Finger on the Pulse at Windmill Lane

wl3Have you ever been walking along Ringsend Road and popped into the garage for a chicken sandwich only to spy Lady Gaga over by the jumbo Wotsits reading the Evening Herald? Or have you ever popped into Ferrari’s on a Friday afternoon and had to stand in line behind the Kings of Leon while they wait for a cod and a large chips?

The answer is probably no, but you’d be surprised at how possible those situations have been in the past and might surely be in the future. That’s what can happen when one of the most famous recording studios on earth sets up just up the road.

Windmill Lane Studios is a name that will get the heart beating in most music fans. The famous recording facility has a continuing history of attracting some of the biggest artists in the world. Everyone from U2, The Rolling Stones, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, The Script and Metallica have made use of Windmill Lane and the list of stars keeps on growing.

Set up in 1978 by James Morris and Brian Masterson as Windmill Lane Studios, due to the location being Windmill Lane at the time, it was primarily used for recording traditional Irish music until U2 began to use the facility, which encouraged other Irish rock artists to record there. But in the late 80s a decision was taken to move everything to Ringsend Road, which was sold to a highly respected Irish artist who must remain nameless (think Belfast, black hats, sunglasses and saxophones and you’re there) and only three years ago was bought over by the current owners and has been entertaining rock royalty right under our noses ever since.

And as if that wasn’t good enough, it’s also home to Pulse College, Ireland’s leader in Creative Media Education which consistently produces skilled individuals with the ability to push Irish creativity forward within the mediums of music, film, animation and video gaming.

“Myself, Aidan Alcock and Tony Perry set up Pulse College and Pulse Studios on Camden Street about twenty years ago,” CEO, Naomi Moore told NewsFour.

“We had 50 Cent recording with us, Bryan Adams and people like that and the business started to grow as did the college, so we needed somewhere bigger. We were approached by someone at Windmill Lane who wanted to sell and we’ve been here about three years now.”

wl2Starting off by delivering City and Guilds courses, Pulse College now offers a whole host of qualifications from FETAC level 5/6 to BA Hons in Music Production and although being known primarily as a place synonymous with rock music, Windmill Lane and Pulse College have managed to encompass film and gaming within the vast Tardis-like building next to Dublin Bus Depot.

“We’ve expanded over the last number of years into video game production and film because as everything becomes more interconnected in technology things need to get better. Your sound needs to get better, your graphics need to be better and we saw the explosion of gaming coming about three years ago, so we started to implement courses and now that the industry is so big our courses are really successful, with an employment rate of about ninety percent,” Naomi explains.

What sets Pulse College apart is that with a commercial brand like Windmill Lane attached, students get the chance to see the inner workings of the industry and gain experience with some of the biggest names in entertainment.

“We are unique in that the students get to work in the top studios in the country and if there are bands in they get to work with them. When we had The Script in, we had two guys working with them. When we had Lady Gaga in, we had two people working with her so it’s real industry training, and by the time their course is finished they’re well-rounded practically and academically, but also in a network sense because they’ve worked with professional clients.

“You can’t really get much higher training than that and I suppose that’s why most of our students do so well when they leave. We have two students working with U2 right now and people with Kylie Minogue, Van Morrison and so on.”

To walk past Windmill Lane is nothing really special, but taking a tour of the building is something quite memorable. From the plush Studio 1 with a 74-channel Neve desk and a live room capable of accommodating an 80-piece orchestra to the smaller Studios 2/3, which are just as stunning on a smaller scale, all the way to the Engine Room and the abundance of incredibly well-equipped class rooms. Windmill Lane and Pulse College have fashioned a cornucopia of creative thinking and practical experience that keeps the world’s biggest artists coming back.

“We had loads of old two-inch master tapes which last year I decided to put up on the walls because I think it’s really nice for people to see all those original recordings that were made here. You can walk down the hall and see old AC/DC recordings, The Commitments and Elvis Costello, which I think lends to the history of the place. A creative space needs creativity within it to help it breathe and that’s what we’ve succeeded in doing here,” she concludes.

By Joe McKenna