recording the recordings


The Manor Studios
The Manor Studios

Steve Jansen was barely 17 when he first entered a recording studio as the drummer with the fledging Japan. Fast forward a couple of years; following success in Japan (the country), the release of 2 albums and countless photo-sessions, Steve had picked up a camera and started documenting the world around him – and that world consisted mainly of recording studios and stages, hotels and dressing rooms, and (of course) his fellow band mates.

it can be a very boring time for drummers, once they’ve finished recording the drums and the rest of the band take their turn. A band may often play together when recording, as we were doing, but it was the drum take that mattered…..it is often the case that the drummer, given weeks of sitting around in the studio with no recording to do, usually learns most about the recording procedure, and so it was to be with Steve……” (Mick Karn) 

And fortunately for us, alongside mastering the skills and techniques of the recording process, he also found time to document what was happening around him, with his trusty Canon A1!

A series of photos taken at Air Studios during the recording of Quiet Life show the startling fact that, even when hidden away from the sight of fans and the press, the individual members of the band turned up for a day’s work dressed to the nines. Make-up & hair intact and clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in a nightclub, here is the proof that the image portrayed on album sleeves and stages was so much more than mere artifice. This was normal, everyday behaviour for these South London boys….

Recording at Air Studios
Recording at Air Studios
The infamous Mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard (aka ‘sampler’). Air studios
The infamous Mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard (aka ‘sampler’). Air studios
Air studios rooftop photo shoot
Air studios rooftop photo shoot

Steve didn’t just photograph his friends standing around looking cool though; he also incorporated the environment of the studio into some of his shots, focusing on the equipment he was becoming increasingly familiar with – pieces of technology which, to my untrained eyes look baffling – ‘filter envelope’ anyone???

Whether it was recording at The Manor with Japan and the Dolphin Brothers, in Berlin with Sylvian for Brilliant Trees, France for the Rain Tree Crow project or in deepest Wales with JBK, Steve continued to document the processes around him –  even if that was just people sitting around listening to countless playbacks or killing time with a sneaky game of pool…….

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David at The Manor Studios
David at The Manor Studios
Drummer’s POV. The Dolphin Brothers sessions at The Manor Studios, Oxfordshire. Photo by Steve Jansen
Drummer’s POV. The Dolphin Brothers sessions at The Manor Studios, Oxfordshire.
Iio Yoshifumi and Richard Barbieri programming Prophet 5 synth.
Iio Yoshifumi and Richard Barbieri programming Prophet 5 synth.
Recording ‘Rain Tree Crow’ @ Miraval Studios, France. Recording midi data on the Macintosh MacSE.
Recording ‘Rain Tree Crow’ @ Miraval Studios, France. Recording midi data on the Macintosh MacSE.
Richard Barbieri & Mick Karn recording JBK @Foel Studios, Wales circa 1998.
Richard Barbieri & Mick Karn playing a game of (shallow) pool during the recording of ‘ism’ @Foel Studios (with thanks to Tim Fraser for the dreadful pun!)
JBK @Foel Studios, Wales circa 1998 - and my new favourite picture!
JBK @Foel Studios, Wales circa 1998 – and my new favourite picture!

Steve has also uploaded film from the recording of Red Guitar in Berlin in 1983 – it can be found here on his tumblr page

Red Guitar

and Forbidden Colours here (also Berlin 1983)

Forbidden Colours

These days, most of Steve’s recording work is done within his own studio ‘the nest’ where he collaborates with other musicians and vocalists using file sharing software……and he is still surrounded by equipment which (to my baffled eyes) wouldn’t look out of place on the bridge of the starship Enterprise

Steve's studio 'the nest'
Steve’s studio ‘the nest’
Photo by Tim Elsenburg
Photo by Tim Elsenburg
Photo by Tim Elsenburg
Photo by Tim Elsenburg

All photos by Steve Jansen unless otherwise stated.

Signed limited edition prints are available to purchase via the imageshop here: http://www.stevejansen.com/imageshop/

Steve’s ‘sleepyard’ tumblr is here: http://sleepyard.tumblr.com/

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12 thoughts on “recording the recordings

  1. Hi Renaud….there are more studio-based photos which Steve has published on his tumblr page http://sleepyard.tumblr.com/

    Anthony’s book also features a selection of Steve’s previously unreleased photos, many of which are from recording sessions – something for us all to look forward to.

    I am sure that there are many, many more hidden gems in the Jansen archive…….we just need to hope he continues to release them via tumblr

    Liked by 1 person

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