Fifteen minutes east of Calgary, down a long gravel road is a big red house. There aren’t any signs explaining why the building is there or what its purpose is.
Passersby may wonder which Calgary oil tycoon may live there, not guessing that inside the red walls is hidden a half million dollars worth of microphones and Beatles memorabilia.
The building is home to a new Calgary recording studio called OCL Studios that opened in February.
The owner, Dan Owen, who also owns Owen Construction Ltd., wanted to build a recording studio for his friends. The initial budget was around half a million dollars, but once work began, Owen realized that wasn’t enough to complete his dream. The final budget ended up around $3 million. Owen quickly realized that he had a commercial entity on his hands, the chance to open a business and have artists from all over the world record in his world-class facility.
The studio is 8,000 square feet with a main tracking room and three different isolation booths. There is a smaller side studio for voice-overs and other smaller editing work.
Upstairs is a 1,200 square foot grand hall that has many uses ranging from dining with artists to recording a choir ensemble — the room is wired into Studio A downstairs.
The studio is definitely not limited in terms of space. This ample room comes in handy when large groups, such as the New West Symphony & Chorus come and record. The New West Symphony & Chorus consist of a 24-piece orchestra and a 50-piece vocal choir and they all can be recorded in the state-of-the-art facility.
There are private bedrooms, holding up to 10 people, in case recording artists want to stay for several days while making music. OCL is the only residential recording studio in western Canada, which means they offer a unique chance to get away from the city.
The studio manager is Greg Godovitz, who is a welcoming host full of stories about his 49 years of experience in the music industry. He is a musician, songwriter and producer with a keen ear for music.
“All of us here are very into nurturing Alberta-centric artists. Of course we are looking for some of the bigger-name acts from out of province and out of the country to come here,” Godovitz says. Godovitz is keen to work with talented young artists and is impressed with the amount of raw talent he sees in Calgary.
The studio is young, but they are striving to be a place where large Canadian and international bands can come and record.
The studio’s location outside of Langdon is not a typical place to find a recording studio, but Godovitz sees this as an advantage.
“Our studio caters more for the people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to come out to a secluded rural area to do their magic,” Godovitz says. “There are very few distractions out here, except for the distractions you make yourself — meaning making music.”
However, the Rocky Mountains and prairie views could be considered distracting, he adds
The studio is a place where bands can rehearse for upcoming tours, make videos featuring the scenic splendor and get inspired for song writing. They can get away and create music.
“This was a place that was tailor-made for big acts — the Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Foo Fighters, even Canadian acts like Rush or Nickelback,” Godovitz says. “It’s the kind of place where the big bands, who would get bothered in the city, can come and no one’s going to know they’re in here, until of course after they leave. It would be nice to get a major international artist in here to get the ball rolling to let people know this place exists.”
OCL is eager to accommodate any artist however.
“That is ultimately our aim, to get as many varied artists and styles of music in here as possible,” Godovitz says.
Godovitz doesn’t believe that artists have to be in major cities to record music, such as Los Angeles, New York or Nashville.
“In a country-centric province like Alberta, it’s always Nashville this, Nashville that. To my way of thinking, there are a number of world-class studios — not just OCL — in Calgary and Alberta and some of the best musicians, whether they are country players, blues players, rock players or classical players — there are thousands of them here,” Godovitz says. “We don’t have to go to Nashville anymore, we’ve brought a little bit of Nashville to Alberta. This is a world-class facility in a world-class town.”
Godovitz says it’s a great place to spend a 10-hour workday and then relax and watch the sunset with a beer.