Legendary 80s producer/artist Paul Hardcastle will be appearing at the flagship Apple Store, Regent Street tonight to talk about his work, including the iconic track '19', which highlighted the average age of US soldiers during the Vietnam war.
The free event, which starts at 7 pm, will see Paul talk about his 25th Anniversary release of '19', and how Apple technology has enabled him to renew the track, which became a worldwide hit, selling over 3 million copies in the mid 1980s.
The 25th Anniversary release of 19 was released yesterday and was produced entirely on a Mac.
Macworld caught up with Paul to find out what role Macs play in his life and record production these days.
Q. 25 years ago did you have any idea that '19' would still be a memorable track in 2010?
19 was one of those tracks that would be either forgotten quickly or stay around for a long time. To be honest with you, I didn't know the answer but am very glad it has stayed around so long and I guess it is very relevant now, so I can see why people are still talking about it. It’s stood the test of time, and I don't think it sounds dated.
Q. Do you think it has become your signature tune or something of a burden since your career has covered so many bases including smooth jazz, R&B and production duties?
No, I don't think it has become a burden at all. It opened a lot of doors for me, allowed me to do music for films, and helped start my career as a producer and remixer. Before that, I was mainly doing stuff in clubs, 19 helped make me a household name and started to get me attention. Even today, my fans in America say they love 19, so it hasn't really harmed my career in any way.
Q. When did you start thinking about doing something for the 25th anniversary of '19'?
About 9 months ago we realised it was the 25th anniversary of '19' and I'd always thought about doing one remix 25 years on, but it came more relevant as time went on considering what's going on today. We now have around 15 new mixes to go after the full version.
Q. Can you briefly explain how the original version and 2010 remake of '19' differ?
The new version of '19' was recorded entirely on a Mac digitally. The original was recorded on 24-track, while the demo before that was done on an 8-track in my bedroom, which we bounced up. Mixing is a lot easier now on a Mac, to go back and do a different mix, as it is all automated. There were things I wanted to change and I've been able to do that now, and that's one of the reasons I've worked on a Mac in the last few years. The Synclavier has been sent to the back room.
Q. Technically, what's been the major changes musically over the last 25 years and more of music making?
To my disgust, every dance track is now on a 4/4 beat, which I find tedious, which is why I've kept away from it myself. However, music has changed so much due the ability to record where you want, when you want. You can take a MacBook out with you and get great recordings. Previously to get records sounding good you needed to go to a big studio. You can also now change the pitch and everything can be put in time to create a more perfect recording, although I tend not to go the whole hog and tune up everything. I like to keep a few things slightly out of tune or slightly out of time, like the orchestra stabs in the new version of '19,' it produces a more realistic sound, but of course you can go back and edit things very quickly.
Q. Is it tempting to keep things simple and 'old school' or exploit the technology available to you today?
On a couple of tracks I've kept it old school, with old sounding synths and also playing them live. It depends on the type of song and the mood you are trying to create. You have a lot power in your hands now to do things perfectly, but as I said I'm not a fan of doing that, it can make things sound sterile.
Q. Why do you think Macs are generally the tool of choice for musicians and creatives?
I've been using Macs for 20 years now and have found them far superior to PCs. Without getting into that silly debate, for me, Macs are better made, better put together. I was a Synclavier user when there was only about 10 in the country. George Michael, Trevor Horn, Sting and Stevie Wonder were using them, and Synclavier adopted the Mac and used it as the front end to draw the graphics as the Synclavier simply wasn't fast enough. Synclavier were really out on their own, leading the world, and they choose the Mac, which is what set me off to use Macs and I'm so glad I kept with Macs. 15 years ago you couldn't go in a shop and simply buy a Mac, it was like asking for moonshine, very much under the counter. It's great Macs have now come to the forefront and I can use Apple's Logic and the like very easily.
Q. You're an Apple fan, do you have an iPhone and iPod?
Yes. I have a few iPhones and about 14 Macs in my house. The whole family has an iMac and MacBook each, and yes, I spend too much money on Macs, although they are worth it because they pay me back.
Q. Do you enjoy listening to music via iTunes or do you still like vinyl and CDs?
Well iTunes is a much easier way to buy something and you get to listen to a bit. I still get sent CDs but most of my music is bought via iTunes. Once CDs came out, I got rid of all my vinyl, I gave it all away, much to the disgust of most of my friends. I've gone along with technology, although I taped all my records and have them on a hard drive now, which is much easier than lugging around loads of records.
Q. What do you say to those who think that MP3/ACC files sounds cold and soulless?
Each to their own, people still like the sound of vinyl but I think that debate is very personal. You can make things sound warmer, by putting your mix through a valve amp for example, it’s what you choose to do with the music that matters. Having said that, I'm not a fan of making everything sound as loud as possible. My music may not sound as others but at least you don't get ear fatigue.
Q. Does the iPad excite you?
Yes it does. I'm always on the internet so will get one and I normally get everything new that comes out. Its also important for iTunes as most of my music is sold on iTunes, except for the US where CDs sales are popular.
Q. Finally, after the 25th anniversary of '19' what can we expect next from Paul Hardcastle?
Straight after the 25th anniversary of '19' is Jazzmasters 6, that's really where my career does really well in America with the smooth jazz format. I'm lucky, I've had 9 number ones on the smooth jazz charts now and sold three and a half million albums over there. The people are screaming out for Jazzmasters 6, and guess what, they are going to get it. I'm having great fun promoting my stuff in my native country for the first time in a long time. I'm really looking forward to the Apple Store event (tonight at 7pm), for me that will be brilliant, and I'm looking forward to answering questions from those people coming along. Come along, I will be showing how we made '19' and how we did the video. It should be a really great night, and I've been told I can have as much time as I want. Bring your questions and come down and have some fun!
(The Apple Store is located at 235 Regent Street, London, W1B 2EL, 020 7153 9000. The nearest tube station is Oxford Circus.)