“Beyond the Beyond” at BB4: A Creative Haven for Ian Lloyd
“Beyond the Beyond” at BB4: A Creative Haven for Ian Lloyd
Studios are where the stories of Ian Lloyd come to life.
This unmistakable singer is set to unleash an enthralling album on an unsuspecting public. He’s currently recording Beyond the Beyond at BB4 Studios in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, an epic “prog pop” adventure that breaks brave new boundaries.
Lloyd has already had a #1 hit, with his band Stories and their recording of “Brother Louie” that charted atop the Billboard Hot 100 in the early 1970’s. He’s been honing his rockcraft nonstop since then, with a number of top 100 releases and solo albums, as well as singing background for renowned artists including Foreigner, Billy Joel, Peter Frampton, Kiss, and Yes. This record isn’t about conquering the charts: it’s about captivating ears and minds.
“I’m very excited: It’s going to be the best album I’ve done,” says Lloyd. “There’s no ultimate goal with Beyond the Beyond except that it’s for myself. It’s in me and I have to get it out.”
On hand to help him with that expressive task is his son, David Lloyd, who’s producing the record. Together, the pair are overseeing special guest sessions that include Ian McDonald of King Crimson/Foreigner, John Ford of the Strawbs, Kenny Aronson (Joan Jett, Bob Dylan, Rick Derringer, Stories), and superstar accordionist Johnny Koenig. Other modern music icons are expected, and will be confirmed soon.
Very Surprising Songs
A sneak preview of Beyond the Beyond reveals something deep. Lloyd has been working on some of these songs for decades, and his partnership with David has crystallized in ways unnerving, disturbing, shocking and absolutely rocking.
Lloyd knows a thing or two about studios. The son of a busy New York City session violinist and an in-demand concert lyric soprano, he first set foot in an audio facility at age 3, where he was seen-and-not-heard during full-fledged orchestral sessions.
As a singer who’s gone on to have a lifelong career, Lloyd has seen it all in recording. That includes enviable sessions with Eddie Kramer – producer/engineer for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin – at South London’s famed Olympic sound Studios. Vancouver’s Pinewood Studios with producer Bruce Fairbairn (AC/DC, Aerosmith), Electric Lady Studios, the Hit Factory, LA’s Record Plant with Yes, and many more have been his host for tracking and mixing.
In addition to sharing the music, Ian and David want to share the experience of creating at BB4 Studios, which was designed by in-house engineer Christos Tsantilis to be an optimum tracking, mixing, and mastering environment, in one workflow.
“We’re excited to have our friends come and record with us here at BB4,” Ian says. “Ultimately it’s about the sound that you can achieve here, but it’s also about being comfortable so you can perform. I love it here because instead of the big window to the control room, the tracking spaces have cameras that you can turn on and off if you want to. So you have the visual connection if you need it, or privacy as a performer if you prefer that.”
The expertise that Tsantilis brings to the design of BB4, as well as the tracking, mixing and mastering sessions that he oversees, was a draw for the Lloyds. “Christos’ passion for sonic perfection is totally obvious,” says David. “I think of the studio as the equivalent to the human body. Just like capillaries and arteries are important for pumping blood everywhere, every single wire and power line in this facility has been purified to achieve the best possible sound.”
With everything from accordion to theremin, percussion, and Mellotron being tracked for Beyond – plus a masterful rock array of vocals, guitars, bass, and drums – the accurate acoustics in BB4’s tracking spaces have proved essential. In addition to the dedicated tracking space, the Lloyds have found the BB4 lounge and control room both to be highly inspirational for live recording.
“Having accurate critical listening available during tracking really speeds up the production process,” David Lloyd confirms. “It lets you know the answer to most decisions you need to make: ‘Do we need to do another take? Do we need to have this part be another instrument altogether? Do we need to get more creative?’”
“When you can hear yourself better during tracking, you can give a better performance,” Ian adds. “This is the only studio I’ve ever been to where I could hear incredible-sounding mixes in the tracking situation, through the headphones. They set it up to ensure that you’re hearing the fidelity, the clarity, and the imaging. That really does allow you to rock out and give your best performance.”
The Beauty of Brooklyn
The sonic clarity of BB4 is also paying off for Beyond the Beyond in myriad other ways, including making rough mixes more productive. “Occasionally you do a rough mix to bring things into perspective,” David explains. “Especially if you’re hitting a bump in the road, a rough mix can get you excited again. Christos has the ability to take a rough mix of unfinished, freshly laid-down tracks and make it come out sounding better than a lot of finished records – and that’s in an hour, not a couple of days.
“Hearing a mix at BB4 is exciting,” continues David. “It’s an incredibly exciting listening environment, but as a producer one of the most valuable assets of the control room here is that it translates accurately. You take a mix home and you’re hearing the same excitement, even if you’re just listening off of your laptop.”
For an album this timeless, it makes sense that there’s some multi-generational magic at work. It’s not often that an accomplished artist on the level of Ian Lloyd has the opportunity to bring their son onto the project as producer, and rarer still that it’s obviously the right choice. But that’s what’s unfolding withBeyond the Beyond at BB4.
“We don’t have to talk that much, because we think the same,” says Ian of the unique chemistry he shares with David. “We often can’t even tell who sang what when we listen to the playbacks. It’s a DNA thing.”
“With Beyond the Beyond, we both believe in the vision of the music,” David says. “We finish each other’s weird ideas. Ian and I have worked together for many years, and he’s played me a lot of music, so we share the same internal music library. We’ve spent our lives listening to music together since the day I was born.”
“That’s true,” Ian Lloyd smiles. “Were sown together at the ear.”