Recording In Paradise
Headliner descends on Miloco’s Angelic Studio to chat to chief engineer, Luke Gibbs, Enter Shikari’s Rob Rolfe and Rou Reynolds, and The Hoosiers frontman, Irwin Sparkes, to find out more about working in what is without question one of the finest residential recording spaces in the UK today.
Hidden away in the heart of rural England, Miloco’s Angelic Studio provides artists with a completely exclusive and idyllic setting to record in. Based within two beautiful farm buildings, it has been converted and refurbished to perfection, offering an exquisite recording environment.
Angelic was built by the late producer and former-Jamiroquai keyboardist and songwriter, Toby Smith - and it’s a formidable recording and mix environment with a kit list that’s nothing short of jaw dropping: an SSL console as its centrepiece; a great-sounding live room complete with Yamaha grand piano; every guitar amp you could wish for; racks of incredible outboard; synths you might not even know exist; and the most extraordinary collection of vintage microphones.
Chief engineer, Luke Gibbs, lives onsite in one of the barns. He reflects on the time that English band, The 1975, spent at Angelic for almost seven months straight.
“Half the day was spent recording, and the first half of the day they’d have personal trainers. They would enjoy the countryside space because they knew they’d be here for such a long time, so they weren’t going to do too much every day,” Gibbs says. “They would relax and have the time to be creative. They were set up in the accommodation building, so they had their own area, and they were sat up there writing. They’d come [to the studio] for a few hours of the day at first to get the initial bits of recording done. That scale changed as time went on where they spent less time writing, and a lot of time in here recording.”
"We walked into Angelic studio mere boys, and we left battle-hardened men."
Gibbs says that the control room is especially comfortable and ‘sounds perfect’:
“It’s got the most up to date, perfect equipment and live room to be able to work in. It really is the ultimate studio,” he insists. “It’s just pure escapism – getting away from it all. Such a creative headspace. It is really relaxing, and there’s such a special vibe here that I think Toby created intentionally. Everything has fallen into place perfectly, and this is exactly what he wanted.”
Jon Gilmore, producer for The 1975, is also full of praise for Angelic:
“The main room is a truly beautiful-sounding space; a wonderful, relaxed rural atmosphere has meant every session there has been an an absolute pleasure.”
Enter Shikari recorded their last record, The Spark, at Angelic. Drummer Rob Rolfe says the band had a fantastic time making the album.
“It’s a place when you can really settle in and make yourself at home, relax, and spend a good amount of time to get a full album recorded, or even just a few tracks,” he says. “We settled in really quickly; it has such majestic surroundings. We were there in the winter - I remember it being very cold, waking up in the morning and seeing frosty grass and mist rolling across the hill, horses out the front. It was so calming, and that allowed us to stay focused on the job at hand, creating music. As a result, we got such a lot of work done. And the kit - you’ve just got everything you could wish for, and as a drummer, that airy live room allows for lots of miking positions. It really is just the ultimate studio.”
Shikari’s frontman, Rou Reynolds, concurs:
“It’s a state of the art recording facility,” he says. “The Spark was a big step for us, so it was good to have that time to let the sound settle in; that enabled us to have a greater sense of it as an album.”
Lead singer of The Hoosiers, Irwin Sparkes, has many memories of recording at Angelic - Toby Smith managed The Hoosiers, so he has a real connection with the studio - although it wasn’t always about the music..!
“I would not want to be chased down those country lanes by a tractor driven by anyone else other than Toby Smith, and that’s exactly what happened,” he smiles. “I don’t even know why he had a tractor – he might have just found the keys. But he did make it up to us by arranging for us to drive, high up in combine harvesters in the neighbouring fields, such is the bucolic splendour of the location.
“Angelic was a home from home. I remember Toby hired a nutritionist once to tell me I was the fattest Hoosier, which is a badge of honour; I’m okay with that! It isn’t like any other recording studio I’ve ever been to. It’s been built with the oversight of someone who has spent a lifetime working in music, and recording in the best studios around the world.
“Acoustically, and in terms of the mood and environment that is being created, it’s on par with nothing else we’ve ever experienced. We walked into Angelic studio mere boys, and we left battle-hardened men.”