Pt 22 – A Flying Start

Despite an ever-shortening list of outstanding technical issues (populating the console sidecar with our custom API modules, fitting the Flying Faders automation and installing the EMT 140 plate remain priorities), Snap has finally snapped into action.

After a couple of short dummy sessions, the first fully blown commissioning gig came and went last week. We were offered five days to record and mix tracks by 1970’s/80’s cult band ‘Deaf School’ produced by legendary producer, Clive Langer.

From our standpoint, nothing could have been better. Clive’s production credits occupy pages of recording history, and include all the great Madness cuts, Elvis Costello, Morrissey and dozen’s of other seminal albums. He has high expectations and knows how a real studio should sound; he damned well aught to, as he previously owned and operated two of the best in the world – Hook End Manor and Westside. As if this wasn’t enough, the band (and friends) include sax player Ian Ritchie (a successful producer in his own right, with credits including Roger Waters) and the legendary Ian Broudie, guitarist supreme, songwriter superb and producer par excellence.

I drafted in Teo Miller to drive the session, bringing experience and user-friendliness to the engineer’s chair, and Marco and Shelley – two of our three in-house engineering team – sat in to operate the Protools and assist.

The clients were happy, which left me feeling chuffed. The rooms sounded great, the gear was quiet as a computer mouse and delivered the full–blooded, detailed sound I’d hoped for and the monitors shone. What I wanted more than anything else was feedback from an experienced band, producer and engineer and couldn’t have wished for more combined experience. The place felt great to work in – spacious, relaxed and creative. But don’t just take my word. Here’s what Clive wrote after the session…

‘Having just left Snap with fresh mixes playing on my home stereo, I’m amazed that they sound as rich and full as they did coming through the vintage Neve desk + Tannoys in control room 1#. As soon as I walked into the joint I was impressed with the  very workable layout + size of the control room + recording space. We recorded my old band (Deaf School) almost completely live and never felt in any way uncomfortable or cramped, whilst sharing the room with a beautiful Bosendorfer grand piano that I recognized as a former occupant of my old studio’, Westside.

All the staff were friendly, helpful + talented. A pleasure to work with! So thank you Mark + good luck with this fantastic studio that I recommend to any one who appreciates the beauty of a very musical analogue desk and a very musician friendly environment.

I’ll be back soon, very soon! Thanks Clive Langer”

So Snap is now open for business. Indeed, despite not yet having spent one sous on advertising or promotion, half of March and April are already booked.

We’ll launch our website at the end of the month and by the mid April the last remaining technical matters will have been attended to.

After considerable research, we’ve agreed initial booking fees of £400/day plus engineer or assistant engineer for studio one and £200/day for studio two. Bearing in mind the standard of the build, the quality of equipment and the investment we’ve made, these are stonking prices for studios capable of producing quality recordings on a par with anywhere in the UK costing twice this amount.

Of course, commercial considerations are only half the story. My main ambition for Snap is to provide a home for worthwhile musical projects and if needs be find a creative way to make non-mainstream projects viable. To start with, I intend to offer special rates for Jazzers (Jazz being close to my heart) and we’ll do our best to stretch our rates to accommodate self-funded gigs. Secondly, our in-house production company will actively consider worthwhile projects, either in conjunction with friends at record companies or on our own behalf, and should we bump into projects that excite us, will do our best to offer downtime production deals.

I’m sure there are other ways that we can encourage worthy artists and will always be open to suggestions.

Watch this space…