Studio Series: Jon Lawton

We check out Crosstown studios, the workplace of musician and producer Jon Lawton…

Please describe your space: I have a space in a shared building with a few other businesses. I am on the top floor so I get a lot of light, which is nice – usually studios are shoved away in a basement. There’s a business in here that makes false teeth, and one that makes neon signs – it’s a different vibe! I never wanted a clinical space; I always wanted a comfy couch, personal things around. A lot of the bands feel at home, kick their shoes off. Some bands get too comfortable and fall asleep during mixing. The studio has got a control room, a live room, a vocal booth … and a kitchenette.

What do you work on here? A mixture of stuff. I work on my own music as much as I can. I engineer full-time as a day job here, working with different bands and singers, from voice-over work, to punk bands, to kids singing pop. I also mix and produce. At the minute I’m working on finishing my own album, which should be out at the end of the year. I’m working with Mock Up Design Labs who are making an animation for the entire album, which when it’s finished, I hope to perform live with a full extended audio-visual installation. Not too sure how I’m going to perform it yet; about 15 people have featured on this album, including a Turkish kanun player, so it’s going to be a challenge. I’m also co-producing and recording an album for Hamza Robertson, it’ll be his second album, and luckily I’ve had quite a lot of involvement in this one. I also work a lot with musician Sami Yusuf, live and in the studio.

How many hours a week do you spend here? A ridiculous amount. I’m here six or seven days a week, between eight and 12/14 hours a day. Most of the time I’m awake, I’m here. Between recording and producing bands and my own material … this is a home from home. I feel as comfortable here as I do in my own flat, because I have to. It’s not a complaint – it’s the one thing I wanted to do, the whole time I’ve ever been aware of music. Between this and playing on tour with Sami Yusuf … It’s my dream job. We all know a lot of people who don’t have their dream job, so I feel very privileged.

What helps you work? The only thing I really need to work is coffee. Like every musician! But just being in the right mood to work … I don’t think writer’s block really exists, but some days it’s definitely easier to get where you’re going. I think environment is definitely important. I feel more comfortable working in my own studio than somewhere else.  But, in terms of things I need, I’m just as happy working with a guitar as I am with a laptop or a keyboard, it doesn‘t make much difference.

Describe your three favourite things in the studio. I definitely have a favourite guitar, my Framus guitar – it’s been everywhere with me, and has probably covered more miles than most people! Plus, it got lost once at an airport, then I knew how much I loved it! Probably the coffee machine because it gets used every day. It’s a good way of taking a break and not listening to music for a bit; it keeps everyone going. Toy Story stuff – all of it has come from friends. It’s got a bit out of hand now. The latest thing is the Toy Story soldiers made out of Lego.

If your studio could speak, what would it say? It might tell me to spend a bit more time on my own material, and less time on other stuff. It would probably tell me to go home and give it a break. If you spend too much time in someone’s company, you get sick of them – I imagine it’s sick of me.

If there was any important advice you could give to other musicians/producers/studio owners, what would that be? Not really my advice, but I suppose the work ethic of my hero Omar Rodriguez Lopez -just keep doing as much as you can, and work with as many people as you can, as often as you can. Hopefully you can get something you’re happy with eventually. I remember there was a point when I didn’t know whether to continue what I do. I asked my Dad what to do, and he also said, ‘just keep going’. His advice worked out! I think I’m beyond the point where I could do anything else now.

Crosstown Studios YouTube Channel

Posted on 15/06/2012 by thedoublenegative