Black Bay Scenic

Black Bay Studio

Unique island recording studio develops talent to reach world-wide markets.

A One-of-a-kind Recording Studio Makes the Outer Hebrides its Home

Pete Fletcher moved north from Nottingham to the Isle of Lewis with his wife and two children in 2015. Two years later, after enjoying island life himself, Pete established a residential recording facility – Black Bay Studio – in Kirkibost, Great Bernera.

Black Bay Studio was the first business of its kind in Scotland – providing a fully residential studio in the Outer Hebrides in an environment designed to inspire and stimulate artists. In addition to onsite recording facilities, the business also provides a range of mixing and mastering services online.

Based in a refurbished fish processing factory boasting stunning coastal views, Black Bay offers accommodation on site for up to nine people. This mix of working and living space allows artists to truly get away from it all. The spectacular island setting gives the perfect opportunity to focus solely on their creativity.

Pete says the relative isolation can be an advantage in the creative process and their big open views are really special – most recording studios don’t even have natural light!

Over the years we have provided a variety of support for Black Bay Studio as it has developed, including capital funding to respond to COVID-19, and now supporting Cal's post through our Graduate Support Programme.
John MacDonald, development manager, HIE
Black Bay Studio Desk

Impressive Track Record in inspiring island location

Black Bay Studio has been welcoming world-class artists since 2017. Pete believes the unique character of the Outer Hebrides is a key part in attracting clients, and there is no doubt the business's draw is also down to his extensive studio management and production experience.

Black Bay Studio has worked with clients including Grammy award-winning producer, Adrian Bushby; rising stars, Lucia & The Best Boys; and chart topping Banners. They've also mastered records for artists such as Snapped Ankles and Black Honey.

While Pete had been working on his own, his aim had always been to provide training opportunities for young creative people. As soon as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased, he talked to HIE about our Graduate Support Programme and how fresh talent could help him to move ahead with the next stage of his vision.

The Graduate Support Programme has been just perfect to help us deal with some of that risk and uncertainty around whether the business was really returning to pre-Covid levels, and whether this was the right time to push ahead with our development.
Pete Fletcher, Owner/Director, Black Bay Studio

Commitment to developing new creative skills becomes reality

Pete's rationale for employing a graduate assistant engineer was multi-faceted. In addition to providing day-to-day support in the studio, he was keen to free up more of his own time to look at the business strategy post-Covid and allow for marketing, networking, and planning.

The new post would also let him develop the online mixing and mastering side of the business, enabling the studio to work with people worldwide, providing access to a slightly different clientele in a growing market, and in turn providing an opportunity for further diversification.

The response to the vacancy was overwhelming - Pete received over 50 applications. He says that over 50% of those who applied showed great promise, and he's delighted with the successful candidate Calum (Cal) Roden who joined him in October 2021.

Pete says: “I was running the business on my own before Cal joined, so he has doubled our staff capacity, and that does make a really huge difference to the quality of the service we can offer to our clients. There is much less pressure on me during sessions, so we can take more time looking after people, and doing everything really well."

Calum Black Bay Studio

Cal’s Switch From City Lights to Island Life

Cal Roden is originally from Lanark and studied at the Riverside Music College, Glasgow, where he completed a HND in Sound Production. He has subsequently worked as a venue tech in a theatre in Lanark, has done some freelance gigs as a sound engineer, and was working with the Roxburgh Theatre in Edinburgh when he heard about Pete's post.

Now as Assistant Studio Engineer at Black Bay Studio, Cal does a wide range of tasks to assist Pete.

He says: “I went to college to learn about audio so that I could work in a studio, but these jobs come up very rarely. When I saw this job advertised, I thought it was ideal, and I had to jump at it, as it was the best chance to get into what I always wanted to do.”

Although Cal was familiar with the Highlands and Islands, he hadn't visited Lewis before, but had always wanted to go, so he saw this as a “cool opportunity”. He has moved to the island with his girlfriend, and after initially staying in off-season holiday accommodation he has now found a place to rent in Stornoway. The couple are both enjoying island life!

The Graduate Support Programme has obviously been a great help for Pete, and in turn it has enabled me to do something that I would never have been able to do otherwise. It really has been great for both of us.
Cal Roden, Assistant Studio Engineer, Black Bay Studio

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