WSDG’s John Storyk on The Church Studios

In October 2013, multi-platinum producer Paul Epworth purchased The Church Studios and signed the Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) and Miloco Builds to completely reconfigure its SSL room and put together a writing room. Jake Young spoke with studio architect John Storyk (Electric Lady Studios, Jungle City Studios), about the restoration so far.

First off, tell me how you got involved in the project.

Paul worked at our award-wining studio that we did two years ago for Ann Mincieli, Jungle City Studios in New York. What he liked about that was the whole front wall construction based on Augspurger monitors. Essentially he wanted that in London. To our knowledge that kind of monitoring system and that approach to control and design does not exist in London for better or for worse. Some pictures and drawings came over of The Church studio to see if it was even physically possible size-wise. The original control room layout, which is pretty close to what’s going to be built now, was not terribly different in size than Jungle City Studios. The first study we did was to lay them on top of each other, because originally what we thought would happen was we’d just remove the front wall and rebuild the Jungle City Studios wall and at the same time spruce up the space. And that’s how this started.

What were the main challenges of reconfiguring the SSL room?

Very quickly into the project it was discovered that there was basically no isolation between the ground floor and the upstairs room. That was a huge setback. I just assumed it was a working studio and it turns out that the way everybody worked all these years was they just never used them simultaneously. I was quite surprised but nobody was more surprised than Paul! Over the month with Miloco and Pete Hofmann [project manager and technical director] we kept uncovering things and taking things out until one day it was obvious that the entire ground floor had to be gutted. It started out as ‘Could you help us with the monitor system?’ and turned into our first major project in London.

It was pretty crazy. At one point we were in every phase of the project. In our weekly office meetings we usually discuss projects depending on what phase they’re in. Some were in design, some were in construction document preparation, some were in supervision, and then there was The Church in its own meeting.

Were there any special considerations you had to address?

Paul’s aesthetic seemed to line up with our aesthetic quite nicely. His idea is all white, but it’s not quite all white. There’s actually four different kinds of white in there believe it or not. He has this notion that the light and the mood can change. It’s full circle because 45 years ago a left-handed guitar player gave me the exact same directions, ‘I’d like my studio all white and I want the lights to change.’ It’s like déjà vu.

Tell me about your working relationship with Paul and Miloco Builds.

Paul’s just sensational to work with. We got a lot of clients in 45 years and he’s in the top 10 already, mainly because he’s an artist himself. He deals with everything artistically, from choosing a light to making a note. It’s fun actually. Miloco are great builders, terrific to work with. The project manager Micky Whelan and Pete Hofmann have been fantastic. I don’t think two days go by that we don’t talk to Micky or Pete. They’ve been sensational every step of the way. It’s been pretty seamless to be honest, except for the warm beer when I go over there.

Are you confident that work will end in July?

I’m pretty sure, yeah. In our business you’re always working two months ahead so now we just sit back and let them build it. It’s definitely going to be summer 2014.

The SSL room at Church Studios now under construction