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Spartan Fist is OUT!

What is Spartan Fist?

As the game’s page says: “Fight your way to fame, fortune and glory in this first-person puncher as you work to retrieve the fabled Spartan Fist. Playing as Emma Jones, a down-and-out detective working to earn her keep, youโ€™ll tap your inner badass as you punch dudes so hard they explode. Navigate through an arena thatโ€™s different each time you play and delve into a whimsically gritty and colorfully punk pixilated world while fighting your way to the top.”

Steam link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/632170/Spartan_Fist/

You can stream and purchase the soundtrack here:

Spartan Fist is probably one of the most aggressive games I’ve ever scored! It’s a first person puncher for crying out loud! ๐Ÿ˜› When Megan Fox, the owner and creative force behind Glass Bottom Games, approached me about Emma Jones and her next adventure, I was definitely intrigued. Like with Hot Tin Roof, where we fused chiptune and noir style jazz together, we knew that we wanted to fuse chiptune music with something. But what? What style would best fit the gritty world of punching dudes so hard they explode?!

The answer, of course, was punk.

Admittedly, punk music wasn’t a style I was super versed in. I’d heard of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. I’d played Rockband during college. I’d even heard some more modern punk-ish style bands but punk music wasn’t easily in my wheel house. Enter an old friend of mine, Ben Cockerham! Besides being one of NYC’s most dapper dressers and a great guitarist well versed in funk, jazz and many other styles – Ben knew how to make punk sounds. This album wouldn’t have been possible without his help! Thank you Ben! Check out some of his great work here: http://bencockerham.com/music/

The voice of Emma Jones this time is played by Fryda Wolff. She’s been in a lot of cool things that you’ve probably heard of – Trolls The Beat Goes On, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Tall Tales Series to name just a few. Go check out all of her work here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1488849/

Finally Megan Fox has been a pure JOY to work with. It’s rare to find a client that will push you into areas you don’t initially feel comfortable. Or ready for. But she’s just that type of client. The way we work together is pure collaboration and it’s a ton of fun! Check out the game and more of Megan’s work here: http://spartanfist.com/

A quick note about this soundtrack

In the song listing you’ll see “No melody” versions along side “Arena versions” and “Boss fight” versions of songs. Most people know what Boss fight means but “No melody” and “Arena” are a bit more vague. The “No melody” versions appear in the game when you’re going in between arenas. So much of the soundtrack is completely in your face, front and center that we wanted to give the player a little bit of a reprieve (but not too much!) before they re-enter the fray. The “Arena versions” of the tracks are what you’d hear while fighting in the… well… arena. Simple right? For the “Boss fights” we wanted to increase the already high energy to a new level because you’re fighting a boss. This is a big deal. Those bosses are pretty tough… and big.

This soundtrack is completely different from almost anything else I’ve ever done. And I think it fits the world of Spartan Fist very well. I hope you enjoy it. And watch out for the left hook. It can sneak up on ya.

Want to work with me on a project? Reach out! I’d love to partner up with you!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

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Moving! And two new videos!

It’s been a good long while since I’ve updated this site! Sorry about that!

So some news – we’re moving BACK to Austin, TX. SGI is relocating me to the Austin branch to assist with audio needs down there and this will put us much closer to our families again. It’s a generous and amazing offer from SGI and we’re thrilled to accept it. Leaving Iowa will be bittersweet because it’s been a wonderful place for our family. Great people – beautiful nature and some really great places to eat! Moving, especially across multiple states, is never easy. So good thoughts, positive vibes and plenty of chocolate donations would be greatly appreciated! ๐Ÿ˜›

Also I’m still busy writing music and producing sound for SGI as well as freelancing on a film project as the sound designer and mixer, finishing up Spartan Fist’s music and audio as well as finishing up a few other unannounced projects on the side. Busy times! Below are two of my more recent releases – Treasure of Cortez and Monopoly Colossal Boardwalk. I hope you enjoy them!

Much more music and sound to come as things continue to be made public. Madsen Studios LLC will take a break in a few weeks with all of the moving craziness but we’ll be back in business once we’re settled in Austin! If you need audio – hit me up. I’d love to chat with you.

Bio:

Nate Madsen is a 13 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SGI for almost two years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. And he’s considering taking up the bagpipes. He’s currently in Cedar Falls, IA but, if you’re read this post above, you now know he’s moving back to Austin, TX. His favorite color is green.

