Red Light Stereo

Seaside towns have a certain allure to them and due to their small town/ness often give birth to some of the best bands we know. Enter Red Light Stereo – 4 boys from Durbs town who have been working on producing some of the catchiest, anthem like pop rock songs we have heard in a while. They have just released their digital EP – and the first single from it, ‘What I’ve Become’ has been playlisted on Highveld, East Coast Radio, Puk, Kovisie, MFM, etc, the list goes on. We asked them about their studio experience and what it was like working with that very esteemed producer Brian O Shea.

Where did you record the new Digital EP?

Lliam: The drums were recorded up in Pretoria at the Drum Room. The studio is owned by one of the top South African session drummers Vinnie Henrico and is just set up perfectly for the purpose. The remainder of the recording (bass, guitars and vocals) was then done at Durban’s 3am Studio, owned by Jon “Scoop” Randall, where we had tracked our EP. Synth and some extra bits were then added either at my place or by mixing engineer Paul McIver of Toneworks Recording. Finally the tracks went off to New York mastering house Sterling Sound for mastering by Jay Franco.
red light sterio

What do you look for in a recording studio and producer?

Lliam: For me the three main considerations are 1: the type of artist’s or genre of music most often recorded at a particular studio, 2: the equipment that the studio has and finally 3: the quality of the final product.
Gareth: I like to pay careful attention to the types of artists that the producer has worked with in the past and then also to hear some of the products that the producer has worked on.
Don: 1 word. Quality!
Dylan: The right equipment to record with at the studio – quality matters. In terms of a producer it needs to be someone with vision and experience and a good track record.

Tell us a bit about your latest EP. You’re releasing it digitally only?

Lliam: At this point it’s only for digital sale on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3… (the list goes on). We’ve got a roll out plan, which certainly includes pressing of discs, but from a business point of few, there are more immediate goals that require finances to be met. Marketing 101 (I’ve never studied marketing), create the demand, and then supply the demand.

I see Brian O Shea produced the album. He is a highly respected producer. Tell us about your experience with him in the studio?

Lliam: I’ve always been interested in the recording process, be it sitting behind the console or managing a project. To spend months working on songs with someone as knowledgeable and experienced as Brian taught me so much. I’ve learned how to deconstruct songs and rebuild them to something much better, and then how to take that canvas and turn it into a great sounding recording.
Gareth: My experience with Brian was somewhat incredible. I definitely learnt a lot about why certain songs work and what actually makes them work. We all did and can now use that experience when writing songs going forward.
Don: Wow where to start, Brian took our sound to a new level, we all learnt so much from him, not only in recording but also how the music business works, he helped us find our sound, and it’s sounding gooood 🙂

The feeling of switching on to a station and hearing your song play invokes a sense of achievement and excitement

Your single has been added on most stations around the country -how does it feel like to get your music heard?

Lliam: No matter what anyone says music is made to be heard, and radio is the best medium. The feeling of switching on to a station and hearing your song play invokes a sense of achievement and excitement.
Gareth: For me, that’s all I ever want, is for our songs to be out there. If people are listening to them and enjoying them, then I’m happy. I know what songs I need to listen to when I’m in certain moods and what that music does for me, I would love it if our songs could do the same for others.
Don: Awesome, in SA you need your songs on radio in order to get them heard, its really tough getting your music out there, but we are grateful and really happy that our music is getting heard.

What is the single What I’ve Become all about?

Lliam: The song is about changing the person that you are, be it in a positive or negative way, and the people/person involved in that change.
Dylan: Its about love, support and second chances. Its all about a persons struggle with life and the impact someone else can have on getting you to be the person you are today.

Who is the main songwriter in the band? Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?

Dylan is the song maestro and writes all the lyrics. The lyrics are kept real and relatable and taken from everyday situations and emotions.

What is the name all about? Red Light Stereo?

Gareth: Hahaha we get asked this all the time; the truth is that there isn’t too much meaning behind it. We all sat up one night scanning thesauruses, dictionaries, Google, magazines – you name it! We had a song on our first E.P called Red Light, so I’m pretty sure it came from that!

Who are your biggest influences, both locally and internationally?

