Mark Ty-Wharton (born Mark Tinley) is a British author, composer & philosophical speaker who specialises in presentations using sound art. So says Wikipedia, we caught up with Mark to find out how be became a FL Studio Power User…
Tell us about your music, yourself and your music?
My music is sound. I love sound and have been totally obsessed with it since I was a small boy. I drove everyone nuts by dismantling everything and just wanted to explore. How does it work? and why? I got into bands in my teens and could hear things others couldn’t. Warren Cuccurullo jokes that my ears are made of tin… I hear aeroplanes and traffic phasing, I notice the musical pitch of the fridge, I hear the overlay of the universe and notice the detail. I am diagnosed with a form of autism and I have hyper acute hearing. If the devil is in the detail, then I am possessed.
I have been in every kind of band and written every kind of music you can imagine, from acid house through punk to zen chants, though not necessarily in that order chronologically. I play the guitar but one night I turned up at a friend’s house to get stoned and he showed me a Roland SH101. Six hours later I took it home with me and haven’t played the guitar much since.
Tell us about your work with Duran Duran?
It was one of those Law Of Attraction things. I had this revelation one day that I needed to work in production. It was not that I don’t make a good front man, I am actually pretty good at being on stage, for me it is much easier than socialising. What sets me aside from your average performer is my mind. Once you have gotten over the fear of standing in front of people, there isn’t much to do with your mind other than worry about how you look. I wanted to get my neurons dirty by giving them something deep to think about. I wanted to get stuck into solving production problems and I actually wanted to get paid.
Mark is best known for his work with 80’s icons Duran Duran
I had been on TV and signed all sorts of deals and I was still utterly broke. In the music industry as a musician there are too levels. Below the breadline, which accounts for most of us, or more money than you know what to do with. Of course there are rising and falling stars, but in general production jobs are more stable when it comes to raising children and buying food.
In a bizarre twist of events, I found myself on the set of Top Of The Pops with a Kurzweil K2000 and Nick Rhodes. I had never seen either of them before. The K2000 turned out to be easy to use and Nick easy to get along with and spent the next eighteen months on a world tour.
After that, I became Duran Duran’s resident guy, which was nice. I recorded several albums with them over the course of fifteen years. We still work together today. Currently, I am doing sound design for the Second Life island.
Editor: You can read more about marks gig with Duran_Duran here. Mark has also worked with Garden of Eden, Diskord Datkord, Jonny Slut, Adamski, Paris Working, Glenn Gregory, Gary Numan, The Stranglers & The Dandy Warhols, quite a list!
How did you come to use FL Studio & what were your first impressions?
In an effort to remain on the bleeding edge of technology, Apple have a nasty little habit of pulling the rug from under their users. Buy a PC program and it works forever, whatever machine you buy in the future there will always be legacy support and it will simply run better and faster on your new machine. Apple on the other hand simply have a policy that leaves legacy users behind in the dust, not just the users either, the developers too. Now this might sound like a complaint on first blush, however for their total disregard of everyone in the name of growth, to Apple I am eternally grateful.
I took up the Logic baton when C-Lab dissolved in to eMagic. After wresting with a Falcon, I migrated to Mac and was pioneering the idea of recording vocals on a 68030 laptop when I discovered the Internet. I also discovered shareware and wrote several articles for music technology magazine Sound On Sound. I trawled ftp sites for programs and downloaded anything that looked interesting.
The laptop I was using was called a Blackbird, the band I was working with at the time had rented it for me. It actually worked so well, I decided to take the plunge and bought a Powerbook 5300. That thing should have been called a seagull, it was truly awful. It took the guys at eMagic ages to catch up and in that upgrade to PPC my track count went from four or five to one. One audio track, think about it… Not one stereo audio track, one track period, mono… I couldn’t even edit stereo on this machine, it was a complete disaster.
And that’s when I saw it… Microsoft’s new operating system… Windows 95. My friend Morgan was copying a file on his machine and the OS had this animated folder. I was intrigued, because I could see the files moving from one folder to another. He laughed “it’s not really doing that Tinley” and of course, I couldn’t really see any files moving, it was a representative animation. Only what intrigued me more was the fact the whole thing looked slick. Gone was the Mondrian lego like interface of Windows 3.1 with it’s toy box icons and clunky graphics. Here was something that looked as slick as the Mac. There was also a rumour about Logic for the PC and I managed to get on the Beta.
So I sold the Mac and bought a Wintel laptop and what’s more, I had a ton of change. I went back to trawling the Internet and discovered that where a handful or programmers were writing for the Mac, the PC was overrun with developers writing all sorts of interesting code. A few programs really stood out. There was Martin Fay’s VAZ modular system, Square Circle’s Möbius and of course Fruity Loops.
Having grown up with the Roland TR909 and Steinberg’s Pro 16, the concept was blissfully simple. I could sample anything and sequence it, brilliant. I could also play with time signatures and see what was happening on the screen. By this time Duran Duran has started work on Medazzaland and I was living in Scotland. I used to stay in a hotel in London and after a long day in the studio, what better to curl up with a laptop in front of the TV and sample it. I spent hours building interesting loops for the title track of the album. What you might notice is that nearly all the songs on the TV-Mania album are the same tempo as Medazzaland. The reason for this is that I created so many interesting loops that many of them became new songs and there were simply too many for the Duran album. In a sense, Fruity Loops spawned another entire project.
FL has been there ever since. Pop Trash was driven by FL. In the South of France when the original members of Duran Duran reformed, FL was driving the project. The Dandy Warhols ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ has FL all over it, in fact, anything I do that requires a clear visual overlay of the beats or loops I am trying to provide has FL at its core. When I am not working with bands, I will go as far as to produce entire tracks with it. It is very powerful.
Tell us about your production environment & toys?
These days it is really really simple. I run a Mac which has Pro Tools, Logic and Parallels. You guessed it, I run FL Studio on my Mac. My latest production toy however has to be my phone. It takes me back to the experimental days of shareware, digging around in the App store for something different, tools that will help me shape sound in new and exciting ways as well as tools that will enable me to present that sound in a format that will allow me to easily plug it into my work. I bought FL for iPhone the day it came out. It was a no brainer for me.
The Garden Of Eden (80’s blast!)
Do you have any links you would like to share?
Come and visit me on my website and find out more about me. I am not just an alien, synthesiser programmer, sequencer pilot, sound artist and record producer. I am also an author, philosopher and a public speaker. Beyond the annuls of sound and silence, I contemplate the Universe and address all sorts of issues. There are more things about us that are the same than are different. http://likebeing.com