Justin, a.k.a. DJ Scyther, and his business partner Grey, a.k.a. DJ Greyman, own and run the All Nighter Studios in East London. They opened their doors after the lockdowns and, while they’ve learnt some valuable lessons, they haven’t looked back. They’re deep into the London music scene as both a recording studio and as club DJs, and give it their all to help the city’s young creatives.
Here, Justin tells us about his inspiration and drive for opening a studio, and how that passion sees him through some very long, busy days doing what he loves. He shares some sound business advice on paying a fair price to get a decent sparky and on getting help from friends and family when setting up. And, it turns out, he’ll work with pretty much any music genre, except perhaps heavy rock.
What inspired you to start your studio?
First of all we wanted to help the youth – it was our main focus, as a lot of creatives are just on the streets and at home not knowing what to do or how to start, especially because the equipment is so expensive, a decent set of headphones and speakers could easily cost you like £500, for quality work. So for them coming here for £6 per hour, £9 per hour - it’s just affordable to get started, and just seeing where their head is at.
So that’s how we ended up starting everything, I think just so the youth can just get creative.
We wanted to help the youth – it was our main focus
What's a day in your life look like?
Even though I'm not here every day, I’m forever working 24/7. I've got to manage all the bookings. I've got to make sure the studio is clean for the next person as well. I got to make sure everything's working like vending machine, the toilets as well. All the housekeeping work, all the emails as well and letting in customers, just making sure they receive the code email – some people say they haven’t got sent their codes. I've got to do all the customer service work as well.
Also doing other work in terms of social media, so our media platform of making sure content is up there, then we have a team so I've got to brief them, like weekly meetings, as well as me and Grey doing internal meetings to see how we can improve our service, as well as reach out to other companies to see if we can help them and they can help us. So yeah, it's busy and as well we're still working 9–5, both of us, so okay we've got it… got it busy.
I already know this kind of question, but I'll ask anyway, what sort of musicians do you typically work with?
Yeah there’s quite a lot of urban artists, but I'm free to working with any artist, I probably just won't do that heavy rock music. I like jungle, I wouldn't mind doing jungle, but yeah, I wouldn't try and pass that line, but I probably do garage, house, soulful, R&B, afrobeats.
I think a lot of people that either don't like it or have never really been around it don't really appreciate how many different types of artist that there are.
Owning a studio made me realise how much diversity there is. As you can hear next door, they're playing this house, but it's not really the house music I will listen to, but if I was to go somewhere and heard that music, I would probably still nod my head. It’s good.
Owning a studio made me realise how much diversity there is
Grey is B Young’s DJ, and he was DJ’ing at Wireless like two days ago, basically over the weekend yeah – London one day, Birmingham the next – so yeah, between us, we both have links.
So, you opened a studio just after lockdown. Did you have to change your plans? Did you plan the business before lockdown?
So we actually planned this business in 2019. We actually had a bigger space than this in North London, then Covid came. We adjusted a lot of things, that's one thing we did. But we really had a lot of things before we had the studio like the Codelocks, we had all the XLR cables, quite a lot of stuff that we needed to get started and we started our website as well, tried to start as much as possible before actually finding a building.
When Covid came, I took a step back because I was like ‘this is not going nowhere near’ and my business partner was saying ‘nope, we're gonna find somewhere, as soon as and open’ and you just get it done, keep going and going. We literally found this place and then just stuck at it.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to set up their own studio?
Um yes, I'd say don’t give up, for one. It will be hard. You can make a lot of mistakes and lose a lot of money. Try to get your family and friends to help you as well, even if for small things like painting or yeah just coming to dust down on the day you try to open.
Don't go for the cheapest option as well, that's another thing I'll say! So, if an engineer is telling you they can do electrics for £500, and one is £1,500, try to find the middle ground. Don’t go for the cheapest person. And try not to get your friends to help you too much with the labour work. So, if your friend is a plumber, for example, they can help, but pay the money that they actually want, don’t try to hustle it down. Don’t try and owe people favours you need to pay back. Just do everything by the book. Still get help from others if you can and it’s genuine.
Don't be afraid to change any ideas as well, yeah. Get input from other people. Like this room wasn't meant to look like this, but look at it now. It was just going to be a normal desk, but other people helped with some great ideas.
Don't be afraid to change any ideas as well, yeah. Get input from other people.
Interested in reading more of this series of interviews? Check them all out here