Immersive Collaborations & the Underground

Paul Beard, keyboardist and producer extraordinaire originally from England, has been Music Director for the likes of Robbie Williams, James Blunt, Lily Allen, Bryan Ferry, and Art Garfunkel!

Now residing in Sydney, he has many projects on the go. After recently working with Guy Sebastian, he has been involved in the incredible “ACO Underground: Back To Reality” project at the ACO’s new home, Pier 2/3.

Mark Watson, from Roland Australia, recently caught up with Paul in his new studio in Glebe, to discuss life, music gear, and the varied collaborations that keep him busy.

“I was immediately bowled over by the Australian culture and humour, and I fell in love with this country instantly”


ACO Underground is a genre-bending musical collaboration fronted by ACO Principal Violin and vocalist Satu Vänskä. Satu is joined by Richard Tognetti, guitarist Slava Grigoryan, a string quartet of musicians from the ACO, alongside Paul on the FANTOM-0.

The music is incredible and is a heady mix of dangerous realism, experimentation, and dreamy relief when the Australian Chamber Orchestra teams up with contemporary voices and talents.

For their first gig in The Neilson at Pier 2/3, ACO Underground: Back to Reality featured music from Gesualdo’s 16th century Italy through to the American avant-garde of Ruth Crawford-Seeger, and brand new songs by Richard Tognetti.

“There were many genuine high-five moments when we realised the power of the Fantom controlling MainStage – It became clear that I would be able to achieve my vision”


Never wanting stay still, Paul decided to take part in a classic Aussie Rock staple, Aussie Anthems, at the infamous Bridge Hotel in Balmain. His main attraction to this gig was that from the playlist of 29 songs, he only knew three of them!

Consisting of massive Australian/New Zealand hits from the 80’s from bands like INXS, Crowded House and Mondo Rock, Paul’s challenge was to get the iconic keyboard sounds just right.

“It was possibly the loudest gig I have ever done… Including Wembley Stadium!”

On the other side of the spectrum, performing with Art Garfunkel, Paul was able to bring an entire sonic world using a single keyboard and a laptop. Apparently, the show did have one minor hiccup, leaving Paul with a great appreciation of a hardware keyboard that “just does what it does”.

“Gigging with laptops … makes me nervous. Fundamentally, the thing that sends your emails shouldn’t be running your show…”


Roland were stoked to have ‘Beardy” drop into the Powerhouse Museum to try out the futuristic grand piano known as the ‘Facet’. There are only two of these in existence. He performed his original song, “Change My World “.

The Facet’s striking design is based around an imposing body and frame that seemingly floats above the base unit. The piano’s body, legs, frame, and base unit are influenced by polyhedron shapes that occur in nature and the ‘Facet’ name was inspired by the structure of a crystal. The absence of a soundboard further highlights the elegant geometry of this futuristic grand piano.

“One of the things I love about working in Australia is the diversity of the projects.”

Paul’s latest adventure, a new recording studio in Glebe, is the potential launch pad for many great things to come. He has already recorded and produced several tracks for himself and is collaborating with other artists both locally and around the globe.

These include ongoing projects with ‘Satu in the Beyond’, the new name for the ACO Underground project. Also in the works is a collection of songs with Alexz Johnson, a talented musician, and actress from Canada.

Other collaborations include R&B singer Cap Carter from Sydney, who has just signed with Universal Records, Deep Focus (Rian Cobb and Charlie Codsi), as well as teenage sensation, Will Austin, a gifted singer/songwriter.

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Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!