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Paisley Park Studios


Photo credit: ©2009 Chak
Paisley Park Studios is a $10 million dollar complex built in the suburbs of Chanhassen near Minneapolis (7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317), which gathers facilities such as recording studios, soundstage, band and tour rehearsal.

Its edification was conceptualized and financed by Prince, who still owns it to this day. He made it his primary location for recording, filming videos, rehearsing tours from 1987 to the beginning of the 2000's and from 2007 onwards. It was also used extensively for one-off performances in the second part of the 90's.

Paisley Park Studios were also open as rental facility until 1996.

History


Construction on the Paisley Park studio complex began in mid January 1986. The complex was designed by architect Brett Thoeny working for BOTO Design Inc, of Venice, CA and acoustician Marshall Long, working with local engineers in the Minneapolis area.

Brett Thoeny took the lead in studio layout and control room design while Marshall Long provided HVAC noise control, vibration isolation, room-to-room sound separation, and made contributions to the studio interiors. The acoustical isolation was designed so that the soundstage can be used at concert levels while the other studios are in use.

It was built by local constructor Bossardt-Christenson and was fully completed in 1988.

It officially opened on September 11th, 1987, although it was in part in use since April 1987. It contains 4 recording studios (Studio A, Studio B, Studio C & Studio D), a video editing suite, and a 12,500 square foot sound stage. production offices, another rehearsal room and private dressing room/salon suite facilities are also available for rental. The whole ensemble covers 55,000 sq ft (5,100 m2).

Paisley Park Studios are owned by Paisley Park Enterprises, Prince's main business company.

The studios were closed in 1996 with only Prince and selected associates continuing to record and/or perform there. In 2004 it was announced that Paisley Park was reopening after the studio's editing and recording rooms had been newly digitized and upgraded. In fact no bookings were taken, although the soundstage is said to have been made available for rental at rare occasions.

In 2005, ATK Corporation company updated Studio A and restored Studio B so that the studio complies with new digital technology trends.

Studios


During the summer of 1989 the following albums were produced completely or partially at Paisley Park Studios: The Raw and the Cooked (Fine Young Cannibals); Like A Prayer (Madonna); Forever Your Girl (Paula Abdul).

Studio A


This is a 1,500-square-foot studio with 2 isolation rooms, primarily used for top acts recordings, film scoring and other high level productions.

Gear

Originally, the studio housed a 48-track recording console.

In late 1990, the set included a SSL-64 channel 6000E-64 Total Recall automated console; Studer A800 Mark III 24-track and A820 2-track recording machines with the center stripe time code feature; 48 mono and eight stereo input modules; an SSL event controller and programmable equalizer, a Sony BVU8000 and XBR monitor 3/4" Video deck with lock-up, Westlake 5-way SM-1 studio monitors powered by Crown amplifiers, and a whole raft of special effects signal processing gear, including boxes made by Focus-Rite, Publison, AMS, Eventide and GML.

In the mid-90's the studio was updated with a SSL 8088 G+ with Ultimation console (72 mono and 8 stereo inputs).

In 2005 ATK Corporation company updated all the monitoring systems in studio A. They also updated the amplification, some of the cabinetry and traps and the control room. The studio is now digital and analog equipped with a Solid State Logic SL 8000G+ 80 channel film console with Ultimation automation. It also feature a processing equipment including a Pro Tools|HD 3 Accel system.

The studio’s mic collection has also been updated, among others, with two Royer R-122 Active Series phantom powered ribbon microphone. They've reportedly been used for several Prince projects (drum sessions, piano recording) amongst other United States Of Division, Silver Tongue and Cinnamon Girl.

Isolation Rooms

The Granite and Wood rooms are designed to provide different acoustical spaces for artists. The granite walls aid in enhancing digital recording while the wood room was designed for the acoustics of any instrument that resonates.

Studio B


A 1,000-square-foot studio, Studio B is a simpler arrangement, totally built and modified to Prince’s specifications. As Studio A, Studio B was used for top acts recordings, film scoring and other high level productions.

Gear

The studio featured a 48-track recording device, a custom API/DeMedio console with Massenburg-GML moving-fader automation, 48 inputs with API equalization, 24 buses, 24 monitor returns and 6 auxiliary returns. They were coupled with Studer A-800 Mark III multi-track machines, and Studer A-820 1/2" or 1/4" 2-track w/center track time code master recorders, as well as a Studer A721 Cassette Deck.

