Studio Zeezicht – the early years.
Studio Zeezicht, the forerunner of Exalto Studios, was set up as a recording studio in the centre of Haarlem back in the 1990s. The owner, Rob van Donselaar, had already earned his spurs as a musician in a number of successful bands, a pedigree that proved very useful when he decided to switch from performing to recording and producing.
After 10 years of dealing with parking problems and city gridlock, Rob moved the studio to his farm in the quiet outskirts of Haarlem. Recording in Zeezicht soon became an experience that any self-respecting musician simply had to have on his or her CV. Studio Zeezicht quickly became a leading name in the business, a place where countless domestic and international artists came to avail of the famed engineering skills of J.P. Exalto.
J.P. Exalto (1948-2015)
Jan Piet Exalto and Rob first met when the studio was still located in Haarlem and J.P. came to do a few final mixes in Zeezicht. It wasn't long before Rob realised the extraordinary talent of this studio technician and they quickly became professional partners and close friends.
J.P. had a predilection for his building own gear, including guitar amps, D.I. boxes, microphones and even his own mixing console. He was the human extension of his own equipment and went about his work accordingly, even to the point of using his own self-built desk and completely ignoring Rob's (very expensive) D&R console. He was also keen to share his unique ideas about studio design with Rob and with Bart Wagemakers, who came to work later at Zeezicht as a sound technician.
J.P.'s philosophy was not all centred on technology, however: “Ultimately, it's all about the music and the musicians. To get the best out of an artist’s creativity, you need the best gear and the right people at the controls.”
Fortunately, Rob and Bart still lean on this philosophy today.
Zeezicht – the next generation
After thirty years of musical endeavour, the premises were in need of some serious renovation work, so in 2014 Rob decided to relocate the studio. But where? And how?
The answer came from an old friend, Fred Gehring, with whom Rob had put together a Beatles tribute band, The Analogues. Fred happened to know of a vacant building in the industrial area of Haarlem. It proved to be the perfect spot for The Analogues (and their ambitious plan to play the Beatles' songs using exact copies of the original instruments), as well as for the next episode in the Zeezicht saga.
J.P. knew exactly what he wanted and it wasn't long before he had all the initial sketches and specs for the studio figured out. Regretfully, J.P. did not live to see the construction of the new studio, as he passed away in 2015. All the more reason to dedicate the new Zeezicht to our friend, mentor, co-initiator and source of inspiration:
Exalto Studios. Recording is Believing.
Home of the Analogues
We share our location with a very special group of musicians, collectively known as The Analogues, as well as a common passion: reviving and perfecting the analogue era of music.
Apart from being a successful businessman, the brains behind the band, Fred Gehring, is also a passionate drummer and singer. And he too had a dream: to play the music of The Beatles exactly as it was produced and recorded at Abbey Road.
Together with his friend Rob van Donselaar, he put together a group of professional musicians who could do the job. But to recreate the sound perfectly you need the same instruments that The Beatles used in the studio.
Those instruments were duly found and with them the definitive sound of The Beatles as produced by Sir George Martin. Right down to the tiniest detail, but with one significant difference: The Analogues have managed to perform The Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band live, a feat that not even the Fab Four themselves were able to achieve.
Of course, we are delighted and proud to share our space with a band that lives by the same philosophy: creating wonderful music with the best people using the best equipment.
J.P. Exalto (1948-2015)
In loving memory of our master engineer, inspirator, mentor, friend.
General manager, chief engineer,
interns council, producer
Rob van Donselaar
Senior advisor, producer