‘2022 will be the year of sound’: Platoon CEO talks Tileyard studio and audio innovation

Platoon CEO Denzyl Feigelson and designer of its Platoon 7 studio, Sam Danieli, have spoken to Headliner about the company’s new high-end, multi-purpose facility and how innovations in audio will set new standards for recording in 2022.

Located at London’s Tileyard music hub, Platoon 7 – an extension of Platoon’s global services operation - opened its doors for business in November 2021 and includes three recording studios, two Dolby Atmos rooms, a content capture studio, podcast booth, writing rooms, an artist lounge and an education lab to provide in-person and virtual workshops. Each of the 10 rooms are interconnected, providing flexibility and simultaneous use of the space, from writing camps and multi-artist recordings.

The Dolby Atmos rooms, built and installed by Studio Creations, provides remote recording capabilities, while the facility’s flagship recording room, Studio 1, is centred around a Neve 88RS mixing console and complemented by a raft of high end audio gear and live instruments, from synths and percussion, to keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

Among those to have utilised the space already is multi-award-winning producer, songwriter and musician Fraser T Smith, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Stormzy, Kano and Dave.

"The new recording studios are a world class, state-of-the art space and a clear demonstration of the incredible work that Platoon is doing for its own artistic community,” said Smith of the new studio space.

Platoon will also be working alongside local organisations and community groups to offer the space free of charge to aspiring talent.

Headliner paid Feigelson and Danieli a visit for a tour of the studio and to find out more about what it has to offer the global creative community…

Why did you decide to base Platoon 7 at Tileyard London?

DF: We arrived at Tileyard in 2016 thanks to Mark Ronson. He called me up one day and said, ‘can you come over, I have a little song I want to play you’? I came over and he played me an early demo of Uptown Funk and I got curious about the space. He organised a tour for me, and I needed a little office space at the time, so I took a space in Unit 23 and Platoon grew from strength to strength. This particular space used to be a meat packing building and once Tileyard took over the spec they started building out an idea of it being a studio teaching space. That didn’t quite work out, so I inherited a very early build of this spot and then we decided to put in what you see now, which is 10 rooms of creative spaces.

What was the philosophy you wanted to bring to this space?

SD: The idea for this space is that an artist should be able to come in, even with just the start of a song, and maybe begin forming the idea. Then they can move into a room that is slightly bigger and build up a demo. Then it can be mixed in another room. From there, they could go to Studio 2 to mix in Atmos, they can playback in our Atmos conference room, they can shoot a video in our content creation space. It’s a place for artists to be able to come and create – whatever idea they have in their head, they can make happen here.

The Neve desk is incredibly important. It's a calling card. Denzyl Feigelson, CEO, Platoon

What makes Platoon 7 a unique proposition in such a competitive market?

DF: There aren’t many places like this, with everything all under one roof. This is really a culmination of events that have allowed us to build recording studios, Atmos studios, podcast rooms, content capture, a teaching space, writing rooms, a lounge, all under one roof. And every room, because of the way Sam designed it, is completely interconnected.

Tell us about the room we are in now (Studio 1).

SD: With this space we knew we wanted a classic recording studio that would just wow people. We knew we had to make certain decisions. You can see we have lots of outboard gear and we have a live room full of instruments, so it’s great for people to be able to come in and say, ‘hey, I’d like to try that out’ and we already have it patched in. Even though this is a fully functional studio, perhaps more traditional studio, the way it is set-up is very much designed to maximise creativity. People can come in with an idea and we can offer them the quickest way to get it out. That’s how the studio was designed.

The room is built around a Neve 88RS desk. What made you opt for that particular console?

SD: For both me and Denzyl it was such an easy choice, because it’s a brand that gets used in every studio on the planet – Abbey Road has one, AIR has one. So many classic records have been made on Neve desks; it sounds warm and represents music in a way that is true. And it is so versatile. You can record classical music on it, pop music… there are just so many things you can do with it.

One of the best things about the desk is the preamplifier. It’s what makes it sound the way it does. Whatever you put through the board, it just gets a certain sound, it develops a certain type of harmonics. And it’s just so flexible. This is a 48-channel desk, but when you mix on it you can go up to 96, so as it expands its capability expands. And we also have a centre section that people put their laptops on. It’s a custom feature we requested to Neve, because record making today is about being flexible and being able to accommodate whatever the artist wants.

DF: I’ve lived in recording studios most of my life. From being an artist, a manager, a producer… I remember Neve when I was working with Paul Simon on Graceland at the Hit Factory in New York. I have a history with Neve. And from when we started here, the whole process of working with Neve was fantastic. We’ve had producers come in here saying this room just hums. Sam has designed it so that everything just works. My experience with studios has often been hurry up and wait – there are so many things that happen that can slow the process. But to work in here is an exquisite experience.

How big a factor is the Neve desk in attracting clients to the studio?

DF: To us it’s incredibly important. It’s a calling card. My hope is that when Dave Grohl comes to town he’s going to go, ‘those guys have that Neve we love, let’s go do something at their studio’. And we just happen to know that Neve is his favourite brand!

So offering the best possible sonic quality is just as important as the versatility and flexibility on offer.

DF: We love sound, it’s the most important thing on the planet. And I think 2022 will be the year of sound. If you think about what’s happened in the spatial and Dolby Atmos world… I love the fact I’ll have an artist call me and say ‘can you rent me one of those binaural microphones’? We love the science of sound.

SD: And we are seeing so many different types of projects come in here. We have done classical records, we have done pop sessions, we’ve done lots of drum and guitar sessions, we recently had Hugh Padgham mixing a jazz record on the Neve desk. Because the space can accommodate so many things, we have so many different artists and projects. No day is ever the same.

DF: And a lot of that is the culture of Platoon. We have a huge Africa roster, and they are all doing incredibly well and travelling around the world, which means they come to London. I came in one day and one of our African drums was in the middle of the content creation space and people were trying to mic it to get a certain sound. And one of the most incredible things here is the list of instruments available.

What are the biggest opportunities for Platoon 7?

DF: I’m excited to do more live recording. We have all these channels, live instruments and that’s really exciting. We want to do a series of live sessions, we have this big content capture space that could be filled with a small orchestra, string sections. It all comes back to our love of sound and natural instruments. Great studios have a vibe, and this has a vibe. It may be a brand new studio, but it feels like it’s always been here.