In 2005, Studio B was totally restored. MATK Corporation company rebuilt the room’s API de Medio console, in order to and bring it completely up to date. MATK Corporation also updated all the monitoring systems in studio B, and changed over the amplification. Some of the cabinetry and traps, plus the control room were updated aswell.

Studio B now features the custom 48-input API DeMedio console with Massenburg-GML moving-fader automation, redone with tuck and roll leather exterior, coupled with 2 Studer A-800 Mark III multi-track machines. The updated monitoring system feature Westlake SM-1, Westlake BBSM-4 (portable monitors), Yamaha NS-10 speakers and Auratones cube monitors.

Studio C


A small format production suite, Studio C provided recording facilities for alternative artists and adjoins a large rehearsal space. Studio C was reported being the busiest studio in late 1990, with recording or rehearsal sessions going around the clock.

Gear

Studio C offers 2 recording options: digital audio workstations or traditional 2” analog tape recording.

In the 90's the recording device was a Soundcraft TS-24, 36 input in-line console (modified) coupled with a Sony JH-24 multi-track machine and either Studer A-820 1/2" or 1/4" 2-track w/center track time code master recorders.

Since 2005, Studio C features a Midas Venice 320 32 in console and Pro Tools, MOTU Digital Performer and Studer two-inch options.

Studio D


A smaller DAW¹-based studio, Studio D was built to accommodate the increasing demand of artist wanting to record at Paisley Park Studios in the early 90's . This is the most recent studio facility, and the smallest.

Gear

Featuring Pro Tools, Logic Audio and MOTU workstations, it's equipped with a Midas Venice 240 24 in coupled with Emagic Logic Pro, Panasonic SV 3700 DAT and Pro Tools LE 6.4 w/Digi 002 Rack as recording and digital audio workstation (DAW¹) devices.

Edit Suite


To be developed

Soundstage


The soundstage is mainly used for concerts, and/or tour rehearsals. It is also advertised to handle film and video production, commercial shoots, photo shoots and Corporate Events. The soundstage is directly connected via tie lines to all 4 recording studios, which makes multi-track recording possible.

It has notably been used to re-shoot live scenes and segues for Sign O' The Times movie in 1987, and the Lovesexy Tour rehearsals in 1988. During the 90's Prince used the facility to shoot the whole indoor and outdoor scenes from Graffiti Bridge (apart from a few exterior scenes shot in downtown Minneapolis) and the Nude Tour rehearsals in 1990, the Diamonds And Pearls Tour rehearsals in 1992, the Act I and Act II tours rehearsals in 1993, and The Ultimate Live Experience rehearsals in 1995. From 1988 onwards, Prince used the soundstage for all his tour rehearsals and still uses it to this day.

In summer 2012, he rehearsed in Paisley Park Studios with The NPG for the "Welcome 2 Chicago" residency.

The soundstage was also used to host a large list of Prince one-off performances, as well as television specials like The Ryde Dyvine and Gett Off (in 1991), as well as countless other music videos (being later released or not).

Apart from Prince's various productions, the sound stage was mainly booked with commercial and film work in the 80's and the first half of the 90's.

A large variety of TV commercials for renown brands were also shot there: Burger King, McDonald's, Comet Cleanser, Volkswagen, Porsche, Cadillac and Lincoln Mercury, to name a few. A lot of famous acts used it for tour production rehearsals, amongst others the Beastie Boys, Hammer, Freddie Jackson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Neil Young, Kool & The Gang (in 1987), The Muppets, the Bee Gees, Barry Manilow, and Jeff Beck.

In late 1990, major film productions were shot on Paisley Park Studio's sound stage: "To Dream of Roses" (a HDTV film) and "Old Explorers" (starring Jose Ferrer and James Whitmore). The movies "Drop Dead Fred" (1991) and "Grumpy Old Men" (1993) were also shot in Paisley Park Studios.

Specifications


The 12,500-square-foot acoustically soundproof sizes (120'L x 102'W x 45'), and has a height comparable to an arena (160'L x 35'H), plus a 45 foot ceiling height that can load in 2,000 pounds of rigging from any point in the ceiling. The rental inventory of 400 pieces of house lighting equipment included Matthews grip gear, Ianiro HMIs Skirpan dimmers with Ianiro and Mole/Richardson floods.

The stage is acoustically tunable and can be patched to any of the three recording studios for live recordings.

Wardrobe


Paisley Park Studios ran a 10-person wardrobe department, which made all of Prince's clothing as well as costumes for his band.

