On the mic: Martin “Ace” Kent (Skunk Anansie)

On the mic: Martin “Ace” Kent (Skunk Anansie)

During their stay in Vienna, Ace took the time to do an interview with us. Thank you Ace!

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. For the readers who don’t know you yet. Would you introduce yourself briefly?

My name is Ace, and I am the songwriter and guitarist from UK rock band Skunk Anansie. I’m also an educator who has worked in music education for the last 25 years simultaneously, and author and a musical entrepreneur with my own music schools and merchandising company.

Would you be so kind to introduce your band Skunk Anansie?” “What is the history of the band” 

Skunk Anansie has been going for the last 28 years, and have toured extensively around the world and played gigs with such bands as Rammstein, U2, Muse, Killing Joke, Metallica etc.

We started off writing and rehearsing together in King’s Cross in central London in 1994, where we got signed and began our journey into the world of record deals and touring. To date we have over 25 million streams per year and have sold over 6 million physical albums. The members are: Skin, vocals. Mark, drums. Cass, bass and myself on guitar. We’ve become well known for our stand on equality, diversity and inclusion across our music, our views and our fan base. Skin, our singer, last year received an OBE from the Queen for services to music.

What was the biggest success in your career so far?

Probably a big success so far would be moments such as headlining the Glastonbury festival in England, playing for the Dalai lLama with Pavarotti on stage, headlining the Poland rocks festival in 2019 to 700,000 people, and a few hit singles overall including the most popular ones such as Hedonism and Weak. 

What does a normal working day look like for you?

That will depend on what day really. 

If it was a tour day it would be, travelling for a few hours to the venue. Then it would be about doing some emails, interviews and then a sound check. After sound check we usually chat about what songs are going to be in the set, eat some food and warm up on the instruments. Show is usually just under two hours long. After that it would be about cleaning up winding down and getting back on the bus to do it all over again!

If I personally was not on the tour day, I would be at work in my role as head of industry partnerships and business development for large London music college called ICMP. My day there would consist of setting up brand and partnership deals for sponsors and manufacturers to create opportunities in relationships with students to forward their careers as well as using the equipment. I also navigate 30 international partners schools and their involvement with our school with outreach activities such as collaboration trips, online competitions, gigs and master classes/tutor visits. Finally I work within a team that is now providing online education courses called Elevate.

How did you come in touch with Austrian Audio Products the first time?

I came in touch with Austrian audio for the first time when my original sponsor from another company moved over to Austrian audio and met me when I was in a recording studio. He spoke about the microphones and new company and we agreed that it would be great to be able to put them into my music school in London for the students to use, but at the same time they would be great for me to check out. From me using the OC 818 in my home studio I found it had a fantastic reproduction of the true sound of the guitar, and from there I spoke to Austrian audio about Skunk Anansie touring.

What products are you (and the band) currently using and where?

Currently we use OC18 on our drums and guitars, CC8 on Hats and the OD505 on Cass’s backing vocals. I’m personally really super pleased with the sound I get coming back to me to my monitors from these microphones on my cabs, as I use six of them on my extensive set up.

What are your next plans? Album or any live shows?

We just finished our tour across Europe here in Vienna and have been out for nearly 3 months which has been a sell-out success, and we have released a few singles at the same time. Our next step will be to go back into writing sessions and then record a new album in the studio before we go out on tour again.

Does Covid have a big impact on your work? How did Covid affect you as a Band?

It did on the touring side of things, as we had to reschedule the tour three times and then manoeuvre a lot of dates around it to get back out on the road. So this was definitely stressful and expensive and difficult to do, but we knew we had to carry on and not just wait. In the downtime of lockdown we wrote and recorded demos until we were able to physically get back in the studio to make the singles to release. But we didn’t get to hang out or practice with each other for a couple of years which was not such a bad thing in certain ways as we’ve been doing this for many years. I did in fact record another album in my home studio with a collaboration with another artist which is yet to come out.

In your studio: what are your favourite pieces of gear?

My home studio is a very small and compact set up but very powerful to do the things I need to do. 

My favourite pieces of gear are my Audient ID22 interface, the IK multimedia Axe IO, the Sequis Motherload speaker simulator, the IK multimedia total Max studio software bundle, Dynaudio BM 15 Active monitors and IK multimedia iLoud monitors and the OC818 for acoustic recording. 

Skunk Anansie by India Fleming
Skunk Anansie by India Fleming

What were the coolest projects you worked on and what are you working on now?

I was very proud to have played on Tony Iommi’s first solo album, and just a few bits and pieces with friends such as a track with Lorenzo Jovanotti, and producing a bunch of albums including Vienna’s own Damian band.

As well as new material for Skunk Anansie I’m working on a new album collaborating with Tim Rayner from legendary band Pitch Shifter on a project called Dark Mode. 

Do you have any tips for people who want to start their live career or their own home recording project?

Buy the best quality few core items that you can afford to start you off, then as you get more experience try to add with good gear that will work with your existing set up to expand your sound and capability. 

Less good quality pieces of equipment that are used a lot, are much better than tons of gadgets that are cheap and don’t get used much and don’t have as good sounds. 

Try  to learn and understand your equipment well so that you can get the most out of it. Also every time you make some money reinvest it into buying another piece of equipment to expand your set up which will ultimately further your career. 

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