Ask any musician what matters most in a recording and they'll likely tell you quality. In an age when entire albums can be recorded on personal laptops, there's still a demand for doing things the old fashioned way: recording in a dedicated studio space with professional equipment and an engineer who knows that equipment intimately.
It's with that in mind that Arlyn Studios owners Fred and Lisa Fletcher, along with new partners Will Bridges and T. Murphey, have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours breathing new life into an Austin recording studio that's been around since the 1980s.
Musician, producer and entrepreneur Fred Fletcher founded Arlyn Studios in 1984. His uncle, Willie Nelson, convinced him to establish the recording studio adjacent to the Austin Opera House — a live music venue that attracted the likes of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM. Although the Opera House, which was owned by Nelson and Tim O'Connor, closed its doors in the 90s, Arlyn Studios remained.
For the past 10 years, the Fletchers booked the studio exclusively to an audio engineering school. Earlier this year, they decided it was time to reclaim the facility off South Congress, and revive its original purpose as a world-class professional recording studio. "Freddy had always said, 'I want to take Arlyn back.' It was never a lack of desire. It was timing and I think the thing that pushed it over the edge was Will and T.," Lisa Fletcher explains.
Will Bridges learned about Arlyn Studios
in 2008 after his parents met the Fletchers at a party. Along with childhood friend and fellow entrepreneur, T. Murphey, it was always Bridges' dream to run a recording studio in Austin. Bridges contacted Fred Fletcher to discuss his interest in relaunching Arlyn; Fletcher, who was heavily involved in developing ACL Live at the Moody Theater
at the time, told Bridges to call him in a few years.
Earlier this year, the stars aligned and a partnership was born between the Fletchers, Bridges and Murphey, and a plan to bring Arlyn back to its roots, while giving it some modern updates, finally took shape.
"We have pretty much gutted it, equipment- and building-wise," Lisa Fletcher explains. The result is three separate studios: A, B and C. Studio A offers full-on-tracking, overdub and mixing capabilities; studio B is more geared towards overdubs and mixing but also has tracking capabilities; and studio C offers a video editing suite for film post-production.
Studio A is the largest and will feature what the Arlyn partners are most excited about — a custom-made super console designed by Fred Hill.
"People that are passionate about their art know they are capturing the music forever — and they want it to be good. It's the desire for it to be badass that is driving the renaissance back to the big rooms and big machines because they just sound better." - Will Bridges
"We had a vintage API here at Arlyn. Out at Pedernales, we had a vintage Neve. They are being married to each other with a custom center section that will combine the two. It's literally going to be the one of its kind," she says.
In addition to API
, the studio will also offer SSL
. Fletcher says the three represent the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mercedes of the audio world.
Bridges says artists have pushed the limit on what they can do on their own recording wise, and now many are returning to more traditional recording methods to get a warmer sound and higher quality, making the timing of this renovation perfect.
"People that are passionate about their art know they are capturing the music forever — and they want it to be good. It's the desire for it to be badass that is driving the renaissance back to the big rooms and big machines because they just sound better. At the end of the day, nobody can really argue that."
Fletcher adds, "We're taking it to a new level in every way - the building, the equipment. We'll be up there with the world class studios in New York, LA and Nashville, but because we're in Austin Texas, we can still do it for less." Arlyn will have the capacity to have two artists in at the same time and each will have their own studio, kitchenette, lounge and entrance.
The studio's past client roster is long and impressive, including Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, Indigo Girls, Sublime, Neil Young, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson. Fletcher says while they hope the revamped studio continues to attract big names, it will also provide options to artists with more limited resources.
"Because we now have two unique spaces, we will be able to offer different packages," she explains. "If a band can't afford this whole studio, there will be options where if something is not booked on a given day they could set up live and do a lower price point, and not get access to everything, but still have a top notch studio."
Bridges says he hopes Arlyn Studios will elevate the Austin music scene by filling a void — the traditional commercial studio that provides a big blank canvas that let's artists "do their thing."
"We want to be accessible to the local bands, but we also want to attract the biggest artists in the world. We want there to be no excuses why they can't work in Austin Texas... 200 Academy used to be a famous address and we all want to get it back on the map."
The first sessions in Studio B start December 6th. Studio A is slated to be up and running in January.