Studio Vibes: Gussie Clarke's Anchor Studios stands tall

May 13, 2016
Gladstone Taylor/ Photographer Clarke makes a point while two of his assistants look on.
Gussie Clarke
Gladstone Taylor/ Photographer Gussie Clarke shows a wall at his studio with some of the hit records he produced and some of the awards he received.
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Everybody loves good music, but not many persons know about the kind of work that goes into creating music of a high standard. Through this new feature, Studio Vibes, THE WEEKEND STAR has embarked on a mission to open the eyes of our readers about the work that goes into creating quality music.

Anchor Studios has a reputation of producing high-quality music. Its owner, Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke, describes it as a one-stop shop that does everything from recording and mixing, to mastering.

"Somebody can come through our doors one day with just an idea and a concept, and by the time the day is done, they can go back through the door with a finished product - recorded, mixed, mastered, designed, packaged, shrink-wrapped and ready to sell," Clarke told THE WEEKEND STAR. "We are probably the only one-stop studio in Jamaica where you can do everything in one day because we have all the equipment and the personnel here to do everything."

TIME AND EFFORT

Stating that creating a quality track takes time and effort, Clarke explained the stages a song goes through before it is ready for airplay.

"Everything is recorded independently, so for one song, you can have over 40 different tracks. So, a drum by itself can have 13 or 14 different tracks. A vocal can have 10 tracks because you want to have different effect depending on the type of production you want, and how far you want to go, but the more tracks you record is the more flexibility you have," he said.

He continued: "When an artiste comes to the studio, they go into the recording booth to voice their songs. It is recorded from the booth and goes straight to the Pro Tools software on the computer." Clarke said that the Pro Tools equipment is the most powerful audio production software for recording.

He told THE WEEKEND STAR that after a recording is done, the song is then mixed to create the desired effect on the listener's ear.

"During the mixing process, the engineers take the different tracks and puts them together before sending it on to be mastered. When your track is sent to be mastered, that is where it is fixed and all the little flaws are taken out of it. It's just like photoshopping a picture, where you'd take out everything you don't want in the picture, leaving it flawless," Clarke said.

The veteran producer said that producing a single can cost more than $100,000 per recording.

"Quality of content is king and you get what you pay for, so if you want to get like a Sly and Robbie to work on your track, you have to be prepared to stand the cost," he said.

Dubbed Jamaica's largest professional recording and mixing studio, Anchor began its operation in 1987 as Music Works Studios on Old Hope Road, St Andrew. As a newly established facility, Anchor's client list included Gregory Isaacs, Shabba Ranks, Maxi Priest and Cocoa Tea.

The studio was relocated to Windsor Avenue, Kingston, in 1993.

Clarke launched his record-producing career in 1972 at the age of 18 with U-Roy's The Higher the Mountain. He went on to produce Big Youth classic Screaming Target album and I-Roy's Presenting I-Roy. Clarke has also worked with many other iconic entertainers, including Dennis Brown, The Mighty Diamonds, Augustus Pablo and Freddie McGregor.

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