The Vault


"The Vault" is commonly referred to the secured room in which Prince stores all his output: song masters, live recordings and films, video films amongst others.

Personel


  • John Dressel: Recording Facilities Manager.
  • Mark "Red" White: Sound stage manager. He worked with Prince for a decade, before leaving position in 1994.
  • Heidi Presnail: Paisley Park wardrobe director until 1994.

Material Produced


Albums

The following albums have been totally or partially recorded in Paisley Park Studios. They're presented in chronological order with year of recording, release date, position in US charts and RIAA certification. In the charts columns, "n/a" (non applicable) reflects an album that has not been available commercially and therefore not eligible for charts while " - " means that the album didn't chart.

Prince

Album Recorded Released Billboard 200 Billboard R&B RIAA Certification
Lovesexy 1987 - 1988 10 May 1988 11 5 Gold
Batman 1988 - 1989 20 Jun. 1989 1 5 Platimun x2
Graffiti Bridge 1986 - 1989 21 Aug. 1990 6 6 Gold
Diamonds And Pearls 1989 - 1991 1 Oct. 1991 3 1 Platinum x2
1991 - 1992 13 Oct. 1992 5 8 Platinum
Come 1993 - 1994 16 Aug. 1994 15 2 Gold
The Black Album 1986 - 1987 22 Nov. 1994 47 18
The Gold Experience 1993 - 1994 26 Sep. 1995 6 2 Gold
Chaos And Disorder 1994 - 1996 9 Jul. 1996 26 -
Emancipation 1995 - 1996 19 Nov. 1996 11 6 Platinum x2
Crystal Ball 1983 - 1996 29 Jan. 1998 62 59
The Truth 1996 29 Jan. 1998 62 59
The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale 1985 - 1996 24 Aug. 1999 85 27
Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic 1988 - 1999 9 Nov. 1999 18 8 Gold
Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic 1988 - 2000 30 Apr. 2001 n/a n/a
The Rainbow Children 2000 - 2001 20 Nov. 2001 109 33
One Nite Alone... 2001 14 May 2002 n/a n/a
Xpectation 2001 1 Jan. 2003 n/a n/a
N.E.W.S. 2003 29 Jul. 2003 - -
Musicology 1995 - 2004 29 Mar. 2004 3 3 Platinum x2
The Chocolate Invasion 1999 - 2001 29 Mar. 2004 n/a n/a
The Slaughterhouse 1999 - 2001 29 Mar. 2004 n/a n/a
3121 2005 21 Mar. 2006 1 1 Gold
Planet Earth 2006 - 2007 24 Jul. 2007 3 1
Lotusflow3r 2005 - 2008 29 Mar. 2009 2 1
MPLSound 2008 - 2009 29 Mar. 2009 2 1
20Ten 2010 10 Jul. 2010 n/a n/a
PlectrumElectrum 2012 - 2014 30 Sep. 2014 8 -
Art Official Age 2013 - 2014 30 Sep. 2014 5 1


Associated Artists

(alphabetical)


Songs

The following albums have been totally or partially recorded and / or mixed in Paisley Park Studios.

THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION


Other Audio Material

Music Videos

TV specials

Films

Live Perfomances


Prince extensively used the soundstage from 1987 onwards for tour production rehearsals and live performances.

Rehearsals


Concerts


Trivia


  • On 16 December, 2004, Paisley Park Enterprises submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum about the domain name <paisleyparkstudios.com>, registered with Network Solutions, Inc., requesting that the domain name be transferred to Paisley Park Enterprises. Since Network Solutions, Inc. had failed to use the domain name since its registration in 2003, the panel concluded that it was an evidence of bad faith registration and use. On 1 February, 2005, Network Solutions, Inc. tranferred the domain back to Paisley Park Enterprises.
  • Of note, the domains <paisleyparkstudios.com> and <paisleyparkstudios.net> no longer host Paisley Park Studios website, and are nowadays inactive.

References


Paisley Park: Where Prince reigns over state-of-the-art studios by Jon Bream (Star Tribune - 13 August, 1988)
A Year In The Life Of Rock's Elusive Genius by David Keene and DeAnna Price (Show Technology magazine - September/October 1990)
Purple Drain by Bruce Orwall (Saint-Paul Pioneer Press - 15 January, 1995)
Paisley Park Renovates, Upgrades Mic Collection (Mix - 18 May, 2005)



¹ DAW: digital audio workstation (an electronic system designed to record, edit and play back digital audio, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_audio_workstation for more information)

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