Nad Neslo (Dan Olsen)
Nad Neslo’s ( Dan Olsen from California) music does remind me of driving on the road pictured on his CD cover. His easy going, high tenor voice and lead guitar draw from Neil Young and his stretched out songs make for immersion into his sepia colored, wistful, but vista filled world.
The Early Home Recordings of Nad Neslo
The first time I made a recording of any kind I was about 8 or 9 years old. I used a small reel to reel that belonged to my dad. I don’t recall the reason my dad had the recorder but I do remember hearing the words, “it’s not a toy” over and over again. I was perplexed because it sure looked like a toy to me.
I began by making up little stories, often times recruiting siblings and friends, and recording the stories using the reel to reel. We were all highly entertained and amused by what we came up with. It was great fun and something that I did not tire of.
By age 13 or 14 I bought a used Akai GXC 75D stereo cassette deck. This machine was well built and in addition to the line inputs, it had two microphone input jacks. I used it for my antics of making up stories and often included sound effects, etc. I also used it to tape record my favorite songs from vinyl. I made many custom tapes of various artists. I would seek out unusual music or little known artists. I enjoyed sharing the tapes with my friends and over time the tapes became somewhat legendary.
When I was in my early 20’s I got my first drum kit. A friend of mine was learning to play the saxophone. His brother Cory was already a good keyboard player and Cory’s friend John was a competent guitar player. We got together to jam on a regular basis. When we did I always recorded the jam sessions using the Akai cassette deck. I would just hang a pair of microphones from the ceiling. It worked surprisingly well!
Around age 30 I got a Yamaha 4-Track cassette recorder. By then I still played the drums but was also messing around with a Yamaha keyboard. Soon after this I started playing guitar and had acquired a Yamaha acoustic guitar and a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. I learned a lot about recording using that Yamaha 4-Track. It was then that I began writing my own songs, which I found to be immensely rewarding.
My early song compositions were often lengthy spacey affairs with anything and everything tossed into the mix. I would record my 1960 VW Bug using a portable stereo cassette deck and insert that into the 4-Track mix. In one song titled Dreamland, I recorded my 1969 Chevy truck doing a high speed, highway drive-by. I inserted it into the mix so that it could be heard coming into the right channel, through the middle and off into the distance out beyond the left speaker. It fit perfectly with the music!
At one time my neighbor had a dog that liked to bark a lot. At first I found myself getting frustrated at how many good takes were ruined by the dog barking. Then I decided to just embrace the sound. I intentionally recorded the dog barking and used it in my recording. I loved playing these early songs for people and watching them as they would think they heard an actual dog barking or a car driving by or a phone ringing. I also had a blast exploring all the trippy sounds that can be made by playing things backwards, or slowed down or speeded up. It was great fun!
One audio experiment that I had to try was revealed to me through a book. I had been reading a biography on the movie director David Lynch titled “Lynch on Lynch.” In the book he described how he came up with the unusual sounding speech during the filming of the black lodge scenes in the television series Twin Peaks. I decided to try it. My wife agreed to play a part in the experiment. We decided to use the phrase, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Nad Neslo!”
Step 1) I asked her to learn the phrase phonetically backwards. That is to say that she had to be able to speak it as it would sound in reverse. She did this by spelling it out in reverse and then practiced saying it as written below.
olseN daN, nemeltneG dna seidaL
Step 2) I recorded her speaking it as it is written above.
Step 3) I turned the tape over and played it in reverse. The result was that it was very legible what was being said but it had an otherworldly surreal quality to it. We loved it!
These days I record on a Roland VS-1880 digital multi-track. My love for home recording continues to grow. I have friends that are into it as well and we share CD’s and tapes. When I open my mailbox and see that one of them has sent me a home recorded tape or CD I’m very excited! I’m much more excited to listen to a home recorded work than to listen to a typical commercial CD. It’s not that commercial CD’s aren’t good, plenty of them are. However I have a special appreciation for those who write, perform and record their own material in a home based studio. I understand the obstacles’ and challenges of home recording. I find home-recorded music to be highly entertaining to listen to. There is an adventurous quality to it. It has none of the boundaries or trappings of commercial fair. Clearly I’m not alone. Many are looking for an alternative to commercial music and in doing so are bypassing big time radio stations and instead are tuning in to small, non-commercial radio stations. Thankfully we have stations like KKUP with program managers who are willing to let guys like Don Campau host his show No Pigeonholes where home-recorded music is featured. While I enjoy many hobbies and recreational activities, home recording is my main creative outlet. It’s so cool to have my wife of over 20 years not only participate in it with me but to remain really excited about it. Needless to say, if you’ve ever considered home recording as a hobby but have yet to indulge, I encourage you to do so. I would love to hear what you come up with.
All the best,
nadneslo ( at ) nadneslo.com