School house of rock

Recording Engineer Nick Ginn tweaking and tracking at School House Studios

Recording Engineer Nick Ginn tweaking and tracking at School House Studios.


When recording engineer Nick Ginn decided to open a studio of his own, he didn’t think he would be going back to school.

On May 1, Ginn opened School House Studios in Dundas, Ont. with the hopes of working with a diverse palette of artists ranging from pop rock to hip hop and everything in between.

“I don’t want to be one of those studios or producers that gets typecast,” said Ginn. “I want to have a metal band doing an album, and then finish that up, work with an acoustic folk rock band and then a pop punk album.”

As the name suggests, the studio is an old schoolhouse built in the late 19th century that Ginn and his father repurposed to a recording studio.

Most of the interior of the studio has been updated and rebuilt to accommodate the sound as well as the artists.

Margot Walker tracking in the live room

Margot Walker tracking in the live room.

What was once a second bathroom is now an office, a spare room has been outfitted with video games and couches to crash on, and the original classroom now houses a control room and – separated by two sets of sliding doors – a live room.

The live room, where the bulk of the performance takes place, still holds a few relics from the past. Three large chalkboards cover the back wall, and several old novels and textbooks sit on a shelf in the corner.

The studio is a far cry from when it was a local biker gang’s hangout in the ‘30s and ‘40s.

“When I say biker gang I mean more of a group of friends that were motorcycle enthusiasts,” said Ginn. “It was their hangout for a number of years until a few guys joined and were trying to turn it into an actual biker gang. The original guys were like ‘no that’s not what this is about’ so it sort of disbanded from there.”

The biker gang originally bought the property from the school board for a dollar.

After disbanding, the owner of the property lived in the building for a year while he built a house, where Ginn’s landlord now lives.

Ginn has been playing music since the age of 12, and currently plays drums in Hamilton-based metal band Them Thieves.

In 2007, Ginn attended Recording Arts Canada.  After receiving his diploma in Audio Engineering, he worked at the now-closed Mastermind Studios and Hive Studios, both located in Hamilton.

Ginn says that understanding what a band wants is the most important part of making a record.

“I think that listening to song references, listening to previous recordings from the artist, and talking about the direction of where the artist wants the record to go beforehand helps make that happen,” said Ginn.

Mississauga-based punk band Deadly Hopefuls recorded their latest record, Pretty Soon, in School House Studios last summer.

In a phone conversation, bassist/vocalist Brent Peers spoke about Ginn’s ability to adapt and experiment.

“There was a lot of on-the-fly tweaking that he was really on top of,” said Peers. “He was able to sort of accommodate what we wanted to do. He was also able to just make suggestions and play a bit of a producer role.  It was a lot of fun, it was really smooth and even schedules were flexible.”

At the age of 31, Peers is a seasoned veteran of the Ontario music scene.  He plays in several bands, he manages a small independent record label called Attaco, and has taken on an engineering role on several of projects.

“Nick and I would sit there and compare notes,” said Peers. ”He’s confident in himself, but he’ll listen.”

Andrew Matys does not trust you

Andrew Matys does not trust you.

School House Studios welcomes bands of all shapes and sizes, granted that you stick to a small piece of advice from Ginn: “If you’re a singer with a 10 a.m. vocals session, don’t go to work on two hours of sleep and 12 hours drinking before that two hours of sleep.”

To book time at School House Studios, contact Nick Ginn at

To listen to Deadly Hopefuls’ Pretty Soon, go to