Fulton Street talk us through the vintage gear behind their soulful goodness

Old school groovers Fulton Street were kind enough to give us a peep into their go-to recording gear, creative process, and future plans.

We had the opportunity to chat with producer and bass player, Jamie Stroud of Melbourne soul band Fulton Street to discuss their most recent releases, recording philosophies, and even navigating recording during lockdowns.

We’re proud to present Fulton Street – behind-the-scenes edition.

Fulton Street

HAPPY: Fulton Street records all their music analogue – what does that even mean?

JAMIE: Well, to give a quick and simple audio lesson, most music these days is recorded digitally using some sort of music software (DAW). The software allows you to add as many tracks as you like and it makes it much easier to edit what some may consider ‘mistakes’.

We actually record using analogue equipment, such as reel-to-reel machines. These machines use magnetic heads to imprint sound waves into the tape using millions of metallic dust particles. Lots of people refer to this as recording to tape and using outboard gear.

HAPPY: Why do you record to tape, does it sound any different?

JAMIE: This is actually a really controversial topic! We don’t record to tape for the sound, we do it because it captures the raw performance of our songs. There is really no place to hide when you record the way we do. This might be a strange analogy but think of a poster for a makeup brand. The person in the photo has had their image photoshopped for hours to make them look completely flawless in an almost inhuman way.

Image: Dan and Nate in the main recording space at Sound Recordings, Castlemaine.

I honestly think you would be shocked if you saw this person walk past you in public. I think this is similar to the way that many records sound now. Many producers edit and track things in a way that sucks any humanity out of its sound. Obviously, your taste is your own, but when it comes to soul music, I prefer genuine sounding recordings.

HAPPY: Does recording this way limit you though?

JAMIE: Well, technically yes. Recording using the machine we did means you only have 8 channels to work with, meaning 8 different microphones essentially. However, we find that the limitation actually makes our process much more creative!

In many modern studios, you will find everything in a room has a microphone on it. Some engineers put 8 microphones just on the drums, which is fine… However, when you only have 8 microphones to capture the sound of an entire song, you start to listen to exactly what each microphone is recording. Rather than recording everything and fixing it all later, you get it right from the beginning. In saying that, there’s a whole lot of different things that go on in the mixing process of the songs.

Image: The MCI JH-114 was used to record Fulton Street’s recent releases at Sound Recordings, Castlemaine.

HAPPY: Has the pandemic had any effect on your recording process?

JAMIE: Fulton Street’s upcoming sophomore album has been like no other project I’ve ever worked on. I’ve had the joy of learning how to record musicians remotely from interstate though! Last year whilst in Melbourne’s marathon lockdown, we were lucky enough to enlist friends from Tasmania to record our horn and string arrangements.

This was a bit of a brainbuster but I’m glad that I had help from Ivan Johnston who handled the engineering of the string quartet and Dorian Broomhall who tracked the horns for us.

Image: Jamie in the control room with Fulton Street at Sound Recordings, Castlemaine.

HAPPY: What type of sounds and influences should we expect from the upcoming album?

JAMIE: Well, for the last few years I’ve been digging deep into the soundtracks of Blaxploitation films; there are lots of large arrangements around traditional funk-sounding songs as well as horns and strings performing huge, beautiful countermelodies over dirty-ass rhythm sections. Some favourites include Edwin Starr’s Hell Up In Harlem, Isaac Hayes’ Three Tough Guys and Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street.

Also, it is worth mentioning that a large part of the sound of the album came from working with Alex Bennett from Sound Recordings in Castlemaine. He has a fantastic range of microphones and machines that allowed us to craft the exact sound we were looking for.

HAPPY: When can we expect to hear the new album?

JAMIE: Well, because we’re based in Melbourne, we’re still figuring out an exact date. However, we have recently released two singles that everyone can check out via all major streaming platforms to amp them up for the album, which will likely come at the beginning of 2022.

Check out the bands’ latest release, Weight Out The World, below:

Interview by Jasmine Kassis