Visiting The Voice band at Elstree Studios

With just a few days to go until the Live Final, we were fortunate to be able to visit the BBC's The Voice band at London's Elstree studio.

The band are using four Nord Stage 2 keyboards.

We caught up with Musical Director David Tench and keyboard player Steve Turner at Elstree Studio's Stage 9 where they'd just completed a full day's rehearsal and filming with the singers and coaches. They were kind enough to give us a tour of the impressive set-up and talk through some of the features that have made Nord their keyboards of choice.  We should quickly say here that no Nords are supplied by free endorsement!

Musical Director David Tench

There's a very strong argument to say that David Tench is the hardest working MD in the country right now.  A relentless schedule of new songs to learn, arrange, rehearse and perform, whilst balancing the needs of the band, the singers, the coaches and TV production companies.  David told us in the early audition stages, the band were required to learn and perform over 120 songs in just a matter of days.

David's rig includes a Stage 2 HA88, which he uses almost exclusively for pianos, and a Stage 2 SW73 for organ parts.   

"For me it's the speed of it.  I create a patch for each tune.  Each piano has a slightly different effect setting, different compression amounts.  Sometimes I use the amp on an upright to give an old kind of jangly sound.  Nearly always a pad is coming in and I have filter sweep always ready.  So when it comes to the end of a tune and we hit the last note I can close the filter.   All controlled by physical knobs, and with the visual feedback." 

In this short clip David describes how quick and easy it is to layer sounds using Nord's two-slot system.

View from the MD's chair ... 

Steve Turner with his Stage 2 SW73 and Stage 2 HA76

While David Tench takes care of the majority of the piano playing, Steve Turner is tasked with playing pretty much anything and everything else!  His rig features a Stage 2 HA76 on the bottom for when he does fill on piano or electric piano, and on top a semi-weighted Stage 2 SW73 which is used for organ but more predominantly, synth parts.   Like David, Steve also talks passionately about the immediacy of the interface.  We think what he says sums up a lot of the design philosphy at Nord, focussed as it is always on the live player.

"I do use the synth section a lot.  And having come from a background of synth programming with synths that had a lot more controllability,  and that's not particularly a knock at Nord, I can understand the logic that Nord have come up with of having a little less controllability but a lot more under your fingertips.  Especially on a gig like this, you don't really want to have to go through menu by menu by menu, and although there are things that sometimes I get frustrated with, in the big scheme of things to get something quick and easy up is so good.  And  I can see the whole thing right in front of me."

And finally ... we'd just received our first final hardware prototype of the new Electro 5 Series, so we took it along for David and Steve to get a sneak preview!

The large high definition display, the twin slots for simple set-up of splits and layers, the real drawbars on the SW73 version and the additional sample section control all impressed!   

A huge thank you to David and Steve for sparing their time. 

You can follow the UK Voice band on Twitter here: