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Developing & Exploring Musical Creativity in Wood Buffalo

Steph Seidel
BY Steph Seidel
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People benefit from the music industry in Fort McMurray every day.  Think about the songs that get stuck in your head, the Spotify or Apple Music subscriptions you pay for, the radio that introduces you to your new favourite song, or the background music you hear in advertising that fills your mind as you are doing your shopping.  Music is everywhere in our city.

Fort McMurray already has a thriving music scene with local performing artists like Dan Tulk, Dan Gillies, Matty Parlee, Lady Saint, Lisa and the Bad Apples and others. But local industry is something this city thrives on and the music industry is no exception. It has just developed a new tool to help local artists stay in our region and hopefully, bring new artists to our community. 

The District Recording Studio, a brand new, state-of-the-art recording facility is expected to open late November in the Composite High School.  The opening of this studio is a result of  many organizations, including The Fort McMurray Public School District, King’s Kids Promotions, The Red Cross, All Saints’ Anglican Church, The Suncor Energy Foundation,  as well as a host of volunteers all believing in this project and working tirelessly from the beginning or joining along the to bring it to fruition.

The District Recording Studio is an answer the gap in the arts community that came when Keyano College abandoned their recording studio a few years ago.  Community developer, local arts enthusiast, and the studio’s executive producer, Rick Kirschner, worked with the FMPSD to fill the gap and said. “We are excited to build one more reason for people to stay in Fort McMurray.”  Diana Moser of the Arts Council of Wood Buffalo called it ‘a piece of critical arts infrastructure’

The District Recording Studio is not your typical studio.  Most recording studios seem to be inaccessible to most people, but we hope this studio will be a place music lovers come to  for events,  the interested stop by for conversations, artists come to record and perform, and students come to learn.  In an effort to reach as many people as possible with the power of music, the District Recording Studio has a plan for the space to be used to benefit the community as much as possible.  As the studio is in Composite High School – a recording arts class is being offered for second semester, and the guitar class is currently being taught in the main studio room.  An afterschool program has started for students who want to take part in the performing arts and we are looking forward to hosting year two of LionheART Performing Arts Camp in the summer of 2019.  The studio will also be open every day after 5pm for recording artists to come and workshop and record their music.

We asked Chris Wells, a co-founder in the project what he thought about it and he said ‘I think art is essential to industry as it fuels creative thinking and ingenuity.  The District Studio fits perfectly into a community as diverse as Fort McMurray because the fact of the matter is, everyone from every background and ever walk of life, has had music affect them in a positive way. 

Danny Tulk, Principal of Composite High School joined Russell Thomas on IMPACT over the 91.1 The Bridge airwaves in June and had this to say about it: “Studios have become portable, a PC or a Mac with a microphone, but after that people aspire to have a professional studio. This studio, this space at Composite High School in partnership with King’s Kids and the FMPSD, is that professional studio.  My album - I did it in Nashville at a professional studio: that studio does not rival this studio.  This studio is top of the line.  It’s going to give an opportunity for world-class recording for students, for adults for the community. This thing is going to be big.  We’ll see the community in here recording, putting out albums and compilations that will be on par with anywhere in the world.  You’re in Northern Alberta, and a kid comes to you and says ‘I want to record an album’ you don’t have to go to Toronto, you don’t have to go to Vancouver, you can come to Composite High school to The District Studio and have the same if not better quality recording. It’s amazing.”  

Songwriting mentor and producer Sky Seidel spoke with great excitement about what it means to have our very own studio in Fort McMurray, saying “A professional grade recording studio in Fort McMurray means one more stake in the ground for the music industry of the region.  There’s a lot of untapped talent in this town, and this studio is a place to develop and export that creativity.”


We hope you’ll share in our excitement and follow The District Recording Studio on social media to hear about what’s next. We can’t stop smiling about the studio being about to open and start accepting clients.  Please join us at The Festival of Trees to hear from some of the studio’s emerging artists.  Visit for more information.