The majority of the Northwest’s hip hop community is familiar with the names Zebulon Dak and Momentum Studios. The two are currently synonymous. Some people say they are going to record at Momentum Studios, others say they are going to Zeb’s.
The studio has been involved in one way or another with every Oldominion project released to date. Although they haven’t released an official album together as a crew since Oldominion 1 in 2001, as individuals and subgroups they’ve released albums on labels such as Rhymesayers, Strange Famous and Camobear.
Ten years ago, Oldominion crew members Trinity and Mako created Momentum Studios.
“Basically they started it off as a place to record Oldominion,” said Zebulon Dak. “And then they realized it could be a lucrative business and that there were people out there who were looking for a place to record. So they went the fuck in.”
Zebulon, born Michael Berglund and called Zeb by his friends, is currently the sole engineer at the studio. Also a member of Oldominion, Zeb began his career as an engineer from his home studio.
“I had Twisted Insane in my bedroom…that’s the scariest thing I’ve ever said out loud,” he said with a laugh.
Zeb took over operations of the recording studio in 2005. At the time of the takeover, Momentum had four producers, Trinity, Mako, Cutty Dre and Wizdom, working around the clock.
“I think Trinity and Mako kind of just got burnt out. It’s kind of a tough job, especially for someone who also makes his own music…It just so happened that right around the time they were pretty much done, and didn’t want to do it anymore, I was looking for a job… They ran a much tighter ship than I do.” He continues. “They had a rotation of four producers who were all on a schedule while I’m more like, ‘Fuck yeah, lets work.'”
Onry Ozzborn’s new Video. Shot at Momentum Studios.
Outside of the Oldominion crew Zeb has recorded independent hip-hop giants such as Techn9ne, Aesop Rock, Aceyalone, Pigeon John and Cannibal Ox. He recently recorded Onry Ozzborn’s latest release Hold On For Dear Life and just finished recording an album starring Cool Nutz, Maniac Lok and Kenny Mack.
“We’re reliable and available. You don’t have to worry about an engineer or a producer wanting ownership of your music.” He continued, “And I’m fast. I can do what they need me to do. People like that pace, they can concentrate on doing what they need to do to get a song done and not have to worry about working with an engineer who doesn’t know how to drop a beat or add a delay.”
The studio now shares a space with Portland Underground Recordings, moving closer to the downtown area from its previous location on Salmon St. in the Industrial District. The previous spot was set up great for rappers and vocalists but unlike the new location it didn’t leave many options for recording live instruments.
“Things are looking good right now and there’s a lot of potential for growth…It’s especially fun when I get someone who is talented, and doesn’t rap,” he said. “Right now I’m working with this guy named Troy James. He’s a singer songwriter and plays the guitar. He’s phenomenal. It’s so much fun.”
If you would like to work with Zebulon Dak at Momentum Studios you can contact him on Twitter @Zebulondak or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have pictures of yourself at Momentum Studios please send it to me so I can post it below.
Matty Recording at Momentum’s old location on Salmon St.