Less a studio, more a model for a way of life, Chxllseeker is billed as the UK's first surround sound DVD music video label. It's creator won't let the system grind him down and warns others to take control of their own destiny.
CREATIVELY, MULTICHANNEL COULD be the rebirth and invigorator of the entire world of music,' says Merv de Peyer in his Primrose Hill, London studio, The founder of Chxllseeker, the UK's first surround sound DVD music video label, has done his research and his sums and put his money where his heart is.
The label's first release is Tapping into the Orgone which combines music mixed in 5.1 with 3D animation, plus seven special features including an interactive 'surround sound' book, 14 mini movies, bonus surround-sound tracks, a 'secret track', and web-links and is targeted at home entertainment systems, video game consoles and DVD players. And he did it all himself.
'Chxllseeker is a creative project that is trying to answer some of the inherent problems that the music business is having,' explains Merv. 'I looked in to my own personal crystal ball and didn't see a particularly rosy future. 1 see the bottom falling out of the music industry. Worldwide, 1 believe that copy written material as a source of income has dropped by :50St. The reasons are fairly obvious. There's ,\tP:5 but 16x rewriters in £300 PCs are, 1 think, the largest problem because there is now no time investment for people who want to copy music. Not a lot of the people 1 know are working, and those that are are not working for the sort of money they got two years ago,' he says.
Remedial action for this scenario was triggered by his first introduction to surround sound following his involvement in a 360 degree movie commissioned by Volkswagen for its headquarters showroom in Germany. He used a 5.1 set-up of Sony hi-fi speakers fed through a Digidesign 888 interface and assigned output sends from buses in Logic Audio which were then automated. 'A little cumbersome by today's standards, perhaps, but still very effective if you have enough DSP power to drive it,' he explains. 'I was amazed at the sound that 1 got out of those degasses speakers and since then I've moved up to a full set of Genelec 1029As with a Genelec sub and it's only got better. What 1 realised was that 1 could produce amazing results in my little room here.'
He does his own mastering and works to DVD-Videoas the carrier and clealy takes pride in the fact that hr's conquered the whole process in-house. He also has a message to those holding back from taking the plunge and doing their own thing. 'Get on it. This is a freight train.' he says. 'I've spent the last year researching it and there isn't one negative statistic you can apply to it, other than nobody else is doing it. Competition would actually be a really good thing at this stage of the game because it would help to highlight the whole idiom. I believe we have two years of growth before we start to look at saturation but that's as long as people are prepared to think dedicated DVD material.
'There is so much scope for creativity nn the mixing process and mixing in multichannel can be done very cheaply and at "home".'
There are altruistic and idealistic sides to the Chxllseeker project and Merv sees the creation of a production company from the label's artists as a key aspect. All will contribute their skills in a type of 'artists' collective' and these services will be applied to a number of different areas, including such things as multichannel music for advertising. 'The artists will be promoting our skills as a production company by association. People will be able to buy a product that shows them what we are capable of doing.'
He believes that we should all be thinking more niche. looking in to the possibilities, pricing it out and doing it if it adds up. Established producers who think that such adventures are the preserve of others are kidding themselves. according to Merv. 'I don't think there is going to be enough traditional work out there for everyone,' he claims. 'I remember more than ten years ago reading an article in the New York Times by Don Was. He was predicting that music producers will become like live radio producers in the future. The musicians have become empowered and a lot of the technology has now come down to pressing a few buttons, What will anybody want to employ a producer for? Their taste. My byword is creative services. The only way to survive in this business is if people want your ideas, your taste or your knack. Technical services on their own, 1 think, are over with. When you take how much I've spent on the gear in this place 1 don't think I'd get one gig as a commercial facility, that shows how little value having the gear has these days.
'1 started off as a jazz pianist but when I got myself a synthesiser 1 was getting gigs to go in to program bell sounds for people who didn't even know that 1 could play,' he adds. 'Now you get a software program with 1000 bell sounds and who needs a programmer for all but the very highest sessions? It comes down to thinking of ways of making yourself valuable.'
After graduating from Berklee College Of Music with a degree in performance and composition, Merv moved to New York as a jazz pianist but was quickly sighed by Cameo as producer-keyboard player. He also composed a track for Miles Davis and recorded and co-wrote with Chaka Khan, Jemaine Jackson, and Eddie Murphy.
As a songwriter-composer he worked with Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Lisa, Jose and Louis featuring Madonna and remixed tracks with NYC dance gurus, such as Arthur Baker, including work with Apache Indian, Morcheeba, First Choice and Manbrake.
Back in London he co-produced and mixed the KING KONG Groover album for Babylon Zoo and mixed records for Electronic, Suede, and the Geri Halliwell number one Mi Chico Latino.
He has know focused his attention on the creation of audio and visual material and believes the 'audio only' artist may become a thing of the past.
His most recent expenditure has been directed towards the picture equipment but of his audio gear predates his multichannel 'discovery' and has adapted well to it's new purpose.
The observant will have noticed the complete absence of any mixing worksurface. He has a MixPlus+ Pro tools rig with 24 I-Os, but uses Logic as his creative front end and the Digidesign hardware and the TDM system. Patchbays interconnect to a wealth of traditional gear.
'The key with any personal studio is that if you have a few bits of high-end gear and a good way of outputting what you're dealing with, then you can take on anything,' he says.