Pontus Hagberg – man behind Mr Firechild

Sweden’s first Neve 8424 console has been commissioned in a private studio belonging to artist and producer Pontus Hagberg – man behind the Mr Firechild synthesiser video review channel on YouTube.

‘I have been using a classic in-the-box studio with some hardware synthesizers for 25 years, but it was only recently that I discovered how much of an edge real analogue outboard units have over plug-ins,’ he explains. ‘It is similar to comparing virtual instruments with real analogue synthesisers – the difference is very apparent.’

Pontus chose a Neve 8424 console for his studio for its combination of analogue summing and analogue processing. ‘Once I fell in love with analogue hardware, I started using the hardware insert feature in Pro Tools Ultimate, which led to me buying a lot more analogue outboard gear and additional audio interfaces to add more and more AD/DAs,’ he says. ‘Eventually, I realised that all my channels were already in the analogue world, so I could sum in analogue as well.

‘Summing this way has been popular for many years but, for me, the real mojo was analogue processing. With the 8424 console I found my perfect match because the routing and features were exactly what I wanted but it also has the iconic Neve sound. I fell in love with the look of it when it was reviewed in Sound on Sound in October 2020 and soon after I placed an order.’

Sweden’s first Neve 8424 console

Designed to bridge the worlds of analogue and digital studio recording, the Neve 8424 is a small-format console drawing on the heritage of the large-format Neve 80-series console range. It also delivers expansive routing flexibility and modularity, to combine a modern workflow with analogue outboard.

Neve’s first 8424 in Sweden is now the centrepiece of Pontus’ studio in the north of the country. This studio, which is designed for his own use, is also where he films his Mr Firechild YouTube videos in which he demos different synths in the form of multitracked instrumental songs.

Mr Firechild came about as a result of his longstanding interest in synthesisers. After a brief spell as an artist (he was known as Evan and says his main claim to fame was coming last in the Swedish qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest), Pontus moved into production and became one half of the remix duo Soundfactory. In this guise he remixed almost every major Swedish single released in the early 2000s, including all the singles from Abba singer Agnetha Fältskog’s solo album The Colouring Book.

His next project was creating instrumental synthesiser music, which he released as Firechild. After nine albums he had a small fanbase on You Tube and this grew rapidly when he began making songs using only one vintage synth for all the sounds and layering them in Pro Tools. These demos formed the basis of his You Tube channel, which now has over 12,000 subscribers.

Although Mr Firechild is a key project for Pontus, the decision to invest in an 8424 was driven by another project he is involved with called Symphony of Sweden. In conjunction with rock singer Linus ‘Lee’ Wester on lead vocals, Erik ‘Drumerik’ Günther on drums and Jim Wallenborg on guitar, Pontus is creating pop/metal fusion music that combines cinematic orchestral sounds with electro. Symphony of Sweden has already released one album and they are now working on a second, which Pontus describes as ‘monumental and epic’.

‘I am reaching for the best sound quality there is and this is where the Neve 8424 enters the picture,’ he says. ‘It will be fun to arrange and produce our new album on the 8424. Prior to buying the desk I already had two Neve 8801 channel strips and two 8803 Dual EQs, which gave me the confidence to know that the people at AMS Neve knew what they were doing. Now that is has arrived, the 8424 will be the cornerstone in my studio for years to come.’

Since installing his 8424, Pontus has used it to mix a previously recorded drum session.

‘It sounded as good as I hoped for,’ he reports. ‘The desk is easy to understand, beautiful to look at and has a great sound. I like having 48 analogue channels in a small form factor and I use the 48 mix mode almost exclusively. Prior to getting the console I was mixing in Pro Tools, but now I will mix on the desk, which means adopting a completely new workflow. Outboard complementing the desk is also new but I have tried to pick equipment with total recall so that I can keep up the speed when working while lifting sound quality to an even higher level.’

‘Alongside Mr Firechild’s desk we have also sold two more – both to studios with a more traditional approach to recording, which proves just how versatile it is,’ says Anders Glantz, Head of Sales at AMS Neve’s local dealer Soundware Sweden, which supplied and installed the console.

‘With the 8424, I think we have found a console that perfectly suits many of our customers. The price is good but it is the functionality of this desk – and its suitability to a hybrid workflow - that is driving sales. And, of course, once new software is introduced to upgrade fader automation for DAWs, that workflow will be even faster.’

As well as being the first person in Sweden to have an 8424, Pontus will also be the first to install automation software that will be launched in a few months’ time.

‘I use volume automation quite a lot in Pro Tools and hopefully the new automation software for the desk will do what I need to make the analogue transition an even smoother ride,’ Pontus says. ‘Coming from Pro Tools where automation is as natural as the solo-button, I think I will use it a lot. I don’t know the full specs yet, but hopefully it will fit my needs perfectly.’

More: www.ams-neve.com

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