FOH Engineer


My name is Rik Dowding.  I am a live FOH engineer based in Bristol, UK.  I currently work with touring bands, and have been doing live sound since 1998, and studio sound since 1992.  Since that time I have worked with many fine musicians and producers, in a career that has been both rewarding and fulfilling in equal measure.  I have learnt much in that time, and am still learning on a daily basis in a job that constantly amazes and delights.  My passion for this business is still as intense as when I started as a tea boy, if not more now. I constantly look forward to the new challenges I come across on a weekly basis, fulfilling them with passion, professionalism and attention to detail.

I started my career at The Coach House Studios, the home of The Bristol Sound. Working alongside respected bands and producers such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Neil Davidge, I took over the running of the studio in 1997, until its closure in 1999.  I was fortunate in this time to have worked with 2 inch tape, and all the associated joys and idiosyncrasies that came with it.  Sessions were more sedate then, as changing reels and tape editing dictated the pace.  Analogue made one more mindful of recordings, something which has been lost in the digital era.  Much has been made of modern tape saturation plugins, and rightly so as there is still no substitute for recording direct to tape.  My attention to detail with both the recording process and dealing with musicians was crafted from those analogue times.  

Having worked on Portisheads "Dummy" in 1994, I took the opportunity to work with Geoff Barrow again in his new studio SOA in 1998.  My time there led me from analogue through the early days of digital (Radar 24) through to ProTools. (I had been fortunate to work with Massive Attack in the early days of ProTools with bands like Les Negresses Vertes, Sunna and Day One).   SOA was a particularly fertile time, working alongside producers and mix engineers such as John Parish (PJ Harvey) and Craig Silvey (The Coral, The Horrors).

In 2007 Portishead came out of a 10 year hiatus to record "Third" at SOA.  My involvement with that record and my ongoing love affair with live sound culminated in touring with Portishead as their FOH engineer.  My transition into live sound was furthered with world tours with The xx, Glass Animals, Savages and ongoing tours with Franz Ferdinand.  I am still an active studio engineer working at Invada Studios Bristol and running my own studio and mastering business,
Sonicmastering, but my passion right now is for live work.

As a result of many years in the studio, my approach to live sound is measured, meticulous and passionate, yet also powerful, dynamic and thrilling.  The attention to detail comes from the studio, but the dynamic and power come from the uniqueness of every live performance.  People attend live shows to see songs they love, but also to experience them in a way that can be conveyed far greater live than on a recording.  A live show is a vibrant palette, an experience, a one off moment that will never be repeated exactly the same again.  For me that is the greatest joy of doing live sound.