Hidden just outside Seattle in the natural beauty of Woodinville, Washington, Bear Creek Studio blends world-class recording with a relaxing retreat. Artist including the Lumineers, Lionel Richie, Built to Spill and Soundgarden spent time wandering among the trees and laying down tracks in the large cabin-like studio space. Now, as part of the winter season finale of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters (which airs this Friday), the Bear Creek complex boasts a new studio amidst the branches. The episode details the design and construction of a treehouse studio and concludes with a christening visit and performance by Cee Lo Green.
While Treehouse Masters host and builder Pete Nelson might look more like youth pastor than rocker, he’s actually a knowledgeable music lover. He hosts a summer concert series at his Treehouse Point retreat in nearby Fall City, Washington, and has even been known to frequent South by Southwest scouting out and inviting artists to come play. “I heard about how much of a music fan Pete was,” says Bear Creek proprietor and producer Ryan Hadlock. “We invited him out to come see the place, and he immediately knew a lot of the pictures [we have up]. He saw a picture of me and Stephen and was like, ‘That’s Stephen Malkmus!’ It’s like, wow, not everyone knows Stephen Malkmus. It seemed like a really cool fit.”
The treehouse studio rests in a Western Redcedar and anchored to seven neighboring trees for support. Inside, the two-story structure combines cabin chic with modern recording sophistication. It’s designed as a one-on-one space for recording vocals and acoustic guitar. Special thick cork panels dampen the sound and let the reverberations drift up into the high ceiling. The treehouse should offer an alternative to performers who might be suffering from writer’s block in Bear Creek’s main studio.
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While Ryan runs the operations now days, Bear Creek Studio is a family affair. Ryan’s father Joe founded the space in 1977 and helped Nelson design the treehouse studio. And Ryan’s wife can often be found chasing around their young son and daughter as they scurry around the property.
For Cee Lo’s part, Treehouse Masters marks another stop on The Voice judge’s ever-expanding IMDB credits, which range from American Dad to the upcoming Goodie Mob reality show on TBS, Cee Lo Green’s The Good Life. The only televised itch he still wants to scratch is a dramatic one. “I’ve become most synonymous with my sense of style; sense of humor,” Cee Lo says. “I haven’t done anything serious, so I would like to a drama of some sort. I would like to be a gang leader on Sons of Anarchy or own a lemonade stand on Boardwalk Empire.”
Check below to watch a preview clip of Treehouse Masters showcasing the new studio and Cee Lo’s arrival. To see the full creation of Bear Creek’s new treehouse studio and Cee Lo’s visit, tune in to Animal Planet this Friday, February 21st at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.