In today’s playlisted and predictable music industry, Imogen Heap is nothing less than a deep lungful of fresh air. She’s bold, unconventional, unpredictable, and esoteric – a Grammy-winning, classically trained musician, producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with an eclectic musical palette that easily moves from rock and pop to electronica and avant garde.
Well versed in social media, Imogen has used the Web to interact, audition, collaborate, and communicate. On a recent tour, she improvised a song each night based on a key, tempo, and time signature chosen on the spot by the audience. The track was recorded live, mixed, and made available online for paid download, with proceeds going to a local charity.
Kelly Snook is Imogen’s studio and technology manager. She’s ideally suited for the job – a perfect balance of left and right brain. She has a degree in music from Berklee, a Ph.D. in aeronautics from Stanford, and several years of experience as a NASA research scientist.
Recently, Snook added a PreSonus® StudioLive™ 16.0.2 digital mixer to Heap’s setup. The 16.0.2’s portability was the initial draw but she was immediately impressed by how much more there was to the console. “I wasn’t really expecting to be all that impressed by it,” admits Snook, “but I just love it. It’s really small and compact but it does so many different things. It’s really become the centerpiece of Immi’s portable rig.”
Indeed, the StudioLive has become an integral part of Heap’s setup, covering a variety of tasks for composing, performing, mixing, and more. “It’s doing something different almost every time we set it up,” Snook explains. “We’ve used it as a replacement for our old analog mixer – it just sounds better. We’ve used it as a FireWire interface. I’ve set it up on several occasions for recording, using it as an interface between the DAW computer and a second Mac. We’ve used it in pretty much every situation you would imagine.”
That includes live performance. “It’s right there on stage with her,” says Snook. “She uses it to control her own mix on stage. She used it recently for a live interactive concert on Google Hangout. It sits next to the piano, and she uses it to control the audio so things don’t feed back in the room.”
Not surprisingly, the StudioLive is a part of Heap’s traveling setup as well. “Quite often, she’s got an idea and she just wants to get something down now,” says Snook. “It’s great to have a setup that can travel with us everywhere. It’s been all over the world.”
The StudioLive mixer also figures prominently in the video for Heap’s recent release, “You Know Where to Find Me.” To facilitate composing in “A Room For London,” a one-of-a-kind, boat-shaped suite atop Queen Elizabeth Hall overlooking the River Thames, the console was part of Heap’s setup on location.
“It’s funny,” Snook observes. “I’m a studio engineer, and I grew up with Pro Tools. For a long time I didn’t really learn how to operate a hardware console, until Immi’s mobile setup started calling for one. But the StudioLive makes it really easy to do so much. We’ve had the mixer for about a year now, and it’s become one of our go-to pieces of gear, out and about.”