Tasmania’s Mona (aka the Museum of Old and New Art) has become the first museum in Australia to be installed with a fully operational recording studio, which features the historic REDD.17 console that most famously called Abbey Road home in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The mixing desk was used in the iconic London studio from 1958 through to 1980 (though it was not used on The Beatles’ seminal ‘Abbey Road’ album, which was tracked there in 1969), and in 2014 was purchased by Crumpler co-founder David Roper. It was him, alongside audio product designer Lukas Glickman, who developed the idea to house it in a bespoke studio inside Mona.
The studio itself, named Frying Pan – partially in ode to Frying Pan Island, which sits opposite to the Mona site – was built by Mona founder David Walsh, who was driven by his “long-standing fascination with the creative process” (according to a press release). It’s described as being “a living and breathing space to make art – surrounded by art – in real time”.
In a statement shared as part of that press release, Walsh declared Frying Pan to be “the essence of Mona”. He explained: “The major product will be music, of course, but made in an environment redolent of passion and daring. There will be many failures and some triumphs. Because we value risk, and humanity, and the glorious desperation of creativity, we will be proud of the work of Frying Pan’s denizens, however it is received.”
Leading operations at Frying Pan will be Chris Townsend, a producer, studio designer and sound engineer who, over the last 30 years, has worked with legendary acts like Portishead, D12, Silverchair (and solo works by Daniel Johns), Violent Femmes, Sunn O))), Augie March, Tim Finn and Oren Ambarchi.
In his own statement, Townsend said of his latest endeavour: “It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to design a fully functioning recording studio inside a museum. Mona is an artistic cave of wonders, with music such an integral part of the experience – from city-wide festivals to intimate gallery gigs.
“Frying Pan artists will benefit immensely from the surrounding inspiration, ridiculous location and abundance of equipment, both historic and [high]-tech.”
Frying Pan is already open for bookings – interested artists can reach out to Townsend and his team here.
Though the REDD.17 console wasn’t used on ‘Abbey Road’, it was used on several other Beatles recordings, including their genre-defining 1966 song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ (from that year’s ‘Revolver’ album). Among the other notable acts to utilise it include Pink Floyd, The White Stripes and Tame Impala.