“Just walk out the studio door, over the waterfall and it’s in the big house” The response from Oli the engineer when I ask him where the toilet is.
I’ve known about Real World Studios for many years. An innovative and beautiful studio space built by Peter Gabriel, surrounded by water with large areas of glass to let in natural light. I never thought I would get to work there though.
As we arrived at the old water mill in which the studio is built, the carpark was nearly full, over 20 cars. They all belonged to staff who run the two studios, the Real World Record Label and the Womad festivals (of which WOMADelaide is a part) as well as Peter Gabriel’s private studio which has its own full time engineering staff.
Inside there is a full time chef who provides freshly cooked meals every day to all staff, including breakfast. The food is full of care and love, provided thoughtfully, everyday.
Despite being such a major musical enterprise, the staff were all lovely, genuine people. No ego at all, anywhere we could see. Just a bunch of talented, dedicated and committed people, nurturing a beautiful creative environment.
I spent most of the day there mixing the sound recorded in the rubble of a half demolished hospital into a 13-minute sound piece that will shortly accompany a video. Once it was done I gave a “seminar” to an invited group of students and lecturers from Bath Spa University as well as the head of the Real World record label and other staff, inviting them into the studio to hear the work and to talk about the overall project.
After they left, and as a reward for the serious outcomes generated throughout the day, we ended the late night on a high of wine and bashing out a beautifully discordant song on drums, guitars and vocals. “I’m not usually a guitar player, I mostly play hospital beds” I say to the engineer preparing him for any mistakes I might make.
Later, we slept in the big stone house before waking to breakfast which the chef had laid out, before hitting the road; not with sadness but with a sense of satisfaction and happiness.