By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – A hidden entrance, a secret knock, a whispered password. These are the trademarks of a prohibition era speakeasy, but for audio engineers Ian Dillon and Jason Tawkin the concept of firing up a hard-to-find but worth-the-time recording studio is exactly the kind of underground operation they’ve been searching for. But make no mistake, this is no bootleg operation.
“I’ve been working in recording studios for a long time, says co-operator Ian Dillon, who first met his business partner, Tawkin, when the two were both students at the Academy of Production and Recording Arts (APRA). “I started helping out at a family-run studio in Edmonton (Blue Room) as a teenager. My career has taken me around the world and established strong relationships within the music community both locally and abroad.”
“When we finished those courses we went our separate ways,” explains Tawkin, who has worked with collections at the National Music Centre. “I started a studio in a slaughter house with another local engineer, Marcello Castronuovo, and Ian started his own studio Electric Park Studios. Years later we would meet again while helping a local vinyl pressing start-up get off the ground.”
Having amassed a ton of high-end audio gear between them, Dillon and Tawkin came to the inevitable conclusion that they had best establish their own domain and set up a recording studio to beat the band – no pun intended.
“It’s a collaboration of equipment and experience between myself and Jason,” Dillon affirms. “We’ve been collecting equipment and working in the music scene for many years, and when we had the opportunity to use a very unique space in the city, at a former vinyl record pressing factory, we took it. Since a lot of our recording equipment comes from a variety of now defunct Calgary-based studios, we thought it would be fitting to honour the city’s vibrant music history with the name Calgary Recording Company.”
“We have 50 years of recording technology that we can pull from in our toolbox of lovingly maintained equipment,” adds Tawkin. “Plus, we have enough room to record a band live off the floor, which we feel is the best approach when making a record. The results are fantastic, because you’re capturing the magic of a moment.”
Veterans at directing studio sessions they have immortalized the creative essence of Goyte, Randy Bachman, Luke Doucet Bloated Pig, Cowpuncher, Throne Of Vengeance, No More Moments, Citizen Rage, Oh Shit, The Electric Revival (Dillon’s own band) and Sean McCann, just to name a few. Dillon and Tawkin have also mastered and cut vinyl lacquers for big names such as The Misfits, Diana Krall, Muddy Waters, Oscar Peterson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, 54-40 and the Juno Awards. Calgary Recording Company also functions to provide a full range of digitization, restoration and preservation services. Through trial and error the enterprising technicians have come to gain an understanding and mastery of those key elements that go into a successful studio project.
“In the ever-growing world of basement studios and hobby engineers, we offer a refreshing spin to the project studio format,” says Dillion. “Our goal is to offer professional audio production services at reasonable rates, in a comfortable environment, using a wide assortment of technologies. One thing that sets us apart from the average project studio is our ability to record analog to tape directly, without the use of computers, for the entire project. We also have our analog system integrated with Pro Tools HD to get the best of both the analog and digital recording mediums. Our shop is designed to offer each client the appropriate methods required for them to achieve their artistic vision.”
An exemplary blue-rock vocalist/guitarist in his own right, studio door-keeper Dillon knows firsthand the challenges and triumphs that come with the territory. Aiming to work hand-in-hand with their clientele, the minds behind CRC have tapped into a large network of artists, manufacturers, bookers, promoters, venues and promotional services to ensure that each release reach its true potential.
“Calgary has a great music scene with the infrastructure to properly support it,” Dillon concurs. “Talented artists, great locales and established music festivals call Calgary home. We are looking forward to playing our role in this very diverse and talented community.”
Turning their eyes and tuning their ears to the prohibitively long and dark nights of a frigid Canadian winter, Dillon and Tawkin are encouraging bands to consider a well-timed retreat to their studio sanctuary in preparation for a busy summer touring season. Pocket flasks of bathtub gin are, of course, entirely optional.
“It’s a great time to focus on your music and prepare for the year ahead,” A sage Dillon advises. “Winter touring can be difficult in Canada. The short days and cold weather are perfect for warming up to a nice analog recording console and getting lost in your art. With proper planning and execution, you can prepare new material now to take on the road in the warmer months.”
CALGARY RECORDING STUDIO is now open for business!Calgary Recording Company, expertise, rock