Northern Lights


Orchestrating a mobbed-out basement with a shower of lights, deep synths and pulsing bass is all in a night’s work for Eau Claire’s fastest up-and-coming electronic aficionado.

Though he’s been a staple in the city’s music scene since arriving at UW-Eau Claire, Sophomore Alex Tronson has been behind his keys for over a decade.

Tronson, a creative writing major, cites his musical beginnings as taking roughly 10 years of piano lessons in his home city Saint Louis Park, Minn.

“I was forced into piano at a pretty young age,” Tronson said. “My parents said they wanted each of us kids to learn an instrument.”

The transition to electronics, he said, came after picking up on the success of one of his favorite artists.

“My dad bought me a MIDI keyboard and computer in junior high right around the time Owl City was becoming popular,” Tronson said. “I was really inspired by the whole ‘sit in your basement and make electronic music’ concept that made him famous.”

Having music he recorded from his dorm room studio featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Current” suggests Tronson may be experiencing traces of that shot to fame himself.

North House’s tranquil-sounding beats originated as a reflection of sentiment he felt while at his home away from home in Grand Marais, Minn.

“My grandparents own a cabin on the North Shore and there’s actually a wood shop there called North House Folk School,” Tronson said. “It’s totally like a parallel to their cabin … whenever I record a song my heart’s always there.”

Tronson said in the past he’s always felt North House is best suited for intimate atmospheres — coffee shops and house shows.

Based on recommendations from his following, though, he’s beginning to realize his project could think bigger.

“The lack of vocals gives it a special niche considering not a lot of people are into instrumental music,” Tronson said. “But I think with where I’m at right now if you find the right group of people any sort of venue can be fun.”

District Company Manager Justin Cota, one of Eau Claire’s newest all-age venues, hosted North House for a show in September. Cota said he agrees North House’s dynamic style is able to suit any location.

“He has the ability to make any composition he wants of any genre,” Cota said. “I’ve sat down with him and seen him produce music on the spot … whether it be hip hop or electronic he gives a flash of what modern music sounds like.”

Considering some Eau Claire artists with traces of electronic music such as Bon Iver — a group Tronson considers the prevailing influence in Eau Claire — Cota said he predicts North House could find some success pairing with music of that nature.

For now, though, it’s all about finding that match and running with it.

After releasing two EPs without an overwhelming amount of recognition, Tronson realized it wouldn’t take a pair of thick-framed glasses to see he lived in a city dominated by the Indie-folk genre.

One way Tronson hopes to change the tides is by bringing his following of electronic lovers to the forefront.

“I really would like to see an electronic music community thrive here because I totally think it can,” Tronson said. “There’s the nature-y, folky side of Eau Claire and there really are groups of people who are into electronic music … I just wish they’d get out more.”

Creating a bigger following begins by creating a bigger sound — North House has the desire to take that direction.

These big-picture ideas are manifested in an upcoming release, where Tronson said he focused heavily on the drum programming in order to become harder-hitting.

“In the past a lot of my music was really melodic and down-tempo … the new album retains a lot of that,” Tronson said. “It’s still a North House record but I put a lot more focus on the beat and rhythm this time around.”

Alex Adkinson, a member of local band Softly, Dear, will be performing with North House in November. He said with the accessibility of Tronson’s music, he will be successful in any form he takes on.

“Any musician playing the music they want to play is great for Eau Claire’s music scene,” Adkinson said. “In the case of North House it’s more about the vibe and feel than the

As Cota had foreshadowed, North House may pick up on some more traditional Eau Claire sounds as he moves forward.

Tronson said he’s into the idea of collaborating.

“It’s still in its baby phase as I figure everything out but I think what I’m working on is going to be pretty damn cool,” Tronson said.

Tronson still isn’t sure of exactly what direction North House will take, but one thing is certain: a lot of eyes are eagerly following him, and that’s not a bad place to be.

Listen to Tronson’s 3rd full-length release, and catch him live at the Hudson House on Nov. 9