An old Philips cassette player – the type many of us had as kids in the 1970s – has become a vital piece of equipment for Norwegian folk artist, Pål Moddi Knutsen, who uses the machine on two songs from his recently released Unsongs album.
However, amplifying the cassette player on stage proved something of a challenge for sound engineer Tom Meyer when he was called in to handle sound for Moddi’s recent live gigs.
“When Moddi turned up with the cassette player I was a bit surprised,” explains Meyer, who runs TM Tour Productions in Bardu, North Norway. “My solution was to use a DPA d:screet™ 4060 Omnidirectional Microphone so that we could get the best possible sound and still keep the stage tidy and free from unwanted mic stands. Moddi never uses monitors, so we had more than enough headroom for the PA. We used a DPA Universal Surface Mount to position the microphone on top of the cassette player so that we could capture sound from the internal speaker. It worked really well and allowed us to incorporate the cassette player into his live performance.”
Tom Meyer, who has worked with Moddi for the last 10 years, is a fan of DPA and has more than 20 of the company’s microphones in his collection. These range from d:vote™ Instrument Microphones and d:facto™ Vocal Microphones to d:dicate™ 2011C Twin Diaphragm Cardioid Microphones, which Meyer says he uses everywhere, especially on snare drums, because they sound so good and are so versatile.
“I began using d:dicate™ 4011 Cardioid microphones in the 1990s when they were still branded as B&K,” he says. “As I had just set up my own company, I wanted to invest in the best tools I could get – that’s why I stocked up on DPA. I have continued to add to my collection and I have a good relationship with the company’s Norwegian distributor Lyd-Systemer who give me great service. Right now my favourite DPA product is the d:facto™ Vocal Microphone: it’s the best vocal mic I’ve ever tried, especially for rock singers. I’ve also been using it on Moddi’s live dates and it sounds fantastic with his voice.”
Moddi recently completed a 13-date tour of Europe and followed that with a five date Norwegian tour, where he performed with a band and a string ensemble from the Arhkangelsk Chamber Orchestra.
The live concerts were all centred around Unsongs, Moddi’s fourth studio album, which consists of 12 tracks that have all been previously banned, censored or silenced. The idea came to Moddi when he heard about Eli Geva, an army officer who refused to lead his forces into Beirut during the 1982 Lebanon war. Norwegian songstress Birgitte Grimstad, wrote a song about him, but it was never released because it was deemed too provocative at the time. Inspired by this, Moddi began looking for other songs that had been banned or silenced. He translated and reinterpreted his chosen tracks, which come from countries as diverse as Russia, Mexico, the UK, Palestine and Norway. Many of the writers – for example Russian punk activists Pussy Riot – were imprisoned or exiled for their music, while others like Kate Bush and Billie Holiday were simply denied airplay. Some songwriters – Chilean folk legend Víctor Jara and the Algerian singer Lounès Matoub, for example – were even killed for their beliefs.
“Through making this album I have found that people are tired of pop music with no content,” Moddi recently told interviewer Dorian Lynskey. “Making this album has been a doorway to the world, in a time when walls are being rebuilt and new doors are closed every day. The songs have made me appreciate the world a little more. Although the topic is serious, it fills me with hope. To me, at least, this album has proven that music is usually stronger than silence.”
Moddi will be performing in Kansas, USA, later this month before returning to Norway for a concert with Trondheim Solistene at the Operahouse in Oslo. At the end of March, he goes back on tour in Europe accompanied by Tom Meyer and a selection of DPA microphones.
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