain brand of American swamp-rock, defined by Dr JohnThe Night Tripper and the like. With his tight and groovy trio ”SP, Just & Frost”, he has thrilled fans for many years, and now he has a new album out, entitled ”Just A Closer Walk”.
What’s special about the new album – apart from the fantastic music, of course – is the fact that it was recorded live in Esben’s living room, using ample amounts of – you guessed it – TUBE-TECH equipment.
We met Esben in his home studio during the recording of his latest album.
”I use my living room for a number of purposes”, he explains, ”actually for everything
– it’s my office, it’s my recording studio and it’s my practice room – it combines all the things I do” ”How come you also want to make your recordings here and have spent a small fortune on equipment, especially all those pretty expensive TUBE-TECH blue boxes? we ask. ”Well as you know, the music industry has been suffering for quite some time now”, he answers, ”what has happened here in Copenhagen, and probably also in the rest of the world, is that many studios have just disappeared – slowly, but surely. You can no longer be sure that if you had the inclination to make a CD, you could also find a studio with a good piano, good acoustics etc. Everybody sort of moved into their bedrooms and set up studios there.
I bought my piano – a Steinway grand – a few years back, and I suddenly realized that there is no studio in Copenhagen that can offer the same quality piano as I have in my practice room. So, I decided to follow the trend, but instead of moving into my bedroom, which is a bit too small, I decided to set up my studio here in my living room.
My music is live based – almost every record I have made over the years has been me playing piano and singing together with the band – all recorded live at the same time with no overdubs.
I have visited New Orleans many times and down there, I was introduced to the idea that you should play to the room – the sound you produce when you play music has to work with the room you are playing in. So I decided I would make this room my studio and make it in a way where you play to the room. Everybody sets up in this room, so we are able to hear one another acoustically, and we make sure to let the softest instrument set the standard. This would normally be the acoustic bass, so when you can’t hear the bass, basically you’re out of balance.
Of course, this really challenges your musicianship, because you can’t just play by yourself or get the sound you’re used to when playing by yourself. Normally, the drummer sits in an isolated booth but here, everybody knows what’s going on, ’cause what you hear in the room is also what’s going to be on the hard drive.
When I bought this piano, I realized there’s a big difference in the quality you can get when you start paying real money. I decided I would not go for anything that would deteriorate the quality of this piano or any other part of a session, so I needed to buy the best gear I could get my hands on, and that’s where TUBE-TECH came into the equation. It delivers – it makes the sound you want – it has this certain quality that when you hear something recorded on this gear, the sound makes you curious – it sort of invites you to listen.
I have tried other products like the consumer stuff you are introduced to in a regular music store, and it just didn’t cut it – the sound became flat in comparison. That’s why I decided to go the whole length. Instead of building a ”real” studio around a mixing console, I decided that if I got some TUBE-TECH mic preamps, some EQ’s and compressors, I would actually have my mixing board there.
So, I have 8 tracks I can record on in this room and here, in this setting, the creativity evolves from of getting the musicians to understand that we play in this room, and what we hear in this room is what’s going to be on tape. If somebody is way too loud, that’s how it’s going to be – we can’t change it in the mix. TUBE-TECH really helps me get that message across because it just sounds good - what we hear in this room while playing sounds good, and when we listen back through the computer, it sounds almost even better.
You know, you have to consider what quality really is. You can get value for money, so to speak – you can get something that is so cheap that wow! – it’s a good deal, but when it comes to quality, it’s not about money – it’s about what experience does this quality deliver?
And TUBE-TECH delivers – it delivers now, and it will deliver always. Same as a Steinway, you know – if it sounds good now, it’s going to sound good in 10 years as well, and there’s not going to be another instrument popping up all of a sudden that will sound better. It might sound different, but it’s not going to take away the quality of Steinway or TUBE-TECH. They will always remain in the same league, so the investment is sort of secure, you can say, whereas if you go out and buy something that sounds OK, you can be pretty sure that tomorrow, there’s going to be another product that sounds just a little bit better or has some kind of added value to it, and in the end, you will end up having spent even more money buying cheap equipment.