Songs of Norway: From fishing fleets to studio beats

“When I heard them for the first time, the thing that came to my mind was ‘I have been working on broken speakers’.”

Born on a small island in Norway where the main occupation is fishing, Fred Endresen – a recording/mix engineer, and owner of Studio Nord in Mosjøen – had from a young age joined the fishing fleets. Upon discovering the synthesizer and the Hammond organ, Fred’s life turned in another direction. Leaving the sea behind, he followed his passion for music and music production, which was inspired by the tracks of Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Toto and many others. “When I did my first recording as an artist I knew I was going to be doing this a lot and for a very long time,” remembers Fred.

It was 1998 when Fred bought his first small studio, equipped with a Soundtracs CP6800 mixer and a ProTools rig. In 2014, he realized a need for a larger studio where greater space and natural reverb would allow artists to track live. This has led him to discover an old factory, that was soon to shut down at that time. In addition to the production hall, there was a huge 250 sq.m. storage house with a 6-meter high ceiling and no supports in the center. Fred shared the pictures and his ideas with Bruce Swedien and his acoustician Arthur Noxon. Both were impressed with this construction which appeared to look like an upside-down ship. “Noxon came with some advice about diffusing and dampening for the live room and then I just let the place design itself,” says Fred. Now the room looks more like a cathedral however, it still bears the signs of the upside-down ship, more as a metaphoric reminder for the ex-fisherman.

In the studio, Fred is happy to do everything from recording and producing to mixing and even sometimes playing the keys. He has not any preferred genre, as long as there is “heart and feelings, good storytelling, and a lot of humanity” in the music. According to him, the key to success is “… to be able to make the musicians feel good when they are recording. A good piece of equipment won’t make a performance sound good … it would just make the sound better. This is about music that comes from people and not from the equipment. Good tools are important, but you need real emotions from people behind it,” says Fred.

Focusing on “people” does not sideline the importance of equipment in Fred’s production. He uses a Pro Tools HDX with DAD AX32 AD/DA and Directout Andiamo IO. “I work in a hybrid setup with analog summing and some analog mixbus processing. The summing mixer is a Vintage Design SU1 with a Manley “Pultec” tube EQ and a Vintage Design compressor on the master,” shares Fred. “The console is Slate Raven Z3C with a Slate control with eight IO and speaker selector. After that it goes to my Amphion Two18’s,” he adds.

According to Fred, the key to producing better tracks is hearing the details. That’s why he believes that the listening environment and the monitoring system are crucial for the final result. And having the right environment in place required the proper studio monitors. His acquaintance with Martin Kantola from Nordic Audio Labs led him to Amphion Loudspeakers. Fred trusted Martin’s choice of Amphions and contacted David Zells from Lydspesialisten, Amphion’s Norway dealer, to test a pair of Two18 studio monitors. “They never went back,” says Fred.

“When I heard them for the first time, the thing that came to my mind was ‘I have been working on broken speakers’.”

Now, having worked on Amphions for quite some time, Fred shares: “I mix faster and make more accurate decisions. I hear so much details and I get to use the dimensions more. I hear more between the speakers – both depth and width.” He further shares that with Amphion studio monitors, even after a long working day, he still feels well. “I had an almost 13-hour session with a band. My ears didn’t suffer from any fatigue at all. That is a very important thing to consider regarding speaker choice,” says Fred. Another positive feature he notices is that Amphions “translate very well to any other system”.

“Music first!” This is the motto that guides Fred through the years. Keeping the emotion alive by staying curious and listening to each new song with fresh ears is the key to success for Fred Endresen – the man whose passion for music set him on a new course in a studio rather than on a conventional trawler.

Learn more about:
Two18 studio monitors >>>