Studio Profile: Real World Studios, Bath

Set in stunning rural surroundings near the city of Bath in South West England, Real World Studios is a unique residential recording facility where artists, producers and engineers can escape their daily distractions and focus solely on making music. As part of our Studio Profile series, we spoke to Tim Oliver, Senior Consulting Engineer…

How long have you been running and why was your space set up?

Real World was opened in 1987 as the vision of Peter Gabriel’s perfect recording environment. Focused solely on making musicians feel as comfortable as possible for creative freedom, it flew in the face of conventional studio design at the time: Performers, producers and engineers all in the same room with plenty of natural daylight.

What artists, presenters or other creators pass through your doors?

Over the years our client list has included A-Ha, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Happy Mondays, Manic Street Preachers, The Coral, Van Morrison and more. Harry Styles, Foals and The 1975 have recorded albums here in the last year.

What’s your USP as a studio based on feedback from artists and completed sessions?

The studio is in a very inspiring rural setting with green countryside, rivers, streams and wildlife on the doorstep. Being a residential studio the musicians are together 24 hours a day which brings the creative energies together. Everything is taken care of so the musicians can focus just on their playing.  

Who’s on the team?

Head Engineer: Katie May

House Engineers: Dom Shaw, Bob Mackenzie

Associate engineers: Oli Jacobs, Patrick Phillips

Tech manager: Bob Leadbeater

Studio Coordinator: Lisa Murton

Senior Consulting Engineer: Tim Oliver

Studios have experienced massive change in the last few years and there’s many different types – where do you fit in?

As one of the few remaining residential studios and with a global renown, we manage to keep our heads above the very choppy waters.

How would you describe the overall vibe of the studio and what’s the balance between creating a great sound vs a great vibe – can they exist hand in hand without compromise?

Real World is a very laid back and relaxed place because we believe that’s necessary for the creative process. You can’t make great music without a great vibe. Under the surface the legs are paddling hard to keep that going.

How do you feel about remote collaboration in your studio with apps such as Audiomovers, do you embrace it or does it change the magic in the room?

We use Audiomovers a lot but only as a last resort when musicians can’t be here in person. Two completely different beasts.

Can artists stay at your studio and if so what’s the set up?

Yes – the studio is fully residential and includes 8 rooms, many with en suite bathrooms. We’ve also got an in-house French chef and a wonderful housekeeper who makes everyone feel at home. Bath is a 15 minute drive away and Bristol, with its vibrant music scene, is 45 minutes away by car. The stunning countryside around Real World is criss-crossed by public footpaths linking local villages. Walk up the river path from the studio, and four hours later you’ll reach Castle Combe, a quintessential Cotswold village that’s been the filming location for countless period dramas.

Talk us through your rooms and why they are designed in the way they are:

Big Room: A vast space designed to house band, producer and engineers for ease of communication. Huge windows looking out onto the mill pond and gardens for inspiration.

Wood Room: Tied to the Big Room for a more conventional recording area, it also stands alone with its own recording rig. The triple height ceiling and uneven stone and wood surfaces creates a sublime rich acoustic.

Red Room: Atmos mixing room, also set up as a writing and production room

Dream recording project or client?

Most of my dreams have become reality here, those that didn’t won’t happen now: David Bowie, Prince, Sly Stone.

Photo credit: York Tillyer

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