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Producer, engineer, sound director and musician David Cafe learnt the art of balance from two masters of the studio during an era when music was recorded solely with live performers using analogue equipment. He's since made a smooth transition to digital technology and carved out an impressive track record along the way...



Since 1977 David Cafe has provided much sought after creative and technical expertise in sound recording, live concert & theatre, film, television & radio, working to the highest professional standards and consistently creating memorable mixes that have stood the test of time.


DC c.2010

After bursting onto the studio scene in the late 1970's as a precocious teenager, he had several top 10 hits under his belt before age 20 and has subsequently forged an extensive career in the entertainment and media industries, racking up a long list of credits in the process. Born in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, his initial musical explorations as a four year old involved nursery rhyme renditions with a twist - back towards the family pianola, then after receiving his first guitar aged 9 the musical odyssey continued through weekend bands and school productions.

This early musical obsession coalesced with an inquiring mind and led to being professionally indentured in 1977 by Col Joye at his famous ATA Studios, Glebe, under the wing of renowned bass player and producer/engineer - Duncan McGuire, who'd been a pivotal member of the Australian scene since the early sixties. ATA Studios had been built upon the pioneering success of Col Joye and the entrepeneur Kevin Jacobsen's stable of stars and was host to many hits of the sixties and seventies, including weekly pre-recording for the long running TV series Bandstand, which could entail any line up from a rock and roll band to light orchestra and novelty ensembles. It was in this environment the young apprentice cut his teeth, setting up microphones and logging tapes during the day, while studying electronics and communications at technical college at night and gaining a solid knowledge of the principles of audio, operation of the equipment and the subtleties of dealing with musicians and entertainers.

Then in 1979 he was head-hunted by musician/developer Billy Field to join the newly built Paradise Studios and a team headed by Richard Lush, ex Abbey Road, who following his experience as a Beatles insider had settled in Australia. Richard was very much the go-to man of Australian Pop during the ‘70s and 80s who added a previously unheard polish to local productions, and much of that polish rubbed off in David’s work. Paradise was Australia's first Tom Hidley designed Eastlake studio, offering great sound with all the creature comforts, soon becoming the recording venue of choice for leading local recording artists and touring overseas acts. By now David had fully embraced traditional recording methods and at the onset of digital audio and midi instinctively combined these new concepts with the techniques gleaned from mentors.

The decade 1981 to 1991 saw David a busy freelancer frequenting the Sydney studios of Alberts, ATA, Earth Media, EMI/301, Festival, Paradise, Rhinoceros, Sun, Trafalgar and United Sound, honing his craft with a constant stream of record releases, television and radio jingles, live to air broadcasts, feature film soundtrack recordings and post production for documentaries and animated features. This was without doubt a golden era for Australian music and there at the coalface David contributed to sessions for the likes of The Angels, Cold Chisel, Men At Work, Flowers, Sherbet, Air Supply, Billy Field, Doug Parkinson, Dragon, Tommy Emmanuel, Swanee, Matt Finish and many more.


When the opportunity came to work in live theatre, a different approach to theatrical sound design brought critical acclaim while touring extensively throughout Australia and overseas. In 1992 David joined as sound director/mixer, John Waters' 'Looking Through a Glass Onion', which soon became a successful stage show, touring Australia extensively and in 1993 opened at the Criterion Theatre in London's West End. He produced the ARIA-nominated soundtrack recording and reunited for the return season and live album in 2000. This led to being appointed sound director and soundtrack producer for Tom Burlinson's "Frank - the Sinatra Story in Song" theatre show, which toured solidly throughout 1998-99 and spawned another successful cast recording CD.

Another challenging aspect of music production emerged through television where he's also carved a niche as TV music producer, contributing to a string of programs for Australian networks, initially on variety show "Good News Week", producing both studio and outside broadcast sound while providing artist liaison and technical support. In 1999 in collaboration with Sound on Stage he designed and built Australia's first all-digital audio production vehicle suitable for large OB's and live multitrack recording.

During 2003 he teamed up with promoter and label boss Bob Burns and their shared passion resulted in a new venture - Tapitallee West Studio and the re-launch of label Big Beat Music. Studio construction saw David dusting off the tools to design & build a unique recording facility in rural surroundings while developing in tandem a compatible Protools facility – Federation Studios - at his Sydney headquarters.

Then in 2010 his country called and David joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commencing as a Radio Master Control Room operator in the ABC's Ultimo headquarters. This position brings a high responsibility and accountability in overseeing the ABC's vast radio network, providing quality control and troubleshooting only achievable through extensive experience.

As audio technology evolved over the years David has always adapted to remain viable and in-demand as ever. In today's climate he is uniquely positioned, due to such a wealth of experience, to offer his proven skills and discerning input to any musical endeavour or audio challenge and as the learning curve continues so does the desire to continue producing quality music recordings. The ability to communicate and bring out the best in performers is the trademark of his work and the skill of which he is most proud, given it brings such instant gratification and when the planets truly align and magic occurs, long-term rewards.



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