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Daniel Miller - Mute Records | SOS Podcast

The MixBus Interview By Kevin Paul
Published July 2024
Daniel Miller - Mute Records

Daniel Miller, founder and chairman of Mute Records, talks to Kevin Paul about his entry into the music industry, the origins of the label, and of his enduring love of modular synthesis.

Show Notes


00:00 - Introduction
00:58 - Early Musical Influences
03:57 - First Encounter With Synths
06:14 - The Korg 700s
08:50 - Setting Up The Label And The First Release
11:56 - How To Choose Artists To Sign
14:10 - The Music Business
17:38 - A More Relaxed Atmosphere
19:07 - What Makes A Good Producer
20:49 - Getting Started With Modular Synths
24:35 - Discovering Eurorack
29:21 - Modular Live Performances
32:11 - Working As A DJ

Daniel Miller - Biog

Daniel Miller is the founder and chairman of Mute, a record label and publishing company with a long history of global Number One chart successes. Since its launch in 1978, Mute now has an artist roster that includes Goldfrapp, New Order, Can, KÁRYYN, Daniel Blumberg, Desire Marea, Louis Carnell, Josh T. Pearson, Erasure, Swans and Miss Grit, with offices in London and New York.

Miller's early interest was in electronics and synthesizers and he studied for a Diploma in Film and TV at Guildford School of Art (1969-72). After college, he worked as an assistant editor and editor in TV and advertising, before travelling and DJing across Europe. In 1976 he returned home and with a Korg 700S keyboard and a TEAC four-track recorder, made The Normal’s first single. He set up Mute to release the single in 1978 and the initial plan was for a minimum pressing of 500, but Rough Trade offered to distribute the single nationally, persuading Miller to press 2,000 copies. Called 'TVOD', it was backed with 'Warm Leatherette' and this electro-pop classic was later covered by Grace Jones on her epochal 1980 album of the same name.

Further Mute releases soon followed and in 1980 Miller met Depeche Mode. When their original songwriter Vince Clarke left to form the synth-pop duo Yazoo in 1981, Miller suddenly found himself with two highly successful pop acts. Throughout the 1980s, Mute expanded at a careful pace, bringing Nick Cave and Erasure to the roster and expanding its international reach. New labels The Grey Area and NovaMute were launched plus a deal with Blast First saw the 'Theme from S’Express' become their first Number One single in 1988. Moby’s 1999 album Play grew slowly from a modest success into a 10 million-selling phenomenon.

After several years working within the structure of the Labels Division of EMI, 2010 saw the label return to its independent roots. Mute continues to nurture fresh talent and Daniel Miller remains heavily focused on Mute’s creative output and is also a well-respected and sought-after techno DJ, playing regularly worldwide.

Interviewer: Kevin Paul - Biog

Kevin Paul started his career as a DJ but quickly found his passion was sound engineering. His first audio job was at Soho Studios in 1991, moving to Konk Studios six months later, where he worked alongside successful producers and engineers such as Bob Clearmountain, Adam Mosley, Pascal Gabriel and Gil Norton, as well as bands such as The Kinks, Galliano, Terrorvision, UFO and Elastica.

After working on archiving the Depeche Mode back catalogue in 1994, he was offered an engineering role at Mute Records’ in-house studio, which eventually lead to a position as Head Engineer, which gave him access to the entire Mute Records roster. Highlights include mixing Goldfrapp’s 'Felt Mountain', David Bowie’s 'Hours' and Nick Cave’s 'No More Shall We Part'. He also worked in 5:1, mixing Moby’s 'Hotel', Goldfrapp’s 'Black Cherry' and more for DVD.

Kevin Paul MixBusIn 2004 Kevin went freelance and re-mixed the entire Depeche Mode and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds back catalogues for SACD/DVD. Since 2008, Kevin Paul has been in charge of mixing and remixing performances at the iTunes Festivals in the UK and Germany. He has mixed over 100 artists to date, including Adele, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The XX, Calvin Harris, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Linkin Park, Florence & The Machine, Deadmau5, David Guetta, Jessie J., Norah Jones, Oasis, Mumford & Sons, N.E.R.D., Lykke Li, James Blunt, KT Tunstall, Hot Chip, Paul Weller and many more.

He continues to record, engineer, produce and mix many projects in music and film, runs the mixing and surround mixing modules for the Masters Degree course at UK’s Westminster University, and divides his time between London and Berlin. Recent works include the international-selling new album by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and mixing the latest album of Denmark’s 'Dúné' with the first single premiering at the Danish Music Awards, plus the latest iTunes Music Festival.

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