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West Kelowna  

Locals open recording studio

A new recording studio hand-built by a father-son team is open for business in West Kelowna.

Empire Sonic Recording Studio opened its doors last month after a year of construction. They have already worked with more than 15 bands and artists. 

Evan Ferguson graduated from the audio engineering program at Okanagan College in April of 2013. He was in the process of sending out resumes when his father asked what it would take to get a studio of their own set up. 

"I asked what he was going to get paid and he said $10 or $10.50 to start," Bill Ferguson said. "I said, 'what's it cost to get into it?'"

About $100,000 and a year later, they had converted the garage of their West Kelowna home into a "floating" studio, capable of analog and digital recording. And from the outside the public would never know a professional studio is housed inside.

The studio is floating because it is completely insulated with polyurethane strips and the interior walls are all separate from the exterior walls of the house. There are no parallel walls in any of the recording rooms to increase sound quality. 

Most of the materials are secondhand, sourced from ReStore in West Kelowna. The soundboard they are leasing from Ferguson's former instructor at Okanagan College. The electrical work was all hand-soldered by Evan. 

To raise the money Evan applied for a youth entrepreneurial loan from Community Futures Development Corporation. After a lengthy approval process, he got $40,000 plus the cost of insurance for the loan. 

"We want to be the mecca of places to make good music and get good sound," Bill said. "Over the past four or five years several studios have closed down on the coast. Kelowna is starting to fill that gap."

Bill Ferguson said he was hearing from artists that they would love to come to the Okanagan, but hotels are too expensive to make it worth their while. 

The Fergusons envision a "stay and play" concept for the studio, where travelling bands or artists could spend a night or two at the house while doing their recording. 

Empire Sonic is currently working on a three-song EP for local band Twin Towns who are going on tour to Ontario and back starting Oct. 13.

Lead engineer Zach Pentyliuk said right now they're trying to build a reputation. 

"People that come in are really impressed," he said. "We don't have to sell this."

While the studio is bringing in revenue, Evan Ferguson maintains his job delivering pizza for Canadian 2-for-1 when he needs extra cash. 

The studio is located at 3615 Empire Place in West Kelowna below Misson Hill winery.

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