Music Blogs

Recording studio life

  • By Trev@circlestudios
  • 3 July 2013

So the powers-that-be at Supajam tell me convention says that when you've started a two-part blog, part two of the blog should naturally follow part one...

Screw convention.

So let me preface this with a warning.  I'm about to go waaaaay off topic. Last time we talked about the importance of your band's brand. Today I pledged to help you think about how you can define your brand and build your fan-base on the back of that. Except I'm not going to.  Not today. Instead I'm going to give you a glimpse into recording studio life.  Here's a starter for ten:

Now, given that's pretty much a discussion recording studio managers up and down the country face every day of their lives, you have to be a pretty special sort of a caller to get me feeling much grumpier than that (unless you are an ambulance-chasing payment protection insurance claims company who can piss me off without uttering so much as a word). But yesterday was worse than this.  Much worse.  Now let me be clear, this was nothing to do with the clients I was working with  (because if you are reading this I love you very much and do come again soon... ;-) but yesterday was already a really busy day at Circle Studios. In some context, in studio A/The Big Room we had two back-to-back bookings so we started at 7:30am and finished well after midnight, in Studio B @weareetch were doing foley work for a forthcoming game they are scoring and in the White Room @greybadgerTV was doing a band photo shoot.  None of that made me grumpy.  In fact, it made me happy.  There was a fabulous buzz around the place as artists from the various session congregated around the coffee machine.  What made me grumpy was one of the calls I got from a joker looking to book the place.

I can see you are looking confused at this point.  I mean, all bookings are good, right? Wrong.  Because this booking was from a grime 'artist'. Now let me be clear about this.  I have nothing against grime per se.  I think some of the cleverest artists around today have come out of the rap and grime genres and I was even lucky enough to be involved, in a small way, with the recording of The Game's latest album, The Jesus Piece (which I think was one of the best albums released in 2012). But for some reason some of the most obnoxious calls I get are from grime or rap 'artists' wanting to book studio time.  So much so that I'm thinking of completely banning unsigned 'grime artists' from the building. More on this later.

So I hear you beginning to wonder how the aforementioned 'artist' managed to wind me up so much in what amounted to no more than a 30 second phonecall. Well the phone call went like this:
"Hello, Circle Studios?"
"Is that Circle Studios?"
"Er yes"
"I wanna come in and spit some lines"
"Do you charge for recording?"
"I said do you charge for recording? Are you fvking deaf or summat?"
" Er, yes we charge for recording. Sorry"
"Well I can't get anybody else!"
"Like i said, sorry. We are a business. We need to make money. I'm guessing most of the studios in town are in a similar position."
"For fvcks sake. It's really urgent. My record label need it by Wednesday"
"No sorry. We can't do it for nothing.  We have a mortgage to pay. And the electric bill. And the business rates.  And come to that we need to eat.  As do our children."
"We'll that's just fvkin stupid innit.  How's an up and coming artist supposed to get a break.  I'm the best fvkin rapper outside of London and I'm fvking tellin you..."
At this point I hung up.

Now what made me grumpy wasn't the fact that I've invested close to half a million quid in building one of the best recording studios in the UK and this joker wasn't even willing to offer me minimum wage to record him 'spitting his lines'.  It wasn't even the out and out aggression he showed when I said I couldn't do it for nothing.  It was the 'it's all about me attitude'.  So I got to wondering whether it's a typical attitude found within this genre or whether its a wider societal thing (I know, thats kinda deep for this time of the day). And that was the point I came across this video on YouTube:

Now at this point i wavered. Was I being too narrow-minded? And then, to make matters even more complicated, my wife argued 'it was ever thus' (what? Even my model-citizen generation who grew up with bondage trousers/spandex and the Sex Pistols/Black Sabbath were completely self-absorbed with no appreciation for other people's own lives...? I don't think so... ;-). But anyway. I'm still not convinced. So, unless you lot can persuade me otherwise, I'm about to slap an absolute ban on recording any more grime in this building. What do you think? Is it societal, generational or just grime 'artists'? Answers on a postcard (or if you techy-types prefer, the little box below ;-)

Next week, it's back to the plot.  Maybe...


The author of Machiavelli's Guide, Trev is a record producer and Chief Engineer at one of the UK's top studios, Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham.  Check it out at www.circlestudios.co.uk. He has worked with clients ranging from record labels to Henry Rollins and companies from Samplephonics to Yamaha Corporation's R&D team. He is currently working on a solo album for a singer from a global supergroup. You can also follow @circlestudios on twitter