Paisley Park Studios
Paisley Park Studios
Its edification was conceptualized and financed by Prince, who owned it to his death and is now the property of the Prince estate. He made it his primary location for recording, filming videos, rehearsing tours from 1987 to the beginning of the 2000’s and from 2007 onward. 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.
Construction on the Paisley Park studio complex began in mid January 1986. The complex was designed by architect Bret Thoeny working for BOTO Design Inc, of Venice, CA and acoustician Marshall Long, working with local engineers in the Minneapolis area.
Bret 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 from 1 May 1987, when PRN productions moved from the Crosstown Circle building to Audubon Road.
The complex originally contained 2 recording studios, Studio A and Studio B, a rehearsal room, with full recording capacity, sometimes referred to as Studio C), a video editing suite, and a 12,500 square foot sound stage. Production offices, another rehearsal room and private dressing room/salon suite facilities were also available for rental. The whole ensemble covers 55,000 sq ft (5,100 m2).
The Paisley Park Studios complex is owned by Paisley Park Enterprises, Prince’s main business company. The studios were closed for rental 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 on rare occasions.
In 2005, ATK Corporation company updated Studio A and restored Studio B so that the studio complies with new digital technology trends.
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).
This is a 1,500-square-foot studio, approximately 45' x 75', broken down into an acoustically live room with granite walls, and a large central room. There is one wood isolation room, and a vocal isolation booth with two isolation rooms and a control room.
Originally, the studio housed a 6000E-64 Total Recall automated console with 48 mono and eight stereo input modules, for a total of 64 inputs with each channel including six assignable sends, 32 input bus assignment and programmable EQ. An Adams Smith synchronizer and event controller were also included.
Studer A800 Mark III 24-track and A820 2-track recording machines with the center stripe time code feature; 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 was also updated with, among others, two Royer R-122 Active Series phantom powered ribbon microphones, reportedly used for several Prince projects (drum sessions, piano recording) among other United States Of Division, Silver Tongue and Cinnamon Girl.
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.
At 1,000-square-foot studio (45' x 55'), broken down into one live room, one vocal room and a central room, studio B is a simpler arrangement, totally built and modified to Prince’s specifications.
The studio featured a 48-track recording device, a custom 990 op-amp 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 rooms API/DeMedio 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 as well.
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 two Studer A-800 Mark III multi-track machines. The updated monitoring system feature the same Westlake 5-way SM-1 studio monitors as in Studio A, as well as portable Westlake BBSM-4 monitors, Yamaha NS-10 speakers and Auratones cube monitors.
rehearsal room (Studio C)
The rehearsal room was designed as a multi-function rehearsal area and a projection room. Measuring 40'x30'x16', with a full lighting pipe grid, the room featured a floating wooden dance floor, mirrored wall with dance rail, full curtains, projection screen and a projection room.
In the late 80s the recording device was a Soundcraft TS-24 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.
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.
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.
To be developed
The soundstage was mainly designed to use for concerts, and/or tour rehearsals. It was 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 was notably 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 onward, 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.
The 12,500-square-foot acoustically soundproof room measures 120' x 102' x 45), and has a height comparable to an arena, with a 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 original recording studios for live recordings.
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" is the name commonly used to refer to the secured room in which Prince stored all his output: song masters, live recordings and films, video films among others.
- John Dressel: Recording Facilities Manager.
- Mark "Red" White: Sound stage manager. He worked with Prince for a decade, before leaving the position in 1994.
- Heidi Presnail: Paisley Park wardrobe director until 1994.
The following albums were 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.
|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|
- 1-800 New Funk
- Be Yourself
- Carmen Electra
- Child Of The Sun
- Closer Than Close
- Come 2 My House
- Electric Circus
- GCS 2000
- Girl 6
- Here It Is
- Hey Man... Smell My Finger
- I’m Ready
- In A Word Or 2
- Let’s Get Started
- Like A Prayer
- Never Forget: A Journey Of Revelations
- Newpower Soul
- Pret A Porter
- Riot In English
- Rock Steady
- Taja Sevelle
- The Lover In Me
- The Red Shoes
- The Self Titled Album
- Times Squared
- To The Teeth
The following albums have been totally or partially recorded and / or mixed in Paisley Park Studios. THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Other Audio Material
- 1991 Gett Off
- 1991 The Ryde Dyvine
Prince extensively used the soundstage from 1987 onwards for tour production rehearsals and live performances.
- Lovesexy Tour
- Nude Tour
- Diamonds And Pearls Tour
- Nude Tour
- Act I
- Act II
- The Ultimate Live Experience
- Japan '96
- Love 4 One Another Charities Tour
- Jam Of The Year World Tour
- New Power Soul Tour
- New Power Soul Festival Tour
- Hit N Run Tour
- A Celebration
- One Nite Alone... Tour
- World Tour 2003
- Musicology Live 2004ever
- Támar Tour
- Per4ming Live 3121
- 21 Nights In London : The Earth Tour
- Prince 20TEN Tour
- Prince Live 2010
- Welcome 2 America Tour
- Welcome 2 America: Euro 2011 Tour
- Welcome 2 Canada Tour
- Welcome 2 Australia Tour
- Welcome 2 Chicago
- Live Out Loud Tour
- See the listing under Paisley Park Studios
- 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. transferred 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.
- Description: Paisley Park Studios official site (inactive), Wikipedia: Paisley Park Records, Paisley Park Studios (Tom Garneau website), Dawnation: Paisley Park Studios, Music Marketing Inc. Facebook page, Gear Sluzt forum
- 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 Geniusby David Keene and DeAnna Price (show Technology magazine - September/October 1990)
- Purple Drainby Bruce Orwall (Saint-Paul Pioneer Press - 15 January 1995)
- Paisley Park Renovates, Upgrades Mic Collection (Mix - 18 May 2005)
- Film production: IMDB
- Design: BOTO, Marshall Long Acoustics: Paisley Park,
- Domain name case: Paisley Park Enterprises v. James Lawson (Claim Number: FA0412000384834)
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)