Jon Leidersdorff is a musician who has cultivated invaluable information from the ground up. From his early days in the Outcry, to commercial writer, producer and engineer, Jon has learned about the music industry from an insider’s perspective. But I have to admit that when he initially told me about his idea of an “all-in-one” complex, I was fairly skeptical. In a town that seems to regularly abandon current crushes and move on to the next hip thing, it just seemed like he would be left holding the bag. However, six months into the birth of this vision, the fickle are non-existent. New clientele are lining up at the door, and the overall feel is both exciting and different.
To understand the excitement, you have to know what they’re doing over there. It’s not just another pipe dream rehearsal studio. Lakehouse combines well thought out accoutrements with multiple and savvy business partners, demonstrating the level of respect they have for their potential clients.
The atmosphere is congenial and hassle free. Leidersdorff picks his team with an unwavering intuition and a seasoned knack for spotting the best individuals. There are no time clocks or “micromanagers” watching the staff. It’s a scenario that pushes each passionate person to shine on their own merit, and that’s the best you could hope for when you own a company.
Suffice to say that when I was over at Lakehouse, I had to play it cool and not run around like a kid in a candy store, even though Leidersdorff knowingly grins like Willy Wonka as he ushers me into expansive and phenomenal rooms.
I used my time (between drooling over gear) to talk with Jon about the space, the people, and the working formula that makes Lakehouse Music such a unique and unified sanctuary.
In a world of DIY technology, what was your ideology in establishing a professional recording studio in Asbury Park?
I’d been making records in my home recording studio for eight years on a commercial level. I had taken it as far as it could go in that type of environment. One of the biggest lessons I learned was how important it is to have the right tools and space to record in. There’s a reason that the best-sounding records are recorded in properly designed studios. I grew up in this area and this city [Asbury Park] is rich when it comes to music, art and creativity. Asbury Park absolutely needed world-class recording studios. Now we have the tools for artists, engineers and producers to take the barriers away.
The studio detail is quite amazing. Tell us about some of the love that went into picking out materials.
When the decision was made to move forward, we hired John Storyk. He’s known as the most prolific studio designer in the world. It was so important to me to get this right and make sure that we would have the best-sounding spaces. We also wanted to make sure that this would be a place that everyone was comfortable and excited to work in. Nothing was spared in the construction. We went on the hunt to find the very best recording gear. Items like the 1972 class A Neve 8024, the Ampex MM1200 2″ class A tape machine in Studio North, and the SSL and the top-shelf outboard gear in Studio South. Both have a large variety of microphones and vintage amp and instrument collection. We even have a guitar museum that clients can use for recordings.
Would you consider Lakehouse a major label layover, or is this available to local musicians and budgets from all walks of life?
We’ve always worked with every level of artist. From major label to young artists, this studio is available to all who want to work and take their vision to the next level.
Who are your engineers and why would we know them?
We have a lot of different producers and engineers that work here. All have different genres and experiences. Some come with platinum album credits, and some guys are strictly indie. Erik Romero and Tim Panella are our main guys and are here about 1,000 hours a week keeping it all together!
What other Lakehouse elements go hand-in-hand inside the building?
The music academy [Lakehouse Music Academy] has been the blood. So many people come in and out every day. The enrollment has been very strong. Students of all ages. And the teachers are all pros “doing it” out there. Our teachers have amazing backgrounds and some significant player credits. We’re very fortunate to be in an area where so many successful musicians live. Albie Monterrosa (DeSol, The Neighborhood) is the music director, and Juan O’ Grady is the general manager. These guys are so dynamic and encouraging. They have a very powerful program. They’re committed to educating and they love their students.
So, okay, you’re a studio. Guys (and girls) need guitars, strings, amps, stands, picks, etc. What is your relationship like with Russo’s downstairs?
It is one of the coolest things about the building. They are the music store of music stores. You can see it the moment you step foot in their space. They have all of the best equipment, handpicked gear, highest quality repair, and I can truly say the best service. Wait until you see their guitar repair menu book. Everyone that works there gives a shit about the clients. They also do unique things to show good will to their customers. They have $7 Sundays every week where they put a new head on your snare drum and tune it with you—only $7 including the drumhead! They do a lot of events like clinics, concerts and how-to’s. It’s a one-of-a-kind place.
Tell me about some of your other vendors at Lakehouse.
Cowerks are one of the tenants on the third floor. They have large shared office space workstations, a private conference room and small private offices for rent. You can even rent by the day. It’s a gorgeous space with a big outdoor deck overlooking Wesley Lake. They have business meet-ups, conferences, web events and live music and art shows.
Bands On A Budget do all sorts of promotional products for musicians like custom t-shirts and apparel, stickers, print products, indie cards, etc.
Holtz on the third floor does photography, video and design. This is a great service for musicians. He takes outstanding photos and video and can do the design for the artwork. Brian Nelson is the music manager (Joss Stone) and he also has an office on the third floor. He’s a very accessible guy. And we have a terrestrial radio station coming this fall.
What is the most essential thing that people need to know about who you are and why you are here?
It’s important to us for people to understand that this space is here for a purpose. We are trying to support creativity in this area. We invite like-minded people to come here to make great art and be part of our community.
For more information on the Lakehouse gang, go take the tour over at 619 Lake Ave. in Asbury Park, or call them at (732) 455-5462. Check out the studio details over at http://lakehouserecordingstudios.com/#landings.