A pure obsession with sound drove a young woman from her rural Italian home to the UK and into London’s recording studios. A relentless drive to learn how everything in audio works then set her on the path to sessions with Depeche Mode, Björk, Animal Collective, Circuit des Yeux, Holly Herndon [Tape Op #132], Goldfrapp, and black midi. Recently, the MPG (Music Producers Guild) awarded her UK Music Producer of the Year, among other previous honors, and her work has been nominated for Grammy Awards. I dropped her a line at her Studio Zona, and Marta’s enthusiasm and dedication to the art of recording audio was enlightening.

This is your space, Studio Zona?

Yeah. This is the place where I feel the happiest. I feel like whatever is happening outside, I can get some relief being here. I’ve got my studio, and outside of that door there are other studios. We have a common area, which we share. During the pandemic, I was coming here, locking myself in my own studio. I missed the social and creative interaction I was used to before the world went upside down, but I can’t complain as other people had it so much harder. I could come here on my bike and work, and that kept me going. Before, I had a studio on the other side of London – that meant an hour and a half commuting on the Underground. This would not have been possible if I still had that place. When lockdown truly happened here, it was in March 2020. I was on a session at Strongroom Studios, recording with this artist, Jealous of the Birds [Naomi Hamilton], from Northern Ireland. We were watching the news unfolding. She looked at me and said, “I need to take a flight back right now, or I’ll be stranded here.” We finished the vocals for that song and then she had to go. The day after, they closed the studios down. We were the last ones there for a while.

I’ve done far more mixing than tracking since the pandemic started. Has tracking work been coming back for you now?

It has, yeah. Everything went back to the same rate as before, if not more, because artists during the lockdown have been writing, writing, writing. Like you, I switched to mixing in the depth of the pandemic. Some projects had to happen remotely. I was meant to help out with the production of Circuit des Yeux [Haley Fohr]’s -io, for example. I was looking forward to that, because I love her music. I ended up having to mix instead, without being involved in the production. It was a bummer for me. I would have loved to have been there from the start, but it’s a pandemic. Same thing with another artist, Desire Marea. I was meant to be more involved from the start, and I was meant to attend a session for mixing; but being in South Africa meant that they couldn’t travel to me. It happened to everyone. People had their tours canceled, and that was thousands of pounds for them. I can’t complain. I could still mix here and use the studio.

Is there a common tracking space?

I mostly do mixing and tracking here, when it’s not a full band at the same time. When I record live, I like to be in the same room comfortably without being crammed into a small space. Both for the sound and for the actual feeling of it. Next door, on the same floor, there is a big tracking room with a separate control room. I carry my tape machines, and whatever I need, from here into there. It’s convenient. I got it in 2019 when I moved from Hammersmith; I was working out of the studio at Mute Records. I was working for them, doing my own music, as well as for artists on other record labels. I had the occasion to come and see this space, which wasn’t a studio before. It was a completely empty warehouse. I met the guys who were building it, and I said, “Okay, I would love this section because it has the most windows. I want to see outside.” They built the walls, did all the insulation, and I was one of the first ones here. Slowly they started to fill in all the other rooms. It’s a nice hub.

Is there a name for the whole complex there?

It’s called Pony Studios. The guys are in a band [Tempesst], and instead of spending their advance on renting out a studio they decided to build their own, which is the big studio next door. They happen to be very good builders, and good brains with all the acoustics. They’re resourceful, because...

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