Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The affable Barbara Blake-Hannah and Island Outpost Managing Director Jason Henzell at the opening of Jon Baker and Steve Beaver Geejam studios and new Island Outpost boutique resort in Drapers, Port Antonio, last Friday.
At a time when the new school pioneers are coming back to Port Antonio, Jon Baker and Steve Beaver have taken the lead by delivering vintage, analogue and digital on the doorsteps of San San Estates in Port Antonio, Portland.
Recently, the two high technology businessmen in collaboration with the ultra chic Chris Blackwell Island Outpost group unveiled their new state-of-the-art Geejam studios and boutique resort.
After 18 months of extensive refurbishing of the recording hideaway and US$2.5 million in additional investment, Geejam's unwrapping was a spanking classical Rupert Neve mixing board, a slew of classic compressors, assortment of vintage microphones and a selection of keyboards ensconced by eight self-contained cabins.
"Recording has gone from the studios to the bedrooms, what we are doing here is create the comfort of home and a professional environment. Our rooms are acoustically sounded," states TKAE Mendez, designer of the studio.
"Everyone has gone digital, so people are now trying to create the analogue sound, a warmer sound to digital," he added.
The unique Rupert Neve multi-million dollar equipment is the only one of its kind in the region and as if that was not enough, the studio boasts cinematic ocean views, feasting the eyes on Frenchman's Cove, Dolphin Bay, Blue Lagoon and Turtle Cove.
According to Hip Hop producer Mendez, the music world is on a search for old vintage FX machines that were used in studios back in the '70s and '80s.
"Today, they are being mixed with modern technique, which is what Rupert Neve has done, showing how older classic analogue consoles are still viable in today's digital mass media."
"What we have is a new classic; the new handmade console desk is historically classical, a very particularly sought after sound Rupert Neve designed in a smaller format to suit today's modern recording technique," he explained.
Geejam having played host most recently to Golden Globe and Emmy-winning American actress, producer and former model, Sharon Stone, the Hollywood blockbuster star of Basic Instinct joins a long list of celebrities that gravitates to this hideaway.
Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Common, India Arie, Bjork and Gorillaz are among the star-studded insiders that have not only found inspiration among the lush flora, tranquility and serenity that embodies the property. The property is renowned for the making of No Doubt's platinum-album Hey Baby.
"The studio is set up with the best of analog, best of digital and the one thing that cannot be purchased, the vibe and feel," notes Jon Baker.
The Englishman, who spent his early years in downtown, Manhattan, New York, bought the San San property in 1992, but it was not until 1998 that he opened Geejam.
Not only does Baker plan to attract the big artiste back to Port Antonio and his boutique exclusive resort, but he is on an ongoing mission to continuously develop into a creative retreat for like-minded world citizens whose background in the spheres of music, film, fashion and photography are interconnected through six degrees of separation.
"The Geejam philosophy stems from synergizing local Jamaican flavour with a singular approach to service, cuisine and accommodation," said Baker, while admitting that the success and the vibe of this place has very little to do with him or Steve Beaver, "it's our staff, the energy of Port Antonio, that really connects with the people who come here."
From left: Minister of Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange (left) and the pillar that holds up the Jamaica Tourist Board in Portland, Polly Perry, at the opening of Geejam studios and Island Outpost boutique resort in Port Antonio, last Friday.
Jon Baker (centre), owner of Geejam Studios, shows off the state-of-the-art multimillion-dollar mixing board, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (left), and Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, during its official opening in Drapers, Portland. - PHOTOS BY Janet Silvera