2Fly Studios takes flightPosted by: Ashley Birch
The seminal Sheffield studio has left its Stag Works home near Bramall Lane and moved to more picturesque surroundings
Alan Smyth is a name that, chances are, you wouldn't have heard of, but even if you don’t know the name, you will know the work that came out of his 2Fly Studios.
Many of Sheffield’s great and good have passed through 2Fly Studios’ doors on John Street, near Bramall Lane, both in the tiny Stag Works courtyard building and later next door in Harland works.
A who’s who of Sheffield’s musical gliteratti have laid down some of their earliest tracks since its 2002 opening but sadly, increasing rents have driven producer Alan out of the area. Fortuntely, all is not lost for the seminal Sheff studio as the good news is 2Fly has a new home in the picturesque settings of Andrew Carr Farm, a former pig farm out in Oughtibridge.
“The new 2Fly Studios has much better views," Alan says. "We’ve moved over to this new venue/studio partly because of gentrification in the old area. The landlady of the old 2Fly wanted to double the rent, which was untenable really. We couldn’t do it, not with people working from home and using their laptops. Then I got this phone call saying would you like to use the old pig farm as the venue for a new 2Fly and it was an obvious thing.”
2Fly relocated eight weeks ago and in that time, Alan has moved some of the gear across from the old gaff and mixed it with what was here before and thankfully 2Fly, far from being lost, now rides again.
Alan said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. Basically, what you need is space when you’re recording and some interesting sounds and the room's not too bad. In fact, it’s good!”
Alan arrived in Sheffield in 1982 and tried to set up his own studio but that quickly fell flat. After, he went on to other projects trying to make it as a jobbing musician, whilst still experimenting with recording. One of his favourite memories of that period involves Pulp, and a certain Jarvis Cocker.
Alan said: “The old Fon Studios was above a foundry and it used to get really hot, and we’re not talking just warm, it was f****g hot! We were trying to record a microphone that we were swinging on a lead attached to a big amp. We turned the amp up really loud and then swung the microphone over an arc, and Jarvis got so hot doing this he stripped down to his underpants! It sounded great but it was f****g funny to look at.”
Alan formed Seafruit with Geoff Barradale (former Arctic Monkeys manager) and they were signed in the late 90s. Just as it looked like they were going to make it big, as is the case with so many bands, the rug was pulled from under them. This led Alan to take the plunge and set up his own studio for the second time, some 20-years after his first attempt.
First through the door was Jon McClure and his band at that time Judan Suki, which also happened to feature some bloke called Alex Turner, as well as Matt Helders.
“It all seemed to kick off again with guitar bands leading the way. Jon’s a force of nature so instantly there was a whole bunch of people I was introduced to. One day Alex poked his head round the door and said ‘Al I’ve got another band that me and Helders do, would you like to come and see us play?’
“So I went. I knew it was good but it was a bit of a mess really, but I thought I don’t know what that is but there’s something there that’s really good. So we did a session and it was fantastic but if I said anything to him at that point, it was ‘you are singing in an American accent, is that intentional? Do you think you should?’ When he sang, it became apparent he had a remarkable voice that just sits out in the speakers.”
Those early demos went on to catapult the Arctic Monkey’s into the limelight and were shared far and wide on myspace.
Alan said: “I know I’m good at recording. I’m not brilliant, but what I am good at is capturing people how they want to be recorded. To get the vibe.”
Roughly ten-years on from the last wave there is still a stream of bands coming into the studio and Alan tips band Sweetness, ‘whose lead-singer sound like Morrissey’, and Kicklips from his recent sessions. Many of you may remember Kicklips from our promo, and it was Alan who recorded the track, ‘You and Me’:
Alan said: “I still love recording people.” So, if you and your band are interested in booking some time with one of Sheffield’s premium knob twiddlers contact 2Fly Studios through its website here.
We can personally recommend the experience!