The tightly knit team at GuiltFree on setting up shop in one of London’s most iconic recording studios
Now one of the city’s only remaining central recording studios, Dean Street Studios – in it’s many incarnations – has witnessed over half a century of music royalty walking through its doors, having been relied upon by the likes of David Bowie, T.Rex, Paul Weller, Florence + the Machine, and Adele.
As permanent tenants within the iconic location and with years of industry experience between them, there’s no one more qualified to continue the building’s musical legacy than the team behind audio post production company GuiltFree Post - owners Chris Taylor-Morris and Stewart Barnes, studio manager Nic Cosenza and sound engineer John Purcell - who reveal what goes on behind closed doors in the legendary studios…
When Chris Taylor-Morris and Stewart Barnes decided to combine their years of music industry experience and set up shop in 2009, they couldn’t have found a better setting.
Having spent years working together, cutting their teeth at an audio post-production and music composition studio, the pair took the brave decision to go their own way as GuiltFree Post. Housed within the famous Dean Street Studios, they now build upon the foundations of the building’s long and rich musical heritage.
From their humble beginnings in tiny Studio 5, GuiltFree now occupy the perfect space of Studio 3 - a small complex of three rooms that make up the main studio, an edit suite and a large VO booth.
GuiltFree Post Studio
Long renowned for its involvement in making music history since its inception over 50 years ago, Dean Street Studios is a dream-come-true for musicians and artists alike.
The studios’ legacy can be traced back to the 50s, where it started life as a film studio before being converted into Zodiac Studios. Bought by producer, Tony Visconti, in 1976, it was under the new guise as Good Earth Studios that a plethora of famous acts like T.Rex, David Bowie, Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy, U2, and Adam Ant recorded and produced there.
As the studio’s reputation grew, other well-known artists began to hire the space, including everyone from Paul Oakenfold, The Smiths and Tina Turner, to Wham!, Duran Duran and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
As of 2007, the studios are in the pertinent hands of Jasmin Lee, the progeny of Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, and her mother, Suzanne Lee-Barnes, an industry veteran with 30 years of hands-on experience managing and organising top bands and brands.
Hyundai 'New Thinking, New Possibilities'; music composition and sound design by GuiltFree Post
Under their steadfast guidance, Dean Street Studios continues to make history by being widely recognised as a dependable and top-notch space that’s recorded everything from the Harry Potter audio book series with Stephen Fry, to a host of contemporary superstars, including Florence + the Machine, Ed Sheeran, Black Eyed Peas, and Adele.
These days, Dean St Studios also acts as a home for a number of like-minded independent companies, and GuiltFree are joined in residence by a solid team of musical aficionados: music production company, Yellow Boat Music, and independent producers, Charlie Russell, Bradley Spence and Alex Beitzke.
888 Poker; music composition and sound design by GuiltFree Post
Everyone in the building has a long and fascinating history in music, and Chris and Stew are no exception to the rule. With over 25 years of experience between them, they’ve established themselves as experts in delivering audio post production and bespoke music composition.
The pair originally met at Soho Square Studios, then called the Voice and Music Company, in 2005. Having worked on everything from Bob the Builder to major animations such as Toy Story and Cars, the duo decided to form their own business in order to retain more intimate relationships with their clients and have a more hands-on role in their projects.
Having started out in stage management and production (which took him all over the world), Chris is an accomplished percussionist with two decades of industry experience under his belt. His biggest talent lies in his digital production skills and expert ability to pull together samples to make music using Pro Tools and Logic packages.
Expedia 'Bermuda'; music composition and sound design by GuiltFree Post
Stew, meanwhile, toured the country as a drummer in a successful band with Jamie Cullum, and supported Paul Weller at Hyde Park. Harking from a musical upbringing (his father is a professional guitarist for the official Earth Wind and Fire tribute band), Stew inherited his father’s skill on guitar as well as a knack for instruments in general. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Stew’s area of expertise is creating bespoke compositions and arrangements.
“We pushed really hard in the first couple of years and that has really paid off,” says Chris of GuiltFree’s journey. “Our main focus has always been to build up a catalogue of good, solid work, and nurture trusting relationships. We’ve been able to do all that and more.”
The founding pair were joined a year after the company’s inception by Nic Cosenza, who heads up the company’s operations. Hailing from a background in music management, Nic’s capabilities and business skillset has helped propel the company forwards and, now in its eighth year, GuiltFree proven itself as a reliable creative partner, having built up a steady roster of clients including Vodafone, Coca Cola, Hyundai, HSBC, and British Airways.
The Last Shadow Puppets 'Miracle Aligner'; audio post-production by GuiltFree Post
“Our strength is dependability,” adds Stew. “We’re all about being upfront with people and getting the job done to the highest standard. I think this approach comes from our deep respect for music and wanting to do justice to it. We’re really lucky to be in a space and team that shares these values. Everyone at Dean Street - current and before us - puts music and its creators first. There’s a real tight-knit family feeling and professionality in the studio that’s really encouraging for the future of music.”
“GuiltFree are a joy to have here at the studios,” says Lise Regan, Dean St’s Studio Manager. “Having them permanently based in Studio 3 gives us the added benefit of having more songwriters and producers in the building that have huge experience in music production. We’re lucky enough to have a community of friends and professionals at Dean St Studios that all bring something unique; collectively there’s nothing we can’t achieve and our combined client list is just amazing.”
Dean St Studios
“Jazz and Suzanne do an amazing job. They deserve a lot of credit for preserving Dean Street’s unique independent spirit against the increasing pressure faced by many in the industry to become more corporate,” believes Nic. “We’ve got something really special here and it’s loyal to Dean Street’s legacy. When you walk through our doors, you’re guaranteed a high-standard of work carried out by people with decades of industry experience. You’ll be following in the steps of heroes like David Bowie and T.Rex - keep an eye out for their scrawls of endorsement on the studio’s walls. All of this is offered in one building right in the centre of London. You just can’t get that anywhere else.”