11 Recording Studios Hauntingly Perfect for Spooky Season

Guest article courtesy Temple of the Trees Studio.

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Humans have long been drawn to the supernatural, the unexplainable, and the downright spooky, and musicians are no exception. Here is a collection of spooky recording studios from around the world. Some of them are still thriving, while others have slipped into the past.

1. Temple of the Trees (Seattle, Washington)

Ancient Aesthetics Meets Modern Comforts

Studio Status: Open

Seattle’s most unique recording studio may look ancient, but it was actually created in 2020 and features all the comforts of a modern recording studio, (with some well-cared-for vintage instruments for good measure). The studio’s look was inspired by an 18th-century English cathedral door, which serves as its grand entrance. Temple of the Trees is the creative brainchild of musicians Joe and Karyn Reineke, founders of Seattle’s Orbit Audio, and the voices behind the haunting hypnotic-goth-inspired band Society of the Silver Cross.

During the unpredictability of the pandemic, Karyn suggested building a studio in their backyard, under the trees. “Always listen to your wife,” Joe says. “We wanted it to feel magical and intentional, both for us and other like-minded musicians.  We sourced much of the studio’s wood interior from the very trees that grew where the studio stands. Now they are living in the same place where they grew up. We had this amazing gothic door we’d collected and kept for over two decades waiting for just the right project. The visual aesthetic is gothic and mysterious, but the vibe of the place is also grounded and peaceful. It’s like a portal to a mystical realm.”

Temple of the Trees is currently available for select bands and musicians HERE.

2. Hans Zimmer’s Private Studio (Santa Monica, California)

Not Quite Spectral But Plenty Spooky

Studio Status: Open

This lavish home-based studio gives plenty of spooky vibes with its Victorian wallpaper, dark wood shelving, crimson couch, and minimal lighting. It looks like the perfect place to imagine a film soundtrack, which is exactly what film composer Hans Zimmer does. Founded in 1989, this studio has been the birthplace of numerous movie soundtracks including Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man, Gladiator, Transformers, The Da Vinci Code, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Lion King, and many more. 

3. The Mansion (Rick Rubin’s studio in Los Angeles, California)

Red Hot Chili Peppers Saw Ghosts (but not Houdini)

Studio Status: Open

The veil is thin in this Southern California mansion where the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others claim to have witnessed ghosts. The Mansion’s house itself is an 8,000 square-foot 10-bedroom mansion built in 1918 and once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Errol Flynn in the 1930s, (you may know him from the Golden Age of Hollywood as Robin Hood. He was also named AFI’s 18th Greatest Hero in American Film History). Some claim that Harry Houdini once lived there but that isn’t the case–he lived just down the street on the same Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

In 1991, music producer Rick Rubin, who owned the property, hosted the Red Hot Chili Peppers as they recorded their album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The band found it so easy that he decided to use the album to record future albums. Through the years the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Jay-Z, and others have recorded there.

Over the years, spectral sightings include a tuxedo-wearing man as well as a female voice in the midst of intimate activities. Doors have been said to open on their own as well.

4. Monnow Valley Studio (Rockfield Monmouthshire, Wales, U.K.)

Beautiful Countryside, Ominous Prediction

Studio Status: Open

This studio is set in the serene Welsh countryside among four hundred acres of green rolling hillside, two miles from the town of Monmouth. Nowadays, the studio can accommodate up to 24 people and features 11 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, and a spacious kitchen. 

Since 1975, it has hosted Black Sabbath, Sir Tom Jones, Oasis, Robert Plant, and more. But in 1980, while working on his debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy and Co. had a spectral visitation that shook the group to its core.

Via his memoir, For Facts Sake, bassist Bob Daisley recalls using an Ouija board. “After a while of asking questions and getting Y-E-S and N-O answers, the glass spelled out R-A-N-D-Y followed by Y-O-U A-R-E G-O-I-N-G T-O D-I-E,” Daisley wrote in his 2013 memoir. “We didn’t like the vibe and stopped. We broke the glass, threw the paper letters of the alphabet into the fire, and poured salt on the table.” Guitarist Randy Rhoads died three years later.

For more, visit the studio’s website HERE.

5. El Ganzo Records (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

Through the Trap Door and Into an Underground Recording Studio

Status: Open

Not a lot of recording studios can boast of being literally “underground,” but that’s exactly where the recording studio at Hotel El Ganzo is. Guests above may be swimming in the hotel’s infinity pool, or enjoying drinks at the bar, but underfoot is El Ganzo Records; a recording studio hidden in plain sight. Guests at El Ganzo have included LP, Caloncho, Bandalos Chinos, and Kings of Convenience. El Ganzo offers artistic residences and bespoke recording accommodations.

Contact Hotel El Ganzo HERE.

