||[Jan. 14th, 2010|03:58 pm]
LoneLady, a musician from Manchester preparing to release her album 'Nerve Up' on 22 February, has contributed a series of blogs on the process of setting up her own ramshackle studio in Manchester, of which the following entry is the first. To download her song 'Immaterial' for free, click here.|
I embarked on a mission to hunt out potentially suitable spaces in which to record Nerve Up. I became acquainted with empty building after empty building; 100-year old signs carved in stone that read Pearson’s Glasshouse…Imperial Estates…5-Star Enterprises…huge, disowned buildings once thrumming with industry now silent and barely safe enough to even enter. Although I’d always lived here, its as though I hadn’t fully noticed my surroundings, the many ruinous spaces, the faded pride of many of its once-grand buildings, the patches of wildernesses that punctuate the city.
Some spaces were too isolated, too run-down; did I really want to work alone in an empty building, a few hundred yards down the road from Strangeways? The pavements outside its vast walls are strewn with things prisoners have thrown from their exercise yard. It was just too grim, possibly dangerous. At the other end of the spectrum many spaces were too office-y and bland, and there were too many people.
So I was pushed to the outskirts… I found a mill to the east of the city; smaller than the other mills, more self contained, crumbling gently into the canal. I was taken through a short maze of doors, up a narrow flight of stairs and there it was...a long white corridor, white brick walls, tall dusty windows...lots of light, quiet… The room itself when I first saw it was a dilapidated, damp, lonely square with broken windowpanes: it was perfect.
The following weeks of sourcing, costing and cajoling were to prove among the most stressful parts of the whole endeavour. I became an expert in industrial goods; cement, breezeblock , plasterboard, mortar, sealant, nails, screws, timber of varying thicknesses, steel of varying thicknesses, emulsion, PVA, locks, handles—
I could no longer sleep; instead I would lie awake at night, my mind rifling through a catalogue of jobs unfinished.
A breezeblock bunker: when the blocks were cemented in place, the space seemed prison-like.
The second wave of renovating commenced: broken windowpanes replaced, tall steel shutters with barricades for the windows: 4 large padded partitions to create a recording booth; two large ceiling buffers to absorb sound; and carpet on all surfaces.
Most of the materials used to prepare the studio were reclaimed: an unused room down the corridor was gutted, boards of wood were wrenched off surfaces, and even the walls and door were stripped…All the fabric used to cover the partitions and make the ceiling pads came from an abandoned roll of material. All the carpet was scavenged from a bin outside a carpet warehouse. This part of the renovations cost virtually nothing except lots and lots of time and sweat and effort.
Every single day we worked in the bitter cold to force the space to do what we wanted: the tasks seemed endless; every night I arrived home aching and freezing. I many times questioned why I was doing this. Recording an album seemed a distant dream.
Somehow, at some point, eventually, when I can’t remember; the room was ready for me to move the equipment in. It looked like a padded cell; and, just about, you could no longer see your breath in there. Years of abandonment has made this room reluctant to warm up; it has forgotten how. Two car journeys later, the room was filled with instruments, tables, chairs, and we could begin.