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Nap House Studios gives emerging central Illinois musicians a big look

Nap House 3.jpg
Storm Angone
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Nap House Studios recording a band at Bloomington's ComeTogetherSpace.

Storm Angone believes the local artistic collective Nap House Studios has become an essential part of the Bloomington-Normal music scene.

The video producer/musician is part of that collective that includes other video and audio engineers and producers.

Angone says the Nap House mission includes creating affordable videos for local bands and musicians.

“I try to view Nap House as a community service as opposed to a business,” he explained. “I want to give this platform to smaller, local or regional artists to help grow their own brand and help them book shows. When you first start a band it’s hard to have credibility from the perspective of promoters and booking agents. But if they can go online and see you perform live on YouTube or Instagram, then it gives them a sense of comfort that they can confidently rely on you to perform when the time comes.”

Nap House 1.png
Storm Angone
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Nap House Studios collaborators (l-r) Adam Meyers, Chris Whitacre, Anthony Pegg, Storm Angone, Nic Rhoades

Live videos for bands and musicians in 2022 is not a luxury anymore. As Angone explained, a studio recording isn’t the best way to gauge how a band will sound in a live setting.

“Especially coming off of work-from-home … the COVID era where everyone is behind closed doors, but still trying to connect to one another,” said Angone. “I feel like we saw this influx of musicians setting up their webcam or their cell phone, and just recording themselves playing and posting online. What we offer is a higher production value premium quality product than that.”

An iPhone can capture decent quality concert footage if shot correctly. But even the high-quality phone can't compensate for subpar acoustics in concert venues, and are no match for the audio coming from the sound board.

“We're blessed to have several very talented audio engineers working with us. The founder of Nap House, Chris Whitacre, is an audio engineer who mixes and masters the tracks himself. But we also work with another local producer, Nick Rhodes, who goes by ‘Toads,’ and they have years and years of experience recording bands in a studio setting and transitioning that to a live setting came intuitively to them. And that really makes the difference. I maintain that when you watch a video or a movie or a TV show, what you are actually experiencing is something like 70% audio reliant, I could film a video of your face sitting behind the desk right now. But if we hear a knock at the door from the background, all of a sudden it sets the scene. And the same can be said about having high quality audio for a band. We can cut away from the singer, but you can still hear him or her crystal clear. Because the audio has been mixed at a professional level,” he said.

Though Nap House Studios has become a well-oiled operation, Angone said that wasn’t always the case.

“I think the very first session back in 2017 with a band that hadn't really been a band for about five years before that … we just got him together and called up as many friends as we could people who owed us favors and had everyone bring their cell phones or whatever camera … they had no direction. I think even in the video, you can see people circling the band filming of the camera above their heads or on the ground. And after a couple of videos like that, you start to plot out where you want cameras to be, what cameras you want, who you can rely on to be a competent camera operator. And over time, we just kind of slowly found our crew of people who were not only had bands that they wanted to put out there on a platform like this, but we're also passionate about producing videos like this,” said Angone.

Back to the favorable price-point for local bands and musicians, especially younger ones unable to afford high-quality concert footage.

“And ideally, in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to charge the bands anything,” said Angone. "We could just invite them to perform. But we've had to develop this model that is based on how many songs and what the turnaround is and what the format of shooting the session is. And we really try to lowball it, but we would love to find some local grant funding to help mitigate the production costs and make it worthwhile for everyone participating to not have to worry about financial compensation. I like to view the organization as a community service but unfortunately until we have funding like that, we do have to think about it as business.”

Angone also believes Nap House Studios is important for the local music scene as a window for outsiders to glean the Bloomington-Normal music scene.

“You start to think, oh, I want to go to shows in Bloomington. I don't know what's going on or who to go see you find your way to Nap House Studios on YouTube or Instagram and all of a sudden, you've got years’ worth of videos from all these local artists that you can dig through and either become inspired by or find new bands to listen to or you want to reach out to. I think in order to grow a scene, you have to have something such as this,” said Argone.

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Jon Norton is the audio director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.
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