Nestled in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside sits Gospel Oak Studio. The studio is owned by Barry Bayliss and was first set up as a commercial facility in 2010 in a 200 year old brick built, split level grain barn. Close to the M40 and M6 the studio has a lovely vibe and atmosphere and along with its rural location, being able to leave the city, its hustle and bustle for beautiful countryside, really is a treat for the artist to relax and be ready to focus on their art.
Under Bayliss’ ownership the studio has grown and has had the likes of Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam), Producer Mike Exeter (Black Sabbath and Judas Priest) and Jim Simpson of Big Bear records hiring it on a regular basis. “What I love about this studio is the large, naturally lit control room on the upper floor. It really is a wonderful place to work either during the day or late into the night” said Bayliss. “Being in the heart of the countryside means that we don’t have to worry about direct neighbours and we get to enjoy the great British countryside.”
The priority for Bayliss is to ensure people feel comfortable enough to express their creativity at Gospel Oak. “Artists have to feel relaxed and inspired to produce the best recordings and that is a big part of the whole ethos of this studio – It’s somewhere people want to be” added Bayliss. “We work with all genres of music. Artists include Bang Bang Romeo, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. It’s always quite exciting when you get to work with both upcoming artists and those who are at the top of their game because it gets everyone invigorated and the creative juices flowing.”
Bayliss has been involved in music for most of his life. “I have been in many bands over the years, and at one point finding myself on stage at the Birmingham NEC supporting The Cranberries! I have discovered that being a musician first and foremost has helped me understand the needs of the artist. It’s really all about capturing their uniqueness, rather than forcing a technical style or sound on them.”
Gospel Oak’s control room houses an SSL AWS 900 desk with Genelec monitors. “The most recent purchase has been the acquisition of an EKO Ranger 6 acoustic guitar (the same model used by Jimmy Page in the early years) which we’ve added an LR Baggs ANTHEM pick up system….It sounds beautiful. We’ve also recently added extra equipment such as Jon Morbin custom built outboard compressors (LA2A and 1176 style), Klark Technic di’s and a Kemper Profiling Amp. Every studio is unique, but I think the combination of location, atmosphere and high level of recording equipment set’s us apart. Overdubbing is very easy due to the inter room patching. In addition to the main live room on the ground floor, we also have a small booth upstairs which makes recording vocals, single instruments and even drums a real pleasure!”
In today’s competitive market it’s important to manage and maintain the success of a studio. “I think by playing to our strengths and having a relaxed and creative environment where artists can feel they can create innovative and interesting music is vital” added Bayliss. “We have also offered work experience placements to serious and keen music tech students. This is certainly helping us to make inroads with the education sector, working with groups of young music students giving some insight and experience in the world of commercial recording.”
Gospel Oak also maintains strong ties with the local community. “We go out to local venues and interact with the players, and singers, to keep in touch with their songs and recording requirements as well as offering free advice and tips regarding performance, song arrangements any other positive aspects.”
With the ever shrinking budgets it’s still tough for studio owners. “Raising revenue is really tough for local bands and artists, and without that stream of income, it’s down to the very love for their art, that music at this level gets captured professionally. Most of our work comes from local musicians and singers…..without that Gospel Oak Studio really wouldn’t exist. Luckily, we have an extensive pool of talented local artists and a very lively music scene.”
Bayliss continues to be engaged with the music community as an active member of the creative scene. He believes that it is vital for the survival of music studios that artists have access to professional recording environments, and value the difference such a place can make on the final results. He intends to keep Gospel Oak at the heart of the creative community and support the upcoming generation of talent.