Nick Revel is the founding violist of PUBLIQuartet, who's 2019 album Freedom and Faith was nominated for a GRAMMY™ Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. Nick's award-winning 2017 commission In DayDream was premiered in Carnegie Hall in 2017 and is on his debut album Letters to My Future Self (Centaur Records).
As founding violist in PUBLIQuartet, a string quartet known for inventing new genres of instrumental music and modern improvisation, I have years of experience creating new sounds, written sounds, and collaborating in collective music making. Our album Freedom and Faith was nominated for a GRAMMY™ award this past January for our original compositions, arrangements, and improvisations on original music. I am an award winning composer and have recorded and produced my own album, Letters to My Future Self, of all original compositions and improvisations using my own recording gear. The services I offer include but are not limited to *Playing and recording written, semi-improvised, or fully improvised parts for violin or viola within the context of any genre remotely from my home. *Composing or arranging fully written or semi-improvised layers (string sections of violin or viola) for any genre of music. *Editing multiple takes of recorded music into a single, final version. *Mixing previously-recorded string tracks individually or for insertion into a track of any genre of music. Contact me so we can discuss your project and I can see if I can meet your needs!
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Interview with Nick Revel
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Currently, I'm performing works from my album Letters to My Future Self, for auto-triggering looping and processing viola and electronics on Twitch, YouTube, and all places remote (thanks to COVID-19 cancelling all performing work).
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Hamilton Berry for anything cello.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to try my hardest to deliver a product that I am proud of and happy with on a professional level. I aim to be clear in my communication and receive feedback and suggestions openly.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I get to interact with people and share in their musical creations. It's inspiring and pushes me to overcome my own challenges with playing and being creative.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That the sounds I make fit into a nice little box. I have many influences and all of them will come out in my play regardless of whether it's a pop track or a rock track.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Make the project a collaborative effort. Meaning, spell out your ideas clearly and consider that the musician has an entirely different perspective. You may not get what you originally heard in your head, but it might also be a pleasant surprise.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Viola, Roland Octa-Capture, Computer, Neumann KM184 Pair, and external hard drive.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started playing viola in public school in 3rd grade. In 4th grade Mr. Ribbons, the orchestra teacher, pointed at me one day during rehearsal and said, "YOU are gonna be in the school trio!" And that was my first experience being singled our for...i dunno, talent? From then on I participated in youth orchestra, chamber music, and solo recitals until I went to Eastman School of Music for Undergraduate work. I graduated from their with honors and awards and learned how to improvise and write music. Since then, I've been living in NYC doing freelance work, teaching, improvising, composing, recording, and performing all over the country.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Having worked with Björk on her Vulnicura NYC tour, I can honestly say she was so gracious with her time, treated us so well, and was so clear in her musical instruction. I would absolutely work with her again in a heartbeat. The way she and her team combines electronics and acoustic instrumental / vocal is so inspiring.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Acknowledging the importance and maximizing the success of every step in the recording chain will produce fantastic results by the end. So acoustically treating the room to remove unwanted frequencies, placing the microphones in a way that captures the viola in the most flattering way, practicing and playing the hell out of the passage, and then treating the recorded material first with basic volume/balance, pan, subtractive EQ, appropriate compression, and depening on the style some mix of early reflection reverb mixed with tail reverb.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on my own music and quartet music, practicing through all the challenging spots, honing my improvisation and creative voice.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Playing viola in a variety of styles and vibes.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As someone who has spent over a decade playing in, improvising with, and composing for a GRAMMY™ Nominated string quartet, PUBLIQuartet, I can honestly say I've made sounds on my viola that no one has ever made before. I can bring a curious, imaginative, and experimental process to creating sound on sound.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on the project. If I am laying down a fully written track, the process is simple in that I practice the passages and play them as best as I can. I can submit multiple takes with different musical interpretations. I can even stream lossless quality audio to you through a simple URL in real time (100ms latency) through an Audiomovers plugin called ListenTo so you can basically be there in the session with me. If I am laying down lines of improvisation, I will try several versions to see what the vibe is. Maybe a more textural (tremolo, trill, arpeggiator-style playing), or maybe something more rhythmic, melodic, harmonic etc. This situation would be more collaborative with you, the producer.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I record in my home. I will usually set up a pair of Neumann KM184s or Beyerdynamic MC930 as a main ORTF pair with an overhead spot mic, time-delayed to the main pair. Sometimes, for super textural playing, I will use my DPA d:vote4099 in tandem. I record through a Roland Octa-Capture UA-1010 and it's built in VS preamps to Logic Pro X on my Macbook Pro 2019. I have several plugins for pre-amp sim, dynamic eq, and harmonic saturation.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Radiohead, Punch Brothers, Jaga Jazzist, Flying Lotus, Björk, Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Jacob Collier, Metronomic
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Layering audio tracks of viola or violin. Anything from fully written to fully improvised.