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A Conversation with Matthew “Formatt” DeFreitas, Owner of Bay Eight Recording Studios

Matthew DeFreitas, also known as Formatt, is an American recording and mix engineer based in Miami, FL. Born and raised in East Providence, Rhode Island, he embarked on his musical career as a teen when he took an internship at Boston Skyline Studios (formally Renaissance Recording Studios), a world-class recording facility located in Boston’s Back Bay. Between 2004-2013, Formatt worked as a freelance producer and audio engineer. In 2013, he started Hip Hop Frat House, an online urban magazine, and Palmpheon Music Publishing, a
full-service independent music publishing company. In 2015, DeFreitas purchased a three-studio facility formerly known as Midnight Blue Studios from subsequent owner Marco “Infamous” Rodriguez-Diaz, and dubbed the studio, Bay Eight Recording Studios. The studio is located in Miami, FL. Since its inception, Bay Eight Recording Studios has worked with countless household names including, but not limited to, Nas, Diplo, Willow Smith, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, Migos, Lil Jon, Jake Paul, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Kygo, Yung Simmie, and Kodak Black. For more information on Formatt and the GRAMMY-Award winning, multi-platinum, state-of-the-art recording facility Bay Eight Recording Studios, visit https://bayeight.com/.

Tell us about who you are and where you are from?

My name is Matthew DeFreitas, but most know me as Formatt. I am from East Providence, Rhode Island – now living in Miami, FL. I am a music producer, audio engineer, and the owner of Miami’s world-class studio, Bay Eight Recording Studios.

How did you get your start in the industry, and what do you currently do? How long have you been in the industry?

I have been working in the music industry professionally for 18 years. I kicked off my career through an internship at Boston Skyline Studios, where I did anything they needed because failing wasn’t an option for me. After what seemed like thousands of runs, cleaning bathrooms, and answering phones, I gained their trust and slowly worked my way up to assistant engineer. I didn’t have any formal education in music arts, so I took my training very seriously. It was all that I had and my only way to break into the industry, so I picked up bits and pieces from everyone who walked into that studio; engineers, songwriters, and even other interns, I was a sponge. In 2004, I relocated to Miami, working as a freelance engineer for six years before opening my very own recording facility.

What decisions influenced why you chose to pursue a career in your industry?

Growing up in Providence, I worked as a producer before my first internship. I knew being in a recording studio environment in a major city would maximize my opportunity to land my work in the right hands. My passion for perfection made me eager to learn more about recording and mixing, so I could take my music to the next level.

What makes your story unique?

I don’t know if unique is the word I would use. Most people think it’s rocket science, but the truth is that putting the time in, being honest, working hard, staying determined, and being smart when the opportunities present themselves are exactly what landed me in the position I am in today.

What are some of your goals for the future?

A long-term goal that I have is to expand our facility! However, as of late, since our most recent renovation, our primary focus has been on building a healthy, solid, and strong foundation for our staff. I work closely with our studio manager to help develop our engineers and front desk management team, pushing boundaries to create more opportunities; keeping a goal-oriented environment by meeting with our team for fresh ideas and making sure we’re keeping our creatives in alignment with their goals as well as the studio’s goals.

What skills do you have that led you to succeed in your industry?

My most critical skill set is my social skill. Before I was even good at recording and mixing records, I was great at understanding people, and their wants and needs. I know how to read the room, which means knowing when to provide my input and when to keep my mouth shut. When I first started engineering, I had my share of clientele; although, I know I was not the best engineer, I was instrumental in the creative process for those clients because of the energy I brought. They were willing to overlook my lack of skill in exchange for the comfort I could provided.

Do you have any role models or influences that have guided your journey?

There have been so many along the way at different times of my life, but I would say one of the most consistent influences throughout the years is Dr. Dre. He is a producer and a mix engineer who has done very important business deals in his career, all while maintaining relevance in the music industry. I aspire to have an impact on the industry as significant as he has!

What words of advice would you have for people who aspire to your journey?

Outwork everyone! Get there early, stay late, and don’t say no. Everything else you will learn along the way. You can’t shortcut experience, so make sure you stay ready to put the time in to get where you want to get.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you from a business perspective?

We run a more lean business now. It has made me appreciate our clientele more. Knowing everything you have worked so hard for can be phased out, but knowing you have a loyal following is unparalleled. We have always emphasized cleanliness, so putting those standards into “practice” was very easy. Overall, the pandemic had a positive impact because it highlighted how quality goes a long way.

Any other things we should be on the lookout for from you?

We are looking forward to expanding our Miami location, growing our staff, and developing our brand.

Image provided by Matthew DeFreitas