Recording studio

Behind the scenes at York’s Young Thugs recording studio

York Young Thugs recording studio exceeds weight in music industry, reports Maxine Gordon

The SOUTH Bank Social Club, a short distance from York’s trendy Bishopthorpe Road, seems like a relic of a lost time.

With its ripped red faux leather bar, wooden cafe chairs, and nicotine-stained walls, it’s the old-fashioned, unassuming face of a neighborhood where today you’re more likely to find a flat white. than a flat cap.

Popular with the older generation of South Bankers, the Social Club has been a place to call to meet old friends, have a drink and listen to live performers. Certainly before Covid hits.

But all is not as it seems.

In Young Thugs’ recording studio. Photo: Olivia Brabbs

The upper floor of this Victorian building is home to the Young Thugs recording studio and record label, run by York business partners Jonny Hooker and Dave Greenbrown since 2016.

Musicians from York, the north and elsewhere flock to the studio to demo, burn their albums and tap into the music production skills of Jonny and Dave.

Like so many businesses, the thriving studio had to close during the first lockdown. But since then, Covid security measures have been put in place and the studio has reopened.

While much of the arts industry has been shut down by the pandemic, Young Thugs is a welcome achievement.

“During the first confinement, we had to close for three months,” explains Jonny. “It was alarming and disturbing – but it was the same for everyone.

“We got some support from York City Council which has come a long way and we have put in place a robust Covid policy and sent it out to everyone before they come so we can continue now. . ”

As the pandemic paid off for the live shows that impacted the venue, Jonny said the musicians got creative and put their time and energy into creating new music – which has been great for the studio. recording.

“We’re very busy right now. People can’t go out and play but are creative.” And, he added, the nature of the recording studio – with separate rooms for performance and production – lends itself to natural social distancing. “Many groups are also in a bubble or live together,” says Jonny.

And there has been more good news for Young Thugs since the lockdown. It became a community benefit company, which enabled it to apply for funding to establish a community studio that would allow them to further support talented artists.

In 2020, they won their first grant: money from the Youth Music’s Incubator Fund for LEVEL, a project to encourage more women to get into music production. It’s now underway, with Yssi Wombwell in the lead and three music producers recruited for the program.

Jonny says, “Music production is still a male dominated industry. Research shows that there are less than three percent of women in the industry. We have to break down that barrier and try to promote them in one way or another. a position to do it. ”

Anna Reed is one of the women participating in the nine-month program. She said: “I am so excited to be given this opportunity. Young thugs play an important role in balancing the music industry, which is what really excites me.”

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Out Of The Blocks is a second community initiative tasked with developing future talent. It is funded by industry music royalties through the Performance Rights Society.

Jonny said: “This will allow us to find high potential talent in the north of England and prepare a professional recording for them, as well as help them market it and help with things like press releases. and public relations. ”

Another success was Young Thugs’ agreement with leading label EMI to help develop new talent. Their first project hit the jackpot – co-signing the York Bull band with EMI, in a deal that propelled the quartet into the limelight and led to extensive coverage of their music across national radio.

York Press: Anna Reed - all about music production at Young Thugs in YorkAnna Reed – all about music production at Young Thugs in York

Collaboration, Jonny says, is one of the things Young Thugs does best – in fact, it’s one of the things the York music scene is known for.

When Young Thugs started four years ago, it was little more than a room – “we used to call it the slum,” Jonny says – where local musicians could meet, come together and play. “It was our kind of networking,” Jonny adds.

Today this room has expanded to encompass the entire upper floor of the social club and plans are underway to modernize the studios.

Jonny gave up a career in recruiting to follow his first love – music. As a drummer, he performed in several groups, toured the world and discovered that he preferred to work in a recording studio.

Despite the pandemic, the future looks bright. “Lockdown has given us time to think strategically, which you don’t always have the opportunity to do in business,” Jonny said. “It was during this time that we came up with ideas for our community organization and secured the funding to do great community work.

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