Maple Creek News
It’s been two years since Aspen Beveridge started Skullcreek Studios in Piapot, Saskatchewan. If all you needed in the music industry were cool names, that first sentence would be worth millions.
And while the Maple Creek native is finding there’s clearly more to success than great monikers — and that nothing comes without obstacles — the little recording studio in small-town southern Saskatchewan is beginning to earn its place.
Situated in an old school building in the quiet town of Piapot, Skullcreek Studios is designed to be a zero-distraction, intimate environment where making great music is the only focus.
“I think for a lot of musicians and bands it’s really hard to find that, especially in the city where it’s just too close to (distractions),” says the 31-year-old, who now lives in Osler, north of Saskatoon, when he’s not at work in Piapot. “It’s just a place where you can kind of get away from everything, and I think you get better results when you do that.”
That system is starting to pay off, with a list of some impressive recorded and booked artists on the ledger. From up-and-coming bands like Swift Current’s The Moon Runners, who will be in studio for the first time, to established artists like Saskatchewan Country Music Award winner Will Ardell, set to record a full-length album, the Skullcreek name is building steam.
“He’s actually been in the studio before,” Beveridge says of Ardell. “We recorded a single about a year ago. I think some of (his coming here) has to do with connections I have with my own band, but also just word getting out there … I think artists, they talk to each other when they’ve had a good experience.”
Beveridge’s own band League of Wolves is making its own success with some top-40 singles in past years, but it also helps the studio because he’s out there on the front lines of the music scene.
“It’s been really convenient being in a band to kind of start making those connections, and then word of mouth carries you forward.”
Pincher Creek’s Alex Shenton, known musically as A Rancher’s Son, will be recording at Skullcreek for a second time, with Beveridge taking on the role of producer. Saskatoon guitarist Sam Folkerson will be recording in the fall, and well known Vancouver-based Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer is looking to come do some in-studio writing, to name a few.
So things are going pretty well, but there is a bit of a catch 22 in all this.
As the business grows and the Skullcreek name spreads, the low-key intimacy that name is built on could be in jeopardy. But Beveridge is determined to stay true to the business’s roots, and seems ready to resist the temptation of growing too big for its own good.
He’ll let the studio itself do the legwork, while those that use it become the ones who sell it to new bands.
“I kind of prefer it that way,” he says. “I like things to have a little bit of a cool mysterious vibe, where it has a cool story attached to it, rather than (a band) just seeing an ad in the paper or magazine.
“I’d rather them hear about things through the grapevine.”
Skullcreek does have a promotional video on its website — skullcreek.ca — which to date has more than 13,000 views. That’s leading to some media attention, as the CBC has recently expressed some interest in doing a feature on the little Piapot studio.
That being said, and while Beveridge says most people have expressed nothing but positive reaction to Skullcreek, there is a small faction within the RM fighting the use of the old school, and there is a current legal battle surrounding it.
“It’s a bit of a shame, because we feel like it’s not only a waste of our resources, but taxpayers’ resources as well,” says Beveridge. “But we’re just hoping to come to a resolution soon.”
With upcoming projects and upgrades to the studio to concentrate on, Beveridge is just looking at the conflict as a bump in the road. All businesses have them in some facet or another, so he’s focusing on the many positives.
Positives like a growing name, a growing business and really good soundtrack playing along the way.
PHOTOGRAPHER ANNA MARTENS
Skullcreek Studios owner Aspen Beveridge has been working hard to build his business over the past few years, and judging by the list of talent starting to use his Piapot recording studio, those efforts are paying off.