Wired for Sound – an interview with Mark Luckin

We caught up with our Resident Sound Designer, Mark Luckin, to find out a bit more about him and his hobby.

Hi Mark. Thanks for taking time out of your day to chat to us . First of all, tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do for a living, do you have a family?

I’m a product manager in a small telecoms company in Milton Keynes. That involves a mix of planning, writing software, talking to people, thinking of new product ideas, etc. Family-wise, there are four of us – my wife Jenny and two children.

How did you first get involved with The Mill?

Jenny saw a post on Facebook saying you were looking for sound and lighting techs. I run sound for a few live bands and had wanted to get back involved with theatre sound for a while. So, it seemed like a fun opportunity and I came to take a look.

What made you come back to The Mill for more productions?

It’s a mix of things. The first show I did sound for was Wait Until Dark, and it was fun working with Ricky on lights and Nicole, the director. Much like working with bands, it’s also a great way to interact with a very different set of people than I know socially and at work. Finally, there’s a kind, committed group of people who work at the Mill to make the shows
happen – and it’s fun to be part of it.

What has been the best thing in the last 12 months for you at The Mill?

Pushing that back a tad to 14 months, it was running sound for Madison Violet, a Canadian folk duo (actually a trio on the night) who took in Sharnbrook Mill as part of their UK tour. It was all a bit ‘last minute’, but we pulled it together and they and the support band went down really well. It was great to see the audience kicking back and enjoying themselves watching some great musicians, while I was sat up in the control booth playing my part to make it happen on the night.

What/who inspired you to start working in sound?

When I was 11 or so, a man called Bill Tee started teaching a small group of us at school to do stage lighting. Over the next few years, I moved to running sound for all the school plays, hiring in the kit cheaply from various disco hire shops, etc. After I left school, there was a break of many years, then I started running sound for a few local bands and small festival events. And then the Mill.

If you could run sound for any event/show, what would it be and why?

I don’t really have an ambition in that way. The biggest buzz I get is working with people to help make the shows they put on a success. If you’re part of a show, it’s working well, the actors or musicians are engaging with the audience and people are having a great time, there’s little to touch it.

What do you prefer to mix – musicals or plays and why? Or are live bands more interesting?

I do like doing a variety of things sound-wise. That said, I think I prefer musicals and live bands. It’s because it’s a challenge to get them sounding good, the audience able to hear everything, yet not to ‘blow the doors off’ with volume. Music can sound great without being too loud. Whatever the show or event, the challenge is to work with the performers so the audience can hear just how good they are. I very much admire the talent of the people who run sound for programmes like Later with Jools Holland and the professional end of live shows and events; it is a tough, skilled job and, if it’s done well, most people in the audience are barely even aware someone is doing it.

Any tips for some of our younger readers (or more mature?!) who want to have a go at sound design and operating?

Basically, just start doing it. If you’re at school, get involved with the tech side of plays and concerts. If you have a local theatre, get in contact and see if you can start helping out. If you’re keen to learn, people will show you the ropes and help you get involved.

Thanks so much, Mark. We look forward to hearing another of your sound designs soon!