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London’s Garden Studio to close next month

London’s Garden Studio will close in December after 35 years of operation. Owner Matt Johnson of The The told PSNEurope he had been “agonising over the decision” for some time.

London’s Garden Studio, designed by Andy Munro, will close in December after 35 years of operation. Matt Johnson of The The, who has owned the basement tracking room located Shoreditch since the early ‘90s, told PSNEurope he had been “agonising over the decision” for some time. Miloco Group, which manages the Garden, reports that the studio has been booked continuously for the last three years. However Johnson says he wanted it to “bow out on a high and not slowly atrophy”, as he has seen happen to other studios. Founded by synth pioneer John Foxx before being acquired by Johnson in 1991, the Garden has played host to a spectrum of acts, from Depeche Mode to Kylie Minogue, from The Cure to the Arctic Monkeys. From 2009, it has served as home to Craig Silvey, who has been in constant demand since, recording the likes of The Horrors, Bombay Bicycle Club and Anna Calvi. Johnson now owns the whole building in which the Garden is located, but, he says, “I’ve kept rents low [there] for a long time, and now I need to raise the money to restore it. Also, Craig wants to work somewhere closer to his family, who are in west London. The decision [to close] is a combination of the two. “I could have carried on for a bit longer, but I also wanted this wonderful recording studio to bow out on a high and not slowly atrophy into a shadow of its former self, as we have seen with far too many legendary recording studios in recent years.” Johnson first visited the Garden in 1982 whilst looking for a suitable studio to begin recording Soul Mining, his first album for Epic/CBS as The The. “I immediately felt at home in this space. Compared to many studios of that era its control room was huge and spacious and Foxx and Munro had obviously done their homework in terms of feng shui as, despite it being in a basement with little natural light, it had – and would always have – a marvellously high level of positive, creative energy.” When the opportunity to purchase the premises arose, Johnson says he “didn’t hesitate” to snap it up. “I swiftly closed the studio to the public and continued using it as my personal studio, still revelling in the creative atmosphere that seemed to seep out of its old, Victorian basement walls.” Relocating to New York in the mid-‘90s, Johnson handed the running of The Garden over to Milo Music; it was the first ‘managing partnership’ with Milo Music and planted the seed for the Miloco Group, which now manages over 40 studios internationally. The creation of a permanent base at the facility for Grammy-winning producer Craig Silvey has resulted in a fully-booked schedule for the studio since 2009. “The fact that the Garden is fully booked by top class artists right up until the very day it closes its doors for the last time, shows once again the enduring popularity of this magical space,” says Johnson. Of late, the musician and composer has been developing soundtrack material for his Cineola record label, and has published a book chronicling his father’s experiences in the notorious Two Puddings pub in the East End. However, Johnson revealed to PSNEurope that, when all of the Garden’s vintage gear is finally removed from the studio space, he intends to take a portable recording set-up into the basement for a few days to make the definitive, final Garden album.

Story: Dave Robinson