UNO alumnus, aspiring Benson musician set to release first album


By Nathan Stephenson, Contributor

Justin Carter stares intently at a laptop screen as he listens to the product of a recent tracking session. The dim studio is lit entirely by Christmas lights stretching across the ceiling, illuminating a tangled mess of assorted cables. 
Carter, a recording engineer and alumnus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, is working on his debut album in his home recording studio in Benson. 
“My degree was in general studies with a concentration in music, because I wasn’t disciplined enough to complete the music program,” Carter said, tying his hair into a ponytail. “I didn’t want to do it. I was lazy.”
Carter, 25, ultimately dropped out of the university’s music program to focus on other musical endeavors, such as the creation of Yorick Studio. He works closely with Erik Jarvis, a singer-songwriter and composer from Grinnell, Iowa. 
The studio serves as a recording and rehearsal space for local artists, and periodically organizes events where Jarvis, Carter and other local acts perform. 
“Yorick Studio is not just about playing and recording music; it is about creating a community,” according to the studio’s website. “We thrive on and value an environment of collaboration.”
This statement rings true in light of the collaborative nature of Carter’s album. The project features musicians from Carter’s artistic community in Omaha and Jarvis’ community in Grinnell. 
During recording sessions, Carter and Jarvis push musicians to operate outside of their comfort zones. Phil Smith, a drummer whom Jarvis met while attending Grinnell College, wrote sections for the string players that required them to improvise, which they weren’t used to. 
Carter describes the genre of the album as progressive and experimental. Many of his songs follow a pop form, but for this project, he is “pushing the envelope” more than he is used to. 
Despite Carter’s self-professed laziness, his album has taken considerable time and effort to create. 
Recording for the album started in late August. Carter has been writing the album since August 2013, 
but the songs began gestating long before that.
“Sometimes an idea just sits in your head forever until one day it’s like, ‘Hey, I can do this with that,’ but it was in your head for like three years,” Carter said. “So sometimes it’s hard to track the origin of a song.” 
Carter plans to distribute physical and online copies of the 10-song al-bum.  However, digital downloads may include an eleventh track at the end of the album.
Since the studio’s creation in early 2014, Carter and Jarvis have mixed one full-length album; they have also recorded and mixed one EP and two full length albums. Despite having these projects under his belt, Carter still feels uncomfortable dis-tributing vinyl copies of his album because he “hasn’t earned that, yet.” 
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Carter started taking guitar lessons at Russo’s Guitar Center when he was around 15 from instructor Bill Roundtree, who still teaches in Omaha. Roundtree plays in an 80s hair metal tribute band called 3D in Your Face.
“They were ridiculous,” Carter said. “They wore wigs and it was awesome when I was 15.” Yorick coalesced in 2014 when the studio embarked on its first full-length project, Jarvis’ debut album: “Eavesdrop & Elevate.” The studio used a funding platform called Kickstarter.
Carter and Jarvis set a goal of $2,000, and offered incentives for financial backers to pledge money in support of the project including personalized haikus, collages, paintings and free album down-loads. With Kickstarter, if the creators do not reach their financial goal, they do not receive any funding.  “It’s all or nothing,” Jarvis said.
Yorick reached its goal and used the money to pay musicians and buy essential components for the studio like monitors, microphones and an interface, an essential piece of hardware that converts audio into digital data.
Following Carter’s album, Yorick will start working on another collaborative album involving Carter, Jarvis and artists from their respective communities. It will be produced by Christopher the Conquered, a singer-songwriter from Des Moines, Iowa who recently wrapped up a tour in Italy. 
“I’m looking forward to that,” Carter said. “It’s always interesting to see how the giant ego of a songwriter will collide with the other giant egos of other songwriters.”