5 Questions with Emma Townsend from Strongroom Studios
Since opening its doors in 1984, Strongroom Studios in East London has welcomed everyone from Eric Clapton to The Spice Girls. So Shure headed to the (now) hip district of Shoreditch to speak with studio manager Emma Townsend for a little lesson recording history.
How did Strongroom Studios end up in East London?
Strongroom was one of the first facilities in the [Shoreditch] area and, at one point, was signposted at Old Street station! [It] was founded as a single studio in 1984 by Richard Boote, who continues to act as owner and director to this day, along with Paul Woolf. Over the years Strongroom grew organically, and by 1997, it included 12 studios, a bar, an acupuncture treatment room, artist workshops, office space for record labels and more.
Strongroom's aim has always been to provide professional music recording and mixing facilities to the highest possible standard in a caring and creative environment. Unlike some studios with somewhat uninspiring interiors, the decor of walls, bar and various other areas around Strongroom are all created and curated under the artistic direction of the legendary Jamie Reid, best known for his work with The Sex Pistols. His art gives the place a vibrant and unique feeling, certainly unlike any other studio.
Still standing in its original location, Strongroom is home to a wide community of music producers, labels, management and PR companies, post-production facilities and the now legendary Strongroom bar and kitchen, which, even 20 years later, still plays host to the entire community, with regular live music and massive DJs every weekend.
Can you pinpoint why an artist or band would choose to record at Strongroom?
The vibe! The gear! So many reasons really.
At Strongroom, we believe in marrying the latest in cutting technology with those famous boutique must-have pieces of equipment and a backline to die for. Our control rooms are some of the best sounding in the world, featuring legendary Neve and SSL consoles, oodles of outboard and microphones, as well as massively versatile live rooms.
All of this is lovingly maintained to the highest standard of excellence by our onsite technical department and supported by our friendly and dedicated bookings team. Plus, we're located in a unique central London setting, not that you'd guess once you're in amongst the ivy!
How would you describe the staff at Strongroom?
A friendly, passionate and highly dedicated bunch, who put 110 percent into nurturing the best creative environment in the world. Our engineers know the rooms and the gear inside out, but most importantly they're affable, approachable and genuinely helpful. You can have all the toys in the world, but at the end of the day, it's the people that make the experience memorable. Runners particularly deserve high praise for the long hours and often demanding work that keeps the studio going. We really value our whole team more than any fancy microphone or recording console. They're all amazing.
How does having a bar public bar, kitchen and small live music space affect the studio operations?
Strongroom's cultural ethos and attraction is the tendency to do things differently, and the bar is a huge part of that, providing somewhere for clients to relax, have meetings and enjoy one of the finest stock selections in London.
The bar also allows us to play host to all manner of industry events, including album playbacks, single launches, discussion panels and much more. Where else can new rising artists take the stage or established acts perform in front of record producers, managers, labels and the general public all intermingled leading them through the studios doors and onward through the industry?
The best thing of all: by having several strings to the Strongroom bow, we can continue to expand and re-invest in the studios, to stay on the cutting edge of music production, whilst providing great value. This makes our facilities both suitable and accessible to established and independent artists alike.
What are your favorite releases from 2017 and the all-time Top 5 releases of produced at Strongroom?
There were too many good records to mention in 2017, so our collective favorites are:
alt-J - RELAXER
Goldfrapp - Silver Eye
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
LCD SoundSystem - American Dream
Daughter - Music From Before The Storm
Yikes. Picking the Top 5 of albums that have passed through those huge front gates is a pretty tall order, but here are a few:
The Prodigy - The Fat of The Land
UNKLE - Never, Never, Land
M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Tender Prey
... and who could forget the Liverpool FC Anfield Rap?!
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