Bienen student aims to revive award-winning music video production group


Source: Erica Bank

A screen capture of Niteskool’s 1986 music video for “Next to You.” Bienen Sophomore Erica Bank said she wanted to revive the music production club in order to enhance her education.

Syd Stone, Copy Chief

Bienen sophomore Erica Bank said she was excited to join Niteskool Productions — a club founded in the 1980s that produced award-winning music videos — until she realized the student group no longer existed.

But when Bank received an email from Communication Prof. Jacob Smith — who had heard about her interest — this summer about rebooting the student group, she jumped at the possibility of getting practical experience in the music industry.

“That’s really when I saw my opportunity,” she said. “Just being surrounded by so many different music organizations, there’s just so much talent at Northwestern. We have concerts, but there’s no way for the student body to be exposed to the talent that’s at Northwestern.”

After losing focus in recent years, Niteskool has now become a recognized student group with Smith serving as the faculty adviser. Bank said Niteskool will again produce music videos with the goal of promoting student musicians.

This time around, however, the pair said they want to incorporate more music business and management education into the club.

The Niteskool website features an archive of all the music videos the club has made dating back to 1985, including “Next to You,” which won a student Emmy. Bank said she wants to push the club forward while still appreciating the work of her predecessors.

Joe Lattal (SESP ’16), assistant director of Student Organizations & Activities, said he helped the two re-register the club for this academic year. Lattal said Niteskool will recruit new students at this week’s student organization fair.

“Erica is adding to the tradition of the art of music video production by trying to add an element of music business education to it, too,” Lattal said.

Bank said she is creating her own major within the Bienen School of Music to combine her interests in music and the record industry.

“I realized halfway through my (freshman) year that I didn’t want to be an opera singer,” Bank said. “I love music with all my heart, but I also want to expand some of my academic interests.”

As president and head of production for Niteskool, Bank said the organization’s reboot will also bridge the gap between her passion for music and her professional interests.

Smith said students studying music as well as Radio, Television and Film would benefit from joining the club because it complements their curricula.

“We could reimagine Niteskool as being more than just shooting more than one music video,” he said. “There seem to be a lot of students who are interested in the music business and industry, and Niteskool could be a larger umbrella organization for things that are related to the music industry. The music video would just be one part of that.”

Smith said he hopes Niteskool will become a place for students to collaborate across disciplines and even serve as an “incubator” for the future of the music industry.

As one of its kickoff initiatives, the group will introduce “Niteskool One Take” — a music video that will feature high-quality footage and audio of Northwestern musicians, bands, DJs and a cappella groups. She said she hopes the club can complete about three projects each quarter.

“We have our first group called Kodiak Grove, a completely Northwestern-run band,” Bank said in reference to an upcoming project. “They’re going to be our test run.”

Both Bank and Lattal said the club is representative of the performing arts community at NU and would showcase students’ talent.

“Music video production, even though it’s changed a lot in the last 30 years, is a really cool art form,” Lattal said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for students to really express creativity at that intersection of music and sound and visual arts.”

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