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The afternoon of Feb. 28 saw the grand opening of Zenergy Recording Studios at Fort Knox in Irving Park. The multi-room setup is another addition to the 160,000 square footage of rehearsal space and recording studios at one of the biggest music facilities in Chicago.The intimate space, rich in its color scheme, reverberated with an atmosphere of warmth despite its newness. For Sean Tatum, this day was a long time coming. The proud owner of Zenergy, better known as the bassist for local band and Chicago staple Honey And The 45’s, gave CUSP Magazine a tour and brief history of the recording studio. This was an endeavor Tatum says has been years in the making.

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“I first [got the idea] when I was about 16,” Tatum tells me during our tour. “There was a lot of dreaming and contemplating that maybe I could do this one day. Then about the middle of last year I started thinking, ‘Maybe I oughta give this a go.’ It’s been decades of dreaming.”

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The seasoned musician attributes this final push to realize his dream largely to being intimate with the music scene in Chicago — both on the business and artist sides. The rapidly changing landscape of the industry and the way it affects budding musicians was worrisome to Tatum.  

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“It kind of seems like the independent artists are on their own. A lot of musicians are struggling with not only being an artist, but having that business sense,” Tatum notes when describing what Zenergy will offer to clients. “I wanted to create as warm of an environment [as possible]. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re coming in to record. I’m pulling in a bunch of individuals — whatever their background is — and [making it] more of a community-based thing. It’ll be a one-stop shop situation. We’re offering music instruction and engineering music schools. We’re looking to stay as diverse as possible so that potential clients can say, ‘We can go there for just about anything.’”
Aesthetically speaking, the aforementioned warmth of Zenergy is already there. Like most recording studios, the layout of the space is as functional as it is decorative. But there is something particularly unique in the design of Zenergy, with its plush red paneling and custom wall designs.

Sean – “It’ll be a one-stop shop situation. We’re offering music instruction and engineering music schools. We’re looking to stay as diverse as possible so that potential clients can say, ‘We can go there for just about anything.’”

“Everything on the walls is an active, functioning component,” Tatum says as he gestures to the sharply engraved decals. “We tried to use a more subtle approach, where we’re taking the soundwaves and not trying to restrict their movement. We’re looking to subtly redirect the soundwaves. The materials that were used were created with that in mind. We’re trying to create an atmosphere that is conducive to whatever genre.”

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This attitude of open arms from artists of all categories seems to be the central message of Zenergy Recording Studios. As a brand, Tatum stresses that the facilities will welcome independent artists from “hip-hop to bluegrass,” who are striving to make high quality music without the struggle of being able to afford recording time.

 

Honey and The 45’s, although laying low for the present moment, will no doubt set up shop at Zenergy once they are ready to begin creating new music. “We’re in our writing process right now,” Tatum says of his blues/rock band. “But, we’ll more than likely end up recording here.”

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When asked for a shoutout to other creatives in Chicago, Tatum recommended two local artists who span the spectrum of the very genres he plans to host at Zenergy.

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“As far as artists go, there’s Genome. They’re a great band. They just released an album. Elle Cassazza is doing fantastic things as well. I think these groups are where it’s at as far as independent artists go.”
Zenergy Recording Studios is now open for business. For more information about Zenergy, visit their newly launched website! Make sure to also follow Zenergy on Facebook and Twitter.

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Mooni Salam
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Sydney Poland
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