Okay, you might not think that this is the most important aspect of studio life, but having a great creative environment will help your music production no end, especially when it is easy on the eye…
BassLab Studio (Steven Comeau)
Make your studio look cool – how to do it
So should you really be concerned about how cool your studio looks? We’re certainly not saying that it is as important as how it sounds – in fact, we always say that the sound is the most important aspect, right from getting the perfect recording through to listening to the end results on the most accurate monitors.
BUT, let’s not forget that music production is a creative process, so once you have your preamps, your monitors, your mixer, your mics and your computer sorted – and even your chair, for that matter – why not consider the environment around you? No, not that environment [actually, yes, that environment, too – Ed], but the room in which you sit, the room in which you create? Make it look great and you will make it a welcoming and creative place to be.
So in order to do that…
1: Tidy, Tidy, Tidy
Kooza Studio (Loris Venegoni)
Got kids? You will understand this. Stuff on the floor, stuff on the desk, stuff everywhere, more stuff. LEGO. Bloody LEGO, everywhere! The easy route to a creative environment is a clean environment. Yes, it’s obvious, too obvious, so obvious that you might not notice ‘untidy creep’, i.e. as you work within your creative space you will make it more untidy.
In fact, as we’re writing this feature within our studio setup, we’ve just noticed: it’s untidy. Hang on… [noise of tidying…] There, that‘s better. Spend 10 minutes clearing your work space and your next session is guaranteed to be more productive.
2: Less is More (and, Okay, More is More)
The studio of Iulian Mihaila
For a magazine that shows you a ton of gear pictures every month, it pains us to say: if you are working towards specific musical goals, then very often the fewer distractions you have in terms of gear, the better. And as is shown by (some of) the pictures on these pages, having a very stripped back setup can mean a very cool one.
Having said that, and this is where we justify having a ton of gear, having a huge bank of outboard lights come on when you flick that master switch, can be just as inspiring. It’s about a work/gear balance…
3: Surround Sound
Synthlab (Sotiris Gougousis)
There’s no doubting that there is some kind of primal urge that kicks in when you sit down at your mixing desk or at a bank of keyboards, and surround yourself with buttons, dials, sliders and keys. It is a very controlling feeling – or is that just us? – so give in to it and make sure you immerse yourself.
Have everything within reach and angled towards you; invest in proper studio furniture (or simply cheaper Ikea-style desks that have compartments and shelves) and a floor that enables you to roll across from one bank of loveliness to the next. It looks great and works great…
Talla 3 (Tommy Jansson)
It it your studio? Then, in the words of the best captain on the bridge: ‘make it so’. You can have a mountain of gear, the coolest of sofas, the best of lights, but if it’s not yours, then you might as well be anywhere.
To make it personal, make sure you have a couple of reminders about whose space this is, maybe who inspired you, where you came from and where you are going, the important words in that sentence all being ‘you’. A stormtrooper on a monitor, a Kraftwerk traffic cone on a synth… Personalise it however you want, not just with gear but with you.
5: Lights, Action…
The Red Room London (Miloco Studios)
We know that this has become an important one to so many of you. Good studio lighting not only looks cool, but can also be very inspiring. There’s nothing worse than having the most incredible gear setup, a great-sounding acoustic room, only to turn on an artificial industrial office light to see what is going on.
Invest in up lighting, strip lighting, even fairy lights if you must. Make it warm and welcoming, not cold and frightening. Green is good. As is blue. And lava lamps. Ooh, lava lamps…
6: Go Wireless
The studio of Robert Nayrobi Unterwandling
As the world goes wireless, we in studio land should be rejoicing. Unfortunately, latency and other issues mean that a completely wireless recording environment is probably a few years away yet, so while you have to plug one thing into another – and let’s face it, modular fans, that is still an attractive pastime in its own right – at least keep those wires out of sight as much as you can (unless you are the aforementioned modular fan, naturally).
Invest in cable tidies, cable extensions and simply getting down on your hands and knees to push power leads, audio cables and computer connectors out of site but, importantly, still within reach. A good old fashioned patch-bay might be in order here.
And while we’re on the subject of modular synths, yes we all know that they look cool, but the cables can look a mess. Try colour coding or even LE.