Producer/musician and studio owner Bill Jabr is breathing new life into one of Los Angeles' most historic recording facilities, putting an API 2448 console at the heart of the refurbished Studio A.
When the opportunity arose for Bill Jabr to take over legendary Lion Share Recording Studios, designed by Carl Yanchar for Kenny Rogers in 1979, he immediately envisaged an API analog recording console installed in Studio A. The studio has now been lovingly renovated and an API 2448 does indeed take pride of place in the control room, offering features including dual inputs on each channel, stereo returns and Final Touch Automation®.
Jabr has become the latest custodian of the facility on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, which, in his words, attracted "everybody who was anybody" during the 1980s. Originally from Atlanta, where he launched Blue South in 2009, Jabr branched out to Los Angeles in 2014, opening Blue West in 2020 before the opportunity to relocate and take over Lion Share presented itself.
API has long been central to Jabr's burgeoning studio group. "API is a big part of our sound," he explains. "The 2448 fits so well in this room; not just sound-wise but also stylistically. It's such a classic LA room and the wonderful console, with its cherry wood finish, looks like it's always been here, and with the soffit-mounted walnut Augspurger-style main monitors it all just clicks together. We felt the API gave us a solidly built analog body that stands on its own in terms of quality without any DAW integration or automation at all. The mojo of the board, the front-end tracking, the monitor section and ease of use, together with the convenient direct outs and small fader inserts for more tracks at mixdown, all give us the capability to track and mix larger projects in a smaller footprint. There is no better sound on guitars and drums than the API sound and the API 'punch', and the way the transients cut through can't be produced quite the same with anything else."
During his decade in LA, Jabr has built up an impressive client base which includes Andre 3000, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, Kiko Cibrian, Wale, Ne-Yo and Pi'erre Bourne, and many more. He's confident the move to Lion Share will not only retain their clients, but also attract new clientele. "It's in a great location and it was one of the go-to rooms in the city," he says. "We've strived to revive it and bring it back."
After its '80s heyday, Lion Share transitioned into a facility that artists could block-book for longer periods. Eventually, after several ownership changes, it began to fall into disrepair. "It's such an iconic, interesting space; people put so much heart and soul into it back in the day and it got forgotten over the years. But, during the '80s, the artists that worked here were unbelievable: Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Earth Wind and Fire, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer. And producer David Foster had a long run with Chicago here. And I was wondering recently whether Tina Turner ever worked at Lion Share and, sure enough, she did. Some artists did some of their best work in this studio, and now I have the opportunity to take this historic room, that's still standing after almost 50 years, and bring it back.
"One of the previous owners bought it from Kenny Rogers in the mid '80s; he's been very kind and supportive of what we're doing and has passed the baton along. We're a young team working with modern artists meeting an older room with so much history."
As well as the ongoing Lion Share renovation, Jabr is expanding his studio portfolio with a second, much larger facility in Atlanta, currently being constructed by the WSDG studio design group. And he's keen that API will continue to play a central role in all his future projects. "We have a rack of API modules in every room and, eventually, we'd love to have a console in them all too," he says. "API is such a big part of what we do."
And if further proof were needed of the sterling work carried out by Jabr, the renovated Lion Share was featured in Mix Magazine's Recording Studio Class of 2023 rollcall of quality international facilities almost as soon as the doors reopened.
More on Lion Share Studios: www.lionsharestudios.com