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Spotlight on… Castlesound Studios.

Questions by Roberta Pia.

Recording music is probably one of (if not THE) most important factors in a musician’s life. That’s why you want to make sure you pick the right studio with the right sound engineer. There are a number of brilliant recording studios in Edinburgh, but one that stands out as a bit of a winner for us is Castlesound.

There are a number of reasons why; one of which is they’ve had some fantastic bands in their studio – Mark Knopfler,The Proclaimers, Frightened Rabbit and R.E.M… to name but a few. We caught up with sound engineer, Stuart Hamilton and Frightened Rabbit frontman, Scott Hutchison, to try and get a bit of insight into the Castlesound experience from two quite different perspectives.

Stuart ‘The Sound Engineer’ VS Scott ‘The Recording Artist’


1.     What’s so good about Castlesound?

Stuart: Basically, the sound we can achieve. Castlesound is the largest recording studio in Scotland. It’s known for the amazing sound of its huge recording area which allows a band to play completely live – something we’re seeing a return of more and more now, after years of people trying to record in their bedrooms. Everyone is always blown away by the location and they love the fact that it’s a gorgeous old converted Victorian school building, full of atmosphere and hidden away in the countryside (yet still only 20 minutes drive from Edinburgh). However, perhaps the biggest draw is Castlesound’s array of equipment. Aside from the obligatory Pro Tools HD system, we have outstanding mics such as the Brauner VM1, Sony C-800 and Blue Bottle which, when coupled with an outboard from the likes of Manley, Summit and Neve and our SSL mixing desk, make for one of the best studio gear lists in the UK. Of course, having one of the best engineers around helps too!

Scott: It has one of the most naturally beautiful sounding live rooms in Scotland and there are plenty of options in the building to mess around with interesting room sounds.  It also has a fantastic engineer called Stuart Hamilton – the real reason why it’s so easy and enjoyable to work there.

2.     Describe Castlesound in three words.

Stuart: Unique in Scotland.

Scott: Sausage. Pickle. Rolls.

3.     Tell us a funny/amazing/educational story about Castlesound.

Stuart: There are many funny stories but sadly, most are bound to secrecy… sort of like a Hippocratic Oath for engineers. However, one of our favourites was when REM were in recording and were perhaps finding the lack of five-star catering facilities slightly challenging. As a strict vegetarian and a bit of a picky eater, Michael Stipe played it safe and simply asked for a yogurt and an apple, but a trip to the infamous shop next door could only produce a Macaroni Pie. To his credit, he ate it, gallantly. Strangely though, he never requested it again.

Scott: It used to be a schoolhouse and the lady who cleans the studio each morning (Margaret, I believe) was a pupil at the school.

4.     Why should people pick Castlesound studios over any other studios?

Stuart: You shouldn’t, necessarily! You should always pick the studio that’s most suited to what you want to do. Look around, visit studios, meet the engineer and then make up your mind. You’ll know when you find the right place. Of course, if that’s Castlesound then all the better.

Scott: It’s a very easy place to get work done.  There are no distractions. In Pencaitland you can feel quite ‘removed’ from the world which really helps when you want to immerse yourself fully in a project.  But first and foremost, it just sounds fantastic.

5.     What advice would you give to a band coming in to the studio to record for the first time?

Stuart: Be prepared! Again, don’t be afraid to ask to visit studios, meet the engineer and ask as many questions as you need to before you record. Don’t make the mistake of letting price become the only factor in deciding which studio you choose as it can be incredibly misleading. A good engineer can achieve more in a day than a mediocre one can achieve in a week. Once you decide where you’re going to record, make sure you have rehearsed. And then rehearse again! Be realistic about what you want to achieve each day and enjoy every single minute of it.

Scott: Talk for a while about how you want things to go before you start.  If you tell Stuart what it is you’re looking for, chances are he’ll have a way of getting that sound out of his gear. And get the caramel shortbread from the shop next door.  It’s a ‘gold medal’ of a biscuit.

In case you didn’t know… Frightened Rabbit are a Glasgow-based band formed in 2003. They have stormed Scotland in true style by getting signed to FatCat Records and supporting Gomez on tour. Check them out at www.wearefrightenedrabbit.com

Castlesound (www.castlesound.co.uk/) has been around for over 30 years and is now one of the leading recording studios in the UK. Contact Castlesound Studios by telephone: +44 (0) 131 346 1942, or by email: contact@castlesound.com

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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