- 29 Oct 21
The limited edition LP is unveiled today and features songs by Irish and International acts who recorded at the legendary studios - including U2, R.E.M, The Cranberries, and more.
You can't talk about the history of Irish music without talking about Windmill Lane Recording Studio.
Opened in 1979 by recording engineer Brian Masterson at 22 Windmill Lane, the studio has become an intrinsic part of the fabric that makes up Dublin's and Ireland's music scene. To many, the studio is synonymous with U2 - and indeed, the legendary rock group is an intrinsic part of its story - but there's so much more. The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, and David Bowie have recorded there, to name a few.
After a decline in early 2000, the studio closed down in 2006. Three years later, the company opened up again under the leadership of CEO Naomi Moore. Since then, Windmill Lane has regained its standing in the music business, with artists of the like of Lady Gaga and Hozier performing and recording there. The iconic institution now also hosts the music, film and animation school Pulse College - also ran by Naomi- as well as opening its doors to visitors in 2020.
Their latest project lands today: a 10-track vinyl collection that includes some of the most seminal pieces recorded at Windmill Lanes.
“When we first took over here in 2009, the attic was full of these master-tapes that people had left behind,” Naomi said. “There were these great songs and albums, all this history up in the attic literally gathering dust and falling apart. On the back of the tour, we realised how much interest there is in Windmill Lane Recording Studios and the artist who have recorded here. Aidan, my partner, had the idea to put an album together."
"We wanted to highlight the number of people and the variety of people who have come through because people automatically associate us with U2. They are one of our clients - great clients - but they’re not the only clients. We wanted to let people know that there is a massive amount of international and Irish acts that came through here. It's also about keeping the history alive; it’s an iconic building and iconic company. The record will let people know just how special the place is and also that it’s still ongoing. It’s not a historical building, and it’s not a museum; it’s a hard-working studio that continues to work with young and up and coming artists."
With over 40 years of back catalogue, choosing the tracks was no easy feat. To add to the difficulties, the timing of the production was rather unfortunate, seeing several hick-ups along the way.
"We picked a number of tracks, and then we worked in conjuncture with Universal - Nick Younger has been great at getting all the clearances. The whole thing was an interesting process; it was the first time we had ever done it, so it was a learning curve. Hopefully, this is just volume one. I would like to see many more volumes.
"In 40 years when we’re gone, there is still a body of music coming from the next few decades as well. It was interesting, but also it was time-consuming. And then there was the big vinyl shortage as well, which didn’t help. But we got over it. And I think now is a nice time to release it as we're coming close to Christmas."
Vegan Burgers with Bryan Adams and Tea with Bon Jovi
Having held the helm for over a decade at Windmill Lane Recording Studios, and with two more as a director at her previous studio Pulse Records, Naomi is a music business veteran. Having worked alongside dozens of international music stars, she's got plenty of tales to tell.
"Oh, what can I talk about? There are loads of stories, but there’s lots of stuff I can’t talk about because our client privilege confidentiality agreements are our number one priority," Naomi said with mischievous laughter. "Bryan Adams made me a vegan burger once; that was very special. Bon Jovi made me a cup of tea. The Script being presented their first platinum disk here, as well."
"More recently, when Hozier was here shooting the ‘Nina Cried Power’ video while in studio two - with his brother John was directing actually - 20 Irish activists came through the door. People like Simone George, Eamonn McCann, and Christina Noble," Moore continues. "At the same time, they were shooting Hozier's music video in studio one with Mavis Staples.
"That was a really special day. Not only were we capturing incredible music, but we were also having the activist in there playing a part in that song, getting out their message. When they actually shot the video, it was the first time they heard that song, so the reaction that you see in the video is their genuine reaction. So that holds a really special place in my heart."
Nile Rodgers, Lady Gaga, The Chieftains, and Herbie Hancock were a few other names mentioned. Never knowing who she's going to bump into when she turns the corner is what makes her day-to-day life so exciting.
"When you’re with people like Herbie Hancock and Dionne Warwick - these legends - you expect them to be a certain way because they’ve been around for so long. But they are just the most beautiful people, and they’re generous with their time and with everyone around them. They can surprise you with how normal they can be and how generous they are."
The Future for Windmill Records
The studio opened its doors to the public early last year after noticing an increased interest in the historic institution. The launch party was a smashing success, with President Michael D. Higgins making an appearance and a live performance by Paul Brady and Dónal Lunny. But the launch date was the February 20th, 2020, so it's not hard to guess what happened next.
"Yes, we opened with perfect timing. But we did learn a lot during the year and a half that we were closed. We did a lot of promotion, and it also gave us time to hone down everything properly and make sure that the acts were right. It was a good time for us to work on the experience. We’re about to open again, and we're getting a lot of bookings in. The reviews are all five stars, so I think it’s working really well."
"I think visitors are surprised by the amount of artists that come through them. We don’t just talk about the artist, but also about the recording spaces. There’s also the Grammy wall and our own little graffiti wall that the artist have done. All these little elements that people enjoy massively."
But while the studio tour is set to become one of Dublin's next big attractions, Naomi insists it doesn't change what is at the heart of Windmill Records.
"First and foremost, the future is the music. Be it international artists that come through Ireland or people coming here just to record. We get a lot of film soundtracks as well for games and animations. There is a new era of not just rock and roll - we’re always trying to develop. We have something coming up next that’s quite interesting, but I can’t talk about it right now!"
Order the limited edition vinyl album here.
Mysterious Ways – U2
Imitation Of Life – R.E.M.
Zombie – The Cranberries
All This Useless Beauty – Elvis Costello
Old Town – Phil Lynott
World Of Our Own – Westlife
Breathless – The Corrs
When A Woman – Gabrielle
She’s A River – Simple Minds
Julia Says – Wet Wet Wet