“Sweet Spot” @ 825 Records, Inc.

David: Hi, I’m David Weiss of Sonic Scoop. Welcome to our video sweet spot. We are at a very special location. We’re in Brooklyn, we’re at 825 Records, we’re with Matty Amandola, and this facility is his brain child.

Matty, good to be here!

Matty: Thanks for coming!

David: Yeah, my pleasure! Tell me about 825 Records? Is it a studio, is it a record company?

Matty: Yeah, it’s a little bit of all of that, but generally, we’re a music incubator that focuses on artist development and playing it simple. We start projects with artists, and we make sure that we follow through all the way until the end so that they leave with a finished product, and that goes for indie artists around the world, major corporate clients, and you know, as more artist development dies and major labels, hopefully them as well.

We have a label side, we have the studio, and a facility that hosts room for room and board for people to stay when they’re working with us, and video and photo and all of that kind of stuff.

David: Is this a commercial facility? Do you have to be an 825 artist to work here?

Matty: Yeah, for the most part. We get a lot of calls, “Hey, how much is it to rent the studio for the day?”

We don’t really work that way. If you’re an 825 artist or if you’re a client of mine or my engineer Butch Jones, you have exclusive access, and that’s the way we’ve always had it, even in the old space.

David: Where are you coming from in this? Definitely you’re a drummer. First and foremost, right? How did that make you grow into this larger role?

Matty: You know, producing just kind of came naturally to me. I think that the best producers in the world don’t really put a title on what they’re doing, they just offer their opinion and make sure they have the artist’s trust, and I think that I was doing that long before people, or even I considered myself a producer.

So I kind of snuck into that world just naturally, and then from that point, you know, my mentor in terms of the audio world, Butch Jones, he just kind of like, he started letting me sit in on sessions and teach me about mic placement and mixing, and throughout the years, he’s still my mentor, but it’s amazing because he’s my partner in all of this, and he’s 825’s chief engineer, so it’s pretty awesome to have learned from a Grammy award winning engineer who has worked with dozens of amazing artists and he’s — I can say he’s my partner.

David: Wow. That’s good. It’s a nice team to have together.

David: We are at the 825 Records nerve center now with Matty. Matty, I have never seen a console quite like this, and there’s a reason for that, right? Tell me about your concept behind designing this console.

Matty: Well, the control room was built around the idea of this, and we didn’t really know if it would work the way I thought it would until everything was plugged in, and knock on wood, and thank god it did.

I’m a huge fan of analog, but being in this world with computers and DAWs and the clientele that I had, I had to stay in the box as much as I could. I wanted to build something that allowed me to have every channel from — you know, every mic path from the live room coming in to go through a channel strip that’s purely analog.

So between my preamps, which are the Apollos and the 4-710, LA-610, SSL Alpha pres, you know, I’ve matched up various sources in the live room, snares, particular amps, toms, whatever, which then routes into an SSL compressor, and I have three silvers and three blacks, and that routes into an SSL EQ, four silvers and four blacks.

So the channel strip going into the DAW would be the same as if you were on an SSL board. So — and I’m a — the way I work is, let’s get the sound that we want, let’s — fix it in the mix is not something that you’ll ever hear me say in a session.

So grab the source, get it, make it sound the way it should, hit record.

Once we’re in the DAW, I’ve worked out my patchbay and the Universal Audio Apollo console software to work in a way where I can change profiles.

Now, instead of tracking through everything, I could use them as hardware inserts within my DAW for mixing.

So — and it’s — you asked before, you saw that I was in Logic. I have every piece of outboard labeled in my I/O plug-in, so for instance, say you wanted to put this EQ on a vocal. All I have to do is go into my inserts in Logic and open it up as a plug-in, hit number 5, SSL EQ, and it is working like a plug-in, with absolutely no latency.

So kudos to Apple, because that little ping thing for delay compensation with analog gear, it works.

David: Now, okay, shifting gears, [gear shifting noise], one thing we haven’t talked about is who actually built this room and these other rooms. Tell me about the architects that you collaborated with the make it happen.

Matty: I reached out to a handful of studio designers in New York, and I had some ideas, the main one being that I wanted windows. You know. I actually found Chris Harmaty of Audio Structures from Sonic Scoop, and yeah, called him up, and I said, “Hey man, I want to build a studio. Here is the plan.”

Then brought in an old friend, Brian Dorfman from Orchard Design, who worked with Chris drawing up all of the legit blueprints after taking my sketches and 3D mockups and stuff like that, and then Brian also handled all of the wiring and did my patchbay with Butch, and all of that stuff.

So — and then on the rest of the facility, the video suite, the lounge, the bathroom, kitchen, I had a whole other crew working on that, which is how we got this whole place done in four months.

David: That said, what would you say are the sonic characteristics of this room? Is it totally live, totally dead?

Matty: Yeah, this is — the control room is really flat, which is great. Really accurate after tuning it and stuff like that. We just lucked out with the size and the treatments that we used, and the live room, I wanted it to sound a little bit bigger than the room was, while keeping it pretty tight.

That’s the only words I used to describe what I wanted that room to sound like, and Brian and Chris, they got it. And it was fun. Sometimes. [laughs] I never want to hear a hammer or a screw gun ever again.

David: You want to work with people who get it. Get it?

Matty: [laughs]

David: Alright, why don’t we head in there.

David: This is what we look like standing up!

Matty, tell me about this live room. Very important component of the studio, obviously. What’s it setup for you to do?

Matty: Drums. It’s the biggest vocal booth I’ve ever owned, and all of my amps are in here. You know, I primarily work with solo artists and singer/songwriters, so I don’t typically have full bands in a room, so this is the perfect size for what I need to do, and acoustically, the drums sound the way I want them to. It helps that I’m using a Gretsch Brooklyn series kit, which is an unbelievable sounding kit, and it’s mic’d with nothing but Telefunken and Earthworks mics, so that’s definitely a big help.

Then in terms of amps, you know, the Vox AC30 has always been my favorite go to amp, 1965 Super Reverb is a great compliment to that. Small Ampeg for — it still gives you the classic Ampeg sound.

Then of course, more guitars and — there’s microphones in every corner, and…

David: Yeah, the more you look around in here, the more you see.

Matty: Yeah, there’s a lot of hidden gems in here. I try to keep everything setup at all times.

So I know right away that my AC30 is going through channel 22, so all I’ve got to do is come in here, power the amp on, plug-in to my pedalboard, which is going in to my DI out here, and I’m ready to go.

So everything is setup to go at all times.

David: We’re wrapping it up here at 825 Records. It has been awesome being here with you Matty, we got tons of info, someone is going to have fun editing all of this, and thanks for viewing, and we will see you on the next Sweet Spot!

Sonic Scoop

Sonic Scoop

Sonic Scoop is a website all about creative music and audio production. We've partnered with them to feature some of their awesome videos on The Pro Audio Files.
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