I'm Jayce Lewis. I'm a multi-instrumentalist, solo artist and music producer from Bridgend, South Wales. I’m also the owner of Northstone Studios which is a national – and soon-to-be – international recording studio.
Bridgend is an inspiring place. Having travelled the world over – I've forgotten how many countries I've been to now – I appreciate how lucky I am.
For me, it all started when I was six years old. I saw Queen doing Live Aid. That was my light bulb moment; I was just mesmerised by the band, the sound of Brian May’s guitar, and the crowd control that Freddie Mercury had. Ironically, I later got to work with them. We wrote music together; Brian, me and Roger Taylor. It felt full circle.
I've always had this vision to work within music. Being in several bands, I was lucky to get discovered by EMI Records in 2008 – the oldest record company in the world at the time.
They signed me and we had a top 10 album, and a BBC One music documentary on the rise I had out in the East. Looking back on it all, I wish I enjoyed it more. At the time, it was just a frenzy. You aspire to be recognised and for people to understand your music. But for me, the pressures were nothing like I've ever experienced in my life. It was just good chaos.
But I wasn’t comfortable with having the spotlight on me. I stepped away from it and realised that, ultimately, I was just a music nerd that got lucky. I love the science of making something sound incredible. EMI eventually went bust so I lost my deal. I got signed to Universal Music Group, but by then I'd already started to put plans in place to create Northstone Studios.
It's been flat out since the doors opened in August 2016, up until the pandemic of course.
I've done my albums in there. We’ve had Gary Numan there; we recorded vocals for him. He's a good friend and will be coming back to do the next record. I've had Burton from Fear Factory, we did an album together. Acid Rain, too. And Roger Taylor and Brian May. The motivation is the quest of making great music; that’s always been there. And I enjoy being able to adapt to every artist or band to achieve what they want. The challenge is fantastic.
The studio is growing exponentially. There’s going to be a Northstone Studio in Scotland, and Manhattan, as well. There's a certain sound and production that I've built there, mostly through the drum ambience, and I'm replicating that everywhere. It’s all about achieving an analogue sound through modern digital technology.
As for the music industry in Wales, well I think it’s just been one of those albatrosses in the UK. Ambition is enormous here. Everybody wants to do well.
No matter where I go, everybody knows of Wales via either an actor like Michael Sheen or a musician like Stereophonics, Funeral for a Friend, or myself. It’s the land of song.
Gary Numan says you can tell I’m Welsh because I’ve got this really thick Welsh singing voice. We are synonymous for great singers, our choirs and our national anthem. It's spine-tingling.
Creative Wales got involved right at the beginning of Northstone. They put a small amount of money to get the whole thing up and running. Their continued help, support and ambition is amazing.
COVID was a tough time for us all. I had to close the doors. Creative Wales stepped in and helped and then offered investment for studio gear. They recognise that creative industries are essential. They've just made a cash injection for myself and a few other studios and rehearsal places around Wales to put us on better footing. The studio is expanding because of that, which is fantastic.
They believe in any person to do well within this creative sector; that’s like lightning in a bottle. They’re a godsend to the industry.
Now I’m working on my new album. I’m also working on something else. It’s one of the biggest things I've done but I can't say who it is. It's great for the studio and for Wales to be doing this project, so stay tuned.
To find out more about the work Northstone Studios, visit their website.