The White Room Rehearsal Studios

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This week’s Sunday Spotlight features The White Room Rehearsal Studios in Rainham, Essex and DV Magazine talks to Mark Watts, who has a lot more going on than just renting space to bands.

DV: How long has the White Room been operating?

MW: It’s coming up to my seventh year now, so far so good.

DV: How many rehearsal rooms do you operate?

MW: There are four rehearsal rooms, I could have one more if I’d made the rooms smaller, but I wanted to keep them a decent size. Also, four is a good amount to keep under control as I’m head cook and bottle washer. They’re all identical so it makes no difference which room you go in.

DV: What facilities does it offer in terms of PA and backline?

MW: I have the same set up in every room which consists of a pair of Mackie SRM450 speakers which are great as they’re active and less fussy, a Soundcraft FX8 mixer which has great Lexicon FX, Shure SM58 microphones and a Laney CXP115 active fold back monitor. I don’t actually hire back line but I do have a couple of amps and a few shell packs that I let people use, more for back up purposes really. The reason for this is it’s not very cost effective as people aren’t so careful with equipment when it’s not theirs and also when someone phones and asks for two guitar amps, a bass amp and a drum kit I get the impression they’re not really a band and just want to mess around.

DV: Do you offer recording facilities for clients?

MW: Yes, I have a control room hooked up to one of my rooms.

DV: What do you record on?

MW: Logic, because everyone I knew in the game used it. A good friend of mine is Zinc so I had a very good teacher!

DV: Do you engineer and produce recording sessions yourself?

MW: No, I have various engineers that I use.

DV: How involved do you get with clients own material as far as arranging and production are concerned, even in the rehearsal process?

MW: If a band asks for my opinion I’ll always be honest, and if they ask for help I’ll get involved. Sometimes bands get so into their songs they kind of lose their way musically, just because there might be five musicians in the band doesn’t mean they all have to be playing all the time. For me it’s all about dynamics, textures, knowing when and when not to play. Some bands can be very sensitive towards structures, which is cool but if you want to be successful on a commercial level I think it’s very important to get it right.

DV: How did you get interested in music?

MW: My parents always had music on at home when I was growing up, my Mum was really into Motown and my Dad was into bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. There was always a guitar in the house.

DV: What’s your main area of interest?

MW: I can honestly say I love most genres of music, but for me it’s more about the individual songs or tracks than the artist or genre.

DV: What instruments do you play?

MW: Guitar, drums and a bit of piano, all pretty badly I might add.

DV: How are you on the decks?

MW: I like to think I can hold my own. I bought my first pair of decks when I was 15, they only had 3% pitch. Then I bought a set of Technics 1210’s when I was 16 so I’ve dabbled for years. I think it’s amazing now though in regards to software such as Serato and Ableton and the possibilities they bring to a set.

DV: I believe you manage a band?

MW: I actually manage two bands; States of Emotion and Lamplight. They’re both very different but great song writers and performers.

DV: You are also involved in an on-line tuition website?

MW: Yes, I have become involved with a company called Singing Canary. I heard about what they were doing and immediately wanted to get involved as I think the product offering and vision is fantastic. The decline in sales of recorded music during the last decade has resulted in 80% of the UK’s recording studios closing. Meanwhile, there has been a massive rise in the number of home engineers, along with a similar rise in the number of Universities and Colleges teaching courses on the subject. I believe there is more interest today in the science of recording technology than at time previously. Cheaper access to recording hardware and software has created an enormous number of home engineers consisting of professionals and hobbyists alike. Anyone who plays an instrument is one step away from wanting to record themselves.

However, there is very little information that teaches and educates how to record correctly, the huge number of instruments and genres existing today. Written material can be pretty hard going so why not create a platform that allows you to see and hear the correct way of doing things? The initial offering is a series of tutorials (one – four hours) starting with a beginners guide to recording, moving onto individual tutorials on drums, guitars, vocals, keyboards, strings, brass, wind all the way up to Master Classes on how to produce a song, how to mix a song etc. All shot in hi-definition, using top producers and engineers in a top recording studio with an SSL desk. The next stage is a subscriber based web site with enormous amounts of content covering genres, instruments, product reviews and testing, competitions, round tables, recording tip of the week as well as legendary producers revealing their secret methods on classic tracks.

DV: Any plans for a record label or expanding the studios to other premises?

MW: No plans for a label but in regards to expanding the studio or branching out, watch this space!

Thanks to Mark Watts. Contact him at The White Room.

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About Author

MNJ has been writing articles, reviews and blogs for the DV online magazine for the last five years or so. Although he has been playing for longer than he cares to remember and is now officially an 'oldie', he is still mad for all things guitar related and when not busy in his studio he's learning new songs, practising bluegrass guitar, painting his house and taking his dogs out. If banished to a desert island and forced to take only one guitar he'd take a Les Paul. Actually, make that several Les Pauls, a Strat, a Tele, an ES-335, a vintage Martin and some boutique amps. Battery powered obviously.

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