The studios

The Nave is a three studio complex built into a 19th century Methodist church in Leeds. Designed and built by friends, producers and musicians Matt Peel, Andy Hawkins & Nick Baines.

We have all made many records in many different studios over the years, and have always thought that most studios are either too stuffy & technical, or not enough of a musical playground and are inevitably centred around the engineer rather than the musicians. On the other hand, most temporary or DIY setups are not technically accurate enough, or flexible enough to accommodate different ways of working. Studios are often designed with sonic excellency at their heart, at the expense of what really makes a record special. We wanted to make a recording space that is homely and comfortable, with easy access to all of our instruments, patchable in any way you see fit. with acoustic character in the live spaces and accuracy in the control rooms.

Whilst designing the studios we tried to focus on what we consider the important parts of the record making process. We all love working in studios that have lots of things to play with, where you can be excited about a keyboard you’ve never used or a guitar pedal you really wanted to try. We also think its important to have a relatively high level of maintenance of that equipment. Every large studio has things to fix but for the most part we’re always on top of it. If you see something inspiring here the chances are it will work!

Because we know every record is made differently we tried to make each studio good for different things. Studio 1 is big and can accommodate lots of people playing live with whatever elaborate setup is required. The control room and both live rooms are connected with ethernet, speaker cable and balanced lines allowing you to do whatever you imagine in any room.

Studio 2 is a smaller space which is equally flexible but is tighter and closer. Sometimes when you reach the overdub stage of a record, people prefer to be in a smaller space. The producer and artist can be closer together and things get a little more convenient when everything is around you. Studio 2 also offers a different mixing option with our wonderful Calrec Q series console.

Studio 3 was a later addition to the building and essentially evolved to solve a problem that both studios had. We found that everyone was moving the old analogue synths around the two studios so they were never setup in an ideal way with their specific CV converters and sync boxes. It’s absolutely fantastic to have a room where most of the keyboards are setup ready to receive midi. It’s also where our growing modular setup is housed.

Another thing we really wanted to do was to offer spaces to the people we naturally work with when making records. Now we have our genius audio tech Roy Harrison onsite, and one of our best friends Lee Lavarack, a guitar tech, all working out of rooms at the Nave. Also, other producer friends of ours now use the space regularly. The atmosphere is great as everyone is always around working together.

About us

Andy and I (Matt) met over 10 years ago when Andy needed somewhere to record a band in Leeds and ended up booking the studio that I was running at the time. We worked on the session together and quickly bonded over gear, records, bands and techniques. I met Nick, also known as Peanut from Kaiser Chiefs, around the same time at a venue in Leeds when I was working as a live sound engineer there and Nick was pulling pints. Similar techy conversations took place over the bar and shared visions of future studios were formed.

Nick went off on tour and Andy and I ended up running that studio successfully together for a number of years, making loads of great records. In 2011 the three of us bought a church together and after three years of hard work and genuine blood, sweat and tears, we opened The Nave in November 2014.

The three of us have pooled all of our equipment and that has led to The Nave being host to a wonderful collection of multitrack recorders, outboard, keyboards and guitars. The aim is that all three studios work together to be both affordable and inspiring. We’ve worked with many alternative bands over their careers, plenty of whom started out on the DIY scene with no money. This led to us wanting to create a studio where we not only had a no compromise tracking environment, but also a more affordable overdubbing space plus a great writing/programming room. The Nave offers this all inside one building and allows each band to make the most of their recording budget.