Musician, producer and label owner Matty Amendola has built his own career and his company, 825 Records, on a foundation of hands-on production and artist development. “We’re a music incubator that works on developing artists’ product from start to finish,” Amendola says.
Until this past fall, Amendola had been running things from a Brooklyn basement studio in a building owned by his family (his dad is drummer Billy Amendola). Audio equipment, label offices and a video suite were wedged into a space where Amendola shared engineering and production duties with Grammy Award-winning engineer Butch Jones (Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Stan Getz).
“It had been a pseudo studio for about 30 years,” Amendola says. “Butch had been working there, and he realized I was interested in learning about recording. He started teaching me, letting me sit in on sessions. I was producing bands, and when I started the company officially, Butch became our chief engineer.”
Amendola and 825 Records outgrew the basement studio—physically and logistically. The young producer wanted to start fresh with a facility that suited the workflow he had developed with Jones. “The space we had was big, but the ceilings were low, and it was a mess,” Amendola says.
He took an apartment one floor up from the basement studio and worked with Jones and studio design-builder Chris Harmaty (Converse Rubber Tracks/Jungle City Studios) and technical consultant Brian Dorfman (Orchard Design) on the new studio, which includes a live room, control room, video suite and overnight accommodations for visiting artists.
“Of all the New York designers we talked to, Chris was the one who liked all the crazy ideas I was throwing at him in terms of keeping windows but still having floating rooms as soundproofed as possible,” Amendola says. “Brian handled all of the wiring and drew up plans from my ideas for Chris to build.”
Jones mapped out the studio patchbay and pared down Amendola’s initial equipment list, which Jones says “… started out more like a Christmas wish list. But I could see that, having worked with me for quite a while, Matty had equipment on there that fell right into my needs—mostly SSL external.”
“I grew up using digital, but I also grew up understanding that records made in analog had a lot more depth,” Amendola explains. “So I started figuring out how to build a true hybrid setup that makes heavy use of analog equipment while remaining in the digital world that can keep up with everything.”
Amendola chose an Avid Artist Control and Mix Series control surface because he enjoys the system’s version of faders. “I’m also using two Universal Audio Apollos as my interface; I’m a big fan of their pre’s as well,” he says. “I’m cascading the Apollos and using a UA 4710D as well as an LA610 and SSL Alpha VHD pre’s. All of this is built into a custom desk by Sterling Modular, outfitted with other classic analog components.
“We have the option to route every pre through its own SSL EQ and SSL Compressor via two loaded SSL X-Racks, as well as utilizing UA’s console software in conjunction with our patchbay to flip them right into hardware inserts inside the DAW,” he continues. “We try to get the channel strip of an SSL being recorded from the live room as much as we can.”
Construction of the new studios took about four months, with contractors working simultaneously on different functions to get the business up and running to meet pressing deadlines.
“I’ve been one of MetLife’s main composers for three years,” Amendola says. “They were requesting a lot of work, so the second the studio was up and running, it was right back to work, and a lot of late nights.”
Also during the studio’s first couple of months, Amendola produced the new album from former Vanity Theft guitarist Brittany Hill, who performs as Kerchief. “She came from Tennessee, stayed here at the studio, and we tracked her entire record—10 songs in seven days,” Amendola says.
“This studio is designed as a private facility for my projects and Butch’s projects, and I work primarily with solo artists and singer/songwriters—artists who play one instrument, and I’m essentially their band, or I will bring other musicians who are best for the project.”
“Matty has learned from me, and I’m constantly learning from him,” Jones says. “I’ve been in the industry a long time, and all the fresh sounds and production that Matty is bringing to the table have been a recharge for me.”