The Rathaus Sessions
Nelson is the lead singer for the local band The Futons. He studies at Martin Luther College, graduating in December and has spent much of his free time watching session videos similar to the work produced by Rathaus Sessions.
Wildauer is an independent video producer whose work includes a promotional video for local speakeasy The Retz 227 and music videos for a Twin Cities-area band called Him and Her. He maintains a website with his work and blog at johnwildauer.com.
Rathaus Sessions is an informal venture between the two. It primarily exists as a Youtube channel and an Instagram page.
Rathaus Sessions is a series of mostly single-take live recordings of artists. The pair records a few songs with each artists they contact.
“We usually reach out to an artist and see if they are interested in doing a session with us,” Wildauer said.
The sessions are recorded in a few different locations, like the Grand Center for Arts and Culture, area farms and lakes.
“We try to mix it up as much as we can,” Nelson said.
Relatively little editing goes into the videos. Most consist of a handheld camera meandering around an artists as they perform.
By shooting in one long cut the videos aim to capture the feeling of a live show without viewers being there in person.
“It is less produced, definitely, more raw,” Nelson said. “You are getting exactly what the artist is putting out.”
Many of the artists are solo acts — like Lydia Liza — singing while playing a guitar. Though some have been whole ensembles as the sessions expand their reach.
For example when recording Jazz Musician Adrian Barnett, the videos focus on various members of an ensemble.
The view bounces between capturing the emotions on an artist’s face to the complicated dance of a bassists fingers during a solo.
The pair are trying to work with a variety of artists. Mixing in well-known Twin Cities players, like Liza, to increase the reach of their channel which they hope will in-turn increase the visibility of local artists they feature.
There is no specific genre the sessions will focus on. Though currently the selections have run in similar performance styles.
“Right now it is mostly indie-folk, but I think we would be open to any type of genre,” Nelson said.
The first session was recorded in late March and released April 3. Nelson, who is also the lead singer for the band The Futons, came up to the idea after watching hours worth of other sessions on Youtube.
“It has always been something I wanted to do or try,” Nelson said.
He texted Wildauer about his idea and they started to work on it. Wildauer has some amateur experience in music, but mainly works as an independent video producer.
The name, Rathaus, was partially inspired by the Grand’s Ratskeller. The name is German for a town hall.
“We like the idea that it was German, it was very much a New Ulm thing,” Wildauer said. “It was unique enough to make it its own thing.”
There is no plan for the future of the project. The pair are content to see where Rathaus Sessions will take them.
In the immediate future, Nelson and Wildauer were excited for new equipment, including a wireless guitar connection.
During an photo shoot, the two talked about how they looked forward to trying a new type of shoot.
They hoped to walk with an upcoming artist down the street, which presents a few new challenges like Wildauer avoiding catching his reflection in windows or Nelson holding the microphone without picking up sounds from his hands moving.
The Rathaus Sessions Youtube channel currently has about 26 subscribers and its top videos are breeching 200 or 300 views.
The best ways to contact the pair is either via its Instagram page, RathausSessions — all one word, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.