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Black Rock Studios: Miloco’s residential paradise

In this week's report, Phil Ward finds out how to build a studio in heaven with Black Rock Studios' owner Kostas Kalimeras

Take one Greek island, cook for several months of the year in blazing sunshine and add villa, swimming pool, jacuzzi, stunning views of the South Aegean Sea, SSL J-Series and Genelec monitors. Then leave to mature in the capable hands of owner Kostas Kalimeris and the experienced management team at Miloco, the London-based studio group currently redefining the recording industry business model. As Miloco’s latest residential, Black Rock on the Cyclades island of Santorini sets a new standard, so we asked Kostas if we could borrow it for a few months, say between May and September, and then we asked him some other questions… How did Black Rock come under the Miloco umbrella, or should I say parasol? “I was looking for a way to promote the facility, and when I found Miloco on the internet I invited Nick Young and one of his engineers to visit for a few days. They had a good look round and decided to go for it.” Is this your first studio? “I built a studio in Athens in 2000, having started out as a recording engineer and then moving to Universal as an A&R man, producer and engineer. It’s called Prism Studio, and yes I do have Prism Sound’s ADA-8 converter. But I’ve had the dream of building an island residential for the last 35 years…” Do you own both places? “Yes, but there are some investment partners too. One of them is Michael Papathanasiou, a member of Going Through – Greece’s most successful hip-hop/R&B band.” Give us a quick tour… “There are three recording spaces: a 30sqm live room, 6m high so really lively with a unique drum sound; plus a great vocal booth with a window overlooking the pool and the sea; and a backline booth. We’re actually thinking of building into the basement to create more amp rooms, probably a guitar room, a bass room and a Leslie room, and save space upstairs. Recording is based on a Pro Tools HD2 system, for the moment, and the console is an SSL 9000 with 80 channels. The main monitors are Genelec 1035Bs, but for nearfield we have smaller options from both KRK and PMC. I think people are sometimes afraid of using main monitors; they should give them a try!” Where did the SSL come from? “It came originally from a private studio in Paris, in really excellent condition, but I bought it from Mark at Funky Junk. We were very lucky – it’s absolutely stunning for a used item.” How would you assess the residential market? “We know times are tough, but this a completely new location to record in. It’s all about the experience. We’re catering for international artists and touring acts, and there are budgets. Business-wise, there is another dimension: the villa is also available just for vacations. In fact, we get a higher rate for it than as a recording studio!”We’ll sleep under the SSL… “You’re very welcome!”