Music Matters: Behind the scenes at Popcamp 2019

In Denmark, we have worked closely together with several songwriting camps over the past few years, as we recognize and embrace that at the end of the day, our monitors really serve a single purpose: To assist in the content-making process. This may be film production, sound for games, broadcast or, of course, creating, recording and producing music.

Obviously, when it comes to these songwriting camps, such as Aarhus Calling, which we supported earlier this year, the focal point is music production. During the last days of this Summer, we once again participated in a Danish songwriting camp – Popcamp 2019 – and equipped a whopping seven studios with calibrated studio monitoring systems.

The event was organized by TG Management and took place in Lundgaard Studios, which ranks among the most prestigious recording studios in Denmark. While all of their established studios were of course being used, a number of smaller pop-up studios were also set up. More than 20 songwriters and producers were gathered for almost a week and since Lundgaard Studios is located at a former farm with plenty of space, accommodation for everyone was covered as well. In other words, we are talking about a week of near-isolation and 100% focus on creating great music.

Writing for The X Factor Stars

We caught a moment with some of the participants to learn more about their work, approach and thoughts on the monitors in the studios they were working in almost 24/7 during the camp.

First, we got a chat with Jonny Amos, who both writes and produces and has been a touring and recording rock musician for 12 years. Jonny is based in England and has been an avid Genelec-user for years.

Jonny Amos (Photo: Genelec DK)

In recent years, Jonny has delivered original songs for a wide variety of British X-Factor participants, including Shayne Ward who won the second season of the show, and despite his decade-long history within rock music, he now primarily focuses on producing EDM tracks.

Having said that, Jonny stresses that during an event like Popcamp, you cannot limit yourself to any one particular style or musical genre – you need to be open and remain musically versatile.

Making Hits in Asia and Delivering for Entertainment Shows

We heard stories along the same line when talking with the English songwriter Ricky Hanley and the Danish producer Joachim Hejslet Jørgensen.

Joachim Hejslet Jørgensen & Ricky Hanley (Photo: Genelec DK)

Ricky Hanley is responsible for quite a few chart-topping hits in Asia, and in fact the first contacts that opened his eyes toward this part of the world were made during songwriting camps years ago.

Joachim Hejslet Jørgensen has produced for a variety of Danish pop acts, but has also taken on a slightly unusual and ongoing project, delivering production music for a Danish gymnastics and music entertainment show called Flying Superkids. Some of the music is used during the gymnastics sections, but there are also plenty of original songs written specifically for selected artists in the show.

According to Ricky and Joachim, a big part of being a professional songwriter and producer is to be able to understand the client’s need and write accordingly, which as Jonny Amos also stated, requires that you stay versatile and not afraid to enter new musical territories or try out new ideas.

What A Difference A (Calibrated) Monitor Makes

As mentioned, our primary stake in this event was to deliver the best possible monitoring systems for each of the seven studios.

The main studios were already equipped with plenty of Genelec monitors, including 1036 mains in the primary studio, plus a wealth of legacy 1031A nearfields.

On top of that, we brought along plenty of The Ones and SAM monitors that we calibrated to perfectly match each individual environment in order to obtain maximum performance in all locations.

The participants were mixed and matched each day, and they also switched studio from one day to the next, which meant that consistency in terms of monitor sound had to be spot-on.

Jonny, Ricky and Joachim agreed that the calibrated systems made a huge difference and allowed them to just focus on writing and producing from beginning to end. “As a starting point, I am using 8020s and a 7040 sub in my own studio, and I am a big fan of the signature Genelec sound,” said Jonny Amos. “It doesn’t matter if you go from a pair of smaller Genelecs to the huge 1036 in the main studio – you still get that same flat-frequency-response sound.

“Today, I have the pleasure of working on The Ones, and they also have that Genelec sound with tight bass and midrange clarity, but they do add a slight sparkle at the top end, which I like a lot, as it makes it easier to spot minor issues in the mix that need attention. Oh, and I also love the stereo image they produce!

“Now, for calibration, I can switch between the calibrated and the non-calibrated sound, and the difference is huge! I must admit that monitor calibration is probably something that I have underestimated in the past. For instance, for a camp like this, we can easily bring the monitors if we want to track at a different location, recalibrate for that space and keep on working with the exact same sound.”

“The thing about songwriting camps is that we require a lot of studios, and usually at least some of them are set up in rooms that were not meant for producing music, and then the calibration is critically important,” Ricky Hanley added. “In essence, we can make any room sound great with these monitoring systems.”

Joachim Hejslet Jørgensen agrees: “I actually did the calibration for this room, and it was such a simple process that just made a massive difference. And another really cool thing is that you can save your calibration settings and create ‘presets’ that you can easily switch between. Why would you want to do that? Well, I have found it ideal to have a secondary preset with just a slight high end roll-off. Often, studio work hours can be crazy and I find it very convenient to be able to roll-off – or add-in – just that tiny bit of high end from time to time.”

It was truly a pleasure to take part in yet another amazing songwriting camp and to hang with all of these genuinely nice and very cool people that live and breathe music every day of the year. In our own way, we also do that, and experiencing first-hand how our monitors contribute to a music-making process like this makes it fun (and worthwhile) to continuously push ourselves to refine and develop monitoring systems that make a real difference.