HOLLYWOOD, CA—Responding to the process by which many types of music are created these days, Serenity West Recording has repurposed Studio B as a production room. Now, when potential clients ask studio manager Cameell Hanna if the facility offers a production room, the answer is simple: What size would you like?
For nearly three decades, the facility was home to one of Hollywood’s landmark multi-studio complexes, Music Grinder, which opened in 1975. Subsequently, Jonathan Davies of Korn maintained a private production studio in the building before Godsmack front man Sully Erna took over. At the end of last year, songwriters and producers Leo Mellace and Steve Catizone partnered with Erna to open Serenity West as a West Coast counterpart to their Boston-based Sanctum Sound studios.
Serenity West already boasts a long client list that includes some of the biggest names in the business: Justin Beiber, Black Eyed Peas, Nikki Minaj, Rihanna, Shakira, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Lil Wayne and many others. Adele recorded a track from her mega-hit, 21, with Ryan Tedder at the studio.
For many of those artists, song production is a collaborative affair that involves a lot of people, and that has led Serenity West to adapt its rooms accordingly. “We took over in September to build this up,” reports Hanna. “It was a singleroom studio, very much tied to the old record business—$2,500 a day. We decided to keep that idea but offer alternatives for all the people looking for something more along the lines of a production room. We have two different sizes, then we have one upstairs for overflow. This is going to be three different rooms, three different sizes at three different prices, for all different types of people.”
He elaborates, “We’re setting it up for the world we know we live in. Bigger acts are going to come in and maybe tuck themselves away for a month or so. So you could come in, take a room, then there are all these other rooms that you can fan out into with your other producer s and programmer s. There’s a guy that’s making beats or writing music, and then there are top-liners coming in 24 hours a day on top of that. The reality now is that they might have a writer they want to put in a room and write vocals while another guy continues to work on the production. That’s the environment.”
Studio A is a traditional design that offers a live room plus multiple iso booths and features a large SSL 9000J console and equipment credenzas conveniently placed to set up keyboards, samplers and workstations. Studio B, designed by Hanson Hsu of Delta H Designs, eliminates the console in favor of providing some choice items of studio furniture that will allow producers to bring in and set up their own gear for extended projects and long-term room rentals.
“This is maybe not so much an engineering environment as it is a creative space,” observes Hanna. “Sully was excited about the idea of giving this business a nudge to the next step. We’ve planned very carefully, and we’ve thought a lot about how we want to do it. We’ve called all of our label friends, and we got a lot of notes. These rooms are built for the next five, 10 years of sessions.”
Since the facility is owned by producers and songwriters, he continues, “They’re very sensitive to the environment that we need to set here. We have a very talented studio interior designer that did Sanctum Sound, and she’s got this cool visual style that she’s going to bring to the main spaces and the new room. It’s going to be adjustable lighting, lots of cool candle features. We’re going to redo the carpeting so it’s real lush and soft, almost like you walked into a living room.”
The facility’s creative ambience is further enhanced by a dedication to customer service. “One of our big projects, as it should be for any place that wants to cater to the super- famous, was to include a lot of the creature comforts,” says Hanna. Arrangements with local car companies and nearby hotels such as the W and the Roosevelt ensure that clients are looked after even during downtime.
“They can spend 12 hours here and be creative, and then when they’re not here, they have a safe, close place to go to play, unwind and relax. It’s a great environment here for artists to do what they do.”
Serenity West Recording
Delta H Design