Wednesday, April 16, 2014

York St Studios closing

York St Studios is closing down. The owner, Adrien De Croy (of Jelly Music, who own York St, and co-own Siren Records) apparently has plans to turn the space into apartments.

In mid February NZ Musician reported that York St had announced their closure on April 20 2014 in their Parnell location via their Facebook page...

"Dear Friends.

It is with the deepest of regret I inform you that the lovely building we have occupied for the last 20 years is in the process of being sold. York Street Recording studios will, from the 20th of April 2014, no longer be able to continue to operate from the current Parnell studio.

Through 22 years of making music we have seen good times and bad and ironically business is currently thriving. We are not sure about the next chapter in the York Street Recording Studios story but are looking at various options including re-locating to other premises, and will keep you posted.

We are fully booked until the 28th of February and will be taking bookings at the iconic York Street location for March and April up to the last day. This could be your last chance to get that fantastic sound we offer from York Street and to be part of New Zealand music history!!

This is sad news for us all but please share with your music friends."

York St Studios opened in 1992, and was set up and run initially by acclaimed NZ producer Malcolm Wellsford, engineer Martin Williams, and Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman, who produced Shihad's debut album at York St in 1993. Coleman returned to the studio in late 2013 to produce the next album from Shihad, which they finished mixing in late February 2014.

However, the current studio manager Jeremy McPike, recently registered a company called York St Recording Studio Ltd, so there appears to be a relocation/move in the winds, as suggested above. The new company was registered on 24 February this year. According to the Companies Office website, McPike is the sole director and one of two key shareholders.

[UPDATED 2 May 29014 - Audioculture notes that McPike now owns the name and gear, but has no plans to relocate due to the massive costs involved]

McPike told the Rockshop in January 2014 that when De Croy bought the studio in 2000 “The lease was up and the Studio was essentially bankrupt. Adrien bought York Street the business and the building to stop it being demolished by the developers. Adrien saved York Street”. 

But he goes on to say “York Street has not cost any money but has essentially been a break-even business for 12-13 years”. They have diversified to other areas, such as being the regular venue for the NZ Herald's Sundae Sessions live shoot (which have now relocated to Roundhead). 

York St is the current home a vintage 1974 EMI Neve 24-channel mixing console, one of only seven made.  It was first used here in EMI’s Wellington studio from 1975 til that facility closed in 1987. The original cost was 34,000 pounds.  It was first used at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London for nine months, while they waited on a 36-channel version to be built. It was then shipped to Wellington [source].

According to York St's website "There were 7 of these fantastic sounding consoles made by the legends at Neve specifically for EMI studios around the world, one of which was in Wellington New Zealand. We were able to track down all of our consoles relatives. One is at U2’s studio in Dublin, one is at ICP studios in Brussels, Belgium, two have been put together as one large console and is in Steakhouse Studios in Hollywood CA, Two are currently being put together at the Great Linford Manor in England and number 7 is here with us at York Street in New Zealand

All of these consoles have been heavily modified over the years and ours is the only one left in its original condition. Our console (serial number A3095) is fitted with 24 inputs all with the very rare and sought after 1093 modules (5 band EQ) and has 16 returns. The console uses 1977 channel routing units and 3415 line amps."

ADDED May 2, 21014: Audioculture writer Gareth Shute has written an excellent backgrounder on York St Studios, read it here.

Gareth writes that... " McPike wasn’t surprised by this decision [to close up]: “It isn’t about York Street closing because it isn’t well run. The building is just too expensive. The only reason we’re not moving to another building is because the relocation costs would be massive.”

... McPike bought the brand name “York Street” and all of its equipment, but initially decided to put this aside for the time being and accepted a new job at Neil Finn’s state-of-the-art Roundhead Studios ... “Neil probably spent five million bucks making Roundhead and he’ll never make that money back. He built that studio for New Zealand musicians. I just hope they support it by making use of the facilities that are there.”

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