A “one-stop facility for most things musical.” In a nutshell, that’s what Febian Perez and company are looking to achieve at The Hallowed Halls, one of Portland’s newest recording studios. A lifelong musician himself, Perez (the owner and manager of The Hallowed Halls) wanted to realize his dream of recording in a space that was everything he imagined. “I’ve been to a lot of studios, but I’ve always wanted to record somewhere that had a classic feel to it,” says Perez. “Something that just felt magical… how I’d imagine a studio to look in my head.”
Three years ago, Perez relocated from Austin, TX, to Portland, and not long after that, the seed for The Hallowed Halls was planted. Alongside Greg Allen (who would later go on to play in Perez’s project Bike Thief), Perez decided that they needed a place that was their own. As he puts it, “I just got tired of working for other people, so Greg and I decided to open up the studio.”
If you’ve ever been in The Hallowed Halls, you know how beautiful the space is. Upon entering, you’re immediately greeted with the 18 foot vaulted ceilings of the 1600 square foot live room – the largest live room in Portland and the proverbial crown jewel for the studio.
And while finding the space wasn’t too difficult (it was just the third location they visited), it didn’t come without some heavy renovation. Originally a library, the building has gone through many tenants. “It’s totally different looking how it is now. It’s gone through a lot of changes,” says Perez.
“There was a mezzanine and a second floor in the live room as well, and stairs going up to the second floor as well, so we demolished the mezzanine. We built two isolation booths and a control room. This opened up the live room for us to make it a little larger.
The guitar shop in question is called St. Frank’s Music, and alongside all the usual music store wares (amps, guitars, pedals, etc), St. Frank’s apparently is one of the only stores (if not the only store) in town that carries G&L guitars, a brand founded by George Fullerton and Leo Fender after the latter sold the eponymous Fender.
So, by this point, you’re probably starting to see where the idea of making it a “one-stop facility” comes in — but more on that later.
The Hallowed Halls has enjoyed a quick ascent in the short time it has been open. Perez attributes the popularity the space is enjoying to word of mouth: “A lot of these engineers have their own clients, but, yeah, it’s been doing pretty well. We’re booked up until March right now, and every day looks better. I’m excited.”
Of course, any successful studio (and really any business in general) is a combination of the services offered as well as the folks running the show, and Perez seems to realize that. Every engineer who works at The Hallowed Halls adds to their recipe for fostering the best studio environment possible.
Perez is proud of the crew they’ve managed to assemble: “We have a growing crew of engineers. We have Justin Phelps who has a long history and career — he has a few platinum records. We have Mike Blackburn. He moved here from Seattle. He’s got a great ear, and he helped wire the place. He knows how to use a console better than anybody I know. There’s Jordan Richter, who’s from New York City. He’s worked with a lot of great bands as well — Band of Horses, Supersonic, and a bunch of others. All the guitars belong to him, a lot of the amps belong to him. He’s donated a lot of great stuff to the studio. David Streit is moving over here as well, and a cat named Dan O’Hanlon does a lot of engineering here as well.
“Quickly, our gear has gone from good to amazing. We have the newest console in town as well: the G48 Neve. We have some of the best gear, and we’re still really affordable.”
And artists appear to be recognizing that fact — so far The Hallowed Halls has not only had rad acts come in to record (Sama Dams, Aan, Dungen, Le Butcherettes, My Goodness, Foxy Lemon, and more), but they’ve also put on a small, all-ages music festival in October. Fittingly titled Spookfest, the event drew about 300 people, and it’s the first step on an agenda to support all-ages music in Portland.
“It’s my interest for the city to have a place where we can have multiple, annual, all-ages festivals,” says Perez. “We’re gonna do another one in winter, and I think we’re gonna have two a year pretty much. It’s gonna be a regular occasion, and we’re gonna keep making it better.”
The icing on the cake, and what really completes the “one-stop facility for most things musical” that we keep coming back to is the plan to launch an in-house label. Still without a name, Perez says The Hallowed Halls’ label will be a home to what he calls “dark” music. “Whether it’s dark post-rock, or dark hip-hop, or anything that has a dark tonality to it or dark undertones, and whatever it branches off to.”
And unlike many upstart labels, this one seems like it will have some genuine resources to help out signed acts. “We’ll be offering production and free recording to some bands. We’re looking for bands right now — we’re accepting submissions. Anyone interested can direct emails to the main website.”