Continuing our monthly look at awesome recording studios – from the scenes they serve and the atmosphere they cultivate for independent artists – we find ourselves in the seaside town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Known for legends like the bandleader/trombonist Arthur Pryor and rock idol Bruce Springsteen, on top of some notable music venues, the Jersey Shore city has a proud history of celebrating its musical roots.
A few years back, musician and career engineer Jon Leidersdorff opened Lakehouse Recording Studios. Feeling the need to expand his offerings, Lakehouse was designed and built in a building that also features the reputable Russo Music store, as well as Lakehouse Music Academy, a music school for students of all ages and levels. It only makes sense that this complex features a state of the art, two-studio recording facility, right?
We talked to Jon about getting the studio up and running, what sets it apart from the rest, and what it means to be providing recording solutions to the musicians of his hometown:
Tell me about how you made the transition from home studio to opening up Lakehouse. What kind of projects had you been working on leading up to that point?
Jon Leidersdorff: I was recording and developing local artists that started to see some success and working with newer bands that I met through the industry. Some of my producer friends also were bringing artists in to work there. And from that, the studio and I got very busy. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to be involved with more projects if I didn’t have a larger commercial space.
What makes the design and layout (of the studio, specifically), unique and what can artists look forward to getting out of it in a session?
For the new recording studios I wanted to have everything I was previously missing. I wanted space where every musician in the group could see each other and set up the rig of their dreams to record with simultaneously. I wanted everyone to have the sound that they wanted hear and to be able to play together and see each other. I wanted more of a live performance for tracking.
I really missed hearing the magic of when the entire group plays together. The whole group playing at the same time really pushes each musician individually and has a huge impact on the composition. I also wanted it to sound amazing in the space.
We hired WSDG. John Storyk has done this thousands of times before and I realized that there would be no substitute for that type of experience. His rooms sound great. One thing that I hear often from the producers and artists that come through our studios is that they love the feeling in the space. And how we have so much of the gear that they never get to play or that they just see as virtual instruments or plug-ins. We spend a lot of time and energy making sure that we have a lot of unique and vintage instruments that the musicians can use to feel more creative.
Outside of just the studio, elaborate a bit on the overall complex that Lakehouse is situated in and its significance to the neighborhood.
We are located in the downtown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The city has an amazing musical heritage. Early days with Arthur Pryor and the John Philip Sousa big bands, the west side jazz scene of the 1930’s and ’40’s, the Jersey Shore rock scene of the 1970’s and ’80’s and the amazing punk scene at the Lanes in recent years. People believe in music here. They trust it, they support it, they live it. You can see it everywhere. It’s a great place to be when you come to record. There are great art galleries, restaurants and atmosphere, live music venues and of course there’s the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great backdrop to ignite the creative flow.
In our building we have Russo Music, the largest and coolest independent music store in NJ. They have the best equipment and do repairs and set ups on site. It’s really helpful for the musicians that are recording here. There is an amazing music academy with very progressive programming. Most of the teachers have really cool gigs and credits.
Monmouth University has their music industry program and record label here as well. They bring really great guests here.
We also have our own small DIY venue. It’s the home for the Asbury Park Music Foundation. They have a killer PA in there and anyone coming through town can book their own show. I’ve seen a lot of great acts there. They are a nonprofit that do tremendous work for the community here.
There is a great photographer and videographer Andrew Holtz. Upstairs is Bands on a Budget who do merchandise for so many different artists. There’s CoWerks, a great shared office space.
There are also some great well-known producers will have their own mix rooms on the premises. It really creates a great community having so many different creative people in the same space.
What inspired you to start Lakehouse Music Academy? What was the reaction from residents?
The idea for the music Academy really came from need. So many of the artists that I was working with really needed support. They needed experts around them and educators who could help them to accomplish their goals. Having relevant mentors opens up so many possibilities. There are really great programs at the Academy that help the students directly and specifically with their aims.
We are fortunate to be in an area where so much of the music industry lives and plays. We have some of the biggest artists and music industry professionals teach at our Academy. The community has been the best supporters. We have a huge student body now in just a few years.
Have you been able to establish a sort of ‘path’ between the academy and the studio?
We have set up programming that helps young musicians develop into songwriters and artists. There are programs that teach songwriting, audio engineering and connect the students to the music industry. They even have their own record label.
Between watching students come in the doors to the academy, bands through the studio, and everything in between, what makes you excited about Asbury Park’s music scene?
It’s a very exciting time to be in Asbury Park. The music scene is really turning into a ‘music community’. There is so much going on and there are many great collaborations happening everywhere.
It makes you feel good to see these artists helping each other and taking it to the next level.
What inside advice would you give to independent artists who are getting ready to step into a professional recording studio for the first time?
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. What do you want to sound like? It’s important to find a studio and someone who understands what you’re trying to get done.