If you speak with enough people who work behind the scenes in the music industry, there’s a strong probability you’ll walk away a disillusioned husk. That might be laying it on a little thick, but with rapid changes in not only music consumption, but in production opportunities, studio confidence and the dwindling prospects for emerging musicians to get ahead, the industry landscape seems uncertain terrain.
It is reassuring, then, to find a studio like The Grove who are legitimately passionate about maintaining traditional strengths whilst still eager to embrace the shape of a new digital era. Owner-producer Scott Horscroft talks all things music, education and the shape of things to come.
“I’m a big believer in recording studios having great producers as the backbone,” he explains from L.A., where he is currently working with Empire of the Sun on their new album. “There are still service studios, which are basically recording spaces that you hire, where as at places like The Grove we’ve always been focused on a team of great producers who bring that space to life and drive the vision of the studio. We have myself and Burke Reid, one of my best friends and a fantastic producer, Andy Mac and Jackson Barclay. Between the four of us, we’ve been able to bring a lot of great artists into the studio, and build on the history of what the studio was before I owned it as well. Burke has worked with Olympia, Sarah Blasko, Courtney Barnett and DZ Deathrays in the last year. In my spare time I did Oh Mercy, and it was just fantastic winning the ARIA for that. It’s really something special when you get to see artists come up to spend some time away from the world, to immerse themselves in making music.”
The sense of history that Horscroft touches on makes for an interesting segue into the world of music recording today. Chatting with him, it is immediately clear that this is more than a job; he is earnest in his support for providing a space for musicians to thrive.
“Right now, I’m standing in Henson Studios, a very famous studio that was built over 100 years ago by Charlie Chaplin and was eventually bought out by Jim Henson. It’s the room that ‘We Are the World’ was recorded in. There’s a historical run-through of where I’m standing at the moment. There’s a really interesting argument that’s been going on for a long time in audio, and that’s the question, ‘can great music be made on laptops in bedrooms’, and why are studios shutting down all around the world? I was mixing a track while I was on the plane over here, so I’m across both. I have the laptop and a world class studio, but being in this place has absolutely reinforced the idea that when you’ve got six people all energised in a space that’s purpose built, with all the best gear in the world, magic happens. This isn’t just for your premier artists. We have a lot of young bands come along, and that’s totally inspirational, watching artists put their heart and soul into their first recording. The enthusiasm and energy that comes out of that process is really special.”
Horscroft’s emphasis on encouraging and training emerging artists – be they producers, musicians or engineers – is at the core of The Grove’s philosophy. Having recently partnered with the Regional Music Institute, they are offering a variety of courses to anyone who is passionate about music production and is searching for that next crucial step.
“I’ve always had a vision to create a school. We’ve got such a great facility across 27 acres, such a great array of people who are very experienced and we wanted to pass that knowledge on. For people who are really enthusiastic about creating careers in the music industry as producers, engineers and musicians, we thought we’d build a school. We’ve joined up with TAFE to provide the accreditation, so we’ve taken their curriculum and built on that. We’ve incorporated all of our facilities and engineers to be a part of that learning journey. We’re offering a diploma in sound production, which is the first step, and we’re currently looking for intake into an advanced diploma, which starts in April. We really want students to have a full understanding of what it takes to become a successful producer or engineer.”
“What we’re truly offering is a duty of care to involve people and show them what it takes to move forward. It’s not easy. It’s really not. In Australia, there are only a small number of people that break through. But there have always been incredible shining artists here, and providing them with those next steps, that’s what The Grove is all about.”
For more information about The Grove Studios, head to thegrovestudios.com