Backstage in South Florida: Ian Shaw's Warm Fuzz Recording Studio in Key West
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, an English auteur sets up shop in Key West.
With Isaac whipping its way through South Florida, one has to wonder if anyone who recently relocated to the island paradise had second thoughts about the decision. Take producer and engineer Ian Shaw, who with his wife Vicky and their dog Princess Pugsy. They recently moved to Key West from their native U.K.
The transition was made with only one serious hassle. It occurred when Princess Pugsy was denied passage on a transatlantic flight. "The hardest part of our move was getting the dog here," Shaw opines. Yet even that didn't deter the trio. They opted to cross the Atlantic in style on the Queen Mary 2 instead. According to Shaw they had good reason to persevere.
"My wife has always intended to live somewhere hot and she relishes change and finds it exciting. So, she was my catalyst," Shaw explains. "I wanted to live in an English-speaking place where I can play tennis year-round. Both of us are independent thinkers, self-employed, creative and self-motivated... So it seemed like fun rather than a drama to relocate from London to Key West."
So far so good. Shaw, his wife and their pooch have happily ensconced themselves on a houseboat and their Warm Fuzz recording studio is in full operation, having attracted business from both local musicians and those from outlying domains. "There is a definite vibe here in Key West and I'm keen to add my Brit expertise and attitude to the island music mix," he effuses. "I'm looking forward to recording bands live in the venues here. I'll also be offering studio recording and English style mixing with heart."
Indeed, Shaw seems prone to express himself with undiluted optimism. "In the last ten years, most of my chart success has been in the USA, and radio seems to like the raw, gutsy and less polished recording style that my 'indie' music profile confers upon me. I know I can make this work economically because with new recording technology and the internet, I can retain most of my U.K. clients and also increase my U.S. profile."
It's a testament to Key West's burgeoning musical environs that Shaw sees potential in that tropical setting. "I chose Key West because of the music scene, with bands on tour here regularly, lots of fresh faces and talent, and the new challenge of live recording. Plus, the club scene here is very vibrant."
Shaw's track record strongly suggests that he knows of which he speaks. His 30-year career reaped him considerable critical acclaim, including awards from BBC Radio, various nods from the influential music tabloid New Music Weekly, as well as consistent airplay and chart successes. A champion of Britain's Riot Grrrl scene in the mid '90s, he garnered three number one singles and four top ten hits on the U.K. indie charts.
If Shaw's transition seems somewhat unlikely, well suffice it to say he's always maintained a hopeful perspective as far as his ambitions are concerned. For example, when he first applied for jobs at London recording studios, he was turned down and forced to rely on his own devices. "I saved every penny I could and eventually bought a simple open reel four track recorder that I installed in my grandmother's attic in decidedly unfashionable South London," he recalls. "It was the '70's, at the tail end of punk, and my Grandma would gamely make tea for all kinds of strange people with orange and green Mohawks, tattoos and bondage trousers."
Nowadays, it's his wife Vicky, a professional chef, who serves refreshments to Shaw's clientele. Surprisingly though, the couple seemed nonplussed about the possibility of a first encounter with tropical turbulence. They were actually looking forward to Isaac's approach.
"Perhaps because we have not experienced any real weather apart from British drizzle, we enjoy the winds and the dramatic tropical rainstorms, the sizzling sun and the beautiful sunsets of Key West," he says. Adding, they regarded the storm's possibility "with typical 'Blitz-spirit,' stoicism and forethought, so we have ample stocks of milk and imported English teas for a proper British 'cuppa' whatever the weather."