I’m a wooden/bamboo flute player, guitarist (steel/nylon) and sound designer specialising in Celtic and Nordic music as well as fusion from India, China and Japan. I also play whistles/low whistles, Greek Bouzouki and compose electronically. Featured soloist with Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave in Concert’ (World Premiere) and for Anthropologie ad campaign.
With a background in the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and a passion for flutes and plectrum instruments from across the world I can produce accompaniment, lead lines and improvisation on a wide range of instruments (Detailed in 'Gear') Touring and recording globally for the last 18 years my most recent credits have included regular TV and Session work for the Visit Scotland, Edinburgh IFF, Edinburgh Fringe, BBC Alba, TG4 (Ireland), Music for the BBC Drama 'Shetland', Anthrpologie Clothing Stores (Full ad campaign) and multiple recordings with my own bands and as a session musician for a wide range of contemporary Scottish acts.
My duo 'Ross Couper and Tom Oakes' were nominated for Scottish Album of the year in 2017
I was also recently a featured soloist (Guitar) on the world premiere of Disney Pixar's 'Brave in Concert' with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
I am based in Edinburgh with a high quality 'home' studio set-up and wood and stone 'live room'. I also have access in Edinburgh to world renowned studios such as Castlesound and Slate Room studios.
I have a huge range of instruments and where needed can source both musicians and instruments from across the Scottish music scene. Anything you need just ask.
Files provided here are a range from bare track (solo flute), pre-mix and sound design to full tracks from albums and stage productions.
Send me a note through the contact button above.
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Interview with Tom Oakes
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Lorne MacDougall! The finest Bagpiper in the Scotland and an incredible professional.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. I don't have space for analogue gear and there are such incredible plugins now that it's very hard to tell the difference. Saying that though I do love to use great room sounds rather than much reverb
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We'll get there eventually! Your track will be beautifully recorded, perfectly in tune and exactly what you ask for* *As long as you know what you want!
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it's all ambient or new age. I really think a decent instrumentalist can play in ANY genre.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What they want (See above), When they want it, How long is it? What their budget is and what are you looking to do with the track. It gives me a good idea of what to charge and how much work will be involved
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Really think about the brief. Abstract is great for this kind of work. Give me colours, emotions, textures and listening examples that give a real range. A metal track can really influence a single line improvised flute melody believe it or not!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Apogee Duet, MacBook Air, Aston Origin, Flute, Nylon String Guitar
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Pro touring and recording musician now since 2005. Toured all over the world and now really enjoying more studio work as have had a kid. Covid has really pushed me to do to more and more of this.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm thrilled by a challenge. My style is highly technical but I try and keep a bit of earthiness and dirt to what I play. I love the overtones and breath of wooden flutes.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Four Tet. I think he's incredible at mixing the old and the new. Incredibly inspiring.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Learn one DAW and stick to it. Don't download too many plugins!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Folk and traditional music. World music and Jazz
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: As above really but I think my strengths are technique coupled with versatility. I there's any flute sound from around the world you want then I guarantee I can replicate it.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I've spent my life trying to perfect different flute styles. I'd say I'm really good at emulating a sound as long as you can describe what you want then I'd like to think I can achieve it. Guitar wise I'm known for drive and rhythm and chordally I like to think I know melody well enough that I''ll always find the right chords for your track.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like a really personal brief giving me an abstract idea of sound and feel. Then usually try and internalise the track by listening on headphones and going for a walk. Then in the studio I'm headphones on track looping and trying to give the client a few different variations of feel. For instance wild, accurate and something in between!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I've a selection of Apogee, Grace and Focusrite Pre-Amps (Static and portable) Equator Monitors, Aston Microphones (Spirit, Origin and Element). My live space is wooden floored with curved walls and ceiling. It's pretty live but not boomy at all. I also have a smaller 'dead' space and a portable set-up and access to churches and period buildings to both record in and take reverb responses. I use Plugin Alliance for editing and a Mac mini/Logic Pro X combo for DAW.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I listen a lot across genres but recently Bill Fissell, Beck, Talvin Singh and flautists such as Matt Molloy, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Jean-Michel Veillon
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Recently a lot of single melody line stuff for pretty much any genre. This can be read, improvised or composed by me. I've also been adding a lot of guitar to singers and tune players within traditional music. Several different guitar sounds on the go from very clean steel string to nylon to my personalised electric nylon featuring individual octave bass processors!