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Pro Tools HDX system also features a large number of plug-ins from Sonnox, Waves, Altiverb, and UAD. As well as the natural live room chamber, reverb options at the studio include an EMT 240 gold foil plate, Bricasti M7, and a Space Echo RE- 201. Two other interesting elements that the studio is going to develop are a World War II bomb shelter and underground concrete tanks, which will be used as echo chambers. “Te bomb shelter is built into a hill on the property so it has great isolation. It also sounds mad and wonderful so we thought it’d be great fun to

stick a mic and a speaker in there and experiment!” adds Granshaw.

Nice and close

Butler was set on going anywhere in the world to get a residency in a big place, and then Chale Abbey Studios turned up five minutes down the road. His Ventnor-based Te Steam Rooms studio was a “semi-smelly basement”, and he missed working in big places. Butler: “I’d like to record with space from now on. I’m going to have my own little mix room at home, but as far as recording a band goes, I like space, so this place works great.”

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Butler has built-up a collection of

instruments playing with Te Bees, a whole load of which are at Chale Abbey Studios. Between Butler and the studio, Chale Abbey Studios is full of interesting toys. Granshaw: “As well as the Bechstein grand and upright pianos, we’ve got a wide range of vintage instruments including a Hammond L100 with Leslie 145, a Fender Rhodes, and a Philicorder. We’ve also got an old ’69 Rogers kit and he’s got a nice ’60’s Ludwig, they’re interchangeable.” Butler also has lots of “really cool, old, wonky sounding stuff ”, and loads

of Fender silverface gear including a whole range of Twins, Bassman heads, and different sized cabs. “Tat coupled with our backline of new and old amps and drums gives us lots of options.” Te mic cupboard is already well

stocked with several Coles 4038s, Neumann U87s, Neumann KM 184s a Soundelux E251, a vintage AKG D25, and STC ball and biscuit to name a few. “We are always on the lookout for nice vintage mics. You can’t have enough and they provide such a natural EQ.”

Michael Kiwanuka Chooses Chale Abbey Studios Producer Paul Butler discusses the Chale Abbey Studios sessions of Michael Kiwanuka’s new album.

You produced Michael’s first album in your home studio. What are the benefits of Chale Abbey Studios for this one?

Michael’s really much stronger as an artist. He’s got a brilliant live set going on with good friends so he’s got four or five amazing musicians around him. Tis studio’s perfect for it. We need the space now. It’s amazing to have those brilliant drummers and brilliant bass players and guitarists. Tey all play everything, incredibly talented people. At the moment the studio looks very tidy but once Michael’s here with all his toys there’s not a square inch of space in the big room. Space for toys really, that’s the big benefit. Te big feature of the second album is just to have everything here. It’s been going really well. We’re already 12 or 14 tracks in. We rushed up to nine tracks in a two-week session, just because Michael’s performance is now so strong.

What’s the big difference?

If he’s sitting at the piano or sitting with a guitar the big difference is that we can use the sound of the room, we can have a nice microphone almost a metre away from him, and with the volume dynamics that he’s singing with it seems to work a treat. It’s a lot of tweaking on the vocal chain but it’s a beautiful thing when you get that balance between the instrument and the vocals just on one microphone. He feels very comfortable with that because there are no headphones involved and he can just give a full performance, as long as the other musicians in the room are playing quietly, which suits me fine. Tat’s the vibe of this next album and it’s going really well. It’s exciting.

What have you gone for on this one instrument-wise?

Te addition of a guitar called the Fender Bass VI, which is a normal guitar setup but an octave lower. It’s not like a dangerous six string bass. It’s just these beautiful chords, these incredibly low

32 August/September 2014

(L-R) Pete Randall, David Granshaw, and Michael Kiwanuka Credit: Samuel John Butt

resonant chords. It’s like this absolute experiment in what bass tones you can get away with. We’ve been layering up double basses and this Fender Bass VI. Michael’s concept with the second album that we talked about at the beginning was “it’s going to be a lot darker with a little ray of light in the middle of each song, which kind of accentuates that light bit in the middle”. I think we’ve been nailing it. It’s just that element of a bit of voodoo in there. It’s a lot darker but everyone’s really getting into the performances.

Were there any songs that burst into action?

I think we went for it on the first nine songs because there were nine good ones in there, had a bit of breathing space, then came back to them. Tere’s going to be a lot of orchestral arrangements. We’ve got the space for it now, even though all we’ve done is got Andy Parkin, who did all the strings on the first album, back in. It’s a sound that Michael’s really happy with as

well. I’d be happy if there were a handful of string players that we could overlay but it’s almost a bit more spooky just having Andy. It seems to work really well. Tat’s all to come on Michael’s album and that will finish it off I think. Te album will probably be finished by October or November so no mixing will be happening until next year.

What was the vocal chain?

We keep trying to beat my CMV 563 with a little mod and we can’t. It’s just singing at the moment. When it’s not crackling we do the 563 usually from a reasonable distance, so there’s some good space around it. Normally I’d go for the Germanium preamps in my old Swedish console. At the moment however, the Summit Audio is the pre that we’re quite happy with, just because it breaks up so well, and then it goes off into the EARs. It’s either the EAR 822Q, which is beautiful, or we use just one channel of the EAR 825Q, the mastering one, going into one of the EAR 660s. And that’s the chain pretty much on every vocal take so far.

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