A recording studio in the garden: How creativity comes in shedloads


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The Independent Culture

People like a shed – especially if they are creative. For writers it is often a peaceful bolt-hole.

George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion from his garden shed in Hertfordshire, which was built on a turntable, which turned to face the sun; Roald Dahl wrote most of his children's books in his Buckinghamshire "writing hut"; Virginia Woolf wrote in her shed in Sussex; Dylan Thomas wrote in a shed above his home, the Boathouse in Laugharne, Wales; Philip Pullman used to write his novels in an old wood shed in his garden in Oxford; Arthur Miller built a shed in Roxbury, Connecticut to write Death of a Salesman.

A garden shed can also serve as a more noisy recording studio – indeed Pink Floyd's Roger Waters created early demo tracks for Dark Side of the Moon in his garden shed in Islington, while Benjamin Britten composed music including the opera Death in Venice in a shed-like building outside his house in Horham, Suffolk.

Dave Rotheray from The Beautiful South and the folk-rock band Fairport Convention all played in a ramshackle wooden shed hosting acoustic sets in Clevedon, Somerset, which won the Shed of the Year competition in 2011. Peter Gabriel wrote a lot of his lyrics in a shed at home in Wiltshire – a few years ago he even showcased a replica version of his shed/recording studio for £250,000.

Others aren't as flash with cash and have to make do with a bog standard type of shed – as did the self-taught super producer Naughty Boy, aka Shahid Khan, who produced Emeli Sandé's album Our Version of Events and has produced tracks for Rihanna. He first set up a studio in his parents' garden shed in Watford, over five years ago, to record underground grime artists. His humility served him well – he went on to produce Dot Rotten, Chipmunk and Wiley – before he discovered Sandé, who he had a Top Ten hit with last year with "Wonder". He upscaled from the shed after he went on the TV game show Deal or No Deal in 2006, won a big sum of money, and set up a proper studio, Hotel Cabana, in West London. He has never looked back from his shed days. He releases his first solo single "La La La" next week, featuring Disclosure collaborator Sam Smith. His debut concept album Hotel Cabana, out later this year, will feature a cast of urban and pop superstars including Tinie Tempah. So it seems the shed can be the start of many great things.

"La La La" is out on 19 May