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The producer on Ash Street

Columbia native Tim Hanson owns and operates a recording studio in CoMo’s North Village Arts District.

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Inside an unassuming house on Ash Street, Tim Hanson is hard at work.

In the front room of the house, he’s surrounded by sound engineering equipment. Here, in the middle of Midwestern suburbia, the would-be rockstars of tomorrow gather at North Village Recording to make their dreams realities.

“Everybody who walks through that door gets treated with a high level of importance,” Hanson says.

A native of Columbia, Hanson, aka “Heez on Fire,” grew up around music. His father, an elementary school music teacher and choir director, was heavily involved with the Maplewood Barn Theatre during the summers of Hanson’s youth. Hanson would often join his father backstage. But he didn’t sit around for long because the stage techs would put him to work.

“That’s where I got my first taste of (music) production,” he says.

He learned how to use their audio equipment, and while he was still in elementary school, he knew enough to take the reins backstage.

After graduating from Columbia College with a degree in business administration, Hanson spent time in St. Louis working as a music producer for various local hip-hop artists. Eventually, he moved back to Columbia and found a job as manager of a wine bar.

At the same time, he bought a house. Instead of filling the spare rooms with the usual bachelor pad trappings of 84-inch TVs and pool tables, Hanson put the extra space to use to fulfill his true passion: audio production.

Hanson would manage the wine bar by day, then return to the studio to work with local artists, helping them record, mix and master their work. He’d produce from the time he got off work until the wee hours of the morning. Eventually, he decided it was time to quit his day job and follow his passion.

“I knew it was a risky jump,” he says of taking the plunge four years ago.

He’s now situated in a new house, in a neighborhood just beyond Columbia’s North Village Arts District.

As owner and operator of North Village Recording, Hanson works with a wide range of artists. He says many local bands are made up of college students, some of whom are not even Missouri residents.

“There’s a great variety (of genres),” he says. “Columbia’s got a very transient music scene.”

Not surprisingly, running a professional recording studio in a small town isn’t easy. Hanson says his biggest challenge is figuring out his rate. He doesn’t want to charge his clients any more than he has to, but “you have to keep a roof over your head,” he says.

“Money isn’t the motivator (for me),” Hanson says. “I’ve been more successful worrying about (the music than the money). Every dollar I make is a labor of love.”

Despite its challenges, recording remains Hanson’s passion. He speaks highly of Columbia’s local musicians and encourages people to take in the local music scene.

“Go out and enjoy the culture of the city,” he says. Who knows? That opening act at The Blue Note could be the headliner one day.

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