Dylan Barber

Lockdown Q&A: Standout Talent, Dylan Barber

Taking place this year from 9 to 13 November, TPi’s Production Futures goes online, offering a week of free web-based learning, resources and engagement with the global live events industry. The event also marks the return of the TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards, where students, freelancers and young people can be in with a chance of winning a seat at the TPi Awards 2021. TPi’s Jacob Waite catches up with last year’s Standout Talent, Dylan Barber to discover how he is keeping occupied in lockdown…

Where when the lockdown came into force?

“I was local to home at the time; I am studying an audio degree in Norwich so I was there when the measures came into place. In terms of work I had shows lined up with touring bands coming through Norwich, as well as BBC Radio sessions lined up too, and some festival work. My last gig before lockdown began was mixing front of house and monitors on a show with some upcoming bands and Joe Talbot from IDLES at Norwich Arts Centre.”

Have you managed to find any industry-related work / projects during the past six months?

“The first work I got after lockdown began was a series of sessions for Wordplay Magazine, which is a magazine that highlights new Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul music – and these are still happening now. My role is to provide monitoring for and record the sessions – which could be anything from a rapper to a jazz or soul act, and then pass on the multitrack to another engineer for mixing before pairing with video and uploading to YouTube. Location recording prior to lockdown wasn’t something I had done loads of, but I always love the challenge of something new, so I felt, and am still feeling, very lucky to be involved in these sessions.
“I was also lucky enough to work with Epic Studios a few weeks ago in their outdoor broadcast trucks at a socially distanced weekend of events including live music, movies, and the world’s first socially distanced FM and International Broadcast of MMA Contenders.
“The most recent piece of lockdown work I did was on the 13-14 September: Wild Fields Festival in Norwich, one of the only festivals in the UK this year. I was lucky enough to have mixed monitors all weekend for artists such as Joe Armon Jones, Morgan Simpson, Nubya Garcia, Kokoroko, Another Sky, Anorak Patch and more. It was quite an interesting concept; all audience members sat in socially distant pods, which created quite a calm atmosphere that allowed everyone to focus on the live music, something which most had not experienced for months.”

Have you developed or enhanced any industry-related skills in lockdown?

“I enjoyed watching some of the webinars about the new Yamaha Rivage PM3 and 5 consoles during lockdown. Throughout the time at home, I’ve started to teach myself Pro Tools. I saw the downtime as an opportunity to try a change in workflow; previously I’ve been used to using Logic Pro, but I’m really enjoying using PT. Also throughout this time I’ve worked with my Dad to complete a small garden recording studio build!”

How has this sudden change in work life balance and the luxury of time affected you?

“When lockdown was first introduced I felt a certain amount of worry or anxiety around how I would adapt to not doing what I love every day. I’d definitely say it took a couple of weeks for me to slow down, and come around to the idea that just because I can’t be out working anywhere near as much at the moment, the time can still be used wisely. Saying that, I can’t wait to be eventually moving fast again and doing what I love every day.”

How do you see the next few months panning out for you? Do you have anything in the pipeline?

“With things the way they are, I’m not sure exactly where I see myself in the next few months but I’m definitely looking forward to settling into the new garden studio and doing lots of recording in there. Throughout lockdown, myself and my bandmate Izzy (my sister, who I live with) have been working on lots of new music with a view to an album with our band (The) Red Dear. I’m looking forward to hopefully working on some more Wordplay Sessions, as well as starting the second year of my degree.”

What advice would you offer to young people looking to break into the industry at this strange time?

“The first thing I’d say is don’t be put off by the way the world is right now; everyone is experiencing the same worries or feelings about our industry at the moment, no matter their experience or how much time they’ve spent in the sector. Secondly, I’d say stay in touch with industry contacts you’ve already made on a personal level; this goes a long way. Even if it’s not to talk about industry related stuff, just checking in and looking after each other means a lot. Furthermore, use this time to develop skills you might not have time for otherwise! There have been plenty of times over lockdown when I’ve been reading an article about something in the industry that’s made me think ‘I’d like to know more about that’. There is always a video, website, person, or resource that will answer your question and make you all the more ready for when events return.”

Register for Production Futures Online 2020 here.

This article originally appeared in issue #254 of TPi, which you can read here.


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