88NINE AMPLIFIER MENTORS
Justin Vernon, Artist
Bon Iver has generated worldwide praise from critics and fans alike since the release of the band’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007. After assembling a talented touring band and traveling across the world, Bon Iver released its highly anticipated 2011 follow-up album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver. Met with further critical acclaim, the release netted Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best New Artist, while the group’s 2016 release 22, A Million received Grammy nominations. Further touring and sonic exploration in 2019 brought the decade to a close with the release of i,i, the band’s most adult and complete record to date, and the recipient of four Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Butch Vig, Artist
“Artist” is the single word which best describes producer, mixer, composer,
and multi-instrumentalist Butch Vig. Born in Viroqua, Wisconsin, his parents
Doc and Betty exposed Butch to a variety of music and fine arts culture during his youth.
While attending the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he received a degree in filmmaking, Vig focused on experimental music composition – an area that would serve him well into the future. While at the UW, Butch jumped into the local music scene and joined the band Spooner as its drummer. Unlike most drummers, content to bang out the rhythms, Vig pursued music composition with the band and stepped behind the studio glass to shape the recorded sound as a producer.
After graduating from the UW, Butch co-founded Smart Studios and began producing and mixing albums. His perseverance as an independent producer in Madison carried far beyond Wisconsin’s borders, as artists from around the country began to hear the clear, edgy, hard rock sound shaped by Butch’s productions. His work with Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Soul Asylum in the 90s has been hailed by music critics and authors who have placed his work at the top of the decades best recordings.
Additionally, Vig has created many exciting remixes for such prominent artists as U2, Beck, Korn, Alanis Morissette, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails.
In 1995 Vig returned to performing and writing with a band he formed that goes by the name of Garbage. The multi-platinum, Grammy Nominated band has achieved worldwide critical and commercial success as it ushered in yet another new direction for rock music. Recently, Vig has produced critically acclaimed albums for Against Me, Green Day, and The Foo Fighters, winning a Grammy for their album “Wasting Light.” He was recently ranked #9 on NME’s Top 50 Greatest Producers Ever. In 2014, Butch produced The Foo Fighters acclaimed HBO documentary “Sonic Highways.”
In 2016 the Garbage album “Strange Little Birds” was released to critical acclaim. In 2019 he manned the production for Silversun Pickups “Widows Weeds”. Vig recently wrapped up production and mixing for 5 Billions In Diamonds sophomore album “Divine Accidents.” (Jim Berkenstadt)
Marcella “Ms. Lago” Araica, Sound Engineer
Pioneering powerhouse, Marcella “Ms. Lago” Araica, has swiftly burgeoned into a towering beacon of talent as one of the music industry’s hottest, most prolific sound engineers. Credited for mixing over one hundred chart-topping tunes, Marcella has had the opportunity of working with world-renowned musical icons such as Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Madonna, Nelly Furtado, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Missy Elliot, along with super producers Timbaland, Danja, and Polow Da Don. In just a few short years, this musical mastermind has already accomplished what most strive to achieve in a lifetime.
Araica’s journey was an arduous one. Born and raised in Miami, Marcella graduated with perfect attendance and honors from the Full Sail Production and Recording Program in Orlando, Florida. She was presented with the Advanced Recording Engineer Award, an honor only bestowed upon a single deserving student each semester.
After earning her degree, Marcella immediately began her relentless pursuit of an internship, and after a stream of perpetual denials, Marcella’s persistent outreach finally snagged her an internship at one of the most prestigious recording studios in the industry, The Hit Factory.
Grammy-winning artist Missy Elliot gave Marcella her first big break by allowing her to work as a stand-in engineer after two short months on the job. Marcella performed as a diligent and self-assured professional. After regularly requesting Marcella in her sessions, Missy relayed a recommendation to iconic music producer Timbaland. He was dazzled by her expertise, and made Marcella his full-time engineer of choice. Timbaland, however, could not keep his treasured engineer to himself for long. In 2003, Araica was introduced to Danja, an apprentice turned to one of the world’s most celebrated producers under Timbaland’s watchful eye. Their chemistry mixed with her revolutionary style, helped to achieve his sought-after signature “sound.” Since the forging of their partnership, Danja has immersed Marcella in the shaping, recording and mixing of the majority of his albums, giving rise to a multitude of hits.
Marcella continues to channel her refined pedigree towards the thriving independent label, N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars), founded in partnership with Danja as well as the newly built recording studio DREAM ASYLUM STUDIOS in Miami, FL.
Marcella Araica’s impressive discography and growing collection of the music industry’s most esteemed awards prove it apparent that her eminent expedition has only just begun.
E. Keller Fitzsimmons, Director of Vision Program
E. Keller Fitzsimmons is a serial tech entrepreneur, artist, and mother of two. She is the cofounder of Custom Reality Services, a virtual reality (VR) production company whose first two projects, Across the Line (2016) and Ashe ’68 (2019), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Keller is the recipient of the Silvertip PwC Entrepreneurship Award and Speech Technology’s Luminary Award. In 2019, she published the bestseller Lost in Startuplandia: Wayfinding for the Weary Entrepreneur about her experience as a venture-backed entrepreneur navigating the pitfalls of the Silicon Valley dream. Originally trained as a classical archaeologist, Keller holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.
88nine Amplifier Staff
Chad Roper (C-Note), Director
Chad is not only a Grammy Nominated vocal producer, songwriter and engineer, he is also an outstanding motivational coach and entertainment official with a vision that stops nothing short of achieving the best! It is his personal mission to have the world recognize the talented treasures Milwaukee has to offer!
Britney Freeman-Farr (B~Free), Associate Director
Singer, producer & multi-instrumentalist B~FREE, is a Milwaukee native who has dedicated her life to music. Her training in flute, voice and piano has earned her degrees in musical studies from the Milwaukee High-School of the Arts, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and VanderCook College of Music. Along with an artistic career of nearly two decades, she also serves as the Music Ed Coordinator for 88Nine’s Youth Program, “Grace Weber’s Music Lab.”