Christchurch's Orange Studios attracts overseas musicians for live concert recordings gallery video

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff.co.nz

Michael Bell, the director of Christchurch's Orange Studios, explains how live concert recordings help offset production costs.

Michael Bell was just 18 and fresh out of Christchurch's CPIT Jazz School when he set up a garage recording studio, naming the business after the orange colour he painted the walls.

Fast forward 10 years and Orange Studios records everything from hip hop to classical  pieces and advertising jingles, with artists regularly coming from Australia.

"Sometimes it's cheaper to fly from  Melbourne and record in Christchurch than it is to record in a studio in Melbourne."

Michael Bell, director of Orange Studios, aims to make recording affordable for artists.
John Kirk-Anderson

Michael Bell, director of Orange Studios, aims to make recording affordable for artists.

Forced out of its CBD premises by the earthquakes, Orange returned to a garage studio for a couple of years before moving into new studios created inside an existing building in the Ferrymead commercial area.

In terms of its footprint, Bell said he believed it was the biggest recording studio in the South Island. 

"I sold my house to do it."

New York jazz singer Dan Bolton is among overseas artists who record at Live at Orange public concerts.
John Kirk-Anderson

New York jazz singer Dan Bolton is among overseas artists who record at Live at Orange public concerts.

The larger of Bell's two main studios seats 50 people for live concert recordings, and ticket sales for public concerts help offset recording costs for artists. 

On Thursday Orange hosted a performance by touring New York jazz musician Dan Bolton.

"We've had the CSO (Christchurch Symphony Orchestra) record in here. It was definitely the tightest recording we've ever done."

Two smaller sound booths were perfect for  musicians who could not afford to hire a full size studio, and clients covered a wide range.

Ad Feedback

"We try our best to create a nice atmosphere for people so that when they step into the building they feel really good. We get a  wonderful mixture of extremely experienced professionals and first timers."

Orange has five arrangers who arrange music for albums and for school school bands needing specific instrumentals to match their resources.  "They have one violin and 20 flutes."

Bell's team also compose music for television documentaries and short films, such as the symphony orchestra piece for short film Huhu Attack.

The studio videos live recordings too and offers affordable video packages for musicians needing audition tapes.

The business recently moved into printing fliers, posters and programmes  for musicians working to tight budgets, and Bell said his "super cheap" high quality options were nearly half the prices charged elsewhere. 

The main Orange recording studio doubles as a convenient rehearsal space for Bell's other business, The New Zealand Playhouse.

Housed in rooms above the studios, the touring theatre company performs 700 shows a year in New Zealand and Australian schools. 

Bell, who did a spell with a touring company and spent 11 years with The Court Theatre's Court Jesters troupe,  plans to take the school shows to Canada where he was born. "We've managed to run the Australian tours from here, so we see it as another challenge."

The comedy shows are pitched at two distinct audiences.

The latest primary school show #TheFairestOfThemAll tackles the subject of cyber-bullying via a story based on Snow White and the seven dwarfs.

Senior students attending the Shakespeare: As You Write It show get to nominate a movie which the actors then perform in Shakespearean language.  

"Our number one goal is to give the kids and teachers a good time, but we do have a message in the majority of our shows."

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback