“There were literally killer whales outside,” Sebastian Ingrosso recalled of Swedish House Mafia’s stay at Ocean Sound, a recording studio nestled on a small island off Norway’s northwest coast. “We had chefs who brought in fresh fish every day. The ocean was there when you opened the door. It’s one of the best studios I’ve been to. It was magical.
The setting and ambiance of a recording studio can have an immense effect on the artists who record there. And from the Greek seaside to the Brazilian mountains to the Arctic Circle, these faraway spaces have hosted countless artists, including ABBA, Queen, Sade, Soundgarden, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Fleet Foxes and many more.
In addition to our in-depth look at the revival of Miraval Studios – a particularly stunning (and historic) recording space in Provence, France that Brad Pitt and engineer-producer Damien Quintard have given new life – Billboard tours the world through dozens of beautiful, state-of-the-art studios. These are the studios that have inspired the artists who have created timeless classics and modern radio hits, and for the most part they are far from the hustle and bustle of traditional industrial hubs.
There’s the getaway to the mountains of southern Spain with rooms inspired by JRR Tolkien’s Hobbits (Space Mountain Studios); the luxury studio in Santorini where, says owner Kostas Kalimeris, Björk worked a few years ago as “his birthday present” (Black Rock Studios); the Welsh farm space where the cows are still milked every morning and where the Pixies love to hole up (Rockfield Studios); the rustic Vermont escape where the vibe is as laid-back as a Phish jam (The Barn, built by the band’s Trey Anastasio).
Take a tour of these quaint studios – and many more – below.