Published On January 14, 2018 | Features

Herve Le Guil

Herve Le Guil owns and manages La Fabrique, an amazing residential recording studio located in the south of France. La Fabrique plays host to the renowned Mixing With The Masters program. Herve was interviewed by Allon Silove.

I studied audio in the late ’70s before working in a Paris recording studio headed by a famous French producer, Dominique Blanc-Francard — give him a song and he’d make it a hit!

After my experience with Dominique I started my own studio in a big old cinema on the outskirts of Paris.

It was a beautiful place that I mostly renovated myself. Acoustically it sounded amazing and it helped me record hundreds of jazz albums.

I did that up until 1999, when I had the invitation to take over what is now Studio La Fabrique.

La Fabrique looks like a chateau but it was built as a textiles factory — hence the name. Generations of people lived here as workers. It has an amazing history. It’s a big place. The building alone is 3500sqm. 

I became aware of the property because a famous music critic lived here (Armand Panigel) and had amassed an enormous collection of classical music, films and books. After his passing in the mid ’90s it became clear that someone needed to adopt the collection and save it from destruction.

I moved my family from Paris to the south of France to save the collection and the building. This was while I still had the Paris recording studio. As anyone who’s run a studio knows, it’s hard enough to run one when you live in it, let alone when you live in another part of the country!

I began to renovate the place. It was a huge, huge undertaking. All the while I was thinking about turning it into a recording studio.

At the time I was also the French distributor of a number of audio equipment brands, including Tube-Tech, Microtech Gefell, Grace Design and Blue Sky studio monitors.

It got to a point, with all my stock of audio equipment, that I had most of the pieces to fit out a recording studio. All I needed was a mixing console.

Luck and serendipity brought the Neve 88R and I together. 

It’s a large console. We didn’t know if it would be too large. And we didn’t know how suitable it would be for the space.

The music collection space is large — it’s 100sqm and full of records and books. It’s such an unusual space that it was really tough to predict how suitable it would be as a control room.

Finally we took the plunge. My son, Maxime and I, installed the console in the middle of the collection. Turned out to be the best thing we could have done. The acoustics are fantastic. Normally it shouldn’t be possible to work in this size of a control room but it’s great to work in. I don’t do a lot of engineering and mixing now but working on the most recent Gypsy Kings album, this room constantly amazed me — it’s so good and so reliable… mixes translate so well.

In my opinion the Neve 88R is one of the best console ever made. It’s a much better console for tracking than an SSL. While in Paris I was the first studio to install an SSL G+, so I know that console well. I’m a huge fan of the SSL preamp, but it’s not the same as the Neve. The Neve 88R preamp’s headroom is just incredible. Overload it 20dB or more and it still sounds really good.

We run the Mixing With The Masters program from La Fabrique. It’s grown to become very successful.

It was actually the idea of my son Maxime and his business associate Victor, both are top class audio engineers.

After Maxime finished his studies in 2009, he sought out an internship somewhere. He wrote many letters, including one to Michael Brauer. Michael, loved the letter and after meeting Maxime offered him an internship at Electric Lady studios. Michael was impressed with Maxime and offered to assist him with securing paid work. Maxime returned to La Fabrique first and an idea came to him, which was effectively the model of Mixing With The Masters [MWTM], where working studio engineers and producers have the opportunity to spend time with studio professionals such as Michael Brauer, who are at the top of their game. 

La Fabrique has 20 bedrooms, so we can accommodate some 12 to 14 ‘students’ at a time and they can immerse themselves in the week-long program.

MWTM was immediately a big hit, not a bad accomplishment for a couple of young guys in their mid twenties. Since the first sessions with Michael Brauer we’ve had the likes of Chris and Tom Lord-Alge, Andrew Scheps, Joe Chiccarelli, Jacquire King and many others through the doors.

What does the future hold for La Fabrique? I just want to welcome as many people from the world of music creation as we can — writing, composing, playing, recording and producing.

It’s a magical place and artists just seem to love it.

We had one artist who returned after two years to book La Fabrique for his wedding! It’s that kind of place.

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