The Boyer Street Studios, founded by Maxime Le Guil and Victor Lévy-Lasne, offer luxury recording services available 24/7 since December 2022. It’s late at night as Spanish singer Rosalía finishes her London concert at the O2 Arena. After a quick visit to the backstage to greet her prestigious guests, she boards her tour bus and falls asleep, exhausted. The next day, before 10:00 AM, the Spanish star is already standing outside the door of Boyer Street recording studio (Paris XXe), just a few meters from La Maroquinerie. Welcomed by Maxime Le Guil and Victor Lévy-Lasne – the studio’s founders – she will work there for two consecutive days without interruption, only allowing herself one afternoon of rest before her next concert at the Accor Arena (Paris XIIe). “Rosalía came back to our studio with her team to mix the soundtrack for the Louis Vuitton fashion show,” explains Maxime Le Guil. “These artists come here because they know we are as crazy as they are. We say yes to everything, and everything is done immediately.”
Victor Lévy-Lasne and Maxime Le Guil opened their recording studio at the end of 2022, taking the concept to extreme by choosing warm and comfortable lounges – brown wood and oriental carpets – rather than a sterile, post-modern establishment. American acoustician John Storyk – architect of the Electric Lady studio initiated by Jimi Hendrix in 1970 in New York – signs his first building in France, directly inspired by vintage recording booths from the 1970s. Popular musicians like Kid Cudi, Justice, Pusha T, and Alain Souchon seek out pleasant locations where they can work through the night. In 2022, English rapper Little Simz, winner of the Mercury Prize that same year, rented Boyer Street studio for three consecutive weeks, 24/7, to record her fifth studio album, No Thank You. More recently, another location has made headlines. In a 17th-century Provencal chateau-bastide, the recently restored Miraval Studios in Var, founded by Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, hosted mute singer Sade, who has not released music since 2010. Established in 1977 by jazz pianist Jacques Loussier and sound engineer Patrice Quef, the Miraval Studios underwent a facelift twenty years after the passing of Pink Floyd. This immaculate, science-fiction space is worthy of a Stanley Kubrick set.
On February 5th, singer Taylor Swift won two Grammy Awards for her album Midnights, while her friend Jack Antonoff also won the “Producer of the Year” award on the same night. Both artists had used the services of the Boyer Street studio, just like Pharrell Williams, who, alongside the British rock group Mumford and Sons, wrote, produced, and recorded the soundtrack for Louis Vuitton’s latest fashion show in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Also recorded on site were Kid Cudi’s song “At the Party” – in collaboration with Pharrell Williams & Travis Scott – from the album Insano, as well as the drums and strings for the songs “One Night/All Night” (with Tame Impala) and “Generator” by the duo Justice.
Behind the masterpieces, the crucial role of sound engineers is essential. In addition to their state-of-the-art musical equipment, these studios have been renovated to become luxury spaces with a real concierge service. “Excellence is finding Tequila Don Julio 1942 on a Saturday night or making a last-minute reservation at a gourmet restaurant for Pharrell,” say the two founders, poking fun at themselves. This tailor-made service is inspired by the demands of the 1960s studios. In the music industry, everyone starts at the bottom. Whether you’re the “son of” or a first-place Conservatory winner, “I started as an assistant to the assistant in an ultra-prestigious New York studio,” remembers Maxime Le Guil. “For two months, I cleaned the sidewalk and the toilets without even being allowed to enter a room. You quickly understand that your skills will be noticed through your attention to detail.”
Alongside emerging artists or genuine industry stars, sound engineers work behind the scenes, shaping entire works, their names in small print on a cover. But is the quality of these studios truly essential? The Miraval Studios is located in the Miraval castle in Correns, in the Var department of Provence.
With the democratization of music software and the predominance of social networks in musical careers, more and more artists claim the title of “bedroom producer,” composers capable of producing albums from A to Z from their own bedroom or a friend’s garage equipped with a few microphones and a simple computer. Whether it’s hip-hop, electronic music, or mainstream pop, it seems as if recording real instruments in a studio brings no added value.
But Maxime Le Guil and Victor Lévy-Lasne insist: it’s hard to do without a recording studio. “The artisanal dimension of the bedroom producer can sometimes be artificial. The albums of Billie Eilish or Steve Lacy were sold for a long time as such, although they also benefited from the intervention of great experts. The idea is not to oppose the two processes but to show that they are complementary. Today, sound – as a material – is as important as the choice of notes, and the biggest clients of the studios want to control every detail: Kendrick Lamar’s sound engineer can spend three days on a drum kick.”
If the recording studio allows for sculpting sound through its acoustic quality, it also allows for a complete team, from producers to artistic directors. Locked in their rooms in the darkness, bedroom producers rely solely on their confidence, without external input during the creative process. “During Pharrell Williams’s studio sessions, there were fifteen people in the room. The sessions become a mix of composition and artistic performance. He launches a piece and watches the reaction of his collaborators, a kind of audience test.” But that’s not always the case: Little Simz’s producer didn’t allow anyone into the A studio.
Artistic residency or luxury hotel for workaholics in the midst of a tour, recording studios are moving away from purely commercial activity. They no longer host “clients” but quality “guests.”.