Published Jul 01, 2005A veteran presence on Toronto's music scene, Kurt Swinghammer has performed and recorded with Ani DiFranco, the Rheostatics and Sarah Slean. His most recent album Augusta, was released earlier this year. Kurt also wrote the theme to Media Television, scored Ginger Snaps II, and his music has been heard on Queer As Folk. Kurt has recorded at home since the 1980s.
What are you running in your studio?
When you're dealing with technology, you've got to expect that your platform is going to be obsolete every few years. Right now I'm running Pro Tools and that's been the longest running platform I've ever worked with, and it's the most commonly used. If you want to get into more professional applications like syncing to film, or sharing projects with other composers, it's the best choice. It's become more accessible in the last few years because of ProTools LE, which is the light edition; it's more affordable but still has many of the advantages of the full version.
How have you prepared your working environment?
I don't get too stressed out about having the perfect-sounding room. To really prepare a room properly can get very expensive. I've never had any problems just recording wherever. You can fix some problems with mic technique if you feel you have to correct the room, but you don't have to worry about making the room sound perfect as long as you trust your ears.
Can you tell me about the setup you've put together for your girlfriend, singer/songwriter Lori Cullen?
She's got an iBook, and she's using the built-in microphone to record vocals. She's running GarageBand (Apple's multi-track recorder with built in sounds). GarageBand has some really amazing sounds to it, and it's improving all the time. They've just released an orchestral pack that sounds incredible. Even with her tiny setup it's very flexible, very portable and she can run all her other applications with it.
Do you have any tips for maintaining your computer?
If something's working I try not to alter it too much. I've often had problems with updates conflicting with other programs, so I'll try to keep the same system going as long as possible. I'm not an expert at maintenance. I have a computer guru who'll come over when problems arise. I've had some scary things happen over the years, but my guru has always bailed me out. I highly recommend finding someone you can call at a moment's notice to deal with the serious problems.