Do you want vibey, vintage styled productions? I'm your guy. Not only do I produce and mix, I am also a seasoned guitarist/bassist and original artist. My approach is simple, find the art and make it shine. A great producer not only knows what a song needs, but also what it doesn't. I would be honored to serve you and your songs.
Thru years of study including obtaining a B.A. in music technology with a jazz guitar emphasis, I have trained to be a musical chameleon. I perform regularly in everything from a Pink Floyd tribute band, a yacht rock party band, r&b/hip hop, jazz, and country. From bluegrass to Prince, I've done it all. The projects I'm involved in regularly sell out theaters and pack clubs. I have taught well over 30,000 guitar and bass lessons in the past 15 years and am well versed in just about every style of guitar and bass that you may need.
I was nominated as singer songwriter of the year by the Louisville Music Awards for my self titled album that I wrote and produced. My music gets regular airplay on 91.9 WFPK (one of the largest public radio stations in the Kentucky area) and continued streams around the world.
In my recording studio, dubbed "Vintage Valley", I steadily produce, mix, write and do session work. I also have access to some of the area's finest musicians players and regularly employ them if a production calls for it.
Some of my favorite producers and influences include: Dave Cobb, Quincy Jones, Prince, and Daniel Lanois.
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
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Interview with Karsten Nelson
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I am very proud of my self titled debut record that I wrote, produced, and arranged. I recorded it at La La Land studios in Louisville Ky. Kevin Ratterman mixed and mastered it. I sang, played guitar and bass, arranged horns and assembled a small choir for the final track. Most of it was cut to tape and was recorded over the course of 6 days. I've learned and grown so much since then but it was a defining experience for me.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Writing and producing an EP for a new band. There is a snippet of it on the last track of my demo reel.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I don't know any of them personally but the providers that populate the main page all sound amazing!!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I love living in a world where we can have both! I use Logic Pro and Luna as my primary DAWs. I'd love to have a tape machine but I have all the UAD tape plugins and they are in constant use. The tools are so wonderful and accessible these days it really comes down to the vision and capabilities of the artist, engineer, and producer that will allow for the song to shine and sparkle.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will utilize my experience and tools to give you the best product possible. My number one goal is that you feel your art is in great hand and gets the time, effort, and polish it deserves.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Participating in making art with other humans. I firmly believe this is one of life's best experiences.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "When can you work on my next song?" Haha! After working with me, a lot of folks are stoked to start another project immediately. My answer is always "ASAP!"
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That a fast turnaround suggests an inferior product. My experience and skill set allow me to work quickly and yield professional, industry grade results.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What do you want the song to feel like? What is the message? To me, feel, vibe, message and meaning are what inform the sound. If the vision is dialed in, the process of building the song becomes natural and true.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: If you have an idea of what you want your music to sound and feel like, reference tracks can be super helpful. If you don't have any ideas that's not a problem! We can discuss what direction may be suit the project the best.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: To keep this fun, let's assume there is a MacBook Pro and some type of recording interface. In this case, I'll keep it super simple! Stratocaster, P/J bass, Akai MPK 259, Martin acoustic, and an Sm 57. With this combo, I feel like I can conquer the world! I could record just about any idea I could dream up with that set of tools.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I knew this would be my path when I got my first guitar in 1997. I have been lucky enough to be a full time musician since 2007. I graduated from Bellarmine University in 2005 with a degree in Music Technology and an emphasis in jazz guitar. After graduating, I've been able to perform regularly with many different bands and teach private guitar and bass lessons.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I think of music existing in 3 ways. One way would be machine made: perfect, laser cut, and precise, or digital. Another would be hand made: unique, imperfect, human, or analog. The third is a blend of both of those worlds. I often lean more towards the analog style of things. I want a song to feel like an amazing hand made piece of pottery in your hands or a beautiful hand crafted wooden table that you and your friends are happy to sit at.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Oh man, I would love to work with the boss! Bruce Springsteen would be amazing to sit down with and learn from.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Simplify, commit, and keep moving!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Not to sound like that person, but, a little bit of everything! I'm happy to work in just about any style. Because of my versatility as a guitarist and bassist, I am fortunate to work in a wide variety of genres.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Guitar and bass are definitely a strong skillset for me. I can very quickly record, edit, and send highly professional tracks suitable for any genre. I'm also very proud of my work as an original artist, mixer, and producer.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring an open mind and make it an effort to let the song suggest what it needs. This is important! If the song suggests a funky 70's slap P bass vibe, then that's what it gets! Over the years I've learned not to overthink decisions. Quite often, the first ideas are the best and the best takes are often within the first 3.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I really like to start by understanding the artist's vision for their project. After I establish the direction they want to go, I begin the process of visualizing the song. I like to think of a song as a movie or landscape. What does it look like? What does it feel like? I look for the plateaus, peaks, and valleys and then go about sculpting them.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I named my studio "Vintage Valley". I think its the perfect blend of an old school approach with the latest technology. I have a Universal Audio Apollo 8 and a UAD 4-710D preamp. I have a nice range of condenser, ribbon, and dynamic microphones and utilize a number of UAD and Softube plugins. I also have a vintage Lexicon PCM 70 reverb unit that sound amazing! On the guitar/bass side, I have vintage Strats, Teles, a Gibson Es-175, 60's Fender/Ampeg amps and Fender basses. I also have Martin and Taylor acoustics. I have a really nice Yamaha Drum kit that I use for when I bring in session drummers. My room is sound treated and has a great sound that allows for all kind of versatility in the mix.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Oh man, so many! In the same day I'll listen to 70's outlaw country, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen. I love the music Dave Cobb is producing. There is such an honest, and earthy feel that serves the song. I'm definitely inspired by his approach and vibe.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I do quite a bit of guitar and bass session work. I love the range of music I get sent to me. One week it may be prog rock, and the next may be a hip hop track for a Spanish rapper.