Meet Nate Mars: a producer and music technologist based in New York City. He has released original music on several labels in addition to having songs licensed for documentary films and television. Nate is passionate about artist-to-artist music education, specifically helping inspire other producers to achieve their music production goals through collaboration and technology. In addition to his work as a recording artist, Nate works as a content marketing consultant and strategist. For several years, he held the position of Marketing Director at music production & DJ school Dubspot. Nate has also worked in the tech startup world with companies such as music production platform/app creator Splice and Virtual Reality startup, SpaceoutVR. He has been the host of the Decibel 2015 conference and has been a guest speaker on panels at Sundance Film Festival 2014 and more.
Nate planned and produced unique activations for the Surface team this past year at two North American festivals, Moogfest (Durham, North Carolina) and MUTEK (Montreal, Canada), and received a Surface Book from Microsoft to use for music production and demos.
Let’s hear more from Nate on his career journey and love of music and technology.
Can you talk about what got you in interested in pursuing music? Was there an “aha” moment? How did you get into it?
I have been interested in music ever since I was very little. I used to record sounds on a children’s tape recorder and listen for hours to what I recorded. I would also play little melodies on a Casio keyboard and mumble along, trying to emulate songs I heard on pop radio stations, somewhere around 5 years old. The ‘ah-ha’ moment came later. When I was in high school, practicing electric bass in my room, I would record on to a 4-track tape recorder and when I realized I could overdub and create a bunch of parts (other than bass) myself, something clicked and deeply moved me when it comes to music production. Technology like Surface has continued to emerge, making the recording process even easier and more fun over the years!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes, on a long bus ride, I’ll look out the window and imagine the soundtrack for the landscape/moment going by. Sometimes, I’ll be at a concert absorbing what other musicians are creating and finding inspiration for colleagues. Science Fiction books and movies are also a huge inspiration. I love the way they can open your mind to think differently about reality or what might be possible in the future. I try to translate that same feeling to music… or write the music to a scene from a sci-fi novel in my mind.
What’s been a moment or project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
Recently, I completed a sound design project for a TV show where boxing champion Evander Holyfield was a special guest. I’m a huge boxing fan and never imagined working with him because (obviously) we are in very different industries but the places music can take you sometimes are crazy. I also have two music production courses I created using Logic Pro as well as Ableton Live & Push 2 for Lynda.com. You can check those out online if you are looking to learn some workflow methods for music production.
You’re passionate about technology and videos – how did you incorporate those into your work over time?
In addition to my work in music, I also work in content marketing, using technology and video to tell a brand’s story. I think it is very exciting where technology is headed, particularly in the Virtual Reality and 360° video world. I’ve been working in that emerging area for a little while now and have produced a lot of (standard) video content in the past. There will be many new challenges but I do believe that some tools are like the phonograph when it comes to recording. We’re at the very beginning of something huge!
What do you like about creating on Surface Book? Do you use pen, touch, or a combination?
One of my favorite things when it comes to creating on Surface Book is that your software just opens up and you can dive right in to any parameter faster than you can hit a combination of key commands or map parameters on a MIDI controller. I have also run a full live set recently along with a visual component on the same computer sent to a projector and everything runs smoothly.
What experiences have stood out to you?
DAWS like Bitwig and Ableton Live work so well with Surface. It is exciting to use music creation software that is optimized for touch interaction AND has a powerful processor to run everything.
What’s something recent you’re working on with Surface now that you’re really excited about?
I’m currently working on a brand new live set with a vocalist I collaborate with. We have a show coming up in a month and I’m planning on using Surface to run visuals in the background as well as triggering effects on vocals and playing different elements in the songs. Instead of mapping a controller, I’m excited to be able to just trigger clips and edit audio via touch interaction on the fly.
Twitter: @natemars / Instagram @natemars / www.nate-mars.com
Learn music production with Nate Mars on lynda.com: Producing Electronic Music with Ableton Live & Push 2 and Producing Electronic Music in Logic Pro