Since winning the MPG for Breakthrough Engineer of the Year in 2019, Dani Bennett Spragg has gone from strength to strength in terms of engineering and mixing. We catch up with her to chat recent projects, miking techniques, and working on the fly.
“I actually first heard about it via Instagram,” smiles Dani, sipping on a latte. She’s talking about the day she found out about her MPG nomination. “It was very unexpected, and I suddenly found myself having to sort out all my stuff to send to the judging day: I sent a Baxter Dury track, a Blair Dunlop track, and an Amazons track.”
She went on to win the award, of course, which was presented to her by The Amazons – a band she is very close with, and that are destined for great things, currently in the midst of their first US tour. Although Dani planned on heading to university to study audio, she didn’t get into LIPA, which she had her heart set on; instead, she went into the studio and got good at making tea.
“Once I got into the studio, I just never left,” she recalls. “I guess if I had got into LIPA, life would be different now – but at that point, I’d already done a few weeks work at Assault & Battery with Flood. So when I didn’t get in, I took a year out, and went to America and worked in a studio in New York City for a while. I then came back to London, and the week I came back, just by chance I was asked if I’d like to assist on a week-long session [at Assault & Battery] so I went back there and then stayed for 18 months..!”
An classic audio education such as this is certainly the most organic journey to take, though Dani admits she had no idea what was going on for some time:
“I was full-on making tea,” she laughs. “I was doing recalls and setups, and then got my first proper assistant engineering role on the Ed Harcourt record that Flood did – it was a huge project where basically everyone in the building was involved in some way. We were on that for six months. So I stayed assisting at Battery there, and then moved downstairs to work with Alan Moulder as his mix assistant.”
Engineering straight to mixing?
“Yeah, definitely not a normal progression of roles,” she admits. “It was probably nine months of assisting in solely a tracking room, then six months with Alan only doing mixing, then I moved to Hoxer, which was all recording for three years. Now I’m back doing a bit of both.”
Although life hasn’t changed dramatically after receiving her MPG Award, Dani says the accolade opened doors to the press, and that the biggest thing was that her name was getting thrown around a lot more:
“It’s particularly nice that the award comes from my peers - that’s the most amazing thing about it.”