Dave Frederking needs no introduction in the Dutch broadcasting industry. This travel-hungry sound engineer’s career spans epic documentaries mostly shot in the Middle East (Van Nablus naar Ninevé, Oases in de Oriënt, van Atlas naar Arabië) and technically complex local productions such as Opgelicht?! for TROS, Relentless, The Phone and programmes produced by the late investigative journalist and crime reporter Peter R. de Vries who was shot and killed last year.
As Frederking points out: “I’m more of a 12 wireless channel kind of guy than a single wireless channel guy. We all have our production preferences and that’s good and how it should be – that’s how the work gets divided and done. I prefer technically complex programmes, what can I say? I enjoy solving technically complex problems. I’m not your guy if you’re recruiting for RTL Boulevard,” he jokes.
Throw in some travel to treacherous and war-torn destinations such as Iraq, Iran or Saudi-Arabia and Frederking is the first to sign up for the job. Since 2016 he has travelled the Middle East extensively with presenter Kefah Allush. “Many of my destinations such as Oman or Syria are only viewed through the lens of terrorism, but there is so much more to these countries,” he notes.
“You don’t have to take me on a beach holiday, there’s so much more in the world to see. So it’s been fun to take my mother-in-law, who loves ski holiday destinations like Austria and Switzerland, to other countries… After my girlfriend and I took her to Nepal she was shocked for weeks after! Travelling to unknown places really exposes you to other perspectives. I love visiting Israel, Jordan and Irak for example and when I get back to Holland the impatience is something that I really notice, it makes me want to get right back on a plane.”
Despite the realisation that the Dutch mentality of “complaining, complaining, complaining” as Frederking puts it can be a bit of a bore, he still believes Amsterdam to be the most beautiful city, with Lisbon a close second. “It smells good, it has the canals, just all of it inside the A10 ring of course is beautiful,” he laughs.
So how did this well-travelled sound engineer start off? A chance meeting with a family member’s friend Michel Oosterveld who was a sound engineer at the time and showed him around on set, captured the 15-year-old Frederking’s imagination back in the 1980s. But before his career as sound engineer took off in the clubs and dance festivals of Amsterdam (like Escape, Marcanti and the Supperclub Cruise) he was afforded the opportunity to gain experience behind the camera as well. But the sound console kept calling. As soundrecordist he came to realise and appreciate the autonomy and freedom it provided.
As Frederking explained it: “When you’re on sound it’s like you’re on your own island. Everybody talks to you but you’re still on your own – usually they only talk to you when something’s wrong. You’re like your own business within a business. I get briefed on the subject, location and situation etc. but then the rest is up to me.”
After moving from live soundreinforcement (PA sound engineering) to be a soundrecordist (for commercials, corporate, TV, online and film), the next turning point came when he decided to stop lugging speakers around for his gigs.
He wanted to work on sound behind the console exclusively. “After a few years there was an opportunity to work for television. And that was many years ago in the meantime. It was very important to me that I made my own way and for people not to say that I got my gigs because I had family in the television industry.”
His reputation includes the use of high-quality equipment, handling difficult projects, creative problem-solving like connecting a translation device to their equipment for real-time translations from Arabic when shooting on location, and being an ambassador for Shure. Being constantly up to date is also imperative to his success. “When you’re not staying up to date in the field, it means you’re standing still, which is a regression.”
The two countries he would still very much like to see are Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he’s unsure whether he would still manage it in his lifetime because of the political situation and his Jewish background.
Nevertheless, he keenly pursues a wide range of projects, enjoys working in audio post-production immensely and is open to doing commercials, corporate shoots and other television programmes. “It’s tricky to manage your availability for projects and still keep busy with those projects you really want to pursue. It’s important to remain true to yourself and the choices you make should reflect that, but one also needs to be able to pay the bills at the end of the day.”
And pay the bills he does in one of the most exciting and auditory challenging ways that has taken him across the globe and back to Kamer52.