Best Of Dallas

The 10 Best Recording Studios in Dallas-Fort Worth

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5. Modern Electric Sound Recorders (Dallas)

Artists who dig it: Paul Cauthen, Larry g(EE), Matt Tedder

Right on the fringe of uptown Dallas’ suburban retail sprawl is Modern Electric — the most awkwardly, but awesomely, placed recording studio on this list. Back before owners Jeffery Saenz and Beau Bedford took over the space in 2012, the building was home to not one, but two of the biggest names in commercial jingle production: PAMS Productions and Thompson Creative. And its quirky history has added a timeless, enveloping aspect to the studio that has apparently helped to curate some of the most kick-ass local music to date.

"There's something about sounds of the past that I appreciate,” Fort Worth rocker and The Voice alumnus Matt Tedder explains. “When you walk into Modern Electric, it feels like you take a step back in time.” Adding to that, Kirk Thurmond says he sees Modern Electric as a sort of mecca for Dallas music. “Jeff Saenz has given us a place of expression, fulfillment and belonging,” Thurmond says.
4. Valley of the Kings (Dallas)

Artists who dig it: Justin Bieber, the D.O.C., Rich Homie Quan

Run by producer Billy Syn, his niece Gabriella Zepeda and his mother Pat Zepeda, North Dallas’ Valley of the Kings recording studio started out in the family’s pool house in 2001, providing some of the best music production, recording and engineering services to the community. Since then, the business began to attract some serious A-list clientele and they were forced to relocate several times, including a stint at Deep Ellum’s iconic Last Beat Studios, to accommodate the demand.

With a focus on the rap and hip-hop community, Valley of the Kings has made a name for itself for going a step further for their artists — even helping them become ASCAP/BMI certified and helping them get placements. Rap battle champion and VotK enthusiast Bobby Fisha says this type of extra attention empowers artists like himself to take their craft to the next level. “When I work on my music at Valley of the Kings, I know that I’m working toward the bigger picture and they are helping me get there. That’s why this studio has been, and will always be my home,” he says.
3. Alpha Omega Recording Studios (Fort Worth)

Artists who dig it: N’Dambi, Alsace Carcione, 88 Killa

Headed by multi-platinum producer, songwriter and engineer Ty Macklin, Fort Worth’s Alpha Omega Recording Studios has been a hub for north Texas’ hip-hop, rap and gospel recording for over 20 years. In his formative years, Macklin was in the legendary hip-hop/noise group Decadent Dub Team and attended Booker T. Washington School for the Performing Arts with Erykah Badu. Since high school, though, Macklin has gone on to produce and write countless songs, even a few with Badu, and with the help of entrepreneur Al Gibbs Jr., opened Alpha Omega Recording Studios.

Rappers Alsace Carcione and 88 Killa count Alpha Omega as their favorite place to record. “It's the most organic place to create music,” Carcione says. “You feel like legends have recorded here and monumental music has been made in this space. Ty Macklin and Ish D are super amazing engineers, producers and emit nothing but positive vibes from the moment you walk in.” 88 Killa adds, “You can feel the soul and energy that lingers around in that place as you walk around and whenever you need a refill of inspiration you can talk to Ty and soak up all of the experience and knowledge he has to offer."
2. Elmwood Recording (Dallas)

Artists who dig it: St. Vincent, Amanda Palmer, The Walkmen

Grammy award-winning producer/musician/songwriter John Congleton has created his own piece of musical heaven over in Oak Cliff. Congleton’s über-eclectic resume boasts the likes of Blondie, Marilyn Manson and Earl Sweatshirt — and that doesn’t even cover his own musical accolades. Somewhere in between engineering some of the best tracks you’ve heard all year, Congleton, formerly of alt-rock band the Paper Chase, has released new music in the form of his latest project John Congleton and the Nighty Nite.

One of the coolest things to know about Congleton and his Elmwood Recording studio is his understanding of the costs associated with creating music these days. So, in response, he teamed up with downtown Dallas’ The Joule hotel to help relieve some of the monetary stress artists have to consider when coming to Elmwood. Essentially, as an incentive to travel to Dallas to record with Congleton, artists are offered free luxury digs, with an eyeball view, at The Joule. Seriously. What’s not to like? 
1. The Kitchen Studios (Dallas)

Artists who dig it: Erykah Badu, Sam Lao, Blue, the Misfit

Comfortably situated on Garland Road across the street from Hypnotic Donuts in East Dallas is The Kitchen. This unassuming studio has become a powerhouse recording and production studio for locals and Grammy award-winning artists alike. Hell, they were even given a shout out by UGK on the track ”I Know Ya Strapped.” But behind the impressive client roster, the Erykah Badu self-portrait and laid-back locale, lies something much more intriguing: its two-man team, owner/producer J.P. Painter and engineer O.Z.

One of the Kitchen’s biggest fans is Dallas’ own resident alchemist, Sam Lao. On the topic of the Kitchen, Lao says, “It’s always the go-to spot for me because O.Z. is such an incredible engineer. I don’t even know how to describe his ear. He knows exactly what levels and what changes need to be made and how a song needs to be balanced for it to suddenly just glow.” She adds, “I feel like mixing and mastering is almost like sorcery and that is so apparent with him.”
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Molly is a Dallas/Austin-based writer who's been published in the Austin Chronicle, Phoenix New Times, Euphoria Magazine, Listen Hear and Nakid Magazine. When she's not writing about music, this diehard non-vegan is tirelessly searching for the city's best elotes, discussing East versus West Coast rap and forever asking for 10 more minutes of sleep. For a good time, tell her your favorite band is Muse and wait for the five million reasons why you're wrong.
Contact: Molly Mollotova