Soundhouse Studios is not just Vancouver’s premiere rehearsal studio, it’s also a labour of love. Co-owners and boyfriend-girlfriend, Chris “Pher” Gautreau and Karen Parusel, along with the help and support from their family and friends, have created a venue for anyone and everyone to make music.
Both musicians, Pher and Karen have had the experience of being customers in the rehearsal studio business. Finding a gap in what was available to them and what they wanted or needed from a rehearsal studio, they realized that the rehearsal studio that they wanted is something that they could just give themselves – and to other people as well. After that epiphany, they rolled up their sleeves and started working on the idea that would later become a rehearsal studio they could call their own. Three years later – Soundhouse Studios was a reality. “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing… I never realized how hard I could work until I started working for myself,” said Pher.
Knowing that their studio had to be strategically located close to downtown Vancouver, it took Pher and Karen more than a year before they could find the perfect place to set up shop. After getting the ideal spot, they just hit the ground running; along with some friends and family that pitched in whenever they could to help out the couple. Pher’s band, Heads Hang Heavy, contributed a lot of help in the labor intensive work. Karen and Pher’s family also showed their support by taking over at times when they both needed a break. “It feels like we blinked and that was it. We were just day to day… Get to the next day. Get to the next day,” Karen shared. “Just keep pushing. We’re just hustling, trying to make a go of it and for the most part, it’s really rewarding because we don’t have to answer to anyone else.“
The studio boasts of 13 studio rooms in total: seven hourly rooms (one mini, five medium-sized and one large) and six monthly rooms (small to medium-sized) – all professionally sound-proofed and appointed with well-maintained equipment. As music is their passion, Pher and Karen put a lot of thought into the acoustics, design, and layout of the rooms. They consulted several experts to customize the rooms according to their own meticulous standards, which is evident in details like the thoughtful placement of furnishings, professional soundproofing, the cleanliness of the rooms and surrounding areas, and an organized setup of equipment. Besides all these improvements that raise the standards of the rehearsal studio business, what differentiates Soundhouse Studios from the rest, is the great customer service that aims to deliver the best rehearsal studio experience in the greater Vancouver area. They also have one large event space, called the Attic, that’s usually a hangout place or mingling area for their clients right now, but by early next year, they will be renting it out as venue for workshops, showcases, exhibits and other social events. Definitely, fun times ahead.
Soundhouse Studio’s client list is growing everyday by the relentless efforts of this couple. Since Pher is still very active in the music industry, he taps into his network to get new clients to try out his studio. For a strong online presence, they worked on getting the top ranking in Google and continuously go on social media sites for active interaction with their market. And to reward their loyal customers, they have set up a referral program that gives incentives or discounts for each successful referral. They find that word-of-mouth marketing benefits them the most for now, since people are more likely to believe their friends instead of an advertisement. Some of Soundhouse’s current celeb clients are: Ray Davies (the Kinks), Dan Mangan, Daniel Wesley and Kyprios
And what’s it like working with your partner in every sense of the word? “We consult with each other, we’re totally honest with each other and it’s nice because there’s no B.S.,” Karen enthuses. “But go with your heart. Do what you feel is right. And I feel more comfortable going into business with the people that I trust.” Trust is great, but being a business-smart couple, they entered into a partnership agreement as a safety net should anything go wrong.
Seven months into the business, still growing and evolving, Pher and Karen are here for the long term and are very optimistic about the future, simply because music happens when people come together and they’ve set up a home for more of that to go around.