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Recording’s Great Escapes: Inside The World’s Most Scenic, State-of-the-Art Studios

From the Grecian seaside to the Brazilian mountains to the Arctic Circle's edge, musicians have recorded in these far-flung spaces — and changed their creative outlooks in the process.

“There were literally killer whales outside,” Sebastian Ingrosso recalls of Swedish House Mafia’s stay at Ocean Sound, a recording studio nestled on a tiny island off the northwest coast of Norway. “We had chefs coming with fresh fish every day. The ocean was right there when you opened the door. It’s one of the best studios I’ve been to. It was magical.”

A recording studio’s setting and vibe can have an immense effect on the artists recording there. And from the Grecian seaside to the Brazilian mountains to the Arctic Circle’s edge, these far-flung spaces have hosted countless artists, including ABBA, Queen, Sade, Soundgarden, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Fleet Foxes and more.

In addition to our in-depth look at the rebirth of Miraval Studios — a particularly stunning (and historic) recording space in Provence, France that Brad Pitt and producer-engineer Damien Quintard have brought to new life — Billboard is taking a global tour through dozens of gorgeous, state-of-the-art studios. These are the studios that inspired the artists who have created timeless classics and modern radio smashes, and for the most part, they’re far from the hustle and bustle of traditional industry hubs.

There’s the getaway in the mountains of southern Spain with rooms inspired by the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits (Space Mountain Studios); the luxe studio on Santorini where, says owner Kostas Kalimeris, Björk worked a few years ago as “her birthday present” (Black Rock Studios); the Welsh farm space where the cows still get milked every morning, and where Pixies love to hole up (Rockfield Studios); the rustic Vermont escape where the vibe is as laid-back as a Phish jam (The Barn, built by the band’s own Trey Anastasio).

Take a tour of those scenic studio locales — and many more — below.

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 8, 2022, issue of Billboard.