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A Tense Moment – 48 hour film project

48 hours to make a film?!

During the summer, I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, hosted in Austin, TX. It was a blast! For those not familiar with the festival/contest, teams are given 48 hours to create, write, film, edit and produce a short film in 48 hours. To keep things interesting, all submissions had to work in:

– a character’s name
– a prop
– a certain line of dialog

Teams also had to genres randomly assigned to them and could pick which one they wanted to use. It’s a very fun, challenging and fast pace contest! Our film, Until Death Do Us Part, was nominated for eight awards and won four of them! Here’s my favorite music cue from this project:

The whole film should be released to the public soon. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t taken part in a 48 hour film project yet, do it! It’s so much fun.

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You Again – Web Series

In the beginning…

Back in December 2015, I started writing music for a unique, clever and funny web-series called You Again. The musical style is a fusion of different genres and approaches including some jazz mixed with light, comical orchestral, retro video game music and even some Celtic-like elements. Over the months I’ve been writing music and revising cues for each episode. For the most part, things were good with the usual bumps and back-and-forth that any show experiences during production. Then, due to circumstances outside of our control, we found ourselves without the intro music we were planning on licensing for the show’s intro/teaser.

We needed a theme song… and FAST.

The intro is a montage of quirky, fun actions by the two leads of the show and the vibe of the music needed to be fun, energetic, humorous and engaging. The track that we were going to license was a Celtic song filled with fast violin runs, accordion, hand percussion and claps, guitars and singing… in French. It sounded awesome and fit the visuals perfectly. The director, Andrea Kile Peterson, reached out to me and let me know about the situation right away. It was the evening of July 3rd and the show was going live July 6th. We talked about possible options and then I got to work writing a theme song. Writing super fast requires knowing each “trick” or technique used will have a good pay off. There’s no time to rethink, create doubt or even experiment. You just have to get it down and make it good the first time!

The plan.

My goal was to get something to the director by the next morning to allow for any feedback and revision requests. Right off the bat, I knew creating convincing violin runs in a Celtic style would require a lot of time and effort. It’s not impossible but it would take time. I knew we had to have everything finalized by July 5th in time for the launch the following day. So the first thing I simplified was the violin part. Instead of cool, complex Celtic violin lines, which would require lots of articulations and production, I went with quick staccato violin accents. Creating a simpler violin track allowed me to split up my focus and energy across all areas of the track (the drums, the guitars, the accordion, the hand percussion, etc). I had a majority of the piece written out in about 3 hours.

The last thing you want to do is get neck deep in only one layer and ignore the rest of the song. I’ve seen this happen time and time again and it can kill your momentum as well as destroy your time management. Writing quickly is a constant balance between the macro and the micro.

Bringing in some outside help.

For the guitars, I used a mixture of live and looped guitars to help fill up the sound. My buddy, Ben Cockerham, recorded some guitar lines early July 4th morning and they sounded great. Aside from the live guitar parts, everything else was virtual. To help give the piece a sense of evolution and more energy, I had tempo ramp up slightly over the whole song. This also allowed more of the hits to match up with the visuals. Mixing in the guitars and doing a final mix pass took about an additional 2 hours.

The take away.

By creating a plan and having a defined target, I was able to deliver the finished track to the director the very next morning. She gave some good feedback, I tweaked the mix and production a bit more and then got approval. All in, the entire song took about 6-7 hours to create.

Working quickly is a rush! It’s fun and it’s a challenge. I always view it as “Am I up for this challenge?! Can I do it?!” By focusing on what I knew I could delivery quickly and avoiding what would cause major time sinks and difficulties, I was able to create a theme song literally in the last minute with little stress and have a blast while doing it. The next time you’re in a crunch mode, ask yourself how you can ensure the highest odds of success. What are your “go to” bag of tricks and methods to help get the job done super fast?

The finished product!

You can see the final result below! And go check out the series, Episode 1 is now live!

Interested in me and my work? Reach out! I’d love to work with you!

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Buzzopoly (big band)

Buzzopoly features some of the big band music I composed while working at Beecave Games. Driving drums, walkin’ bass lines, a soaring sax solo, punching brass stabs combined with scatting vocals make this an energetic and fun song!