Lliam: Wow, how do I answer this? Ok, so one thing we learnt from Brian is to have reference artists when recording. So for the four new singles these were One Republic, The Script, Coldplay, The Naked and Famous and Swedish House Mafia, oh, and Rihanna (no jokes). Then locally has to be Prime Circle, the Parlotones, Zebra & Giraffe, Shadow club…any SA band really.
Gareth: Our band influences are Coldplay, One Republic etc. I love these bands but have also found much inspiration from John Mayer, Kings of Leon and more recently, Ed Sheeran
Don: Locally I would say the Parlotones and Prime Circle, reason being I would like to see RLS on that professional level, other than that I’m influenced by so many different artist around the world, I’m into any style of music anything with a good groove and you got me
Dylan: Locally I would have to say Rory Elliot, Kahn Morbee. Internationally I would say Chris Martin and his band Coldplay and Johnny Cash! Ah there are so many to name…

literally give it all you’ve got. But even with all this effort, if you’re not in it for the music, your songs will translate that to the listeners!

Tell us about the video? How much fun did you have?

Lliam: We wanted to do something different from our first video, which was largely focused around the members, so what we did was hire out a club for the night, organized some drinks and threw one big party. Like any party, you can imagine that this was a lot of fun.
Gareth: Plenty!!!!! It’s upbeat and fun, so naturally the process was much the same. Not to say that there wasn’t a lot of hard work – you’ll see!
Don: It was a lot of fun shooting the video, lots of pretty girls good vibes and just one big party.

Who is Red Light Stereo? Are you all about the rock n roll or are you pretty serious about where you’re headed?

Lliam: Music always comes first and it’s the passion that drives the hard work, but at the end of the day it is also a business that requires time, hard work and dedication. Both Dylan and I left law after qualifying as Attorneys to meet the demands of trying to make it in the industry. A very risky move in this day and age, but at least everyone knows we’re serious about this.
Gareth: Haha, we are definitely about the music. If you’re not, then you’re not a musician. Having said that, we are also very serious about where we’re heading. It all fits together. You have to take things really seriously, even the little things, and literally give it all you’ve got. But even with all this effort, if you’re not in it for the music, your songs will translate that to the listeners!
Don: I would say we are SUPER serious about where we are headed, we all want this to be our profession and I believe we have the right mind frame and talent to get to the next level, its all about timing and hard work.
Dylan: I think we are bit more serious in terms of where we want to go. That’s not to say we don’t love having a bit of fun after gigs and get a bit rowdy! We always try and be professional though as its a tough industry and you have to be on the ball to get anywhere.

What did you learn the most about your time in the studio. What would you have changed, if anything?

Lliam: That each step in the process is as important as the next. Throw out the thought that it can be fixed in the mix. Spend sufficient time on each step, be it pre-production, getting your equipment studio ready (that’s a big one) or the actual recording.
Gareth: The three most important things I learnt were firstly, the importance of the groove that you choose for a song. Perhaps we didn’t pay enough attention to this in the past. The other thing was the amount of time one should spend on a song at one time. If something isn’t working, take a break from that song altogether and re-visit it at a later stage. The ideas will come. But the most important thing for me was the difference in the way that a guitar is played and tracked as opposed to when it is played live, for the reason of finding the correct tone for each song.
Don: More coffee…… Just kidding, speaking for myself I learnt a lot being in studio, more about your instrument and how much time and work goes into one song to get and amazing final product, before I never used to play to a click track, and it took me some time getting used to it, I now play all the time with a click track Live and rehearsals.
Dylan: Hmmmm, I think I learnt the most about the songwriting process. I would have liked more time!! We left vocals to last and had to rush parts of it. The voice is gets tired and slightly gruff when pushed too hard.

Tell us a secret about someone in the band

Gareth: Heyo!!! This is a good question! Can I tell you one about each? Pleeeeease…Ok, Dylan is a fussy eater and lives in a world that we are yet to discover. Don has an obsession with his stomach. Lliam is definitely the guy to be around after a few drinks! And me, well…I have definitely done a ballet course. (This could hurt the band)
Don: G is a ginger…don’t tell him I told you 🙂
Lliam: No ways, I didn’t know G was a Ginger (shocked face)
Dylan: Don is a shirt-lifting addict. He pulls up his shirt and rubs his stomach at least 20 times a day whilst flexing at the same time.

RED LIGHT STEREO IS: Dylan Rhodes (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard), Gareth Purchase (lead guitar, vocals, keyboard), Lliam Scholtz (bass & vocals) and Don Blom (drums)

Checkout the Artist Links to the right for more information on how to find out more about the band.


Words: Joanne O
Photographs – TJ Photography