A lot is Happening at the UW Oshkosh Studio

nate-uw-oshkosh-studio

The university studio has been keeping very busy this semester, both with projects and repairs! One of the main studio courses that I teach in the Spring is a group class called “Session and Mixdown”. In the course, we record bands and musicians together as a group and then students get together and create the mixes from what we recorded in class.

studio-mixer-uw-oshkosh

Our first project was to record the band, “The Present Age”, who won this year’s Battle of the Bands! Logan and Isaac did a fantastic job tracking the song, and we are also looking forward to recording an a cappella group this week.

care-repair-1

In addition to the studio sessions and student projects, we have also been busy with our Care & Repair class. Some of the studio upkeep projects have included fixing channels on the mixing console, replacing bulbs, re-soldering cables, and generally keeping the space clean and tidy.

care-repair-2

It’s been great to see the studio keeping busy following all of our upgrades, and I look forward to putting on the final touches by the end of the semester. There’s also a studio tour video that I have been working on, and I am excited to share it very soon.

Recording with Cody Statz in the Studio

studio-guitars

It’s almost February, which also means that school is just about to kick back into gear for the Spring semester. As I get geared up, I also wanted to share a recording experience from during the interim break. Longtime friend Cody Statz reached out to me about recording a full-length album, which I was very pleased and excited to be a part of as recording engineer and producer. The project also includes bassist Mike Meske and drummer David Lamb.

drum-set

We only had about five days to record all of Cody’s original songs for the album, and so it was a tight timeframe, but we put in some long hours in the studio and managed to complete all that we set out to do. It was a fun creative process to shape the songs and solidify the vision that Cody is creating for the album. Without revealing too much, the overall themes revolve around his experiences  working in the film industry while living in Los Angeles.

cody-piano1

At one point doing the recoding process, we noticed that one of the Oshkosh a cappella groups was practicing in the choir room. We jumped on the opportunity to ask if they would be willing to perform a vocal part for one of Cody’s songs. They were not only willing, but very excited to be a part of it! I’m especially looking forward to building that particular song.

acappella-group

We still have a lot of steps to the mixing and overdubbing process, which will include more musical collaborations, but the process is going really well and I can’t wait to share more as we continue to work toward a completed project, likely later this year.

2016 Year in Review

I already have a New Year’s Resolution to get back into the habit of making regular blog posts! Since we started prepping to make our move from South Dakota back to Wisconsin earlier this year, things have been pretty crazy, but in a lot of great ways. The most noteworthy were:

  • Taking the position of Director of Recording Technology at UW Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
  • Finishing a packed and exciting first semester in my new position, with lots of work updating the studio and creating an updated curriculum
  • Both selling our home in Madison, South Dakota, and buying a new one in Oshkosh. (We miss you all!)
  • The completion of my latest original album, Far Away From Here featuring vocals and artwork by Cassie, and also including the musical talents of some great friends including Michael Gaylor, Jim Thuli, Paul Otteson, Tony Memmel, and Jacob Tews.
  • Playing an album release show at The Brickhouse in Madison, SD, as well as an outdoor festival gig at Strawbale Winery near Sioux Falls
  • Hosting the band Condor earlier this year as one of the last local folk concerts that I was a part of in Madison, SD. (but I’m glad to see that the series is still going strong!)

director-sign

There’s a whole lot of work still to do in my new position, but I’m looking forward to the challenges. I’m also making it a goal to kick my acoustic performances back into gear and get my music out there more than ever. Cassie has also continued to keep very busy between her art career (lots of solo and group shows) and teaching courses at DSU. There’s a lot to be grateful for. Happy 2016!

cassnate-wedding

Students Keeping Busy in the Studio

uwo-gear-1

It’s been quite a transition in getting used to the UW Oshkosh curriculum and studios, but things are coming along nicely and students have been doing all kinds of projects in the studio throughout the semester. In one course in particular, Studio Procedures, we have been recording a variety of instruments from piano to saxophone.

uwo-students-1

For each session, we test a number of microphones in various positions, such as here on the upright bass. Comparing mic positions helps us to learn which positions are most effective for the various instruments and how to best mix them after recording.

uwo-students-3

Above, David plays his hand-built guitar as we test various mic positions on electric guitar. We’re going to continue learning the studio and updating the facilities as the semester continues. I’m looking forward to where we’ll end up when the updates are all complete!

 

Three months later… Back to Oshkosh!

train-pose

It’s been a wild three months since my last blog post, so I better get caught up! In that time, we managed to pack up our home in South Dakota, and four days later, move in to our new house in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, close to 500 miles away. During the course of the move, I also had the opportunity to play an acoustic concert at an outdoor festival at Strawbale Winery.

winery-concert

At the beginning of September, I took over as Director of Recording Technology at UW Oshkosh. It’s been both a fun and very busy start to the semester. I have a packed schedule of courses and have also been doing a lot of work on the university recording studio.

hangar-wide-angle

Another major event last month was the “Installation” ceremony for the University’s new Chancellor, Andrew Levitt. I assisted with sound setup in the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Hangar next to the museum. It was a new and great learning experience to help with sound in a room that large.

We have been enjoying the great Fall weather as we reconnect with some old friends and get to know some new ones as we re-familiarize ourselves with the city. It’s already starting to feel like home! Much more to come…

Live from the Brickhouse

nate-stage

We had a fantastic album release show at the Brickhouse in downtown Madison in early June. It was especially great to perform with former DSU students, Kyle Vis on guitar and Derek Carlson playing percussion on cajon for several songs. The audience turnout was great, and it was really special to perform for so many supportive friends. Paul Schipper and Nolan Moser produced the video for two songs, “Distant Call” and “Bury Down”, posted below:

Moving to Oshkosh, Album Now Available!

