Students start production company, work with local artists

Allison Mueller

Winona State University alumna Kim Schneider plays her guitar during the Treedome Productions event held on Saturday at Broken World Record bar in downtown Winona. (Photo contributed by Adam Nantz)
Winona State University alumna Kim Schneider plays her guitar during the Treedome Productions event held on Saturday at Broken World Record bar in downtown Winona. (Photo contributed by Adam Nantz)

Dana Scott / Winonan

Nathaniel Nelson, co-founder and president of Treedome Productions, is also a reporter for The Winonan. This article is focused on his involvement in Treedome and is not influenced by his relationship with The Winonan.

Treedome Productions is an artist-run music and art record label where people in the Midwest can get together to make art and do what they love. This production company was formed by a group of Winona State University students eager to gain experience and utilize their talents before graduation.

One of these college students is Nathaniel Nelson, a senior journalism and film major who has been studying film for the past six years.

Nelson was looking to add more creative content to his portfolio and wanted to make music videos for local artists and friends.

Spencer Klausing, a senior Therapeutic Recreation major who creates music under the name Afflatus, is one of the other Winona State students involved in Treedome Productions.

Though Klausing describes his music style as indie, folk and alternative, Treedome Productions is not centered on one genre and is not specific to a certain type of artist.

“Art comes in many avenues,” Nelson said.

Klausing expressed he personally seeks to work with artists and individuals who are open to a mix of music, new ideas, open to different styles and to trying new things.

“I very much value people who go outside of their comfort zone,” Klausing said.

Klausing taught himself guitar, and made three albums of his own at home before releasing them online.

He did not pursue creating music with the intent of sharing it with others, it was for his own satisfaction and expressing himself. After releasing some of his music and getting positive feedback, he realized his music is something other people can enjoy and gained the confidence to continue to share his music.

Klausing saw a slam poetry video Nelson created of Ben Strand, and talked with Nelson about filming a video of his song “The Boat Song.”

Nelson filmed, edited and released the music video for “The Boat Song” all in one day.

After making these two videos Nelson decided to turn the work he had been doing into a production company and create a name and a logo.

“It all moved faster than I expected and it stopped being about me, the focus isn’t just on my work, it’s on everyone’s work,” Nelson said.

Nelson explained there is huge music and art scene in Winona and there are many people who want to get their art out to the public. Treedome Productions is trying to get it all in one place, under one roof and aims to be the center for content creation in Winona.

“There are so many people [in Winona] doing separate projects,” Klausing said. “Treedome combines their energy and resources and makes them more efficient when combining talents.”

Shortly after the recording of “The Boat Song,” senior Blake Mullen got involved with Treedome Productions.

Klausing knew Mullen previous to his involvement with Treedome Productions. The two have become close friends in the past year and a half, and frequently work on music together.

Mullen is the co-founder and business manager for Treedome. His responsibilities include mapping out strategic plans for organizational progression, coordinating with artists and industry connects and managing the business team.

“I saw Treedome as an opportunity to apply my skills to something I am passionate about,” Mullen said. “With the aim of facilitating the creative process for artists so that they may flourish.”

Treedome Productions partnered with Midwest Music Store in downtown Winona and provided Treedome with a place to have performances, create and eventually sell music.

“We started to gain momentum, our network and resources began to grow at an exponential rate,” Mullen said. “We started with a handful of people and a recording booth set up in a closet. Two months later, we have an incredibly driven group of over twenty people who are directly involved with Treedome Productions and a recording facility in downtown Winona.”

Treedome hopes in the future to send artists on tour starting in the Midwest, and taking it as far as they can and one day be a profitable business.

Despite this, Nelson explained the main focus of Treedome Productions is to connect people in the area and to help them create the kind of work they want and to help everyone improve.

Over the winter, Klausing plans to produce a new album under Treedome featuring Tyler Steinley on drums.

“In the next year, we plan on releasing projects from a number of our artists, getting more people involved and expanding our span of influence,” Mullen said.

Mullen, Nelson and Klausing have benefited from their involvements with Treedome Productions more than just being able to create and release art and music.

Nelson expressed it has been fun to do something he enjoys and focus on making art in Winona.

For Mullen, his favorite aspect of being involved with Treedome has been being able to inspire others and provide them with the means to create art. It has been rewarding for him to watch artists in their growth as a result from their involvement with Treedome.

“It makes me feel optimistic to see something grow that you do with your friends,” Klausing said. “Taking the next step and looking back at the progress you’ve made. It has been a learning experience of what I’m capable of when I put my mind to something.”

This past Saturday, Oct. 29, Treedome Productions had their debut at Broken World Records in downtown Winona, six of their artists performed throughout the night.

“I personally would like to thank everyone who is involved or has supported us in this movement; particularly Sam Brown of Mid-West Music Store who has been a gracious mentor.” Mullen said. “None of this would be able to happen without each individual’s contribution.”

-By Dana Scott