It’s almost shocking to enter Argyle Studio for the first time. The drab gray facade of the Dufferin Avenue building and the dark and dirty hallway leading to the studio let you brace yourself for grime and decrepitude.
But then you walk into a room with huge red velvet curtains, behind which are hidden kicks, snares, and all kinds of drums, and another wall with guitars hanging over keyboards stacked on top of them. on top of each other. A piano is adorned with four plants in a neat row under a soft yellow light as if it had been carved out of the jazz club from a movie set.
Two more rooms connect to the space, both filled with mixers and computers with large monitors under a window strip through which producers can see the artists they are recording.
Admittedly, the studio isn’t exactly pristine, but it radiates a warmth that seems out of place for a warehouse in the shade of rail yards.
It took a lot of work to get there.
“It was just an empty one-room shell. The ceilings were high and nothing was here,” said Cam Loeppky, owner of the studio.
The process started two years ago, Loeppky said. He slowly got rid of it, between tours with Canadian rock legends Sloan, with the help of his family and friends.
One wall was painted with a bloom of green and yellow stripes – a band called The Lockdown did this in return for help, noted Rusty Matyas, a musician and producer who recently started working in the studio.
“I think it’s a great trade in Winnipeg, personally,” said Matyas.
Before establishing the studio, Loeppky produced music in his house. As many have discovered in the age of remote working, it was difficult to separate work from family life.
“I would wake up at night thinking of something I needed to fix,” Loeppky said, then rushed to do it. “Now (I have to) come up here, can I stay here for five hours when I only have five minutes of work?” ”
Loeppky owns the studio, but there doesn’t seem to be much hierarchy in the social structure of Argyle Studio. It’s a small community of music creators who at first glance seem separated from Loeppky only in their gratitude for the workspace.
Chrys Fournier, whom Matyas and Loeppky call “Crab,” does her work in the producer’s smallest room, and the three of them call this space Argyle Lodge. This room is less finished than the others and fitted out for a different style of music.
While Loeppky and Matyas focus on rock music, Fournier works on rap, punk and metal. Fournier said he liked having the space to work.
“I’ve been making music and stuff for over half of my life,” he said. “But it’s fairly new to me, working with others in a space that I host them.”
When Loeppky, Matyas, and Fournier spoke, the conversation always seemed to turn to the artists they were recording or had recorded. They gladly brought up this group whose singer was “a sort of 70s punk”; “The Clash-esque”; or this band with a sort of “Afrobat dancehall influence”, which sort of evokes an idea that is both lively and vague.
Loeppky, in particular, seems uncomfortable saying what he likes about his job, saying at one point he’s doing it just because it’s too late to change careers. But when he talks about his precious gear, like “analog tape echo,” a smile creeps across his face, and it’s clear there’s at least a little something more.
Cody Sellar is the Times reporter / photographer. He is a longtime Winnipegger. He’s a journalist, writer, detective, lazy, book reader and lover of terse biographies.
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