6. Blackbird Studio (Nashville, Tennessee)

World Class Talent and the Wildest Walls Around

Studio Status: Open

Blackbird Studio is a music industry staple known for its commitment to the craft of music, but it also features some of the wildest-looking walls in the industry. Studio C, as it is called, is a playback environment designed by George Massenburg and Dr. Peter D’Antonio and features more than 100,000 pounds of wooden sticks adorning the walls, creating a truly unique soundscape that’s also visually unforgettable. 

For a studio that’s only been around since 2002, Blackbird Studio hit the ground running with some of the world’s most famous musicians, including Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, Neil Young, James Taylor, Backstreet Boys, the Eagles, Black Eyed Peas, Lionel Richie, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and many, many others.

To learn more about Blackbird Studio, visit their website HERE.

7. St. Catherine’s Court (Bath, Somerset, England)

Whispering Voices and Compulsive Midnight Haircuts

Studio Status: Now a Wedding Venue

This historic 16th-century manor house turned recording studio, turned event space is a spooky venue with several haunting stories swirling around it. The home was once where King Henry VII allegedly kept his illegitimate daughter. In 1984 actress Jane Seymour and her then-husband David Flynn bought the house. They divorced and in 1993, Seymour married James Keach. During this time Seymour rented it out as a recording studio, film set, and event space until she sold the property to an unknown buyer in 2007. 

According to Radiohead lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, via Rolling Stone, voices could be heard in the castle. “The Ghosts would talk to me while I was asleep,” he said. Jonny felt compelled, in the middle of the night, to cut his hair with the scissors on his pocket knife.

Albums recorded here include The Cure’s Wild Mood Swings and Bloodflowers. Radiohead recorded most of OK Computer there. New Order recorded part of Waiting for the Sirens’ Call as well as the unreleased track, “Lost Sirens.”

8. Clearwell Castle (Clearwell Gloucestershire England)

A Reclaimed Abandoned Castle Helps Black Sabbath Come Back to Life

Studio Status: Now a Wedding Venue

The 1970s was quite a time for turning cast-away castles and manors into recording studios, and that’s exactly what happened to Clearwell Castle. Through the 1970s this Gothic Revival house was a recording studio that housed the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bad Company, Queen, Whitesnake, and more.

Legend has it that a ghost inspired Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi’s riff that became Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This was in 1973 when the band had massive success and was struggling with their next album. Despite trying to record for a month in LA’s Record Plant Studios, they felt like they were losing their magic. They rented Clearwell Castle to see if things would turn around, and turn around, they did.

“We rehearsed in the armoury there,” says Iommi in the book, Wheels of Confusion: The Story of Black Sabbath. “And one night I was walking down the corridor with Ozzy and we saw this figure in a black cloak … We followed this figure back into the armoury and there was absolutely no one there,” recalled Iommi in 1998. “Whoever it was had disappeared into thin air! The people that owned the castle knew all about this ghost and they said, ‘Oh yes, that’s the ghost of so and so. We were like ‘What!?’”

The house, which was built in 1727,  suffered a serious fire in 1930 and fell into further disrepair after WWII when it lost its floors, roofs, as well as internal fittings. In 1952 Frank Yeats, the son of a former castle gardener, bought the house, saved it from the brink of demolition, and opened it as a recording studio until the property was sold in the 1980s. It is no longer a recording studio and now functions as a wedding venue.

9. Blackwing Studios (London England, U.K.)

Haunting Sounds From a Time Gone By

Studio Status: Closed

Blackwing Studios was best known as the studio home of Depeche Mode and Yazoo in the early 1980s. Formerly known as the All Hallows Church, it was partly destroyed in The Blitz in 1941. The studio was started by Eric Radcliffe. Master tapes were stored in the belltower and the building’s acoustic properties are still being studied.

10. Karaway Studios (Yamanashi Prefecture, Honshu, Japan)

The Abandoned Japanese Recording Studio

Studio Status: Abandoned

Karaway Studio was once a recording studio and hotel complex but is now known as another haikyo (abandoned cabin). It once offered ample studio space, accommodations, as well as a performance area. It was near Mount Fuji and a great place for bands in the 1980s to get away. Today it sits, abandoned and still, frozen in time. Additional pictures can be seen HERE.

11. The Abandoned Air Studios (Montserrat, Eastern Caribbean Island)

History-Making Rock & Roll Studio Rots Away in the Caribbean

Studio Status: Abandoned

In its day, Air Studios Montserrat, (counterpart to AIR Studios London), was the place to be. The studio once enjoyed immense popularity with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Police, Sir Elton John, Duran Duran, Stevie Wonder, and more.

Legendary musicians recorded 67+ albums here, that is until 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit the island and destroyed 90% of its structures. The studio and its equipment were severely damaged and founder George Martin closed shop. Later, in 1997, the Soufrière Hills volcano went off and devastated much of the island again. The border of the volcanic exclusion zone is where the remains of AIR Studios Montserrat now sit, slowly being reclaimed by nature. 

Guest article courtesy Temple of the Tree Studio.

(Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

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