Listening to a musician live is an incredible experience. Listening to a musician live and unplugged in an intimate crowd at a unique location is nothing short of magical. That is what Studio 7 Session is all about.
We chatted to Patrick Craig, the founder of Studio 7 to find out how this unique musical experience came about, how it’s grown and what you can expect at a session.
How and why did you decide to start Studio 7 Sessions?
It all started over wine and dinner with musician friends of mine. As it normally happens, music became the subject of conversation and we ended up chatting about how there is such a lack of great quality, premium music venues across the country. So about 6 years ago I saw a gap in the market for a music experience that catered for a more discerning audience and decided to begin a series that filled that gap. Before you know it Studio 7 was born.
How do you select the musicians and venues for the sessions?
The musician quality has to be really good and not just recorded but live. We often book musicians people have never heard of before which is half the fun – but the one thing they must be is really really good. Where possible I will try and see that band or artist live, but if the time or distance doesn’t allow we usually ask for live recordings in video or audio format so we can get a good sense of their quality. It’s really important and we pride ourselves on the fact that the artists we ask to play are top quality.
The venues totally depend on the musician’s sound, look and vibe. We try match the venue to the musician and the more obscure the venue the better, but again they have to meet a certain quality standard.
The sessions are stripped down and acoustic, why is this important to the sessions?
The musicians can’t hide behind produced sounds, samples or effects. For us, the real sign of a great musician is if they can translate that sound live and where possible in an acoustic manner. Most songs are written sitting with only a guitar or piano so it’s full circle really and shows the audience how it started. Being acoustic creates a level of intimacy that makes our sessions so special.
Studio 7 has been going for six years, how has it grown in this time?
Our first gig started with people contributing what they felt the artist was worth. We would send around an ice bucket and people would throw cash into the bucket – but I soon realised that despite my best efforts people especially in SA have no real concept of what a musician is worth – so as we grew with partners coming on board like Webtickets, Holiday Inn Express, Jaguar and most recently Bulldog Gin it really means that we could get top artists to play for what is still an intimate crowd of 50 – 500 people.
Then the demand grew so we decided to try other unique venues such as churches, bookshops, libraries, rooftops, beaches, parks and old manor houses. We’ve hosted the likes of Joss Stone, Eddy Jordan (F1 & Top Gear), we’ve had some of the cast of Game of Thrones pop in, most of SA’s finest and soon will be taking the concept overseas as our Silent Series has made us travelling and performing in the world’s most incredible spots possible.
Wow. That’s hard to say. But Joss Stone, Bongeziwe Mabandla and Zahara was a special show. Vusi and PJ Powers was hugely powerful for us South Africans, the collaborations with the Cape Town Philharmonic featuring Matthew Mole and Civil Twilight was amazing and not to mention the secret gig with the Parlotones and Eddie Jordan. Really having done over 120 gigs it’s hard to have one or even two or three but I’d say those would be up there.
On the site you said that you want the sessions to feel as if the musicians and the audience are on a first date, do you think that you have achieved this with the sessions?
Definitely. Awkward is awesome. We try curate an experience that is both as unique for the audience as it is for the musician. Be it the Studio 7 Original session’s at our original spot in Sea Point, which is very intimate and in a lounge and so the audience is only a metre away, or our wireless sessions where the audience is forced to do nothing but listen and the artist has their undivided attention – I believe we’ve achieved that and will continue to keep that magic alive as long as we possibly can.
What’s next for Studio 7?
Eat, Drink, Listen – a series of food paired music experiences, our Music Getaways which is a relaxing weekend in some of our top local establishments, B&Bs , lodges and venues an hour to two hours out of town. Our birthday festival which is going to be all kinds of fun and then of course our first international sessions in September. We like to keep our audience guessing so that’s all we can mention for now – but we have lots up our sleeves and all will be revealed soonest.
Photography courtesy Studio 7 Sessions