Upcycled Sounds

Upcycled Sounds is Nicholas O'Brien's sound production company, based between Oxford and Paris. I am a trilingual sound engineer and musician, keen to share my passion for exploring sound and performance in interesting spaces.

Sound Production

With my professional yet portable set-up, I have the flexibility and expertise to record, mix and produce artists as well as track-lay for films and documentaries. Across my broad experience, I focus on quality sound, creativity and excellent customer service. 

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Event Production

Upcycled Sounds is also linked to many events including festivals, concerts and artist residencies, which help promote the artists I works with. All events adhere to our philosophy (right), and advocate a listening culture and appropriate amplification.

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Philosophy

Upcycled Sounds was born of a desire to share a passion for sound and interaction. It aims to give everyone an opportunity to achieve the fullest sound experience, whilst promoting sustainability and European mobility and culture.

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Hello! I am Nicholas O’Brien and I’m a tri-lingual (English, French and Italian) sound engineer based in Europe with a 1st Class Degree in Audio Production. With experience ranging from recording in world class studios, location recording and sound designing for music/film/radio, and composing, sound is my passion and I’m alway keen to share it with others. I have worked for the BBC, feature documentaries, recorded and produced albums, sound designed and composed for theatre and more. Full list of credits available here: upcycledsounds.eu/credits

I started my journey in sound by learning music from a very young age. I began with piano but quickly fell in love with the clarinet and spent more time exploring the different sounds it could make rather than learning tunes! This marked the beginning of an exploration of timbres where I taught myself guitar, drums, bass, ukulele, flute and Greek bouzouki.

In parallel, I became interested in the effects sounds have on the brain. This culminated in developing a new musical instrument for my degree dissertation which transformed innate physiological parameters of the human body into music. Called ‘the Somaphone’, this instrument was based on a combination of an Arduino Uno and pureData. You can read more about this here: upcycledsounds.eu/the-somaphone

In 2012, I combined my interests in sound recording, cycling and different cultures by founding a project called Record and Ride. This was a cycle ride round Europe recording artists along the way. I collected over 180 recordings from 53 different artists across 10 different countries. I had no set route but instead let myself be lead by the artists and the online community following the project. This adventure led me to record in some acoustically fascinating spaces such as in the shelter for an huge radar disc in an abandoned spying station, and the suers underneath Warsaw. Recordings and a blog of the adventure can be found here: record-and-ride.com

Fascinated by the fine line between music and sound, I formed a piano/drums duo called Bambino dell’Oro with a unique focus on intricate performances full of playfulness. In 2013, I organised a residency at the OVADA warehouse gallery in Oxford where we collaborated with visual artist Emma Lilwall. Entirely acoustic, we made a reverb chamber by staking four old pianos, swung cymbals over the audience and prepared pianos. We released our first album in the UK in 2014 at Tandem Festival and in Australia in 2016. More info here: bambinodelloro.com

Inspired by this residency, I co-founded a music festival that raises awareness for environmental and social issues through arts and music. Tandem Festival features a diverse program with folk music from around the world, jazz, afro-beat, a touch of rock and even a 50 piece orchestra. A not-for-profit volunteer run festival based in Oxford, the third edition will run in June 2017. For more information please visit: tandemfestival.com

Voilà. I’m a sound engineer freelancer and always interested to hear about new projects and ideas! Please get in touch for questions, rates and references.

Find CV here: Nicholas_O’Brien_CV_20160413

Why upcycling?

Upcycling is the act of taking what would have otherwise gone to waste and making it useful again by reusing it in a new context. The act of recording is similar in that it takes something which is ephemeral – sound – and saves it for later use. It may then be reused in its original form, transformed, distorted or assembled with other sounds or in other environments.
Behind this analogy lies a conviction that excellent and interesting results can be obtained by transforming waste in to studio equipment or other sounding objects. I am
 running an ongoing project called Upcycled for Sound which is the creation of open-source DIY projects and workshops for anyone wishing to incorporate upcycled object into their studio or music. If you have any suggestions please contact me.

Upcycled Sounds questions, researches and implements sustainable practice in a medium I’m passionate about: Sound. We make a determined effort to reduce our energy consumption, reduce waste by upcycling materials for use in our studio, and recycling what we cannot reuse.
I am always looking out for better solutions and am open to suggestions or partnerships. Please contact me if you think you have something to offer.