..:: StarinkWorld - Interview with Sander Bos ::..Sander Bos is a Dutch musician, sound engineer, and pilot for the Dutch airline "Martinair".
His main collaboration with Ed Starink was as sound engineer on Arcade's "Synthesizer Greatest" / "Synthétiseur - Les Plus Grands Thèmes" series.
The undermentioned interview was conducted by a French fan, Sébastien Barrot, by e-mail.
We would like to thank Sébastien for his kind permission to publish this interview exclusively on StarinkWorld.
Sébastien Barrot: Which is your birth date ?
Sander Bos: December 23rd, 1958.
Sébastien Barrot: What was your motivation to become a sound engineer and a pilot at Martinair?
Sander Bos: The transition came very naturally. After being a professional sound engineer for 12 years and having the privilege to work with many stars and work on some great projects, it was time for a new challenge and I started training at a flight academy at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. At first I was very conservative and set a goal every few months, but before I knew it I was graduated and in the market as a professional pilot. Then I decided that it was time to go for a carreer in aviation and have been very content in combining flying with working on the occasional recording session for many former clients.
Sébastien Barrot: Did you follow a special training?
Sander Bos: When I started in 1980 in Dureco Studio in Weesp, The Netherlands, there was no education or training centre for recording engineer, at least not in The Netherlands. I was able to secure a position as assistant engineer after I left the Militairy service and to be honest, that was the best thing ever happened to me. In that position I was present at every recording and mixing session in the studio, I practically lived there. I was listening and learning and meeting so many artists and musicians, I believe there is no better training than the real thing. Very soon clients started to ask for me to be their engineer and quickly a job as staff engineer was offered to me. In those days a lot of music was played by a studio band or orchestra ranging from 10 to 25 musicians. One year later I started to become a free lance engineer so I could work in other studios as well. Many clients asked me to join them to those studios and I had a great time and became very experienced.
I was trained as a recording engineer for rock bands and orchestra in those days, so that ment planning the layout, choosing, placing and checking the right microphones for the right instruments, preparing a good foldback for the musicians so that they could hear eachother in their headphones. All that had to be done before everybody came in. Than with one rehearsal run for the musicians so I could get my levels right and, boom, tape's rolling guys! Like with an aeroplae you always had to think two steps ahead. Also I worked with many Dutch pop and rock bands and I had a fantastic time, working hard with great talents and knowing that many of these recordings would be successful in the charts, and they did! ...Later I met young engineers who very proudly told me that they recorded there first drumkit... You can't blame them because they grow up with samplers etc. where you only would have to push a button and the "band" started playing. Unfortunately these days there are less and less engineers with orchestra/microphone experience. It sounds strange now, but in those days 95% was recorded live, real musicians in front of real microphones, while today it is the opposite.
For my job as a pilot I went on to get a job after the flight academy. It is a very normal thing to start as a commercial pilot on smaller aircraft types. Than as your experience grows and your flight hours grow, you become interesting as a pilot for the larger carriers. For the last 10 years I have served as captain on the Boeing 767-300ER with Martinair Holland (AirFrance/KLM daughter) and started recently as an instructor at Stella Aviation Academy where I do the MCC course (Multi Crew Course). In that simulator course I learn them to work together as a two man cockpit and it is also the last course they get. After that its finished and thet go out to look for a job. It is great fun to pass on your experience and it is good to work with motivated students, I always recognize myself in these driven students, some are really smart cookies! I have as much fun being a pilot as it was being a sound engineer. Many times during the flight a look to my colleague, and say with a smile on my face 'can you believe they pay us to fly these big jets!'. I also run a company called Flight Simulator Xperience (FSX), where members of the public are given an opportunity to fly in the professional full flight simulators. You can get an impression of this at www.fsx.aero. Also young pilots can train here to prepare themselfs for a grading when they want to be hired with an airline, or people with fear of flight can follow a course.
Sébastien Barrot: Do you still remember how and when Ed Starink contacted you?
Sander Bos: Yes very well, actually it was the other way around. Through other musicians I heard from Ed because he had many different synthesizers and he was known to recreate all the classic synthesizer sounds on the original equipment he owned. I was co-producing with Ben Liebrand at that time (1982/84) and we needed the so called "Fairlight" sounds and samples in our music. The Fairlight was a very advanced sampling synthesizer with recording and syncing possibilities and Ed recently had bought one. I believe he was the only one in The Netherlands to own one. So I called Ed and asked him if he would come over and play some stuff on our sessions. Ed is a great guy to work with and has a good sense of humor so we had a lot of fun while making some nice dance records, those were the days of vinyl records, just before the introduction of the CD. Some of these recordings from The Broads, M.D.M.C., Carl Linger and Lafleur are recently digitally remastered by Ben and appear on the album "Liebrand - 12-Inches". Later Ed started working on his own productions in his then newly build studio and called me to step in to do the recording and overdubs (recordings of musicians or vocals) so he could focus on performance and arrangement and I would do the technical side. Then after Ed did all his synthesizer overdubs he called me again to mix the tapes to digital PCM F1.
