We’ve been hearing about Beto Hale’s new studio in Los Angeles for almost as long as it’s existed. His new project's backstory can be found in what brought him from a kid banging on pots and pans in Mexico City to where he is today.
Hale was born and raised in Mexico City, where he started playing drums at 8 years old. Shortly after, he found his parents’ Beatles collection. He learned to play the drums by playing along with the Beatles records and, shortly afterward, got into multitrack recording, recording to tape, playing the tape while recording another instrument, then playing that tape while recording something else, and so on.
In high school, Hale got involved in promoting shows and playing in a lot of bands. “Mexico City is a very eclectic place in terms of musical taste.” When he was 18, he got his first big opportunity, playing keyboards for Timbiriche, one of the most successful Spanish-language pop acts ever, touring all over Mexico. After getting back from the tour, he started taking formal drum lessons as well as piano, guitar, and composition classes, at a conservatory-type private school called Centro de Investigación y Estudios de la Música (CIEM) before going to Berklee.
Crossing the Continent
At Berklee, Hale studied performance and songwriting. He played drum set on a lot of different projects and even some guitar and piano on some of his own songwriting projects. Without being a music production and engineering major, he was always sure to offer himself anytime someone with studio time needed session players or had a track to produce. “This is how to make the most out of your time at Berklee: get as much experience working with people as you can, while you can,” he says.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 1996, Hale inched toward the West Coast with an internship in New York City, working with publishing companies and songwriters in a studio doing high-quality demos. He also did odd jobs wherever he could, trying to gather as much information about the music business as possible.
In another leap westward, Hale took a job in Colorado as editor for the Spanish language magazine Músico Pro. It was here that he got access to all of the newest technology in the music industry. “It gives you a different perspective on the music business," he says, "to be able to say, ‘You know what, this keyboard has some cool features but I wish they would do this or that,’ and to have an influence on people deciding what to buy or companies deciding what changes to make.”
After Colorado, Hale moved to Los Angeles, where his sights had always been set.
Los Olivos: A Project of Passion
Hale’s newest project is Los Olivos Recording Studios, a 100 percent independently designed and funded recording studio in Los Angeles. “I always dreamed that if I could ever build a studio, that would be so cool; it was always in the back of my mind.”
The studio, a 2,000 square-foot facility that includes a large live room and two isolation rooms, is brand new, so for now it's just a matter of Hale finding the right clientele for it. He wants to be selective about who comes in and be invested and involved in every project, whether it is as a producer, a player, or as the artist. “Even if I’m not actually playing, I want to facilitate the recording of music that I would listen to or would want to buy or promote somehow.” As of this writing, Hale has booked his first client: a film composer who will record several cues for a short film and a documentary.
Advice for Young Alumni
Hale offers that staying connected to your fellow alumni is perhaps one of the most important things you can do after graduating. “One of the reasons I never lost the connections is that I made some of the best friends of my life at Berklee. For example, my good friend, drummer Antonio Sánchez B.M. '97, is on tour most of the year, and we get to hang out maybe one of those days when he is in L.A., but the friendship is still strong.” He goes on, “There’s a certain mindset or just a way of being, professionally and personally, that just permeates everyone who’s been there. I remember it being pretty hard; it was great, but it was also intense: the competition and the high standards. You know that [your peers] have been through that, too.”
Staying in touch pays off in other ways as well. For Hale's upcoming album of original music, he's collaborating with three other Berklee graduates: Pablo Munguía '98 (music production and engineering), Sal Ojeda B.M. '09 (music production and engineering), and Manuel Jiménez B.M. '08 (music production and engineering and contemporary writing and production).