Robyn Payne | Careers Talk AUS
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Robyn Payne

Robyn Payne

Who or what inspired you through your early years to explore your passion for music and audio?

I have always had a love for music and all things of an electronic nature that make that music. I used to build transistor radios and small amplifiers when I was young (didn’t have the internet back then!)

I loved the pop music on the radio and loved fiddling about making it sound as good as I could, so would buy speakers and hook them all up.

I also played electric guitar and was always fiddling about with the sounds

What activities did you participate in whilst you were at school to build your career?

Sadly, the school I went to was not encouraging or knowledgable in the areas of music, theatre or the technical sides that go with that, so not much happened at school.

I got into physics and chemistry because they explained what I was hearing and physics did some electronics, so that was helpful.

My dad taught me how to solder and the basics of electronic audio.

When you were at school and planning for the next step in further education or training, what were your plans at the time? Did you plan on pursuing audio as a career?

I was looking to do anything with music.

I had no plans to do audio as a career as I wouldn’t have known where to start.

Music was on my radar. I did however do a short electronic music course before I left school and that lit my fire.

It was held at Melbourne State College (part of Melb Uni) so I ended up going there for a music degree and got well stuck into the electronic music.

I also started to do some audio production in the small recording studio they had there.

What steps did you initially take during or after school to develop your career?

Played in as many bands and did as many gigs as possible.

After I finished uni I used to do a lot of recording sessions as a keyboard player / arranger / synth programmer and would always sit beside the audio engineer once I’d finished what I was doing.

I was blessed to work in the major recording studios in Melb and the people I met there were extremely encouraging and put me onto other people.

Back then music was still the focus, but audio engineering was definitely running strong.

So these were all great opportunities to make audio contacts. There are two audio engineers who have had a major impact on my work and I am still in contact with them.

They are Ernie Rose (runs a mobile studio and amongst many things does live sound for Carols by Candlelight and Rockwiz) and Martin Pullan from Edensound Mastering.

How have you built contacts in the audio/production industry over time?

We (me and my partner) built a home studio a long time ago. My music arranging and playing was a major part of this and it just got very busy.

We’ve since remodelled the studio a couple of times, especially to incorporate space for advertising clients, as we do loads of work producing TV, Radio and online ads.

How have you developed your talent over time?

By talking to colleagues, reading magazines and just doing lots and lots of it. Always trying to improve on my work.

What does your job entail and what do you love about it?

My job usually entails working with lots of people.

I like people (most of them are lovely) and I see my job as making their day by solving their problems.

Some days are mixing music, fixing really badly recorded audio, recording voices for ads, or mixing a documentary.

Describe a typical day in the studio for you.

There’s so much variety there is no typical day. That’s why I like it so much. Every day is different.

What are your tips for young people who are keen make a career in audio engineering and sound production?

Learn an instrument and know about music.

I have many people in the studio who love that I can watch a score (if they have one) and advise on where to drop in to replay something, or give feedback on what’s been played.

It’s also helpful with electronic music and if there’s any problems you can be on top of what it is.

I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be not only to do audio, but to try to get work if you don’t know music.

The other thing is to learn the craft well. It’s easy to play around with audio on the laptop and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I mix albums from people who’ve recorded on their laptop. But, because it’s easy, the bar has been lowered and some people produce some bad sounds.

Like clipped recording, or recorded in a bad sounding room.

The worst are those that have partial phase shifting.

That’s very hard if not impossible to fix, so you don’t want that happening. Plus, you need to be able to hear when that’s happening to fix it.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

Too many to mention. I’ve loved the relationships that arise from album production because you work very closely with the owner of the album and get quite close to them, then watch as they promote it and have success with it.