Head engineer at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, Oli Jacobs has been as busy as ever this year, particularly with one of the studio’s initiatives, WOMAD at Home. A collaboration between Real World and the WOMAD international arts festival, the project has seen a number of artists record intimate tracks in lockdown using d&b audiotechnik’s immersive Soundscape system.
“The studio has been quite busy and we've had a lot of fun projects come through,” Oli Jacobs tells Headliner during lockdown number two in the UK. “We took on more remote mixing stuff when we went into the first lockdown which was great, but then you quickly remember that you need musicians to make records, so we started to miss them all.”
The situation led the Real World team to come up with a number of initiatives, one of which being WOMAD at Home, a collaboration between the studio and its sister companies: WOMAD Festival and Real World Records.
“And then the studio got busier because artists weren't able to tour, so we saw a massive uptick in bookings in maybe the busiest six months we've ever had,” Jacobs adds. “Being a residential studio outside of London, people could come down and stay the night and not have to touch public transport, so it became an ideal location for them to record.”
Real World Studios’ surroundings are truly stunning. Set in idyllic countryside within the small village of box just outside of Bath, it’s no surprise that artists started to flock there to isolate and focus on making records:
“When you come here, all the distractions are taken away, and I think that’s why we’ve become busier in the last few years as people have gone back to that way of record-making, which we're really happy about.”
Oli studied classical singing, drum and piano on the Tonmeister course at the University of Surrey, and always knew he wanted to get into the recording and engineering side.
“Being in the studio was always the obvious thing, because it combines music and technology, which are two things that really excite me,” he shares. “I spent my placement year working for Peter Gabriel, the owner of Real World Studios, as his assistant engineer. And then in a turn of fate as I was graduating, a space became available in the main studio as a junior assistant, so I started working under the senior engineer at the time, Patrick Phillips, and learned a lot from him.
“When Patrick left to work out of his own space in Bristol, I stepped up to head engineer, and now we're quite a big team at the studio: There's four or five engineers and a technician, and so more recently I've started to take on more projects outside of Real World.”