Studio Photos

Recording’s Nice Escapes_ Photographs of Thailand’s Karma Sound Studios

Solely one of many recording periods for British hard-rock band Enter Shikari’s eight albums was interrupted by a monsoon. “The rain was falling the scale of shotgun shells,” singer Rou Reynolds remembers of recording 2012’s A Flash Flood of Color. “After that, all of the bugs come out. One in all us made the error of leaving the doorways open to the kitchen space, and it was filled with dragonflies.”

That’s simply one other day at Karma Studios. Within the 12 years since former Abbey Highway Studios producer and Sony govt Chris Craker opened Karma on a two-acre plot within the Thai fishing village of Bang Saray, acts together with Enter Shikari, Jessie J, Bullet for My Valentine and The Libertines have recorded there. It’s a spot the place somebody can schedule an ice tub on the break of daybreak and meditate for 2 or three freezing minutes at a time, surrounded by tropical gardens full of tweeting birds and clicking cicadas. An out of doors pool is 30 ft from the studio; the gardens include an deserted constructing that Enter Shikari used to report drums. The closest metropolis, beachside, bar-filled vacationer favourite Pattaya, is half an hour away.

Karma’s entrance. Dan Lambert

“I wished one thing by the ocean, the place we’d have peace and tranquility and simply [be] away from the actual world,” Craker says. “That was my want — to present folks an opportunity to be working in an area the place they felt like they have been on trip.”

The story of why Craker, a 63-year-old Brit, moved to Thailand begins with a fax he acquired in 1996 whereas recording the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Highway. It was from a collaborator of Bhumibol Adulyadej, also referred to as Rama IX, the king of Thailand since 1946. The monarch was a classical composer and jazz buff who had recorded many albums, and after the collaborator heard Craker’s work, he puzzled if he was obtainable to make a report.

“Sure,” Craker shortly faxed again, then flew to Bangkok the subsequent week. Thus started a string of 11 albums with the king (who died in 2016) and a keenness for Thailand that led Craker to purchase his Bang Saray plot in 2008. Roughly two years later, he constructed Karma, then spent a lot time creating what he envisioned as a “cross between a resort and essentially the most wonderful studio” that he didn’t put a lot thought into drawing prospects. He needed to give the studio’s inaugural shopper, London rock band Placebo, 10 days of recording without cost to lure it to Karma. Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, a good friend of Craker’s, turned buyer No. 2, and that led to a rush of British bands.

The management room in Karma 1. Dan Lambert

“I’ve by no means paid one greenback in Fb promoting or social media advertising and marketing,” Craker says. “The entire thing has run, the final 12 or 13 years, utterly on word-of-mouth.”

In Karma’s early years, he continued to work in American studios and was continuously flying between his London dwelling and New York and Thailand. (“I’ve bought sufficient air miles to maintain me going for the remainder of my life,” he says.) However the stress hit him laborious, as did a prostate most cancers analysis six years in the past. He has totally recovered however now spends most of his time in Thailand.

The management room and keybaord station in Karma 1. Dan Lambert

Through the coronavirus pandemic, Craker’s son, Richard, a U.Okay. songwriter-producer, relocated to Karma and helped arrange an impartial label, Karma Sounds, which the elder Craker calls a “well being and wellness label.” They pivoted to creating their very own ambient music to soundtrack yoga and meditation periods, in addition to normal chilling out; inside 15 months, the label’s music surged to fifteen million month-to-month streams. “The facet hustle has grown right into a enterprise,” Chris Craker says. “We will simply be just a little bit extra picky [about bookings] now.”

All advised, Karma Sounds has spewed 1,800 tracks, engaged on social media advertising and marketing with yoga and meditation influencers. However the studio nonetheless brings in artists for periods, together with comedian-singer Oliver Tree late final yr. “Every little thing’s mic’d as much as be inventive from the minute you arrive,” Craker says. And Reynolds has by no means made music anyplace prefer it. “I used to be confused,” he says. “It was recording in a microcosm of paradise.”

Exterior of the principle studios. Dan Lambert

A buddha statue within the backyard. Dan Lambert

A panorama of the outside of Karma Sound’s major studios. Dan Lambert

Buddha statue at Karma Sound. Dan Lambert

This story initially appeared within the Oct. 8, 2022, subject of Billboard.