Pro File Retro: David Bridie

David Holloway
3 September, 2008
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This is the second in a series of retrospectives on prominent Mac-using musicians. David Bridie is arguably one of the most substantive musicians in Australia. He’s just released a new album called Succumb so it’s timely to take a look back at his approach to songwriting and Macs. This Pro File originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of AMW.

David Bridie has been writing songs for well over twenty years, and what a discography he has. Best known for his work with Not Drowning Waving, Bridie has for the past 17 years been a pivotal part of My Friend The Chocolate Cake as well as releasing solo albums and composing for film and TV. His most recent project has been RAN (Remote Area Nurse) for SBS TV that featured a range of Torres Strait Islander performers and music. AMW caught up with Bridie at his home in suburban Melbourne.

AMW: What was the first Mac you owned?

Bridie: A Power Mac 7200. I got into computers late. When I was working with John Phillips (Not Drowning Waving collaborator), he had all the computer stuff.

AMW: So why did you choose to go with Macs?

Bridie: I was told fairly definitely by people whose opinion I respected that there wasn’t really a choice. I don’t know any musicians who have a studio above demo-level that don’t use Macs.

AMW: And what are you using now?

Still using a G4 desktop and on System 9. I’m really happy with what it does. I will move up to OSX eventually. This is a great beef I have – for me to go to OSX all my favourite plugins will be irrelevant and that pisses me off. I’m no boffin and over the last three years I’ve got to a point where I know how it all works and I can be creative with it. Last year was the first time I did a project on my own without needing to ring people up and ask for help. So for me the upgrade to OSX will be costly. Whilst I like Macs, I don’t worship them like some people do. Capitalism threw a massive party when music computers came out.

AMW: Are there particular plugins you couldn’t live without?

Bridie: Amp Farm is great; I love (Serato) Pitch ‘N Time. I use that all the time. All the Virus stuff I’m enjoying. There’s a whole lot of orchestra samples I use that I want to continue to be able to use.

AMW: What’s your take on Digital Right Management and services like the iTunes Music Store?

Bridie: Being able to buy individual tracks is a great idea, but we’ll see.

AMW: With your work would it seem counter-intuitive for people to buy one song of something you’re doing on an album?

Bridie: It wouldn’t bother me if that happens and anything that makes it easier for people to buy music I think is a great thing. With vinyl and cassettes I used to borrow stuff and if I liked it I’d either buy it or buy the next record they released. Burning a CD is not a huge issue. I find it very amusing that record companies come out and talk about ‘what about the artist’. It’s like, what about the artist they’re paying $2.80 for a CD that costs thirty bucks and out of that you’re taking 50% of the film clip, every beer you ever bought them and the recording costs all come out of that $2.80 as well.

AMW: Are there any gripes you have about the Apple operating system?

Bridie: Compatibility. How stupid is it that stuff I’m using on System 9 is totally outdated by OSX? It’s a decision that has no respect for the client whatsoever, treating you with disdain. They do it because they can get away with it but it’s hard to hold loyalty to a product that treats you like that. I understand with the pace of technology that it can be hard to make everything compatible but I don’t see why an old attribute can’t flow through to the new system.

The other side of it, I think its been a great move to have had a Mac-based studio. I can make really good quality records with a set-up like this. The albums have acoustic stuff to synth and sample-based stuff and it works really well. It’s great for anyone to be able to demo a record, get a MBox and stuff around with a laptop. I do a lot of location recording and I’m looking forward to using a laptop.

AMW: For anyone making music on their Mac, it’s easy to self-censor, believing that what is being created isn’t worth much. Have you ever struggled with doubting the quality of what you do?

Bridie: Everyone has to learn about how to deal with that at some stage. Hugh Jones, who produced the last Not Drowning Waving album had a great phrase which was ‘the larger the microscope the further up your own arse you get. It’s good to have a healthy doubt of your own ability and know that the best musicians to work with are the ones who don’t think they’re great. 

Photos: Graham Body

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