Desert Companion

No Brakes Necessary

The Gas Station Studios began as a music production spot — but it’s gaining momentum as a North Las Vegas creative hub


Tucked away on Losee Road’s automotive corridor, The Gas Station Studios has nothing to do with cars — but everything to do with fueling local talent. That was the aim of Tyler Gaston when he launched the North Las Vegas music production business with his spouse and business partner Tiana Shai in 2016. “It was really important for me to bring quality, professionalism, and production value to North Las Vegas,” he says. “Because I care about our stories and what we bring to music.”

Also known as King Gas (adapted from a nickname he earned as a UNLV football defensive lineman), Gaston has considerable Vegas roots and a respectable production résumé. He’s worked with artists ranging from Adina Howard to Tech N9ne to Adrian Crutchfield (Prince’s saxophonist). Songs that Gaston has produced have been licensed to popular shows such as Love After Lockup, All-American, and United Shades of America. But his ambitions for The Gas Station Studios have always gone beyond merely turning out songs, albums, and podcasts; from the start, he’s envisioned the studio as a fertile creative hub for the valley’s hip-hop and R&B community.

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“It’s about bringing more opportunity to the city,” Gaston says, “and showing young people here that it’s not far-fetched to have a career in music or the arts.”

That ambition drove Gaston and his team earlier this year to begin producing The Blueprint — think Tiny Desk Concerts for local talent — as well as hosting events such as the increasingly popular The Cookout, a live battle-rap series. He’s also deployed The Gas Station as a classroom, teaching music production classes to youth enrolled in Clark County’s gang intervention program. It’s little surprise that The Gas Station has since become a waypoint through which anyone interested or invested in the Vegas hip-hop scene passes.

“It’s ironic that the Entertainment Capital of the World doesn’t actually facilitate the growth of entertainers and artists, people who add to that economy,” Gaston says. “I see The Gas Station as a model for other businesses that are not only creating jobs in this industry, but also building a pathway for local creatives to work in digital media and film without having to relocate to a city like L.A.”

Film too? That’s right. Now The Gas Station is really kicking into high gear: Gaston and Shai recently opened an entirely new wing next door that hosts a complete film studio with seven individually themed sets. After purchasing the building, Gaston and Shai spent the last five months renovating and redesigning the space with their business manager, Damian Hicks. What had previously been a mechanic’s shop now features multiple film sets, including a jungle-themed room with four walls of artificial greenery, a mock courtroom and jail cell, and a room dubbed “The Matrix” with a wall full of LED screens. They’ve also got two more sets under construction.

“Being artists ourselves, it was fairly easy to pinpoint what was missing here in the valley,” Shai says. “Jail cells and prison sets are one of the most popular concepts for hip-hop visuals, but before we built ours, the closest one was in L.A. Similarly, when looking for locations with lush greenery to shoot my video, we couldn’t find a suitable place nearby.”

Other sets in the film studio follow a similar stylistic intent — to fill the visual concept gaps in the Vegas production scene, and to make each set immersive and flexible enough to serve everyone from content creators to professional filmmakers. A number of artists and filmmakers have already used the new film wing to produce short-form projects and music videos, including a new video for Adina Howard’s “Keep Lookin.” One of the initiatives Gaston and Shai are most excited about is their plan to work directly with UNLV’s Department of Film and young, aspiring filmmakers throughout the valley.

“Through our outreach in the community — from the projects produced here to the platforms we make to share and promote those projects — we can highlight the way that Vegas culture is built by creatives from the inside,” Gaston says. “There’s so much beyond the Strip.”

Whether The Gas Station is pumping out new films, developing Vegas’ next breakout artist, or showcasing local talent at live events, Gaston hints that the studio’s evolution into a North Las Vegas cultural hub has only just begun. “Without giving the plans away, we have a few ideas about how we can make The Gas Station a space where people in the community come together not just to create culture, but to enjoy it as well.”  Φ

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