The traditional music industry is in decline. Music lovers are inundated with millions of bands competing for their attention and support. Artists are making music in their bedroom and releasing it free. So why the fuck have we opened an old school, residential, vintage recording facility in Valencia. We believe in making real music, that's why...
When Starlite and I moved away from the Isle of Man, we had a purpose: to make and facilitate great music. It's a dream to which many aspire, but few manage to achieve.
Firstly we landed in France, around an hour from Bordeaux, surrounded by some of the most revered vineyards in the world and spent six months discovering what it was like to be together, semi-permanently pissed on remarkable Reds and astounding Armagnacs, ate very well indeed, met some beautiful people and wrote some good songs, but there was something missing.
We needed to be around other musicians and a local music scene to engage with. Duras is cool, but after six thirty, everything closes apart from the 'English Bar' in town, which was to be avoided at all cost.
Starlite, Hummock and I travelled down to Biarritz to watch Neil Young and stayed in San Sebastian with my old school buddy, Anthony Alonso, who was living there at the time. We explained that we needed to move, wanting good weather, good food, cool people and a healthy music scene. He said:
Si, if you want good weather, you have to go where it's fuckin' brown. If it's fuckin' green, it rains Si. Valencia is fuckin' cool...
So, without further ado, we engaged on a road trip down the Eastern coast of Spain, finally ending in Valencia.
We booked into a hotel, loved it and within a week had found a place to rent in Bétera, only a few kilometers from the City.
Of course we are principally songwriters and needed a place to record. So naturally our first thought when we arrived was making our debut joint album, deciding to invest in a 'minimal' (famous last words) amount of recording equipment.
Being a session musician in the late 70's really taught me how to record the 'old school way' and the more we saw of 'new' recording studios the more we knew that we needed to create our own: one with love, a great 'vibe', analog gear and setup to capture real music, as it happens...
Bétera just wasn't right for us and following an extended search, our new home in Estivella basically presented itself to us: we didn't have one other alternative, it was just meant to be - if you believe in that sort of thing.
To cut a long (well medium really) story short, we are now living in the wonderful mountain village of Estivella, just 25 minutes from the centre of Valencia and the airport. Perfecto...
It's perfect for what we do, but really has too much space, which led us to the idea to open the studio commercially for parts of the year.
The studio is residential and there is no doubt that all being together is fantastic for everyone's karma and creativity!!
We have bought a lot of gear for sure, but the biggest and most troublesome purchase is the recording console, which prompted me to write a couple of detailed articles about the search.
Studios are closing all over the world and many of our colleagues think we are very brave, or very stupid, in going balls out investing everything we have in our facility. Suzy and I have a firm belief that there will be a rebound against disposable, plastic music created by plastic artists.
Producers and Engineers: Rather than actively buying up new and vintage equipment, more plug-ins, thinking those inanimate things will make better records, you should be asking the artists you record to submit better music, better lyrics and better performances. Don't degrade your skill and talent by resigning yourself to polishing turds. Chasing the Top 10 is a fool's game. Give feedback, give direction. This is your responsibility to music, to our culture, to the public whom you do not want to let down.
Tony Visconti - November 2015.
Of course he's right and perhaps the reason why the music buying public are not buying, is that popular music itself has become disposable, like a quick, casual fuck; instant gratification with no lasting meaning.
We believe that capturing the energy of a well written song, played live with great musicians, will rekindle the terms 'fans', 'loyalty' and 'longevity' which are now so out of fashion.
Of course recording together and getting it 'cooking' is easily said, but rock and pop musicians (myself included) have become lazy.
We need to change our attitudes in the studio and look to get it right on the first take. OK, there are tracks that need to be developed in the studio due to the complexity of range of instrumentation, but you get the idea.
Recently working with classical and jazz musicians has really opened my eyes to how the standard of many others has dropped. These guys (and I know we have had some of the best in the world here at the studio) just do it; no tooling around - and nail it.
So far we have been blessed with a whole bunch of fabulous artists and musicians with more booked in for next year. 2015 has seen names such as Chris Cheek, Jorge Rossy, Javier Vercher, Ground Pilots, David Soler, Steve Cardenas, Albert Sanz grace our analog circuitry :)
No turds have needed to be polished; no autotune or digital emulations required: easy, as we don't own them...
We have recorded some very beautiful music at Supertone and judging by the fantastic testimonials we have received, everyone seems delighted. Starlite and I are eagerly anticipating the final mastered versions of this work which will be released in 2016.
Like juggling soot, it is not easy and very stressful, as the music business is totally on its arse right now and studio rates are 30% percent of what they were in 2005. But, there are an increasing number of artists that appreciate what we are doing and want a world class facility.
Yes, we are swimming against the tide, but there is no doubt, the tide is changing...