Ian Shaw host of Ian Shaw's Indie & Unsigned Show.
Sunny Key West seems to suit UK record producer, studio owner and recording guru Ian Shaw. After living and working in the music industry in London for thirty years, Shaw found himself seeking not only a change from the rainy, chilly London scenery, but the chance to expand his talents in America.
“My wife and I visited Key West a couple of years ago and fell in love with the climate, the music scene and the artistic vibe.” Shaw explains. “Warm Fuzz, my studio and record label, has had most its chart success in the last ten years in the US and I have a US client base.” Shaw laughs. “It takes very little cajoling to persuade my clients to visit Key West to work in a studio and stay on a houseboat.” Shaw quickly points out that wife Vicky is a former professional chef. “So the food is great as well!”
Shaw’s chart and album success had humble beginnings. At seventeen, he experienced a recording studio for the first time and discovered his life‘s work. “A friend with some recording experience took me to a little studio in London to record some songs I’d written. I loved the atmosphere, the gear, the knobs and the mics. I was hooked on the idea that I could make a living recording music.”
Shaw applied to work at several top London recording studios. He was turned down. “I saved every penny I could and eventually bought a simple open reel four track I installed in my Grandmother’s attic in decidedly unfashionable South London. It was the 70’s, at the tail end of punk, and my Grandma would gamely make tea for all kinds of strange people with orange and green Mohawks, tattoos and bondage trousers.”
Shaw taught himself recording techniques and, as his skills improved, his client base grew. He moved from his Grandma’s attic to a commercial space in hip Fulham and upgraded to sixteen and then twenty four track. Within two years, Shaw’s clients were asking him to produce their projects. The rest, as they say, is history, encompassing critical acclaim, awards from BBC Radio, several Best Of awards from New Music Weekly and airplay and charting for his various projects.
Shaw’s recording and producing credits (too numerous to list here) figured heavily in the UK Riot Grrrl scene in the mid 90s, resulting in three number ones and four top ten efforts on the UK Indie Charts. His work includes albums with The Would Be Goods, Heavenly, Nick Heyward, and the legendary Edward Ball of the TV Personalities.
As Shaw’s new Key West digs attract regular and new clients, he turns observant about not only his new surroundings, but how American musicians will view and work with a UK producer/engineer. “Brits are all about driving gear in ways it wasn’t designed to be used. American producers seem respectful of technology. They have a much more precise recording style than Brits. I think Brits can be more intuitive and less reverential about the process of recording than our respected American counterparts.”
And it is indeed this willingness to explore, discover and expand that makes Ian Shaw and Warmfuzz Studios such a perfect fit for the artistic, rustic, entrepreneurial environment of Key West. “The hardest part about moving here was transporting the Princess. Since she’s just a pug dog and not real royalty we couldn’t fly transatlantic with her. We had to take the Queen Mary 2 because airlines wouldn’t fly her transatlantic. We carried her as luggage from New York to Key West. She wasn’t pleased about that but Key West is dog friendly and she’s welcomed most everywhere on the island with bowls of water and dog treats.”
After such an ambitious move, Shaw is eager to dive back into his day to day of producing and engineering music as he and wife Vicky settle in as island residents. And The Princess? She’s finding the Key West royal treatment much to her liking.
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