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Thursday, March 5, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 12.0° F  Fair
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Madison studio DNA Music Labs earns a global reputation
Big in Switzerland
Whitcomb's creations aren't limited to records.
Whitcomb's creations aren't limited to records.
Credit:Nick Berard

Why did Bligg, the biggest name in Swiss pop music, come to Madison in September? One reason was the rapper's devotion to New Orleans-style parade music, specifically his allegiance to locally based Youngblood Brass Band. The other was to record at DNA Music Labs on Winnebago Street. "They worked 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day," says DNA co-owner Mark Whitcomb, who manned the sessions.

It's been a whirlwind year and a half at DNA. Their work log includes recording Ben Sidran's new record. Madison's Phat Phunktion left last week to tour Japan with their new DNA-made record in tow. And the studio continues to be a stop for touring artists. Like the afternoon last year Bela Fleck and Ben Sollee came in - with an hour's notice - to record some fresh compositions prior to a Barrymore Theatre gig that night.

Whitcomb has a radiant smile, and his eyes shine like those of an elf. His creations are not limited to records. The studio produces tracks for GarageBand, the popular music-production software sold in stores nationwide, and in October DNA rolled out an innovative studio device called Hotkey Matrix. The name sounds like the title of a Yes album from the 1970s, and the gizmo looks like something Bill Gates might have had in the back seat of his car in 1988. Nothing but a pad of little square keys.

Whitcomb used scissors to cut out the little paper labels for the keys of the five prototype tablets he and his co-inventor Brian Daley fabricated. What does the Hotkey Matrix do? "It reduces keystrokes for mundane production tasks," explains Whitcomb. "It takes common and repetitive tasks and reduces them to one key.", a go-to industry website for engineers, posted news of the Hotkey Matrix in October. All five of the keyboards sold within a week. Meanwhile, Bligg's millions of Swiss fans will hear Madison DNA when his new record is released in 2012.

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