Creation stories fascinate me. Every culture has its own narrative that describes its beginnings and how the world began; how its own people began. Creation stories often survive by oral tradition, being passed from generation to generation. Kirkland’s own Northwest University, however, has its own interesting creation story rooted not in oral tradition, but in musical tradition.
Creatio is a recording arts and music industry initiative at Northwest University. It focuses on fostering musical creativity by utilizing state-of-the-art recording devices and sound engineering equipment and is the brainchild of Jeff Lockhart and Steve Smith. Both seasoned music industry veterans, Steve Smith is a Grammy winner, while is an accomplished musician and himself a graduate of Northwest University.
The studio facilitates the university’s Music Industry Business and Contemporary Music Industry/Recording Arts Technologies degrees. With many new students participating in these programs, the university expects enrollment will double in the near future. Creatio is not exclusively for educational use, however. Creatio helps produce commercial recordings for major Hollywood films like Disney’s Up and musical soundtracks for shows at Las Vegas hotels like the Wynn.
Last week I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Jeff and Steve for a tour of the studio. Creatio is currently housed in the basement of the Barton Building – the former Seahawk headquarters, where there are still Seahawk emblems on the entryway door handles and extra wide hallways large enough to accommodate 300-pound linemen.
The studio has three components: a control room in which the soundboard and engineering equipment is installed complete with a creative workstation (called "Mama Bear"), which is flanked by two soundproof recording rooms on either side that are separated by sliding glass doors (dubbed "Papa Bear" and "Baby Bear"). A multi-colored glow washes the studio’s walls with soft light that is conducive to its creative purpose. And the large cutting edge sound engineering screens generate a heat that incubates the creative process.
In a room down the hall from the studio, former Seahawk players used to watch game-tapes on Monday mornings. Now, there are sixteen new Macs that run advanced sound editing software for the students’ use.
Most of the original commercial compositions edited at the Creatio studio are recorded in the chapel at Bastyr University. That will, hopefully, change in the near future. Fundraising efforts are currently underway to create a soundstage that will be the largest north of George Lucas’s recording studio in San Francisco.
I hope to see Creatio raise enough money to fund its new endeavor. Until then, however, Creatio helps remind me that we are all artists, actors, entrepreneurs, authors, musicians and, well, creators. And each one of us has a story to tell.
Trent Latta is an attorney and current member of Kirkland’s Cultural Council. He may be reached at TrentLatta@gmail.com.