Studio Focus: Wisseloord Studios
Aussie Producer Stephen Bartlett recently pulled up stumps from his Brisbane studio Docking Station, sold off his gear, signed over a lease to Tristan Hoogland’s Hunting Grounds Studio, and moved over to the Netherlands to start working out of the recently rejuvenated Wisseloord Studios.
Built in 1978, over the years Wisseloord has hosted Mick Jagger, Elton John, The Police and a host of other legendary artists. Under new ownership, the studios have been overhauled and expanded, adding a new mastering suite featuring an SPL console and manned by Dutch mastering savant Sander van der Heide and Pier-Durk Hogenterp. Also new to Wisseloord is the Studio 4 ‘Vintage Room’, which is a one-room concept styled like a living room. The homely space has a Neve 8014 desk with 1073 preamps and a 12-channel ’60s EMI console, which was apparently used to record The Beatles’ Abbey Road demos. But which ’60s EMI console didn’t have the Fab Four’s grubby prints all over it? Being the Vintage Room, as well as ProTools, you have the option to track to 16- or 8-track tape machines.
In just a year of working at Wisseloord, Bartlett has chocked up plenty of accolades. “I’ve had four Top 10 records, at least one platinum certification, and some Top 10 singles,” said Bartlett. “I’ve been exposed to more surround mixing than I could have believed — up to 10.1 surround, which changes how you hear music. And I’ve been fortunate to work with some simply amazing musicians, and producers like Pat Leonard. The culture of Europe is amazing, we have people coming in from around Europe and America and you get exposed to such different ways of thinking about and approaching music. But the most amazing part is how similar it all is!”
Bartlett says working in a studio with the history of Wisseloord definitely adds a pep to the step when you get to work in the morning, or are burning the candle at both ends. “It adds hugely,” said Bartlett. “The first time I walked into the studio, I was greeted by a picture of Mick Jagger sitting at a console in Wisseloord. The halls are lined with gold and platinum records. The mics and gear I get to use are often the same pieces used on records I listen to. Having Ronald [Prent] around who was there for so many of those records also means I get to hear some amazing stories. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the end of those stories.”