A lot has changed in Barcelona since I last visited. There are more clubs, more shops, better coffee and a distinct relaxed feeling in the air. After a week of storms Cap i Casal de Catalunya is draped in sunshine underneath blue skies. As I depart the El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport, the clear visibility allows me to see the city from a distance. To the west you catch a glimpse of the iconic Camp Nou, to the north you’ll see two towering skyscrapers and to the east I immediately see my destination: W Barcelona.
Known by the locals as Hotel Vela (Sail Hotel), the shape and size of Barcelona’s luxury beach resort means it’s visible from almost anywhere in the city. Standing at 325ft, it’s the 17th tallest building in the city, which may not sound like much, but thanks to its unique location in the heart of the Port of Barcelona, it’s certainly one of the most impressive.
The reason I'm here is to experience one of the newest additions to the hotel, and the first in Europe: the W Sound Suite, a state-of-the-art recording studio in the heart of the establishment. Following successful launches at W Bali, W Seattle and W Hollywood, W Barcelona lives up to the city’s reputation as one of the most momentous music capitals in Europe by creating this dedicated space for upcoming talent and established artists.
W Sound Suite is an essential element of W Records, the recently launched record label, which supports emerging and renowned artists through every step of development, providing them a private studio to produce and record their tracks, video shoot locations, mixing and mastering and distribution of the new sound via live performances, streaming and vinyl production.
During my visit to W Barcelona, I was joined by iconic Dutch DJ and founder of BMKLTSCH RCRDS, Mike Mago, and Dutch/Latvian singer ANNNA, winner of last year’s DEMOLITION XXIV at the Amsterdam Dance Event, winning the opportunity to record in the hotel’s new suite. The winning song 'Stardom/Hater', was composed by ANNNA herself, August Blichert Friis and Bruno Verhaar.
DEMOLITION is an annual competition that invites music producers to submit unsigned demos for them then to be critiqued by Dave Clarke, Joseph Capriati, Todd Terry, Eli Iwasa, Kristin Velvet and Mike Mago himself. Last year’s ADE also saw Maya Jane Coles and Louie Vega perform at W Amsterdam, while the hotel also organised deep house yoga classes throughout the week too.
“ADE is always an awesome experience and DEMOLITION is the cherry on top,” said Mago. “It’s cool to see so many talented people out there, all coming from different starting points and bringing loads of different styles and techniques to the table.”
On ANNNA winning the competition, he added: “One thing that initially stood out about ANNNA was her style, her sound was so unique. Her vocals and lyrics really stood out too. She has a kinda Lana Del Rey kinda voice, which worked really well with the backing track.”
The Sound Suite itself offers a private, sound-proofed recording booth, as well as a spacious lounge for artists and their equipment. This original space is ideal for artists, music writers, emerging talents and hotel guests, to mix, record and produce, while being on the road. The main mixing room features a private vocal booth and a lounge for artists and entourage. Private masterclasses lead by in-house Music Curator Piem, exclusive record sessions or just an original space for creative brainstorming sessions.
For these sessions at the W Barcelona, ANNNA, August and Mike Mago played with various tools, to create a host of unique sounds. These were played alongside ANNNA’s angelic notes, in an attempt to find the perfect effects to accompany the track. Studio time can often be stressful, but in the Sound Suite it was both productive and relaxed, the way making music should be.
“It's a full-on chill experience,” said ANNNA. “You can go to a spa in the morning, work on a track during the day, have a cocktail during lunch and return to your incredible hotel room in the evening. It's a genuinely inspiring place and the perfect place for any productive artist to stay!”
ANNNA has recently dropped the third single of her upcoming EP entitled ‘Pay Bills/Climb Hills', a theme-based album covering global issues like sustainability and equality. Details of her European tour will also be announced soon
This year’s Amsterdam Dance Event will take place from 21st October to 25th October 2020 and will be its 25th anniversary event