In the late 1970s and 1980s, rock superstars like Pink Floyd, AC / DC and The Cure traveled to a 900-acre property near the French Riviera, where they would set historic records – including Pink Floyd’s 1979 album was not the least. The wall (which was partly recorded there) – in the middle of a bucolic paradise.
After two decades of neglect, this studio will soon be reborn. And Brad Pitt is the reason.
Nestled inside its wine estate, Studio Miraval consists of three houses, where artists have lived while recording, taking breaks to recharge their batteries in a swimming pool. A home chef would prepare all of their meals. The studio itself was approximately 3,000 square feet, with a 650 square foot control room.
This legendary destination – famous in the music world for evoking all manner of creative alchemy – was purchased in 2012 by Pitt and his then-partner Angelina Jolie.
The couple bought the entire estate for $ 60 million, having leased it for the previous four years. In 2014, they married in the 13th-century chapel of Miraval – originally a barn for the Templars – hosting guests in its 30-room mansion, built in 1841.
The recording facility dates back to 1977, when then owner Jacques Loussier, a French jazz pianist, decided to build the studio of his dreams. It was in use until 20 years ago, when its analog equipment fell behind and its buildings fell into disrepair.
But Pitt – who divorced Jolie in 2016 and owns the estate, dividing the wine business down the middle with the Perrin family – is now overseeing a spectacular renovation of Studio Miraval, which will open in summer 2022.
To help him execute the project, Pitt enlisted Damien Quintard, a 30-year-old Parisian musical engineer who worked with Brian Eno and Gaspard. Augé from the French techno duo Justice and contributed to the development of the Dolby Atmos system.
Pitt discovered Quintard through his work in fine art circles, including a collaborative installation – titled Echo, it combined motorized sculptures, light, video animation and hyperspace speakers – for the reopening of the Museum of Modern Art in New York after a renovation in 2019.
In 2020, Pitt proposed a date. “We clicked”, says Quintard Hollywood journalist via a Zoom conversation from its Paris offices. “He came to my studio in Paris. It was a fantastic meeting. We talked for hours and hours. He told me about his plans for Miraval. I was obviously super excited, because as a Frenchman and music lover one of the holy grails is Miraval. I went there, I made my design for the space. We clicked on that side and moved forward.
Quintard – who got his start as a tonmeister, or sound engineer, for symphony orchestras – agreed with Pitt when it came to the sheer minimalism of their visions.
“What I noticed is that he has a strong sense of emotion and simplicity,” he says of Pitt. “The most beautiful records are also made with absolute simplicity. My whole philosophy relates to that – the simple beauty of mono recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, using just one microphone.
This philosophy extends to their architectural plans. In its previous condition, says Quintard, “it was very ’70s – vintage and, in its own way, beautiful.” Yet the cramped quarters and low ceilings bore little relation to the outdoors, where southern French sunlight poured into every nook and cranny.
“With Brad, we redesigned everything to make it so simple, so pure. Light is everywhere, ”continues Quintard. “The future is bright.”
When the facility opens in 2022, Studio Miraval will be available to all major record labels: Imagine Billie Eilish doing tricks and sipping Studio by Miraval rosé (what a French newspaper Le Figaro nicknamed “the rosé superstar”) before heading back to the studio to record a few tracks, saying hello to Pitt on entering.
But Quintard says the new Studio Miraval will be more than just a high-end recording facility. “We want to do different types of productions there – cinema, theater, fine art,” he says. “It’s a new Florence over there.