The backstory

In my opinion, creating big band music with virtual instruments is extremely hard. Part of this is due to the large amount of inflections and articulations big band music requires. Another aspect is trying to create the interplay and give-and-take that live jazz ensembles do while performing. The rhythm section is responding to each other while also responding to the ensemble or solo player. Likewise, the brass and wind instruments are responding to each other as well as the rhythm section. It’s a very organic and fluid thing! To try and create that when being just one person working with 90% virtual instruments can be quite challenging. It can also be quite fun! To be honest, I’m not crazy about my singing voice – never have been. But it gets the job done and it was what I had to work with considering the budget and schedule constraints. All music and vocals are by Nathan Madsen. Final mix and mastering were done by Beecave Games audio director, Greg Allen. I hope you enjoy it!

Get in touch!

Wanna chat with me about your audio needs? Curious about what my favorite dessert is? Wanna challenge me at a round in Rocket League! Get in touch!

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48 Hour Film Project

Last weekend, Madsen Studios LLC took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, here in Austin, TX. It was a blast! I wrote music for the short film called Until Death Do Us Part, which is sort of a black comedy drama. For those that don’t know, this project involves drawing a genre (we drew adventure-serial) and had to work in a certain prop, character name and line of dialog. After drawing the genre, you have 48 hours (hence the name of the festival :P) to write, film, edit and post-produce the film. It’s quite the challenge! It’s also a great deal of fun.

Since music usually comes in late at the end of the production cycle, I decided to write a bunch of music to get the editing team as much to work with as earlier as possible. This was tricky because I was writing without any visuals, since the team was still writing and then filming. The last day, Sunday, was a fury of writing for me as we decided the film had changed tone and needed a new direction musically. I always love a challenge and am, overall, very happy with how things turned out.

Check out the poster and once the film is released to the public, I’ll definitely share it! Stay tuned!

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Chinese New Year

Here’s a Chinese New Year inspired theme I did for Beecave Games. Since 2016 was the year of the monkey, the slot theme was named Year of the Golden Monkey. It’s always a fun challenge to write music in a style from another culture than yours. It’s a tricky balance because you want to honor and accurately portray that culture while making the music your own. (And the music needs to work for the multimedia it’s designed for as well.) The artwork was done by the very talented Logynn Hailley! Check out more of her work here: https://www.behance.net/logynn-b-hailley

Reach out if you need a composer and/or sound designer! I hope you enjoy the music! Thanks!

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World of Pixels

World of Pixels is a brand new song for everyone’s Friday!

It’s an ambient, peaceful, electronic track that I wrote recently for fun. It’s available for licensing currently. One thing I really enjoy about this piece is how the melody evolves each time it’s stated. It’s never repeated the same way. Either a new instrument joins in, new chords support it or the melody notes themselves change. I like using the visuals of pixels in the title because they can be both harsh, jagged and beautiful and smooth.

Using low-fi, chip-tune like sounds is a challenge as they can be really harsh around the edges. But when produced differently, they can be quite beautiful and smooth. I hope you enjoy the song!

Feel free to reach out should you have audio needs that I can meet!

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Up to No Good – Jazz Theme

Start your Monday morning off right – with some new jazz by Nathan Madsen! ๐Ÿ˜›

This is, perhaps, my favorite track I did while at Beecave Games! It’s a jazz theme much in the style of those 1930’s cartoons. I really enjoyed working on this one and I’m quite proud of it (both in regards to the composition and the production). Devin Lawson did the great artwork. This theme isn’t released yet – at least not currently – but I was able to get permission to post the music to my demo reel.

Wanna see more of Devin’s great artwork for this theme? Go here: http://devinlawson.com/portfolio/high-jinx-1-and-2/

Need some audio work from me? Get in touch!
As always, thanks for the comments and listening!

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The Quest for Donuts

Ever been on a quest for donuts? Who doesn’t love donuts?! I mean… really. Come on. And this song captures the feeling of going out and chasing the dream that is donuts. Originally written for a slot theme being produced by Beecave Games, which sadly ended up not coming out. But fear not! I was able to get official permission to share this orchestral track with you all and I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Side note (no pun intended): My favorite part of the song is breakdown section that happens after the crescendo at 1:22. But the piece is short enough that you should really just listen to the whole thing. Several times. ๐Ÿ˜›

This track is not available for license and all rights are reserved. Reach out should you have any audio needs!

Thanks!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.