Ecca Vandal’s heady mix of punk, hardcore, international hip-hop, and pop is inexorably breaking into the musical consciousness of everyone who’s heard her initial flurry of singles and first EP, End of Time. Live, Ecca mixes the swagger, poise and style of Brixton via LA with a forceful presence and delight in surprising her audience stylistically that stems from her studies in jazz, immersion in R&B, and disciplined artistic practice. Backing Ecca as she raises the roof of every stage she occupies is Shure, whose microphones and in-ear-monitors are integral to her performance and sound.
It all started with the microphone that launched a million careers, the Shure SM58, soon graduating to a Beta58. “The Shure 58s are a staple, they’re such a reliable mic,” says Ecca. “I’m a bit rowdy on stage, so sometimes the mic can go flying, but they survive and they’re still steady and great. I’ve had my Beta58 for years and years. It travels around everywhere with me, and it would take a lot of convincing for me to go to a different mic in a live context.”
Starting out on the live stage in smaller venues, Ecca first monitored through wedges. “In my music, there are really heavy guitars and a lot of bass on stage, and I’ve got a really heavy hitter on the drums,” she explains. “I was finding it hard to get the vocal cut-through I needed and still keep my vocal sensitivity. I found it was necessary to go to in-ear-monitors.” Ecca’s choice for her first foray into IEMs was the Shure PSM 300, an affordable entry-level personal monitoring system with handy features for new operators, like one-touch frequency scan and sync to find and assign clean wireless channels.
“I found that the PSM 300s worked well for me,” recalls Ecca, “They were excellent for my first rounds of shows and the venues I was playing in. But when I started playing festivals and larger stages, I needed to upgrade to the PSM 900s and the SE425 earphones, and I’ve been using them ever since.” The PSM900 system represents a big step up in quality and reliability from the PSM 300, and is designed for heavy touring and big stages. The PSM 900s precision front-end RF filtering significantly reduces RF interference for a cleaner, stronger RF signal with fewer dropouts and less audible artefacts. The paired The SE425 Sound Isolating™ Earphones use a dedicated tweeter and woofer for an accurate and balanced sound, and are engineered to provide reference quality audio for live performances.
“Using the PSM 900s means I don’t have to compromise anyone else’s stage sound,” Ecca relates. “I feel really free in knowing exactly what I need in the ears, and I still feel connected to the onstage sound. It gives me confidence knowing I can last through an hour set that’s full-pelt the entire way, knowing that I have great sound ,and walk off without feeling uncomfortable, not straining to hear things or straining my voice; I was losing my voice with regular foldback.”
Off of the stage and into the studio, Ecca has begun a relationship with a cult product from Shure, the SM7B. Known as a ‘secret weapon’ in many producer’s arsenals, this unassuming and affordable dynamic mic has taken centre stage on some incredible vocal recordings, including many tracks on Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
“The SM7B came out when we were in the studio tracking vocals for a song called ‘End of Time’,” continues Ecca. “We were trying a range of mics and nothing was really working. Because I use a hand- held mic on stage, the engineer I was working with, Hayden Buxton, said ‘Would you prefer a hand-held?” and he put the mic in my hand. So I was sitting on the couch in the control room and I gave it a shot. It was magic. We tracked the entire vocal on the SM7B. I did another track that was the polar opposite stylistically called ‘Divided’ and another called ‘Running at People Exiting’, which is a much heavier, much more aggressive vocal, and it still worked beautifully.”
The SM7B is known for its flat response, warmth in lows and mids, and for working magic on singers like Ecca that can put out a formidable amount of level. Ecca has now adopted the SM7B as her weapon of choice for recording. “It’s become my go –to microphone every time I’m demoing vocals, and the takes ended up staying because we love the sound,” Ecca confirms. “It’s a versatile microphone. I think it has a beautiful rich sound and I love it!”
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