Simon Willey has been the studio engineer at Bryan Ferry's studio in London since 2010.
Simon engineered the 'Olympia' album as well as The Jazz Age for Bryan Ferry
I have been a freelance sound engineer for just over 11 years, and it has been a strange & varied journey from home recording as a teenager through studying at Alchemea to my current range of projects…
Although I am still freelance, I have been working virtually full time with Bryan Ferry at his personal studio in London for over 3 years. I started there as house engineer to work with him on his latest studio album “Olympia” (released October 2010), but have since become his chief engineer & audio representative, both in the recording studio & on tour.
I have toured extensively with Bryan on both his “Olympia” solo tour and his last tour with Roxy Music in 2010-11. During the rehearsals for the tours I would have a mobile Pro-Tools rig with which to play reference parts from the studio multitracks to fine tune parts with the band. My role on the road was to multitrack record all of the shows for release/archive purposes, as well as working with Bryan and his MD to improve the performance of the band, the setlist & show presentation etc. On a few occasions we did a live to radio broadcast, and I would monitor and have input into the broadcast mix from the truck (Thetford Forest, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Berlin).
I graduated with a full diploma from Alchemea in October 2000. My first employment was as a supervisor with the college, which allowed me to look for studio employment whilst earning a living within a studio-based environment. I soon picked up some freelance programming work with a Producer/Remixer called Johnson Somerset, with whom I still work with on & off to this current day!
As I continued to meet people, work with bands and increase my knowledge, I was able to leave Alchemea by the end of 2001, although I have done various things for them over the years on a more ad-hoc basis (examining, marking, taking a few lectures etc).
From 2002 I have worked with many different bands, engineers, programmers & producers. I had 6 months working in Normandy with James Sanger (Keane, Dido), and worked at Wessex as assistant to Mike Hedges (Manic Street Preachers, Travis, U2) before it’s closure in 2003. As different projects came & went, I branched out into Radio Plays (several broadcast as Play for Today on BBC Radio 4) and Audio Books. In fact, for the last 2 years I have been a director, along with 4 colleagues, of a fledgling Audio Book company called Spoken World.
Other notable projects that I have been involved in include engineering & programming work with Orson, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Shara Nelson (Massive Attack), Marc Almond, Steve Winwood, Joe Strummer, Finlay Quaye, The Phenomenal Handclap Band, as well as remix work for Duran Duran, Sugababes, Katy Perry, Bryan Ferry & Groove Armada.
I was also fortunate to work with many world-renowned musicians on Bryan Ferry’s “Olympia” album – David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers, Scissor Sisters, Groove Armada, Flea, Mani, Marcus Miller, Andy Newmark, Ruby Turner as well as producer Rhett Davis & mixer Bob Clearmountain.
Throughout my career to date, I have always been able to call or visit Alchemea to ask for advice or assistance with projects, or just to hang out and see how much the college has changed! I have taken many projects to Neil Pickles for mastering, or just to get some feedback on a mix.
I am continuing to work with Bryan Ferry in 2012 on a variety of recording projects. I am also completing an album with a band I have been producing for the last 3 years called The Golden Retrievers, as well as playing in a band with fellow Alchemea graduate Padraig Whelan (debut LP mixed & mastered by a certain Neil Pickles!). I also continue to release solo material & remixes as Max Harris Project.