Article: Nate Manic | Brain Trust

The decider

Getting behind the scenes with Smart Bar’s new music director.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 12.10.09

TOC | Nate Manic

It’s with a note of disbelief that Nate Seider tells us, “I’m getting all domesticated and settling into a desk job.” Usually, this would be the last thing a full-time, on-the-rise DJ would say. “My life has changed dramatically in the last three months,” Seider continues. “What’s next? Health insurance? God forbid.”

Seider hasn’t left the DJ circuit; he’s expanding his club-related skill set as the new music director for one of Chicago’s best-known dance-music venues, Smart Bar. On Friday 11, Seider—who deejays as Nate Manic—spins his own welcome party alongside esteemed DJ John Acquaviva. With his signature wire-rimmed glasses and his head clean-shaven, Seider joins us up the street from the club at Uncommon Ground for a couple of beers.

“I’ve been learning a lot in a very short amount of time,” Seider says following a few weeks on the job. “I can’t say I haven’t pissed off a talent agent or two in the process.”

After filling a dance floor as a DJ, filling a booking agent’s shoes presents a very different challenge. “A lot of people feel very strongly about Smart Bar. It’s very dear to a lot of people,” Seider says. As with any club, the nightly talent forms the public’s perception, but it’s the booking agent who schedules the DJs and establishes the consistency that clubgoers expect. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been learning the ropes,” Seider says. “Now I can start getting into the vision I have for the club. I’m realizing it takes a lot of planning to get the overall feel I want.”

It’s fitting that we’re sipping beers from Wisconsin’s Capital Brewery: The 33-year-old hails from Chilton, a small town south of Green Bay. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Seider quickly discovered the academic environment wasn’t for him. A lifelong musician who picked up piano at the age of two, Seider transferred to the Madison Media Institute, majoring in music-recording technology. During this time, he discovered DJ culture.

“We used to throw parties at this shitty apartment we lived in. We would cardboard up all the windows and get Chad Mindrive, Nick Nice, Terry Mullan and other locals and just go till 9am,” Seider says with a laugh.

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