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New Music Studio ‘Bywyd Studios’ in Cardiff Bay Boosts Welsh Music Scene


It isn’t the traditional recording studio with technicians behind a glass window.

But Bywyd Studios in Cardiff Bay, the creation of two University of South Wales MSc students, offers a different approach to making music.

Leone Vuetivavalagi and Thomas Westgard say they favour the ‘Open Studio Solution’ to get the best from their artists.

In an ‘Open Studio’, the technicians work silently in the same space as the artists, creating a different dynamic.

“Artists seem to feel calmer working in this way and I believe they produce better work, especially if they are new to the recording studio which can be a daunting place,” said Leone.

“When performing, people need to feel relaxed so they can give their best. We have tried to create a relaxed atmosphere to capture a  vibrant, natural performance allowing artists to express themselves.”

The two first met at University of South Wales where they both studied Masters degrees in Music Production. Realising they had similar philosophies of music and sound recording, and were interested in where the science of sound meets art, they set up Bywyd Studios.

The aim of the project is to help musicians develop their abilities, and foster their careers.

The venture has been backed by Robert Owen Community Banking (ROCB) based in Newtown, which provided a loan through the Start Up Loan Company (SULC). ROCB is one of the organisations running the loans scheme in Wales.

Mark White Senior Business Manager with ROCB said:

“The SULC scheme is proving very popular with entrepreneurs in Wales. We have had a lot of interest from a high quality of projects and we are continuing to promote SULC across Wales.”

SULC provides loans from £500 to £25,000 for businesses up to 24 months old with repayments up to 5 years at a fixed interest rate of 6%.

Thomas explained that, as well as technical excellence in sound and production, the studio wants to help artists develop their performance skills.

“We want Bywyd to offer an environment where artists can be creative and allow the personality of their music to come through

“Bywyd means life or essence of life in Welsh, and it is this we want to capture when we make recording.”

This approach ties in with the recent movement away from pure digital sound to analogue hybrids. “Digital can sound sterile and can benefit from a dash of analogue realism, for example in the move back to vinyl records,” said Thomas.

The studio has an impressive list of artists on its books, and recently launched its own label to help promote its work worldwide. The studio stays with its artists after producing a recording.

“People often find they get to the mastering stage with their work, and then they aren’t sure what to do after that. They struggle to market it and get it played,” said Thomas.

“We have the contacts and knowledge to get music heard around the world, by both digital and physical means.”

Barry rockers Them Dead Beats have just recorded an EP Hang on a Second, and this is now available worldwide through Amazon, iTunes and other retailers.

Cowbridge folk trio Barefoot Dance of The Sea have recorded their latest EP with Bywyd and a couple of live videos that will be out soon on Bubblewrap Collective. Eleanor Brown  from Swansea has completed her first studio album to offer on sale when she goes on tour.

As well as being technically excellent, Bywyd aims above all to capture the spirit of a performance.

“When people perform they are exposed and nerves can get the better of them. We try very hard to reduce this and get as natural a performance as possible,” said Leone.

The studio also does voice-over work for video, film and sound mixing.

Community work is important to Leone and Thomas and they are in the process of setting up a collaboration with the University of South Wales as well as working with other youth organisations in Cardiff and South Wales such as Caerphilly based RecRock.

Mark White added:

“Cardiff’s creative sector is vibrant and making a huge contribution to the economy of Wales. We are keen to support creative entrepreneurs like Leone and Thomas, and we wish them every success in their venture.”