Where Family Makes Music & Music Makes Family
If you were to attempt to search out Sleepy Hollows Studios on your own, you’d be up for a stiff challenge indeed. It’s that way by design, achieved with painstaking effort, all the way down to misleading geo identifiers and location addresses on the internet. So, only after receiving a speak easy style invite, would you find this underground studio tucked away in the middle of plain sight in historic Herndon, Virginia.
Upon entering and kicking off my shoes at the door, one thing becomes apparently obvious: if cleanliness is Godliness, then this place is a creative slice of heaven. Visually, all the way down to the vacuum lines in the carpet and couches, nothing seems out of place. This place is a dream for a neat freak. In you knew Neal’s wife, that’s not by accident or just for an article photo shoot, it’s more of a way of life. Neal sums it up: “Everything is on purpose. From the color scheme to the lighting to the amenities. Our goal is to make everyone feel comfortable because that is when the best music is made.”
I was first introduced to Neal and his brother, Kyle, the foundation of Sleepy Hollows itself, through my wife. One of her best friends from Herndon High School and college married Neal. So, I’ve had a front row seat to watch the studio grow from its humble beginnings in Fairfax, Virginia, circa 2003, to what it is today: hosting local, national and global recording artists and providing custom music for small to large corporations such as ESPN, Verizon, the NBA Players Asociation, and AOL, just to name a few. “To be able to spend time with my brother, one of my best friends, and do something creative, is my favorite part. We have so much to show, and hear, for all the time we’ve spent together making music, and that will last forever. Ideally, I will be able to say the exact same thing about my kids someday.”
What started as “two turntables and a microphone” in Neal’s bedroom in Aspen, is now a full service music and voice-over recording facility, boasting cutting edge technology, equipment and engineering. In this day and age of the side hustle, that’s achieved through a network of friends, artists, sound engineers, musicians, and writers, many of whom have corporate day jobs, but are still in search of a creative outlet and release at night. Neal, a partner at a Tysons CPA & Consulting firm, and Kyle, a prominent Program Manager at one of the nation’s largest government contractors, are the norm at “The Hollows.” Neal states, “It’s as common for us to record CFOs and database engineers as it is bartenders and construction workers. It really runs the gamut, just like the material we record. It’s not unusual that I could be sitting at a board meeting at 10:00 am and then recording an up and coming college band at 10 that evening. And I love that. I just wish there were more hours in the day.”
The Hollows adopted the mantra “Where Family Makes Music & Music Makes Family” and that shines through starting with the welcome you receive from everyone when entering the studio. I have not visited the studio as often as I would have liked over the years, but like an old familiar face, it takes only seconds to feel right at home.
On this particular stop I found myself cutting up with members of RDGLDGRN, (pronounced Red Gold Green), a Reston based alt/rock hip-hop trio. They are home off their 2015 EP release and just about to kick off an eight stop tour across the US in support of their 2017 sophomore release album, Radio.
Andrei Busuioceanu, aka “Gold”, is a personal friend of Kyle’s, they used to work a corporate gig together back in the day, and when the group is in town they often choose to tweak their music here. Andrei shares, “What I like best about [The Hollows] is when we come back to the area, it feels like we aren’t at a studio at all. It’s more of a place to chill and fine tune things for our group.” Red follows with “Good local guys, doing good things locally and we support that.”
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Article by Chris Little
Photos by Vincent Sales