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Thinking in Sound: Finding Efficiency with Adam Davidson

Post Production
New York, USA
Get to know Company 3's senior re-recording mixer

Senior re-recording mixer Adam Davidson has served in this position since 2018 at Company 3. He has worked continuously for the business under its previous names since 2006, starting as a runner and working his way up to sound assistant, ADR recordist, mixer, and then a senior mixer. His recent work in that capacity (sharing duties with Company 3 colleague senior recording mixer Matthew Knights) includes both seasons of the internationally acclaimed miniseries The Great. A listing of the many other shows Davidson has mixed recently would consist of such highlights as Feel Good, The Duchess, and highly-acclaimed drama A Confession.

Davidson grew up just outside of London in Essex. Fascinated throughout his youth in music, he studied music technology in school before learning about post-production audio, committing to that field and, upon graduation, moving to London to begin his illustrious career.

LBB> When you’re working on a new brief or project, what’s your typical starting point?

Adam> Sometimes the first contact I have with a project is reading the script, but I start working on it when we have a sound spot. This is where the audio post team watches the show with the director, editor, and producer, and we start to discuss the sound in the show, both creative and technical.

LBB> Music and sound are in some ways the most collaborative and interactive forms of creativity - what are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer to work solo or with a gang - and what are some of your most memorable professional collaborations?

Adam> There are perks to both working solo and within a team. Audio post-production is nearly always collaborative, and I enjoy working that way. I think the right team can spark each other’s creativity and take a project to a place that wouldn’t be possible if you were working solo.

Over the years, I’ve worked with some fantastic people, specifically on The Great, and there are two directors I’ve particularly enjoyed working with - Paul Andrew Williams and Joseph Bullman.

LBB> What’s the most satisfying part of your job and why?

Adam> If I were to pinpoint something, I would say when I try something a little bit different with the mix and all the clients like it as much as me. It’s a highly satisfying moment.

LBB> Who are your musical or audio heroes and why?

Adam> Musically I’ve always liked people who push things sonically, unsurprisingly, so Leftfield, LCD Soundsystem, and Gesaffelstein. In post-production, it’s more people I’ve worked with over the years - Colin Martin and Howard Bargroff were probably the two most influential.

LBB> And when it comes to your particular field, whether sound design or composing, are there any particular ideas or pioneers that you go back to frequently or who really influence your thinking about the work you do?

Adam> I’ve taken little tricks and techniques from many different people I’ve worked with and then adapted those to create a base workflow for myself. Still, I’m constantly tweaking it from project to project, and as technology evolves (Dolby atmos most recently), you have to develop with it.

LBB> I guess the quality of the listening experience and the context that audiences listen to music/sound in has changed over the years. There’s the switch from analogue to digital and now we seem to be divided between bad-ass surround-sound immersive experiences and on-the-go, low quality sound (often the audio is competing with a million other distractions) - how does that factor into how you approach your work?

Adam> We’ll mix in the highest level required for delivery, but I’ll always check how it sounds as a stereo mix on a domestic sound bar. If I’m working on music, I’ll always listen to a mix as an mp3 on my laptop speakers. This will allow me to ensure that we are delivering the highest possible quality of work for our clients that can work across formats.

LBB> On a typical day, what does your ‘listening diet’ look like?

Adam> Generally, I put some vinyl on first thing in the morning; then I spend all day listening quite intensely, so in the evening, I’ll generally put some light viewing on - live sport is excellent!

LBB> Outside of the music and sound world, what sort of art or topics really excite you and do you ever relate that back to music (e.g. history buffs who love music that can help you travel through time, gamers who love interactive sound design… I mean it really could be anything!!)

Adam> I’m very into food, and I love watching documentaries about chefs. I think all creative artistic endeavors can inspire and influence each other. Your approach or mindset can translate to any medium - it might take some time to build your skill set!

LBB> Let’s talk travel! It’s often cited as one of the most creatively inspiring things you can do - I’d love to know what are the most exciting or inspiring experiences you’ve had when it comes to sound and music on your travels?

Adam> I’ve been in the Caribbean during carnival season, which was pretty inspiring, but I’ve been to many cities too. I have always felt they’ve given me a little creative boost regardless of whether I’ve heard specific music there - Paris, New York, Barcelona, and Berlin.

LBB> As we age, our ears change physically, and our tastes evolve too, and life changes mean we don’t get to engage in our passions in the same intensity as in our youth - how has your relationship with sound and music changed over the years?

Adam> I’ve learned to work more efficiently; when I was younger, I felt it was a bit of a numbers game, and the more hours I worked on something, the better it would sound. Now I have less time, but I make the most of it; it’s more enjoyable, and I think the work sounds better.