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WHAT A WEEK!

As many news reports have probably shared already, it was QUITE the week in Austin (and in Texas for that matter). Snow (that white, cold stuff that falls from the sky) rarely shows up this far South and if it does, it’s just a light dusting. It rarely lasts more than a day and then it melts off. We had some snow early this winter and it was way more than I was expecting for this area of the world. I’ve lived in Denver, Colorado and in Cedar Falls, Iowa so I KNOW snow. I thought, at best, we’d have some ice and that would be it. NOPE. We had a nice snowday and then it all basically melted away pretty fast. Not much else to report.

That was last time. This time was radically different.

Not only did we get a decent amount of snow for Austin, we got ice and then power went out. For days. Water is still not potable yet although it’s been flowing much better as of today. During the power outages the temp got down to 1 degree. That’s not windchill, that was the actual temp. Highly unusually for central Texas! My family and I are all safe, thankfully! And really, they were super stars. Rolled with the punches – we read books, played games, ran around the living room to stay warm. It got down to 50 degrees in the house so at night we’d all be in the master bedroom.

Here’s a vlog where you can see some of the pics and hear a bit more about it as well as how I broke one of my own rules… and what I did to fix it. And for the record, I still get excited about snow.

SKATEBIRD NEWS

Also SkateBIRD was a part of Play What’s Next Festival at Steam. We launched a new trailer to show off the new, not previously seen Rooftop level and I’ve been busy releasing new tracks of music monthly on my Youtube Channel. Getting quite close to finishing up the OST for this game and let me tell you – I’ve loved every second of it! SkateBIRD has taught me many new approaches as an artist, producer and musician and have given me a new genre to play around in. Check out the trailer below:

OTHER HAPPENINGS

I’ve tried to become somewhat hip (if that’s even possible) and do more Instagram thingies. It’s still QUITE new to me but I’m starting to get the hang of it. There’s a really cool graphic artist show’s doing some really sweet, retro graphics which fit perfect with what I’m writing for SkateBIRD. So I put a video out on IGTV. Check it out here:

Also I’m still working at SciPlay and loving it. That huge side project that was under NDA is still under NDA for now. Hang tight though because I should have some news for that soon. That’s about all I can say about it, sadly. I am REALLY excited to finally get to share it all with you when I can! I’ve been doing some more work with Appy Therapy on their Handwriting Heroes app. This one is quite special to me because my own son is special needs and benefits from the exact curriculum this program teaches. It’s really unique to be able to use my audio to help build something that helps him and so many other kiddos like him.

I’ve also been giving several talks to colleges, high schools and middle schools about what I do. Getting a chance to talk with students about all of the incredible opportunities in audio production is something I’m super passionate about. Here’s a candid shot of the students of Mr. Kevin Pruiett’s band program at Paris High School in Paris, Illinois hearing my presentation. If you’re interested in having me talk with your students about game and multi-media audio – reach out! Especially during so much remote learning, it could be the perfect opportunity to enhance and change up what your students are doing in the classroom (virtual or not).

WHO AM I?

Nate Madsen is a 15 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 SciPlay for 4+ years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. Some of his freelance projects include SkateBird as well as providing sound design, mixing and mastering audio FUNimation anime trailers. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. He’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. There’s also the chocolate addiction and the Dad jokes collection. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green. He’s also trying to increase the number of push ups he can do at one time. You can get in touch with him here: https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

A good friend and colleague of mine recently talked about the realization of not letting others in on some of his projects. He expressed how limiting it was to try and do everything by himself. Limiting to his passion and creativity on the project. Limiting to his approach. Limiting to the overall scope and impact of the project. This really struck a chord with me as I’ve recently pushed to do more collaborating in my own projects. In an industry that is so often one audio guy in front of a computer, bringing in people with differing, new approaches is not only freeing, it’s refreshing.

If you’ve composed for any amount of time, you’ve noticed that you develop ruts in the grass. I know I have. Same chord progressions. Same melodic patterns. Same approaches to composing a piece of music. Bringing in new people to help branch out exposes your work to new avenues. New opportunities. So, on your next project I’d challenge you to ask yourself – am I letting others in? Even to just evalute the mix and overall structure of the piece? To review the melody and offering up suggestions? I’ve been so pleasantly surprised and encouraged by sharing my work with others during the production process. It’s made me a better composer, better engineer and stronger musician.

In an industry where so many of us tend to hide away in our dark studios and crank away on our masteripieces, maybe we should do a bit more sharing? When it’s appropriate and not guarded by NDA, of course! So reach out to your friends and peers. Folks that play actual instruments (gasp!) and see how they can breathe life into your pieces. Make suggestions as to how your piece can be stronger. More emotional. For example, I’d written out a flute ostinato that worked well for the song but was very challenging for a live player to perform. My VST could handle it all day… but my VST also doesn’t have to breathe. We made it work in a recording studio environment but if I ever wanted to have that piece performed live, I’d need to rethink that part some.

Using live musicians or collaborating can also be more inspiring and much more affordable than you might first think! Consult with folks who are talented and knowledgible at production and mixing. Because even the best song can suck with terrible production. I completely realize you cannot, and most likely WILL NOT, collaborate on every piece you do. But challenging yourself with new approaches and ideas is always a good thing. Maybe you’ll use them or maybe you’ll confirm that your own approach is the best for a particular song. Either way, you’ll come out ahead for having passed your piece across some people you admire and respect.

My point? Music composition and production is a life long path. No one person can know everything. This industry is actually much smaller than first impressions and folks are willing to help out! Buy them a beer, coffee or do an exchange of services. When possible throw cash. Or just ask and show gratitude! It’s definitely worked for me and I think it would work for you as well. The more well versed you are, the better. It will never hurt you.

Happy composing!