Sébastien Barrot: That was in which year?
Sander Bos: Ed called me for the first Synthesizer Greatest in 1989. One year later I started the theory course at the flight academy. Because of the success of that album the years after that became very busy for me with the combination of recording sessions and the study.
Sébastien Barrot: Do you have, regarding the "Synthesizer Greatest" / "Synthétiseur - Les Plus Grands Thèmes" series (Arcade), good memories of Ed Starink and your collaboration with him at the beginning of the 1990s?
Sander Bos: Working with Ed was always great fun, and because his studio was attached to his house it was a nice way of recording in a "non commercial studio" atmosphere. Also his wife Nicolette was around to take good care of us, and she did it well! Also, some of the musicians lived in the same area as we all did so it was a very convenient and relaxed way of working, and somehow it shows in the recordings. I remember Ed having a very strict working discipline. He got up very early every morning, as early as 5 o'clock. Than he prepared that days work and I came in the studio at 10 AM. We started work and always finished around 6 PM. And believe me, there were many days!
I'll tell you a little secret: Ed took flying lessons, but decided not to go on with it. So he gave me his study books and I got interested while reading them. So Ed is partially to blame that I'm flying now ;-)
Sébastien Barrot: Which was your technique or strategy for mixing and recording compilations like Synthesizer Greatest and Synthétiseur with Ed Starink?
Sander Bos: The challenge was to have the album sound as it was coming from one artist or band. Ed was very good in scoring from the originals and put a lot of time into that. Every note and every sound you hear on the albums came from the arrangement he did. Nothing was improvised. And because material was used from different composers, Ed already prepared that sense of "couleur locale" in his arrangements. Then my job was to blend it all together during the mix. Ed and I had the same kind of ideas of how it should sound, so that made the job a lot easier. The way we worked was I did the setup for the mix while Ed was out of the room (walking the dogs or doing something else) and then he came in with "fresh ears" as we called it, we did a few corrections, and then laid the mix down onto F1. We did not need to spend hours and hours of mixing because of the preparation Ed put into his arrangements. And for an engineer that's a pleasure.
Sébastien Barrot: Which equipment did you use for mixing and recording the music of Ed Starink?
Sander Bos: Ed owned a new Otari 24 track recorder running Ampex 456 tape which was used for the tracking. The desk was I believe a Soundtrax recording console, the microphone was AKG 441 condenser for live instruments and vocals although I remember that we did not used those a lot for the Synthesizer Greatest sessions. For the mix I brought in my gear such as Lexicon reverb and other effects modules. And then we mixed onto my wonderful Sony PCM F1 set. That was the predesessor of DAT tape (Digital Audio Tape) which is still in use today for many projects as the master medium. Compared to recordable CD's its a very reliable medium. Later he bought a Solid State (SSL) console and a Sony digital 24 track recorder.
Sébastien Barrot: Do or did you have contact to any artist you have covered?
Sander Bos: Other than through their records, no.
Sébastien Barrot: Do you currently have a recording studio?
Sander Bos: Yes, I have a private studio in my home, next to the living room. It is based on Apple computer and still has a few of the old analog equipment coming from my studio I had in those days not too far from Ed's place.
Sébastien Barrot: Do you currently have any projects?
Sander Bos: After a long time of silence I am working on a dance project. It's great to create music again and I have a lot of fun with my fully loaded MacBook Pro. Due to the nature of my flying job, you can find me on tropical beaches under a palmtree with my laptop preparing new tracks. It is amazing to see how the professional audio software has developed. I use Logic Pro as main production tool and from this position I want to pay my respect to the guys from Apple for their amazing software. 20 Years ago you could only dream of these posibilities and would have needed a fully equiped control room for what is now packed into one laptop. Even their Garageband is great fun.
Sébastien Barrot: Do you have any hobbies?
Sander Bos: My hobby became my work, and then became my hobby again. But seriously, music and movies are my hobby, and I also love to listen to the OST's (Original Sound Track), especially from many high budget movies recorded with symphonic orchestra from composers as Jerry Goldsmith, Elliot Goldenthal, John Frizzel, Harald Kloser, James Horner, Michael Kamen, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, etc.
Also I try to go to concerts of my old rock heroes for as long as they perform. I'm a big fan of Paul McCartney and saw him at least 5 times. The last time was in Tampa, Florida, after I flew in with my brother Erwin, who is also a pilot with Martinair. We both had a great time. I also saw the band "Yes" in Vancouver and Whitney Houston in Orlando. And of course dozens of rock bands here in The Netherlands. Especially Prince struck me as a great performer and a magnificent guitar player. So yeah, you can say I love music.
Recently my wife Karin and I added a new hobby: our house in Spain, where we plan to live.
Sébastien Barrot: Thank you for the interview, Mr. Sander Bos.
Sander Bos: It's my pleasure, thanks for the invitation and good luck with your site.
The photo is used with courtesy of Sander Bos himself.
We would like to thank Sander for his kind cooperation.