Earlier this month, the Beloit College campus was buzzing with news of TROY Nathans (Nate Brault’15) winning a music competition hosted by Indstruktibl Clothing, LLC. Brault’s prize package of a clothing sponsorship, a starring role in a commercial, and studio time in Chicago quickly became public knowledge. What few are aware of though, is that his single “Famous,” which gained over 90,000 votes during the competition, was recorded right here in Beloit at Maple Tree Studio in CELEB.
Maple Tree Studio was developed alongside CELEB eight years ago by Ian Nie, director of Maple Tree and a Beloit College music professor; Jerry Gustafson, founder of CELEB; and Brian Morello, director of CELEB. The space includes a fully functioning audio recording studio. Over 90 percent of the equipment—from the control panels to the drum set and much more—is Nie’s personal property.
“It’s not about this place or me; it’s about all of you,” Nie explained. “I earned the trust of my elders and I need to do the same [with students], because all of you will lead this world and I must foster trust to make sure you are successful.”
Nie also uses the studio to teach focused courses that give students hands on experience with pro-tools software, recording, editing, and mixing music—with the additional perk of free studio time for the semester. Other students can book studio time for 25 dollars an hour by contacting Nie via email or dropping by the studio and scheduling a time with him.
His schedule is packed because of teaching, but Nie will always find time to work with interested students. “Ian is very understanding,” said James Foreman’14, one of Nie’s students. “Usually I know when he’s at the studio so I’ll just talk to him and say that I want to use it. Then he just comes in, sets it up, and lets us run it from there. If I had a key, I’d be there every day.”
Brault had a similar experience this summer when Nie opened the studio up so he could record tracks for the competition. “Ian was really generous to let me come in during the summer,” says Brault (pictured below, center, at a September performance at The Bop in downtown Beloit, courtesy of Narges Samirah'13) . “It’s incredible how much everyone respected my dream, as odd as it may have seemed. The tight-knit community we have here is something I’ll value from Beloit.”
The rise and conquer of TROY Nathans isn’t the only success story Nie has nurtured. Several of his past students have gone on to work in the industry, including Tim Carson’08. “He stood [in Maple Tree], working on recordings and sound production and now he has a masters in sound engineering and is doing very, very well,” said Nie. “I’ll admit that I don’t know everything about recording, but I learn something new from each and every one of my students.”
Nie believes that if the opportunity is available, take it. “Book-learning is only one aspect, and students today know this better than anyone. If you can’t apply it, it’s a waste. I saw in [Brault] what I saw in the other students. He had a fire in his belly, and I say knock yourself out,” says Nie. “Anything of mine is yours, and being able to help someone advance themselves makes me feel like I’ve done my job.”