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Umi Wagoner’s Tacoma: Shed Studios - The Passion of PracticeAeroplane Icon
Umi Wagoner
November 28, 2022
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Timing is so crucial to starting a business and any sustainable small business owner will vouch for that. But it’s not just timing of course, your entry into the market needs to be impressive as well. Shed Studios has both and it’s been working for them ever since. It also has the golden ticket, location, on the corner of Opera Alley in the 705 Court C building so there’s decent parking and depending on the time you’re surrounded by food and entertainment. 

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On its most basic level the Shed is a photo studio, one with good rates that photo veterans enjoy and isn’t a barrier to entry level photographers. The studio is spacious and has the capacity for a set director to transform the space into a multitude of things. There’s a nice Bluetooth speaker that fills the room well, colored backdrops that are easy to rotate and plenty of storage space for excess gear and equipment casing. A feature and benefit that not every photo studio has the ability to provide is natural lighting but Shed Studios has plenty of it. They also provide a few professional lighting options for an additional fee. It’s a pretty full service operation for a studio opening post-pandemic. 

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The key to their success has been their ability to integrate in the community around them right when the doors opened. Not only have they formed bonds with other businesses in their building but they’ve done well with neighboring businesses too. A part of that is the unique way they utilize the space on a more complex level. The other side of their business is DJing. The owners are part of a DJ collective that has performed on the ALMA rooftop and Shed Studios is home to their Twitch. But they aren’t the only act to perform in the space, the Tacoma band Enumclaw and artist/engineer Noah have performed there to name a couple. They host pole dancing performances as well because of their growing relationship with Birds of Paradise.

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I was able to catch DJ, photographer and owner Wyat for a short interview: 

Besides yourself, who else is notable to the Shed Studios staff and culture and why?

Shed came from a group of friends, so there are many people to thank. But I'll take the time to name two in particular: Chase Mattox & Rafael Ramirez. It's fair to say they moved to Tacoma in support of the movement.

Chase, in particular, built an entire PC to bring our livestream series (which was an outlet for dj's during lockdown) to the next level. We no longer use it as much, but it’s what got us started. Not to mention his skill set in photography and videography has pushed our brand forward in the best of ways.

Rafael has been along for the journey since the day party that started it all. He has always been THE music encyclopedia of the crew, but it was shed. that gave him the platform to put his knowledge into action through the art of DJ'ing. He keeps his ears to the streets and networks with artists from Tacoma to Bellingham. Not to mention he always stays till the end of parties to help pack up. Even if it's three in the morning.

Quick shoutout to the roster: Arijanna, Monching, Taylor, Vida, Marcel, Ken, & EZ.

From your perspective, what do DJing and photography have in common?

Both are leadership roles. For ultimate success, both require preparation work. Both require you to create an energy and deliver it with grace, or recognize when that energy is off and adjust accordingly to make your client or audience feel comfortable. It's a dance baby!

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What’s the coolest thing about Tacoma that isn’t Shêd studios? 

It could be the view of Mount Rainier. I lived in Seattle for a few years and used to call Tacoma “Seattle-Lite”. I don't really like comparing the two any longer, but the fact of the matter is we have a lot of amazing things in this city. The views of Commencement Bay, Point Defiance Park, and amazing places to get food, all without the crowds. Not to mention the growing community of creatives. But if Seattle thinks Rainier is their mountain, they have to reevaluate that thought if they hang out down here for a bit.

If you could pick any place on Earth to spend your 40s where do you pick?

I'm going to go with NYC. I need to be near water, and I need to be near cutting-edge creativity/design. I've never been there so it's full of unknowns, which I'd like to still be exploring in my 40s.

Who are your favorite Djs right now?

Ivy Lab; producers, and DJs. They are paving the way for half-time and future bass music. I'd describe their sound as "sexy" and their record label: Twenty Twenty London has become a hub for artists challenging the status quo. Very inspirational for me and what shed. can create.

Locally I'd like to highlight DJ Nayiram from Ghana. He's been pushing Afrobeats & Amapiano up in South Seattle for a year or two now. Amazing human and DJ/producer. He's even been featured in The Seattle Times for his work. But he lives in Tacoma!

Send us to your favorite mix rn, it could even be yours.

I'm going to highlight Balamii Radio. You can listen to them 24/7 on Apple Music or their website. Big ups Peckham of South London! Londoners are so ahead of Americans in terms of music taste. From Jazz to Afro-Electronica. Grime, Breaks, UK Bass. Soulful House, Reggae, Dub. We’re familiar with these genres but they take it one step deeper because it’s the source for a lot of emerging sounds. They feature hour-long sets by DJs and producers and it's how I start most of my days.

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