Welome to the Wilderhood

Burgeoning record label promotes Alaska artists

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2007


  Mike Nadeau, owner, CEO "and chief provocateur" of Wilderhood Productions and Wilderhood Records talks with assistant engineer and producer Andy Tholberg in Nadeau's Kasilof studio earlier this week. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Mike Nadeau, owner, CEO "and chief provocateur" of Wilderhood Productions and Wilderhood Records talks with assistant engineer and producer Andy Tholberg in Nadeau's Kasilof studio earlier this week.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

In the last two decades, technology has changed the way we think of record labels.

A single musician can lay down tracks for base, guitar, drums, etc. on a computer at home, mix the tracks into a song and upload an mp3 to Myspace in a matter of a very little time. With a CD burner, original music can be self-published and distributed by single CD. The industry is changing rapidly, and so is the meaning of "record label."

In his Kasilof studio, The Wilderhood, Mike Nadeau and the Alaska indie rock artists he has signed to Wilderhood Records are at the forefront of this revolution. Nadeau is a musician and a trained audio engineer whose studio began out of his own experimentation with new technologies. As the millenium turned, he began to recognize the possibilities in recording other artists.

"I did a radio show for KWJG, one of the local shows, here. It was kind of an alternative music show on Monday nights. Periodically, people would hand me demo tapes that they had recorded. One of them was a CD I got from a guy named Jeremy Wagner," Nadeau said.

"He passed me that and I was listening to it, and I really liked what he was doing and where he was going. So, I told him I'd started a record label that I was going to put some of my own music out, but I'd be interested in sitting down and recording some of his music, and perhaps releasing it at some later date. Boy, that would be 2004."

While building his relationships with musicians and starting to record, Nadeau as is the case for many early career Alaska artists worked at other employment and lived in a popular form of peninsula architecture.

"Since then we've moved locations, 'cause I used to run the whole thing out of the loft of a little 12-by-16 cabin that I had. It was getting kind of tight in there," Nadeau said with a laugh.

Wilderhood moved into a house just off the highway in Kasilof and started to grow.

"My goal with the label is to find musicians up here in Alaska that are doing new and interesting, more cutting edge music, specifically in more experimental stuff and within what I guess you'd call, collectively, the 'indie rock genre,'" he said.

"We're up to at this point we have six actual signed acts we're planning releases for over the next year to year-and-a-half."

The viability of Wilderhood Productions LLC, which owns The Wilderhood Recording Studio and Wilderhood Records, as a business venture has grown, too.

"We manage to bring in a fair amount of studio work at The Wilderhood, as far as having local bands and musicians come in ... Once we got out here on the highway and set things up to where we had a larger sound room, and a more professional set-up, it's been a lot more lucrative," Nadeau said.

As it grows, Wilderhood creates its own version of the record label. As the technology of recording music has changed, so have the business models for recording labels.

"I kind of run it a little bit like a family here, because some of the artists that are signed work with the other artists on their projects. So, we're doing a local gal named Sarah Superman or Chaz Nixon is what she plays under and if she needs a drummer on one of her tracks, we'll pull in a guy from one of the other bands associated with the label to come and do studio work, so we kind of switch it up like that," Nadeau said.

Nadeau works with his recording artists as a mentor, as well. He shares his training in production. He likes to remain flexible with his artists about the hours and the style of their work. As a company with both a recording studio and label in house, he cuts the middle man by providing studio time in lieu of big advances to his artists, which are often spent largely on recording an album. It works well for the young company and the budding artists.

"With the industry kind of being in the flux that it is, we just have to focus our energies a little bit differently," says Nadeau of the organizational structure.

The label is Alaskan, and works with Alaska artists including The Wagner Logic, a Kasilof band just back from their first tour, Anchorage artist Parker Longbough, whose CD, "Commander Comatose," is available on the Wilderhood Web site, and previously mentioned Kenai artist Chaz Nixon, whose CD release is pending. According to Nadeau, Alaska has proven to have a certain cachet in promoting artist tours and radio play on a national level.

"With us being from Alaska, that really piques people's curiosity. Most people are like, 'Hunh, what does Alaskan indie rock sound like?'"

To discover what Alaskan indie rock sounds like, people can visit the Web site at www.wilderhoodrecords.com. The Wagner Logic CD release party is Dec. 20 at Snow Goose Theater in Anchorage.

Call 262-1098 or e-mail mike@wilderhoodrecords.com for more information, to set up an appointment, or to send a demo.

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