Charleston’s Own Coast Records: An Interview with Matt Zutell

You might recognize the name Matt Zutell for various reasons. Not only is he the drummer in local band Human Resources, but Zutell has also made quite a name for himself with his record label, Coast Records. The label has affiliations with several local bands and artists, from Youngster to Susto to even Hootie and the Blowfish, but Coast Records is much more than simply a record label. “I have a team of people that do everything from pro photography to video production to graphic design, logos, website development, press releases. Coast is kind of a one stop shop for bands if they want to [go] from recording a single to doing a whole album to having their brand designed for them. We cater to whatever they need,” Zutell says.

Zutell knew from a young age that he had a passion for music and music production. “I’ve been recording music in various capacities since I was super young. It started with a tape recorder and a cassette tape with built in microphones,” Zutell recalls. From the tape recorders, Zutell graduated to using his parents’ PC computer, then a MacBook with GarageBand on it, until he was introduced to Logic at age 18. Logic is the professional level of GarageBand, and it helped Zutell hone his skills. He would use it to record covers of songs, doing all of the parts himself to see how close he could get the covers to the original sound. When Zutell came to the College of Charleston, he began collaborating with other artists and recording for them. “It got to the point where if someone were to ask me to show them something I’d recorded, I’d have to send them to a bunch of different sites. I realized I wanted to make an umbrella that I could put all the music I’d recorded under and make a brand for it. My mother actually came up with the name Coast Records,” Zutell says.

Coast Records officially came to be when Zutell was a junior in college at age 20. From there, Zutell’s brand grew exponentially and by the young age of 23 he was a full time recorder and producer. By 2017, Zutell was also named Charleston City Paper’s Producer of the Year.

Zutell has been running Coast Records out of his apartment, but he finally has his first dedicated recording space opening this month on Huger Street downtown. It will be complete with a control room, isolation room, live room and a hangout area. Something Zutell believes is especially unique about his brand is that it is not simply a recording studio or record label, but it’s both. “I’ve fused the two. The label side spawned out of the recording side. I started working with singer/songwriters and bands and it became a thing where if you record a single, EP, or album, we can release it on Coast Records. So I started building a roster of artists that are signed to Coast Records, and we release their music,” Zutell says.

One of Zutell’s motivations for starting Coast Records the way he did was his desire to be his own boss. “It’s a sink or swim thing, but it’s very liberating,” he says. Zutell enjoys the sense of accomplishment he gets when he finishes a project and is able to release it. He would also like to encourage anyone who is interested in record mixing or producing to start right away. “You don’t need a crazy amount of gear to [start doing] recordings. People think it’s impossible to make it [in the music industry], but the possibilities are limitless nowadays. You just have to get creative with how you go about doing it,” Zutell attests, having begun Coast Records in his dorm room with only a laptop and Logic. Zutell believes Coast Records’ greatest asset is the team he’s put together, mostly consisting of the other guys in his band, Human Resources: Aaron Utterback, Paul Chelmis and Dries Vandenberg. They help out with video, websites, photography and even play on sessions when Zutell needs them and he can’t do it himself. Be sure to keep a look out for this dynamic team’s new releases and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Featured Image: Matt Zutell with Human Resources, courtesy of Coast Records’ Facebook page. 

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