Record label owner’s renovation revives Scott’s Addition studio space

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In The Bakery’s Studio A, from left: studio manager Pat Williams, recording engineer Will Beasley and owner Adam Hickok. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

The sound of music has returned to a Scott’s Addition warehouse.

After a change in building ownership and a yearslong renovation, the nondescript warehouse at 1710 Altamont Ave. that previously housed longtime local studio Sound of Music is now home to a new music-making business: The Bakery Recording Studio.

Behind The Bakery is Adam Hickok, founder and CEO of Open Your Ears Records, a Richmond-based record label also based in the building now.

Hickok, a former touring musician who’s lived in Richmond since the mid-2000s, said The Bakery and the label are his reentry to the industry after several years away from it.

Adam Hickok

Adam Hickok

“When I started getting back into the music business on the label side, I noticed that there were a lot of good Richmond artists that weren’t really getting discovered or getting heard as much as they should have, and the ones I did hear, I felt like the recordings needed help,” Hickok said. “That’s where I wanted to help.”

The dual-studio facility has been partially operating while renovations to its 5,000-square-foot space were completed over the past two years. The space includes a green room and other amenities for clients and offers mixing and mastering, studio rentals and space for video shoots.

Joining Hickok in The Bakery are recording engineer Will Beasley and studio manager Pat Williams, both members of bands signed to Open Your Ears.

Williams, lead vocalist of alt-rock outfit House & Home (and son of Richmond marketing executive Matt Williams), connected Hickok with Beasley, who recorded House & Home’s first album and had been working out of a space near Carytown.

“After we finished the record, we submitted it to Adam’s label and we started talking about working together. He started asking who produced and mixed it, and that’s how they connected,” Williams said.

“I was like, ‘Dude, who recorded this album? It sounds great,’” Hickok recalled. “I wanted to invest in him, because I really liked his work. That’s how this all came about.”

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The studio spaces feature wooden acoustic panels designed by Florida-based designer Mike Major.

Beasley, a member of labelmate Wild Truth, said he liked the idea of creating a studio for more “underground” artists, who he saw as underserved locally. He said that focus will differentiate The Bakery from its local peers.

“The bigger studios in town are much more film-based or orchestra or jazz, but outside of someone’s basement or house, I feel like there wasn’t much of a dedicated, really well built-out studio that recorded a lot of punk bands and rock bands,” Beasley said. “That’s something where we stand out.”

Hickok said he envisions The Bakery serving artists not only from Richmond but beyond.

“We want to record Richmond artists, but we want to expand the name past Virginia also, because we feel like this could be a destination recording spot,” he said.

Hickok bought the building four years ago after making an offer to Sound of Music, which accepted and relocated to a smaller space in Northside. Hickok’s The Bakery Studios LLC paid $1.17 million for the 12,000-square-foot Altamont building – double what Sound of Music bought it for four years earlier, reflecting the growth of Scott’s Addition over that time.

“It’s a great area to invest in. So much stuff is going on in this area,” Hickok said. “When I first moved here, you wouldn’t want to be caught in this neighborhood after dark. It’s really booming now.”

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The sounds boards for Studio B, which is now operational.

Hickok worked with Jeremy Turner of Northern Virginia-based Cardinal Construction & Management on the studio renovation, which he described as a full gut job. The two studios were designed by Mike Major, an acoustic designer based in Florida.

The studio space includes four smaller rooms that Hickok is renting out for related businesses. He said three of the rooms have tenants and he’s seeking a user for the fourth.

The larger building also includes a 4,400-square-foot office space fronting Altamont that Hickok is looking to lease, working with Thalhimer’s Amy Broderick and Kate Hosko. The space faces Arthur Ashe Boulevard and is next door to used-goods store Class and Trash.

Hickok declined to say how much was invested in the renovation, which he said took longer than expected in part because of pandemic-era challenges.

“There were asbestos issues we had to take care of. It took longer than expected because of supply chains being low during COVID,” he said. “It’s been a learning experience. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this, but it’s turned out pretty well.”

For Williams, who also records and mixes and said he’s picked up techniques from Beasley along the way, seeing the studio become reality is a worlds-colliding moment.

“It’s like a dream scenario for me: The person that I look to for recording knowledge is now working for the guy that owns the label my band is on, so I get the best of both worlds,” he said. “It’s kind of perfect, honestly.”

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The studio portion of the building houses The Bakery and offices for Open Your Ears Records.

The studio’s rates are not published on its website. Beasley said rates are negotiable per artist and recording session.

As for the studio’s name, Hickok said The Bakery is a nod to what he was told was a past use of the building.

“We don’t know for sure, but we were told this was a bakery back in the day.” Laughing, he added, “We thought it fit and just couldn’t think of another name.”

In addition to Sound of Music, The Bakery joins fellow Richmond recording studios Red Amp Audio, Overcoast, Rainmaker Studios and In Your Ear Studios, which spun off its own record label. Other local labels include Spacebomb and Egghunt Records.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
26 days ago

“In Your Ears” and “Open Your Ears”, both in Richmond. I doubt anyone will be confused by that, huh?

good luck to all of them in creating new music that will be fun to listen to.