SAINT JOHN – Renowned recording engineer Paul Milner relocated to Saint John from PEI less than two years ago, but is already making his mark on the local music industry.
Milner launched Trillium House Studios, a state of the art recording facility, in 2018 and has since recorded several local and national musicians under its roof.
Centred around an MTA 980 recording/mixing console previously owned by Radiohead, Trillium House offers digital and analogue recording options, and a variety of recording spaces for artists to explore.
Milner chose his location, 98 Wentworth Street, for its architectural character and proximity to Saint John’s vibrant uptown core.
“I came here to do meetings, and I brought my wife one sunny afternoon in September,” he says. “There were cruise ships in and the place was just hopping, and she thought it was pretty cool.
“A little later we started looking online at real estate and saw these great big brick mansions. It would be hard to find something with this character in Toronto and Vancouver – I don’t even know if they exist there, because they’ve all been levelled. Where else in the world can you get something like this? You can’t.”
A thirty-five year veteran of the Canadian music industry, Milner has recorded dozens of acts worldwide, including Keith Richards, Queensryche, and Eddy Grant, winning several awards and selling over twenty-five million albums.
He also worked as a talent scout for several record labels, discovering bands such as I Mother Earth, National Velvet, The Headstones, and The Doughboys in the process.
“It was the early 90s in the Toronto, all the bar owners knew me, and I spent almost every night in the clubs,” says Milner. “There were all these great young bands playing the clubs, and I had the chance to work on development with these guys. The Headstones just put out a new compilation, and it actually has the early demos I recorded of all their big hits.”
Relocating to the East Coast in 2004. Milner continued his string of success, working with award-winning artists such as Matt Andersen, Meaghan Blanchard, and the Terry Whalen Band. While some people initially questioned the decision to move to a rural setting, for Milner it made sense.
“People would ask why I moved to the middle of the potato fields, and I said, ‘Why not? It’s a beautiful place.’” says Milner. “I was already established, so it didn’t really matter where I lived. I worked on 140 albums in the 10 years I was there, and I had clients come in from Switzerland, France, and the States, have a vacation and do a record.”
Milner is hoping to replicate this success in Saint John. He’s sharing his engineering skills with local acts such as Whitewater and the Hammond River Collective, as well as tracking national clients such as Deanna Ouelette (Siggy Robert). With a steady stream of activity at his new facility, Milner is optimistic that Trillium House will firmly establish itself in the New Brunswick music industry.
“There’s a nice music scene here, people are working to make things happen, and I have clients from Saskatoon, Toronto, Sweden, and Poland,” he says. “I’m fairly optimistic.”
Chuck Teed is a freelance writer in Saint John.