Words and Images by Shaina Sheaff
We spoke with Eric Nichelson of Midlake about a whole bunch of stuff involving the brand new music education facility, Denton Music Workshop. On top of that, we only mentioned Midlake twice. Here's a little bit of what's happening behind the mirror-tinted windows of their studio just north of the square on Locust St. Read on for more...
WDDI: Tell us a little bit about the history of Denton Music Workshop.
Eric Nichelson: Denton Music Workshop is a brand new business we started this fall. It came about as a thought of how we can use our space effectively during this next cycle for Midlake. We normally take two to three years between records, so using our space for lessons, recording and rehearsing was a natural progression. We wanted to open this up to the community and give others a peek into our world.
Who currently owns the space?
We rent this space from a fine gentleman named John Thorngren. I believe he owns the building that the Chestnut Tree is in, as well. We’ve been in this space going on four years. Myself and Jesse Chandler own the business Denton Music Workshop.
What is your shared vision for the future of Denton Music Workshop?
We want to be a unique option for music education. A place where musicians can find practical tools for success and develop their craft in creative ways.
What kind of lessons do you offer and are you targeting a specific age group?
We offer lessons in all the main instruments of music. Drums, Guitar, Piano, Voice, Woodwinds, and Brass. We also offer lessons in songwriting, music theory, and music production. There’s really not a specific age group we are targeting. As long as the student has an interest in learning, we know that no matter what age, they will be rewarded for their work.
Who has rehearsed and recorded there in the past?
Since this is a newer venture, there hasn’t been that many folks thru here yet. Seryn rehearsed here a while back as well as the “Denton does The Band” group (Grady Sandlin and Company). Centromatic rehearsed here a few years ago, but that was long before we ever decided to make this into a proper rehearsal space. Midlake has used this space exclusively for our recordings and rehearsals for the last four years. We did the John Grant record “Queen of Denmark” on all the gear, but it was at our previous space in the Panhandle House.
What sort of environment were you envisioning when you decided to open the space up to musicians?
We want to provide a creative and comfortable environment for all the processes of music. Whether rehearsing or recording, or having a music lesson, or just hanging out listening to music, we want the musician to be inspired by the space around them. So many places I have taught at are very sterile in that way. i’ve always wondered how much more you would get out of the experience if surrounded by something awesome.
How has your experience as a musician (and the father of a musician) contributed to seeing Denton Music Workshop become a reality?
My son and I have always played music together. I don’t even think he’s ever had a “lesson” until just recently. In the process of just “doing” whatever thing it is, i’ve seen more growth musically from that than in any recurring lesson over a certain period of time. I’ve always wanted to bring that experience to other students but the environment has always been the hinderance. Creating DMW was a natural progression in realizing that goal.
What's your favorite memory there in the studio?
There’s been many memories in this space over the years. Some good, some not so good. Our process has always been a difficult one so finding a “favorite memory” can be challenging. I would say some of my favorite times have been and still are playing music with my kids. We are always in there playing and recording. It’s always a fun time.
Who would you most like to see come use the space?
Anyone who has an interest in music. And not necessarily just folks that play instruments, but anyone who has interest in anything musical. From recording sound to playing with gear, to just listening to music and talking about it. We want to be pretty open to all possible experiences with music. For the band that’s just getting started, or the group that’s been at it for years, the space lends itself to all levels.
How do you see Denton Music Workshop impacting our community?
I think that while music education is very common and definitely represented well in the city of Denton, we offer another unique perspective to that process. We can give students a very different emotional experience in the way that they learn and how they interact with music. We want to bring the community together over the shared love of music in a fresh and exciting environment.