PARKTEN Interview - Arlen Cormack
Arlen Cormack has worked for PK Sound since 2008 in various technical, sales, and management roles and is the Senior VP of Touring and Production.
"I am lucky that my work allows me to participate in things I enjoy such as music, and community building."
Can you share more about PK Sound and your work?
Right now at PK, I focus on selling audio production to our US clients, managing the local production team and working on PK’s executive management team. From 2011-2016 I lived in San Francisco, as we took PK to the US market and opened an events production warehouse there. I didn’t really know this was the path I would end up on, but always knew I did want to stay close to music and events, so it has been a good fit. Helping to build a company from the ground up has been really exciting.
When did you begin working with PARK?
My last point relates directly to how things have worked with PARK. We started at very similar spots and have grown upward in parallel over the years; young passionate owners, trying to build around local community and taking on larger and larger projects along the way. This has led to a great fit for both companies. We have had a great time building larger lighting and truss systems, providing audio and being the direct technical partner for PARK since the start. Having moved to the states, I haven’t personally been able to attend many recent PARK events. My main involvement was in the early days at venues like Chinese Cultural Centre and Fashion Central. We all did what we could, within budget and experience, to put on the best shows possible and turn the shows into larger, higher profile events. Even in my absence, PK has continued to help PARK design and execute evolving technical production. The future looks really promising as well, as the PARK team keeps growing their knowledge base and expertise for their own events, and outside clients as well.
How does it feel to be part of PARK’s 10-year campaign?
I think the PARK10 Campaign is the perfect way to tell the story of a great Calgary company, that is now a staple in many ways! Myself and PK are honored to have been asked to help tell such a cool story.
Is there a difference between doing sound production for PARK’s fashion shows versus doing sound production for concerts?
We really enjoy working with PARK as they are a unique client for us. The audio portion of the shows is done using distributed audio systems that are typically small format and spread out throughout the venue and runway. This varies from most concerts and festivals, where the systems come from the stage end and are much larger format to achieve higher sound pressure levels, and need to accommodate greater coverage areas. For PARK events, when considering audio placement, we also have to take into account lighting and video placement and sight-lines. This keeps us on our toes and means there is lots of communication with Kara and Jessie throughout the whole process, and that we are there from the start to finish of each event.
What is the most challenging part of doing sound production for live events?
Some of the toughest elements PK has to deal with in regards to our work is dealing with venues that are not typically used for one-off events - working outdoors and in places like old warehouses and public buildings. Making sure we can successfully and safely accomplish the event objectives require a different level of planning and care. But these are the venues where some of the best events happen!
Do you have input in the music being played at events or is it already set for you?
I used to do a lot of talent buying for PK, OYR’s Snowblower Festival and many of my own TeknoCollective events. While our crew does music bookings for the Village Stage at Shambhala Music Festival, most events we work now are programmed by the people who hire us. Our role is to ensure they sound as true to the music as possible, with no technical flaws or interruptions. Curating events has its rewards, but so does making the tech magic happen.
What five songs/bands would be on your ultimate playlist?
A short, ultimate playlist is very tough, as I have a diverse pallet. Right now, outside of shows, I listen to lots of downtempo or more chilled out electronica, but still always enjoy a good dance party at home with the kids to some bouncy house or techno.