Growing up in Pictou County, N.S., as an aspiring hip-hop artist, Jordan Mackie would drive three hours just to get studio access.
In April, they created Mackie's Mobile Studio — a door-to-door music production studio aimed at artists who have trouble accessing traditional studios to record, including those living in rural Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.
"I was driving three hours away to Sydney and was dealing with some producers where I'd pay them to record my music and wouldn't get it back," said Mackie, who uses they/them pronouns. "I had to pay for gas, hotels, meals on top of studio time, it was really hard."
Mackie came up with the idea for the mobile studio during the pandemic when they had an abundance of music they wanted to put out.
They couldn't get studio time due to public health regulations, so they built their own. Mackie realized a portable music studio could be a long-term solution in fixing the accessibility challenges for artists in Nova Scotia.
Have studio, will travel
Mackie's Mobile Studio is believed to be the first of its kind in the Maritimes.
Mackie still lives in Pictou County, but spends their days driving to all corners of the region, producing for all artists ranging from award winners to aspiring singers.
Some of their days start in the wee hours of the morning and finish well past midnight, but Mackie said helping artists with barriers to studio access is worth the long hours.
"I just feel like a direct door-to-door service is something that we need because not everybody can get out of the house," Mackie said.
"Some people have health issues that are still afraid to go out because of COVID-19, have mental health conditions, don't have transportation or maybe you live in the boonies and don't have a studio within 100 kilometres of them."
'They straight up know what I want'
Tevin Nicholas is a hip-hop artist who goes by the stage name of K.U.$.H. He performs in both English and Mi'kmaw. In the past, he often had to make the 3½-hour drive to Eskasoni from the Sipekne'katik First Nation to record his music.
Nicholas said recording with Mackie's Mobile Studio is a much more convenient
"My car broke down not too long ago, so I can't even go to Cape Breton at the moment," Nicholas said. "It's just a better experience because it's stress-free. Sometimes going up to Cape Breton, I'd get burnout from the travel and you could forget equipment."
Nicholas said Mackie's Mobile Studio rates are as affordable as other studios, but it comes straight to him. He said the close relationship the duo has sets the service apart.
"Projects can take up to months on end, but Mackie is so open and willing to talk," said Nicholas. "Mackie comes straight to my house and they straight up know what I want."
Mackie can produce a song for Nicholas within the same day of it being recorded.
Relaxing recording environment
Megan St. Rose is a pop and folk artist based out of Halifax. She is also a vocalist for the heavy metal band Vormir.
St. Rose deals with complex PTSD, ADHD and anxiety. She said in the past, going to certain home studios had been a triggering experience, so having Mackie come to her is more comfortable.
"I've been in an environment where I pay by the hour and they bring substances. I just can't be around that," St. Rose said. "When I'm in my own environment, I've already set up everything for maximum efficiency and productivity."
St. Rose says being able to record at home is helping her performance.
"When it comes to anxiety, you get a lot of tension up in your throat and shoulders," St. Rose said. "I know what tools I need to relax in my environment, so it translates to a better recording at the end of the day."
Mackie said they are currently producing for more than a dozen clients and hopes to offer a mobile recording studio inside of a van in the future.
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