Edmonton recording studio closes after 18 years

After producing more than 200 records, Stew Kirkwood has closed Sound Extractor Studios, the recording studio he ran in west Edmonton for the past 18 years.

Kirkwood said the closure has been months in the making and is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an interview with CBC’s Radio Active, he said changes in the music industry, including new technology that makes it easier and cheaper for artists to produce their own recordings, were among his reasons for shutting the business down.

A local recording studio is closing its doors after almost 20 years of making music. We talk with Stew Kirkwood of Sound Extractor Studios. 8:05

“I’ll still be active as a producer and engineer,” he said on Thursday, adding that he would be happy to mentor up-and-coming musicians and share his knowledge as an elder statesman in Edmonton’s music scene.

Kirkwood opened Sound Extractor Studios in 2002, re-purposing the Quesnell Racquetball Club’s home himself at 149th Street and 87th Avenue.

Over the years, he produced the work of dozens of local musicians.

On occasion, celebrities came calling.

“I had an agent in L.A. [and] every time an artist was coming through Edmonton and had some time off to do some recording, they’d call me,” he said.

Kirkwood worked with Keith Urban and Justin Bieber. He even fielded calls from Kanye West’s management team. 

“Stew is an incredible producer and multi-instrumentalist,” Edmonton singer-songwriter Karimah said Friday. 

Kirkwood produced Karimah’s forthcoming album, This is the End. (Its release has been postponed due to the pandemic).

Karimah said Kirkwood was a creative, supportive and respectful producer.

“I can’t say enough good things about him and his work,” she said.

Looking back on the studio’s history, Kirkwood said he remembers the musicians the most.

“For me, it’s about the people as much as it is about the music,” he said.

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