Midi Sequencing of Keyboards and Roland Electric DrumsExtensive outboard including TC Electronics Valve Compressors.Live Room for Drum Kit, Vocals, Guitars etc...Control Room and writing area.Yamaha OS2R mixing desk.

Studio Established 1991 - Trust In Our Experience 











Apple Mac G4 Hard Disk Recording and Editing Facilities.

ANDREW KEDDIE, no mean musician himself, looks at the reasons for the continued success of Dave Little's Galashiels Studio Sound Station.

DAVE LITTLE surveys the banks of high-tech equipment which rise around him in the control room of his Sound Station recording studio in central Galashiels and admits, with just a hint of understatement: "I suppose I have come a long way in the past decade".
Pride of place amongst all this twinkling paraphernalia goes to his latest major investment - a spanking new Apple Mac G4 computer. 
A self-confessed technophile, he clearly relishes the chance to answer the throwaway query: "What exactly does the computer do?"
"Well, it complements our existing system of ADAT tape recorders and automated digital mixing desk. With sample-accurate synchronisation between the ADATs and the computer, I can get over 48 tracks of digital audio recording. The combination of ADAT tape and hard disk recording allows material to be backed up, protecting clients' valuable work in progress."
Really? "The Southern" thinks about changing the subject, but Dave, as befits an accomplished exponent of the drums, is on a roll.
"It's all about the software which allows complete control over audio editing and CD mastering with surgical precision - and the whole system can be synchronised to video."
Even a correspondent not au fait with such intricacies cannot fail to be struck by the enthusiasm of this native Galalean who made the switch from performing to running his own studio exactly ten years ago.
But there is little time for celebration as Dave busies himself on his latest assignment - re-recording the soundtrack of Innerleithen playwright
Howard Purdie's new commission "Something Written in the Stars" as a DVD and putting the finishing touches to a demo by Galashiels band Kreshem.
For Sound Station is not just about setting local musicians on the first step to fame and fortune and the work is nothing if not diverse.


That variety is something Dave could not have predicted in 1991 when he set up what was, at the time, the only recording studio in the Borders. He had expected his staple to be local artistes and bands wanting either demonstration tapes, to send to major record companies in the hope of securing a lucrative deal, or finished albums to sell at gigs.
Dave always felt the Borders was full of creative talent, but its width and breadth only became evident as the studio began to develop and his client list now reads like a "Who's Who" of the best musicians around in every genre - from folk (
Kenny Spiers, Rory McLeod, Mike Heron, ex Incredible String Band) to rock (Dawn of the Replicants, Suburbia, Ninth Circle), with everything from choirs to theatre groups in between. 
High-quality recordings of the spoken word are also much in demand and he has welcomed "Voice of Rugby"
Bill McLaren to Sound Station to do the audio guide for the Trimontium exhibition in Melrose.
Reflecting on Sound Station's milestone, Dave concedes that his own background as a musician has stood him in good stead. 
"Having played in various bands for the best part of 30 years, there is not much I don't know about the process of music-making - and that definitely helps in the studio where musicians need empathy but also a degree of objectivity and plain-speaking."
In fact, Dave is a well-established drummer/percussionist whose services are still much in demand. He was chosen to play in the "super-group" which promoted
Allie Fox's acclaimed album "Diving for Pearls" and enjoys nothing more than driving the raw blues/funk of The Boogie Band with his long-standing friends and collaborators Frank Usher (guitar), Gavin Dickie (bass), Dave Coyle (guitar), Andy Keddie (vocals) and Dave Haswell (percussion).
"Playing live music and getting that feedback from the audience is a great release from the studio," says Dave whose love affair with the drums began at Galashiels Academy where his art teacher Bill Lees drafted him into the school's Scottish country-dance band. 
A very different style was deployed in Dave's first gigging band,
Xu-Xu Plesa, which was assembled by ex Writing on the Wall bassist Jake Scott. Progressive rock gave way to jazz and R 'n'B with his next combo, The Jerx (with guitarist Stuart Barton and bassist Tony Manning), and, with a new decade (the eighties), the feel got harder with Blewitt in which Dave began his musical association with Frank Usher.
At one Blewitt gig at the Golden Lion in Galashiels, a gangly student named Derek Dick from Dalkeith came up and told Dave the band needed him as its vocalist. So it was that Fish began his illustrious career, singing with Blewitt on a string of dates before heading south to Aylesbury to form Marillion. The rest, as they say, is history.


In 1982, Dave teamed up with Usher, Keddie, Sam McCullough, the bass-playing brother of Grease Band and Wings star Henry of that ilk, and guitarist Kenny Allison from Peebles, to create the Border Boogie Band, which rocked around Scotland for the best part of three years. Thereafter, Dottle toured Europe with the jazzy Why a Duck, played over 200 gigs at home and abroad with Johnny Sunbeam and that band's offshoot, Hard Station.
It was while on the road with the Boogie Band that Dave met and befriended John Bavin, who, at the time, was sound engineer with the Eurythmics.
"John would sit in on keyboards on his visits from London to his Borders home," recalls Dave. "I had always been fascinated by the nuts and bolts of getting the best possible sound and John and I would chat for hours about PAs, live mixing and the latest studio techniques."
Suitably inspired and having visited top London studios with John, Dave's impending career-change began taking shape. 
"I knew from my own experience that local bands and musicians were at a disadvantage by having to travel to Edinburgh or further afield to make a demo tape of any quality," explains Dave. 
Finding premises for his venture was not a problem and he knew that the top-floor rehearsal rooms in High Street, Galashiels, which he leased from his father, retired solicitor Arthur Little, could be adapted to suit his purposes.
Thus in 1991, armed with an eight-track portastudio, a kit of drums, the plethora of percussive knick-knacks he had accumulated over the years, a handful of microphones and a set of battered speakers, Dave opened Sound Station for business.
Ironically his first clients - post punk rockers
The Mansel Storme Band - were not from the Borders, but from Edinburgh, and that inward flow from the capital has continued over the decade. The result of that session - the album Eroticnarcotic - is stored among literally hundreds of cassettes, CDs and other momentos of successful sessions, which are meticulously filed in the studio.
The ten years of Sound Station have coincided with a dynamic period of change in recording technology and Dave admits it has been an expensive business keeping pace. With his latest investment, he is confident he can vie with the best, although his rates are surprisingly competitive.


"Technology may have moved on, but what has remained constant is the need for musicians to showcase their work, whether in pursuit of an audition on "Popstars" or "Stars in Their Eyes", or simply for their own satisfaction," asserts Dave.
The job of running a successful studio has its lighter moments and he admits his role often extends to that of amateur psychologist, convincing artistes tactfully that they could do better, and mediator, bringing calm when artistic temperaments flare up. 
The best anecdotes must remain confidential, although he recalls only too well a session to which thirsty band members had brought a barrel of beer. A taste, however, suggested that the ale was "off" and it was poured down the sink in the studio kitchen. Unfortunately, the dodgy brew re-appeared in the toilets of the premises below - the consultation offices of the Borders Council on Alcohol, which smelled like a brewery for several days!
And during the Bill McLaren session, the great man passed around his special brand of throat sweeties - so strong that the recording was delayed as the crew succumbed to fits of convulsive coughing.
"It's memorable incidents like that which make this a unique and very enjoyable job," smiles Dave.


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