Over the years, certain artists have become synonymous with certain cities and recording studios: London – Abbey Road Recording Studios – The Beatles, New York – Atlantic Recording Studios – The Velvet Underground, Berlin – Hansa Studio by the Wall – David Bowie, Los Angeles – Sound City Recording Studios – Nirvana. The albums that came out of these cities would undoubtedly be associated with their “heyday”, whether that was the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s.
It was the constant use by these famous names of the day that made them into musical shrines, places where the legions of “the unworthy” would make pilgrimages just to breathe the same air and stare at the same walls as Curt Cobain did when he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It’s not uncommon for the fame attached to these studios, as well as the concept that you’re recording your music where Lennon and Co. first threw down Abbey Road to draw aspiring artists from across the world. Many aspiring artists hang on to the hope the same creative energy that spawned these era defining albums will rub off into their own work.
Sometimes these places are looked after, such as the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio, which at the start of last month was reportedly beginning a long renovation process. Starting life as a studio like any other, except with the added convenience that it was a mobile studio, it began life seeing – or rather hearing – some of the Rolling Stones’ recordings (most notably the albums ‘Sticky Fingers’ and ‘Exile On Main Street’) having been built in 1968 on a whim of the Stones themselves, who hated travelling to and keeping daylight hours at recording studios.
Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Wishbone Ash, Fleetwood Mac, Santana and Status Quo are amongst the artists to have used the sound recording equipment aboard the Stones’ mobile studio. Purchased in 2000, it is finally being renovated and turned into a live music venue (expected to be ready by 2015), showing respect for the iconic music that has been recorded there and keeping it alive.
Other places are not so lucky. Another set of recording studios, London-based Church Studios – one of the largest recording spaces in London, in fact – where Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, The Eurythmics and Radiohead have recorded, could become nothing more than a set of flats soon. The news, announced late last summer, could spell disaster for the studios, which have long been a cornerstone of the local artistic community.
In the culturally rich area of Crouch End (which admittedly already has enough flats), the loss of the studios, which are still being used by local musicians, would be very sad indeed, affecting not only the people, but also the very character of the area. It all comes from the studio not being looked after properly between the decline in its use by more famous musicians and nowadays.
The truth is that it really doesn’t really matter where you record your music; the proof is the pudding so to speak. What is important is that the music grabs the attention of a generation, because that’s what we’re crying out for now. So, if you’re an up-and-coming musician, focus on the music and record down at your local recording studio; because who knows, maybe you’ll make the studio your own by penning the next “Teen Spirit”.