It’s been a while since I last posted because we are very busy selling our house in South Dakota and hunting for a new place to live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin! It’s an equally exciting and stressful time, but we know there is a lot to look forward to once we make it to our new destination.

There will be more updates on that to come, but in the mean time, my album, “Far Away From Here” is finally officially available! It is posted online to stream via bandcamp.com, and can also be purchased on CD. I also have a couple of exciting shows coming up, including a show in late June at Prairie Berry East Bank in Sioux Falls, and at an event called the “Folk Off and Rib Challenge” at the end of July at Strawbale Winery, just north of Sioux Falls. Enjoy the new album, it’s summertime!

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=872602549/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/artwork=small/transparent=true/

Album Pre-Release and First Track

I’m pleased to share that I have posted the first (and title) track from the upcoming album, “Far Away From Here”, available on May 19th! This track is about those times when we feel a desire just to temporarily escape from whatever is happening in our world and just get away from it all.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=872602549/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=975890030/transparent=true/

“Far Away From Here” Release Date: May 19th

COVER-WEB-FINAL

My new original album, “Far Away From Here”, will be available for download and purchase on May 19th, but I will also be posting up early tracks and previews very soon. I have an album release concert schedule for Wednesday, May 6th at the Brickhouse in Downtown Madison, SD. Track postings are coming soon! Here is a description of the upcoming album:

“…Like a lonely lost survivor floating at sea.”

This line, from the minimalistic acoustic track, “High and Dry”, came to me one summer day in the midst of a long drive across the stark South Dakota landscape. It exemplified a feeling that I think we all have on occasion as we stumble through our lives, searching for answers, fighting through our fears, and teaching ourselves to let go.

In this culmination of several years of writing and recording, I narrowed the theme to time and travel… a means of sharing my struggles with the existential search for meaning and the answers to why we’re here. Creating this album was was a time of intense growth, both as a songwriter, recording engineer, and as a person.

During this process, I had the pleasure of working with many phenomenally talented musicians, both locally and long-distance. From audio production students assisting with engineering, to sharing tracks several states over via the web. Michael Gaylor (Chemistry Professor by day, drum wizard by night) and Jim Thuli built percussive moods, Wisconsin songwriters Paul Otteson and Tony Memmel brought their haunting vocal harmonies into the mix, and composer and professor Jacob Tews added a cinematic flair through his viola performances. Not to mention, my wife Cassie contributing the gorgeous watercolor cover artwork, as well as her gentle harmony vocals.

I hope that your experience with the album allows you to connect in some way through my exploration of those personal challenges and battles that we likely all share in common. Sometimes we just feel that drive to be “Far Away From Here”…

My Favorite Guitar Effects

A while back, I posted about some of my favorite go-to plug-ins that I have been using for my upcoming album (set for release in May!). Now I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the guitar effects that I have used. Most of the tracks feature electric guitar in some capacity, and generally speaking, like to use it to set a mood through use of textures and rhythmic interaction. Here’s some of the methods that I use to achieve this.

tc-electronic-flashback-630-80

TC Electronic Flashback X4 Delay

Delay is one of my most used and loved effects for guitar. A shorter delay can simply give a roomy feel to a guitar sound, while a longer delay can create interesting soundscapes and rhythmic textures in the vein of the now infamous style of U2’s the Edge. I tend to like setting the delay sound to emulate a tape delay so that it darkens and becomes slightly dirtier sounding as it fades away. “Distant Call”, on the upcoming album, is a good example of a track that will use layered guitars with delays in order to generate textures.

line6-verbzilla

Line6 Verbzilla

I also love using reverb in tandem with delay effects. This can help to add to the “wash” sort of effect, and lengthen out tones. It really can make the electric guitar sound very beautiful and spacious. Typically, I like setting the reverb to a brighter “plate” sort of sound (plate refers to when studios would use sound vibration on large fiberglass sheets to create a reverb effect), but a “spring” reverb is also a common and effective type of reverb to use with a guitar amp.

ehx-knockout

Electro-Harmoix Knockout

This probably isn’t one that you’ll see on as many pedal boards, but I love the tone manipulation possibilities that this pedal brings. It acts as a sort of 3-way tone equalizer, and can even be set more extreme so that your guitar sounds like it has a different type of pickups (like making a Strat sound like a Telecaster). I generally prefer to use it just to give a gentle high and low end boost, which further enhances the tone when coming into the amp.

tube-screamer

Ibanez Tube Screamer

This is perhaps one of the most classic and well-known pedals of all time. The Tubescreamer is what is known as an overdrive pedal. It serves to boost and add drive to your signal, which ultimately results in more distortion and break-up of the sound when it goes through the amplifier. You will here a wide variety of overdrive levels on the album, from totally clean tones, to loud and dirty overdrives, and most everything in-between. It’s a very versatile tool.

ernie-ball-vp

Ernie Ball Volume

This last one isn’t exactly an effect, per se, but it’s very important to the overall shape of the tone in some of the songs. A volume pedal can be useful for creating “swells” which slows down the attack of a note and makes it sound smoother. It takes away the recognizable pluck sound of a guitar, and can even make it sound more like a bowed instrument such as a violin. When used in front of a delay and reverb, the sound trails can create some really magical moods and textures that you’ll hear throughout the album, even if far off in the distance.