When we decided to record a slew of our songs to release on CD and possibly vinyl, the initial question was “where should we record it?”.
The first studios that came to my mind were Abbey Road, Ocean Way, Olympic, Sound City, Sun Studios, etc, all of which would be a blast, if still open, but a bit pretentious and way out of our budget. Local studios like Saint Claire (now defunct), Shangri-La and, one of my new faves, Sneak Attack were more reasonable choices and would definitely capture some great tones for us.
However, as appealing as all of them sounded, the place that made the most sense for us, (and saved us the most cents) was Le Chalet. Not only was this where we rehearsed, but it is also where we recorded our Cornerstone EP and shot most of our “Light of the Midnight Sun” video.
So what is the story with this studio, why haven’t I heard of it? (asked no one)
It’s actually a private home residing in Lexington Kentucky that is hidden at the top of a wooded neighborhood where all the houses look a bit like cabins and cottages or Chalets. It feels a bit like you’ve driven through a portal that takes you directly from Lexington to some random hill in Gatlinburg Tennessee.
The front door to the house is usually fiercely guarded by at least 7 hungry house cats. It was originally called “Le Chat Chalet” using the french name for cats “Le Chat”, but apparently since that is horribly wrong use of the french language, we dropped the “le chat” part.
To convert this suburban cottage into a functional recording studio, we moved all the furniture out of the living room and used that space to record the live drums. The angled high ceilings didn’t quite give us an immediatly friendly room sound as any of the aforementioned studios would have, but it worked reasonably well for the cost (free).
The drum room/living room is overlooked by the loft master bedroom which we converted into the master control room (see pic above). This is where we placed most of the recording gear (mic pre’s, compressors, eq’s, effects, computer, etc). We also built a custom isolation booth here which we used for both vocals and instrument overdubs.
Once everything was finally recorded, we mixed the whole album in the master bedroom. Again, not the ideal room for a balanced sonic reference, since some frequencies were exaggerated and others slightly muted due to the size and shape of the room.
Despite all of the technical challenges, the comfortable laid-back vibe of the studio served us well and let us take our time with recording and mixing the album. Maybe a little too much time.