Meet Clearcut Sound Studios’ Newest Recruit: Dan Rimmer on Synths, Sound Design and the Magic of Soho
Dan Rimmer is Clearcut Sound Studios’ newest recruit, joining the team as a junior engineer in early 2022. He met the Clearcut team while in his first industry role at Kidztalk, a children’s voice-over company, and felt Clearcut Sound Studios was the right career. move to help him develop his sound design skills in an environment that matches his customer-focused attitude.
Dan grew up in a musical family, crediting his mother and grandfather with instilling an appreciation for music in him. He started playing in a few bands during his teenage years (which he still does today) and learned all about the business of making music. As for his musical influences, Dan is a lover of jazz, especially Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, as well as Bon Iver and Sylvan Esso for their beautiful melodies and lyrics combined with experimental synth sounds.
Recently moved to London, Dan is as excited about all the learning opportunities that await him at Clearcut Sound Studios – of which he has already had a few – as he is about working in bustling Soho. Today LBB spoke to Dan about his passions and ambitions, what made Clearcut such an attractive place to work, and what interests him in the audio world right now.
LBB> Growing up, would you describe yourself as a musical child?
Dan > I grew up in a lovely musical household – my mum had been in choirs for as long as I can remember and BBC 3+4 radios were on all the time in the house. From the age of seven or eight, I was playing keyboards in a classical way, but it wasn’t until 15/16 that I really started to like music. I picked up jazz keys, started playing guitar, and started writing my own songs. I feel really lucky to have such a strong musical foundation – it makes the transition from “inspiration” to a final product a more fun process.
LBB> How did you go from playing music to mixing yours? Was that always the plan?
Dan> I studied Music Technology and Bachelor of Music in college, where I started a band with some friends. From then on, I spent all my free time learning how to record and mix music, and more specifically, how best to capture the sound and feel of our band without spending any money! Having very little equipment and money at an early stage had a huge impact on my music production style; In order to capture the right feel of a track, the driving force had to be the raw audio itself. This means that if I’m producing an intimate track, my sample can be a piano recorded on my phone, as such techniques can bridge the gap between listener and songwriter. Sometimes, when we are the most restricted, we end up being really creative!
LBB> You previously worked at Kidztalk, a children’s voiceover company, as a sound engineer and production assistant. Can you tell us a bit more about the role and what you learned from it?
Dan > It was my first official role in the industry and the best starting point I could have asked for as children are some of the hardest talent to work with. Editing dialog in the studio with clients on the phone, while keeping a 6-year-old focused on the task at hand is definitely a challenge. It took all of my skills to a new level and provided me with great opportunities, including my first TV music mix.
I was also a producer at Kidztalk, helping run the company as a whole, which gave me great insight into the inner workings of a company in the industry.
LBB> What made you decide to join Clearcut Sound Studios?
Dan > I didn’t go to college, and I’ve always worked for big companies, where I haven’t had a say in day-to-day management, although I feel like I have good ideas, and it always left me feeling unfulfilled at work.
Clearcut Sound Studios felt right from the start – boutique, employee-owned, and the absolute heart of indie-kid Soho. I actually came here as a voice-over artist last summer and ended up having a separate remote link as an engineer with Ed De Lacy for a different session in the Kidztalk studio. The vibe I got from everyone I met led me to immediately contact Chris Wrigglesworth and ask if there was a position available. The rest is history!
LBB> You are at the start of your career as a sound engineer/designer – what kind of support and learning opportunities does Clearcut offer you?
Dan> That was another reason I wanted to work here. At the interview stage I was honest about the level of experience I had running sound design sessions, and especially under time pressure, but Chris and James (Clark) really took that into account. They spent a lot of time keeping me in the background, getting me used to Clearcut’s specific setup (Nuendo was a new DAW for me), and showing me each other’s unique sound designs.
I wasn’t hired to work exactly in line with everyone – they hired me for my personality and my own take on sound design and mixing, and so my training really focused on the best ways to translate my ideas into a finished product. The work so far has been fast and difficult, but in return I have had the freedom to experiment in a creative and uplifting space.
LBB> What types of spots have you had the chance to work on since you started with Clearcut? What part of the process do you find the most interesting?
Dan > I guess it started with straight VO recordings and dialogue editing, because that’s what I had experienced working at Kidztalk, but I now do anything and everything that I can. sent – short film mixes and sound design, to online and radio spots.
A few of my favorite projects so far have been the character-based consultation videos from Elixirr and Golf Now’s “A Criminal Drive.”
Probably the most interesting part of the process for me is the little details of combining the special effects and the music – asking, “Does an effect need to be tweaked to be tighter?” Where can I cut time in music to fit a set amount of time without the listener noticing a change in flow?
LBB> Tell us about your interest in music/sound outside of work?
Dan> I’m in a few different bands right now on a bunch of different instruments, trying to stimulate my brain as much as possible because what I wish I could do is integrate sound design and music. It’s quite common in the sound world to have a composer and a sound designer as two separate things, whereas Ed here shares the same ideas in the sense that I think it’s an invaluable skill to be able to combine the two . I would love to get to the point where I could work on a musical brief for someone, as well as dialogue, SFX and mixing – so I could work on the whole piece. I think that’s where you can be the most creative.
LBB> What is a commercial/movie/TV show that really impressed you with its sound design?
Dan> It’s probably a bit cliché, but Stranger Things. It’s beyond reproach, the whole quality of the production is incredible. The audio is wild – the way they use these modular synth sounds to build tension, fusing old tech with new tech to give you a sense of nostalgia, but also in the most hi-fi way possible. . Watching ’80s sci-fi might feel a bit two-dimensional, but Stranger Things captures the feeling you get from those shows in the most intense and over-the-top way.
LBB> Finally, what do you think is an exciting development in the world of audio and sound right now?
Dan> I watch quite a lot of stuff on YouTube and I think it’s really cool to see how online media is moving into the mainstream and becoming more of a primary way to consume video and audio. There are a bunch of people on YouTube that I can see jumping into the mainstream and doing TV spots like Matty Matheson (a wacky chef from Canada). The sound design of his videos is actually very creative, and it has really built a sound brand for him. While TikTok influencers are having their day taped by phone right now, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see more social media stars looking for a brand identity in the same way and seek a higher level of production quality.