What Is A Studio Runner? | #ProductionHub

What Is A Studio Runner? | #ProductionHub

As part of our ongoing partnership with the East London Arts & Music Academy (ELAM), we asked ELAM trainee, Madison Wilson, to write a piece on our studio runners team ahead of their nomination at this year's MPG Awards.

What Is A Studio Runner?

Our Unsung Heroes

We are delighted to announce that our team of studio runners have been nominated for the Unsung Hero award at this year’s MPG Awards. The MPG Awards celebrate the very best British talent working behind the scenes in the music industry and we truly believe these words align with our brilliant team.

Studio runners are the beating heart within the Abbey Road body - they are the muscle at the very centre of the system ensuring all is flowing efficiently. However, like the heart, runners are not often seen, and like the award suggests, are typically behind the scenes. This makes the award all the more special to us at Abbey Road as their dedication and hard work are receiving the spotlight they deserve.

In spirit of the award, we interviewed two of our runners to gain some insight into their feelings towards the award and their role here.

Sarah Meyz

Senior Studio Runner

Sarah Meyz has been a proud member of the runners team here at Abbey Road for the past year and a half. However, Sarah’s journey began in Brazil when she picked up the harmonica for the first time and consequently kickstarted her love for music and musical performance, performing at prestigious festivals such as Lollapalooza before receiving a full tuition scholarship to Berklee Music College in Boston for Musical Performance & Production.

She experienced a handful of trips to Abbey Road before starting her career as a runner, one of which was an internship with Andrew Wilson for the 2020 film Elephant then in November of 2021 when she began her job as a runner for Abbey Road working on iconic films such as Dr Strange the Multi-Verse, Wakanda Forever and Peaky Blinders.

Freddie Light

Assistant Engineer
(Formally Senior Studio Runner)

As with most runners and engineers, Freddie Light's musical career started out as an instrumentalist accompanying performers and playing in bands.

Music granted him the opportunities to play in a wide variety of ensembles and groups around the world. His interests eventually turned towards engineering and production, so Freddie set his sights on Abbey Road Studios and headed to university to study Music and Sound Recording. From there, he was able to secure himself a placement year with us here at Abbey Road as a runner.

A year of studio work cemented Freddie’s career path and desire to return after completing his studies. Since then, he has done just that and became a permanent member of the engineering team in 2021.

Freddie has been lucky enough to work with some of the industry’s most exciting artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Yussef Dayes, Jimmy Page, Elton John, Glass Animals, Maverick Sabre and a host of others.

How do you feel about the studio runners receiving the MPG award?

Sarah: It’s great news and really important to us that we receive that recognition as there is a lot that we are responsible for. Every week we are working in different studios on different sessions, which can sometimes be intense. You must be knowledgeable and ready to go at any given time. It’s great to be nominated and recognised for our collective efforts.

Freddie: Really flattered, it was a total surprise for us to be nominated for the MPG award. The work of the runners is something that often goes unnoticed or happens in the background of the studios’ day-to-day work, so we appreciate the recognition!

How do you become a studio runner?

Sarah: I came to Abbey Road a few times, one of which was during a trip with Berklee where we spent a couple of days recording to gain a ‘real’ studio experience. I started to get to know the people at Abbey Road a bit more and started to network with them. Then, during the pandemic, I asked the team at Abbey Road if they had any vacancies, which they did, so then I sent in my CV and did an interview. I also had to do a trial day where I spent a day in the studio, helped set things up and did a few different tasks. The following day I was hired under the title of runner and the following year I became Senior Runner.

What do you wish people knew about the studio runners at Abbey Road?

Sarah: What I would like people to know is that the runners here are involved in every aspect of the recording process.

I think that when many people hear the title of runner they assume we just make the tea and coffee, in reality, as a runner you are responsible for a variety of tasks which include: setting up and packing down mics, replacing mics and their respective cables, note taking of every single take - where you have to be paying attention to the bar count at all times. We must be versatile as we are involved at every single stage of the process.

Freddie: The runner role here is so varied that pretty much any sort of previous work experience can be useful!

What experience do you personally believe you need as a studio runner?

Sarah: Technical knowledge is the main thing. However, something which I think is often overlooked is communication and personal skills. We work with a lot of people and their art. Your clients bring their art into the studio to be recorded and the art is very personal to the client as well as the people who will be listening to the music.

You need to know how to read the room and figure out what people need. In some sessions, you will be very involved where as others may be more quiet because each person has a different way of working. You just have to be observant and think ahead.

What has your favourite session been since beginning your career here?

Sarah: I’m stuck between two, a film session and a music session.
My favourite film session was Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio with Alexandre Desplat. This was special as I love Desplat’s music.

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I admired his work scoring the last two films. He came to Abbey Road last year and spent 10 days in Studio One recording a full orchestra. There was one moment in the session where he was conducting the orchestra and I was doing first takes. It was so amazing to hear the entire orchestra playing and to see Desplat conducting it - it was surreal.

In terms of a music session, it has to be the Alicia Keys playback earlier this year. She came in to do a playback of the Atmos mixes with George Massenburg and other engineers. They spent three years creating the mixes from scratch and they came to Abbey Road to do a playback of the songs for the press and media. Alicia was explaining why she had written certain lyrics and the stories behind the songs which made it very special. They were all such lovely people, too, which is a big part of our job, we meet like-minded passionate people in music.

Freddie: The first session I ever did here sticks out to me as a favourite - it was Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist recording Love is the Message in Studio Three prior to it being refurbished.

Since then, there's been all sorts, too many to recall! Sometime last year though we recorded some 12ft long alpine horns for a film release, it took three of us to prop them on our shoulders whilst they were played, one example of the bizarre situations you find yourself in as an Abbey Road runner.

How has being a runner been beneficial to your career?

Sarah: It’s been very beneficial. There is a lot of embodied knowledge which I’ve absorbed from the people I’ve worked with, from the engineers to the recordists and runners, people who have been doing this for a long time.

It’s been great to get to know different people and work across so many different sessions as this has helped me learn about the unique perspectives of each team member and project. It’s a very dynamic job, you’re working with bands, orchestras and films and the whole experience has been very enriching to my personal and technical experience.

Freddie: It was an invaluable time, we're lucky as runners to be involved on sessions almost immediately after starting. It gives you the chance to learn how each studio works, get to know the engineers, clients and musicians as well as understand what's expected when you eventually step into an assistant or recordist role.

This and last year's list of runners include:


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