Recording music in an RV transformed into a solar-powered music studio.
A pioneer of electronic music for more than 25 years and equally adept at audio production, concept creation, and inventive audiovisuals, Joachim Garraud is regarded as one of the world’s most influential producers and composers.
His latest accomplishment? Joachim Garraud is giving artists ideas and inspiration for a new playground by creating a solar-powered mobile studio. In the most remote locations, with the best equipment at your fingertips to immortalize your creation, what could be better than getting lost in the vastness and letting yourself be inspired on the spot? Plus, if everything is designed to reduce its carbon footprint, what more could you ask for?
Transformation process :
In 2018, I realized a childhood dream when I bought an old RV. An 8-month restoration project was required because it had oil leaks, bad insulation, and exposed electrical cables. For the realization, I needed help because I am not really gifted with a drill in my hands, but I was lucky enough to convince a few handy friends to help me and make my dream come true : James and Maxime for the layout, Charles Coolen for the customization, the company Focal for the music, and Perth, who’d lived in a converted bus for three years, and provided me with valuable assistance in installing the solar panels.
I nicknamed the vehicle LAGoodVibe. It comes with a recording studio complete with drums, turntables, and a voice cabin. It is also a real motorhome with five beds. Solar panels on the roof provide all the electrical power needed to run this one-of-a-kind vehicle.
Step-by-step renovation part 1
I don’t live in it full time even if this is a goal for me, but I still have a family with teenagers. They totally think that my RV bus is awesome, but this is not their life, they go to school and have other commitments for now. So in the meantime, while I wait until they are totally grown ups and independent, I travel a lot to live the full experience, and when I am in LA, my RV is still parked on my driveway and I enjoy spending as much time as possible in it, relying on the energy given by the solar panels on the roof. I like living and making music in the same space, it gives me the freedom to create when I feel inspired, never bothered by the fact that I work until late, because I know that I won’t have to close the studio and drive back home when I am tired, I am actually just seconds away from my bed! When I am not in the mood for music, I cook.
One thing I am quite sure of is that solar powered vehicles are the future of road trips. I am now waiting for a 100% sun powered vehicles to be released, which would allow me to convert my fuel motor into solar battery as soon as the process is efficient. In the meantime, I use the solar energy for the living and working part of my trip, when my bus is parked in the middle of breathtaking landscapes. I don’t need a stinky and noisy generator, I rely on the sun to give me all the energy I need to make music with all the comfort needed: AC when it is hot, heater when it is freezing, light and energy for all the appliances I have in the bus. I don’t feel bad for the animals or the nature lovers, I leave no trace.
Recording and inspiration
I’ve read that your travels influence your songs too. The places that have inspired me the most are close to nature, I spend more time than before looking around, admiring what I see. I used to have my home studio in a basement in France, and I never knew what time it was because I couldn’t see the outside world. I enjoyed it at the time, I was like being in a bubble out of time, but now I realized what I missed.
First, I sleep better because I live in harmony with the sun, it elevates my mood and gives me the energy to begin a lot of new projects. I like to open the door of the RV and go for a quick walk, to listen to the noise of the place. If you listen carefully, there are actually layers of different sounds in nature, and my musical ear likes to track them.
Sometimes, I record these sounds and use them in my electronic creation, or I just keep them in my personal sound library, as a souvenir. I am also inspired by the smells. Then I sit at my desk, facing my computer flat screen and glancing at nature through the windows, and I create. I especially like Trona Pinnacle, because it looks like another planet, and the time I spent there, I was not in contact with any humans. It gave me the inspiration for my album OVP2.
With the French singer Gaël Benyamin, the idea of California Road 101 was to combine the colors of California with the French texts of Gaël.
I knew Gael from Paris. We already worked together in the past and he was very eager to try this new studio on the road. I didn’t drive the bus this time. I was a passenger and so was Gael. Both of us enjoyed the view and talked about the song. We sat around the table and wrote the lyrics together. Then we sat at the desk and composed the music on the computer. It was just a first version, a draft. We went back and forth, implementing the lyrics or the melody.
When we arrived at destination, we set up the instruments and mic outside to record Gael’s voice. Being outside was not required to record, but it was a bonus to be able to play, sing and look at the magnificent place. Thanks to the solar energy, I was able to plug a multitude of electronic instruments and electronic devices outside on the bus electric panel. Then we came back inside to work on the sound track in the studio. Later in the evening, I set up lights outside to create an inspirational and magical atmosphere.
The EP is being released this week, so check it out and watch the video clips immortalizing our solar and musical journey, a real limited mini-series produced by Olivier Boscovitch (David Guetta, Bob Sinclar, Geyster.. .).