Samantha Marquart is the Studio Manager of Windmark Recording, a state of the art facility located in Santa Monica, California. Founded by musician and former Flock of Seagulls drummer Michael Marquart, artists like Coldplay, Jeezy, J. Cole and YG have all recorded at Windmark. Their new location in Santa Monica is housed in the former studio space of legendary production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Featuring unparalleled equipment, including one of only four Neve Consoles ever built, Windmark is a new type of recording studio that fuses cutting edge technology with an at home atmosphere designed to breed creativity.
Raised in the music industry, Samantha grew up at Michael's original studio in Virginia Beach, VA. There she was able to watch artists like Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, and Britney Spears record some of their most popular albums. An experienced musician herself, Samantha was always drawn to the business side of the industry. She received a degree from Pepperdine University before joining her father in the family business.
Windmark Recording features some of the most advanced technology in the market and, when coupled with the unique atmosphere and amenities provided, the studio creates an experience for artists that is unmatched by any other space.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today? Everything I know about being a leader, I learned from my family. Throughout my life, I've been exposed to strong leadership. I watched my father grow a successful business out of nothing, when he opened Windmark's original Virginia location. This allowed me to cultivate the knowledge base and expertise necessary to run our newest Windmark location in Los Angeles.
However, our new studio has been hugely successful, not because of me, but because of everyone who works here. Each of us brings something to the table, and I am thankful that I get to be part of an amazing team who I learn from every day. Smart leaders don't exist without a strong guiding influence. Growing up, I was surrounded by enthusiastic, smart and driven people. Today I strive to embody that same work ethic and lead by their example. In my opinion, that's what it takes to lead. Whether it is leading others, a business, or even an industry: drive, passion and dedication.
How has any previous employment experience aided you in running Windmark Recording?
I come from a musical background. It's in my blood. My father opened the original Windmark Recording on the East Coast when I was really young, so ever since I can remember I have wanted to follow in his footsteps. I grew up in that recording studio surrounded by so many musicians I admired. So when I graduated from high school, I decided to go to school in California to pursue a career in the industry. I knew if I wanted to break into the music business, whether as an artist or behind the scenes, it was something I had to do on my own - and LA was the place to do it. I stepped out of my comfort zone so that I could learn all sides of the business, and prove to myself that it was the right career path for me. Those years I spent navigating the industry as an artist, were crucial for my development and opened my eyes to the good and bad sides of the music world.
When the opportunity came to open Windmark on the West Coast, I felt confident knowing that I had the experience to run it, and in a way that my father would be proud of. Those 7 years gave me the knowledge and appreciation for the industry that I have today. Without which, I wouldn't have the capacity or credibility to run a nationally recognized studio.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your time at Windmark Recording?
One of the great things about opening Windmark has been being able to do it with my family. Both my brother and I have loved being able to work with our father on this. He ran a recording studio for over 20 years, and it is an honor to not only learn from him, but to carry on the family legacy.
Honestly, one of the biggest challenges has been actually learning how to run a recording studio. Even though Windmark has been around for many years, we started the California studio with a clean slate, and I was immediately thrown into a management position. Like with any new business, you kind of learn as you go. There has been a lot of trial and error, which is difficult at times, but thankfully I find it beneficial to learn by figuring out all the ways NOT to do something.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in the music/recording studio industry?
I have dreamt of being in the music industry my entire life, but it is a tough business that is primarily dominated by men. So the best advice I can give is to make sure that this is the industry you want to be in because it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Music isn't a 9 to 5 job and it never will be, it's a lifestyle. If you don't absolutely love it, then it will chew you up and spit you out. This industry requires dedication and perseverance. So if your passion for music is what gets you out of bed in the morning, then like any creative business, you'll never be bored a day in your life.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Being in LA, it's easy to get caught up in the who's who scene. Don't do that. Treat everyone with the same respect and give them your same attention. From the intern, to the A-list superstar, to the housekeeper. It may seem simple, but that general standard of kindness is something people often forget.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
The tough part about a recording studio is that it's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is usually most active during the night hours. In beginning, when it was just my brother and I, we would trade off taking the night shift. So every other day we were working 24 hours straight, which was exhausting. Now, we have an incredible staff of people that make our sessions run seamlessly, so we are able to have more of a regular schedule. When you build a team of people you can trust and who you know have the best interest of the company in mind, everything becomes exponentially easier.
No matter how demanding your job is, I think it's important to take time out for yourself - to do whatever it is that you love. Because if you don't have a way to alleviate stress it can affect your ability to do your job efficiently. Not to mention the effect it would have on your overall health and happiness. Which, I would say, are more important than anything.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
In the music business as a whole, there aren't too many women. Why that is specifically, is tough to say. It's a fast-paced business, but there is no reason why women shouldn't be running studios and record labels all over the country. We have the capacity and capability; we just need the opportunity. If it's not being given to us, why not take it?
Having said that, I can only speak to my own personal experience and thankfully I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to run Windmark. Yes, I work in a studio full of men, but I find it empowering to be the only woman. I have more to prove and I let that fuel my drive to succeed. Every now and again I am going to come across some chump who thinks I am less than capable of doing my job, but I know there is nothing I can do to control that. What I can control is my ability to do my job, and to do it better than anyone else, be it a man or a woman.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have touched on this multiple times, but having my father as a mentor has been everything. How incredible is it that this person who has led me through my life up to this point, now gets to lead me in my professional life? At times that does get difficult, but more than anything it has become the essence of what our business is all about. We are family, both inside the studio and out. That is the standard we set at the very beginning. Now, that precedence transcends my brother's and my relationship with our dad, and has become the rapport we have with everyone who works at Windmark.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why? Who in the music industry? Any female producers?
I admire anyone who finds something they love to do, has the courage to pursue it, and strives to do it better than anyone else. Whether that person is in music, in business, or someone who stays home to love and support their family. It requires the same diligence and perseverance, and that will always be something to admire. To me, a strong woman never considers failure to be an option. She does what is necessary to succeed.
Any woman who fits that description is someone I look up to.
What do you want Windmark Recording to accomplish in the next year?
I want Windmark to continue to grow-- to welcome a wide range of talent, while still keeping this a safe place for artists to do what they love and create music. The creative process is such that it requires a specific atmosphere, environment, and experience--and I want Windmark to be just that place.