Northwestern’s student-led Niteskool elevates student artists


Raj Ghanekar/The Daily Northwestern

Communication sophomore and Niteskool member Ciel said his work with Niteskool has been “a really good learning experience.”

Raj Ghanekar, Reporter

For student artists seeking promotion, Northwestern’s completely student-run production house Niteskool Productions is a resource with 40 years in the game.  

The student organization produces music videos and songs by local and student artists. It also launched its own record label last year. Weinberg junior and Niteskool co-president Mihir Rajwade said the group has always emphasized growth.

“This club has been about pushing barriers and doing cool stuff,” Rajwade said.

NU students Eric Bernt (Communication ’86) and Jon Shapiro (Communication ’87) launched the company in 1983 to make professional music videos and content. 

But, Rajwade said, Niteskool lacked academic diversity in its early years. 

“Niteskool was always a music video production house which was predominantly occupied by Radio, Television and Film students who liked to make music videos,” Rajwade said. 

He said since Niteskool’s founding, the team’s background has changed. This variety aligns with the main focus of the group — to make music video production and the music industry accessible to everyone, regardless of major. Currently, only four out of the 11 members of the organization’s executive team are RTVF majors.

Communication junior and co-president Kay Cui said Niteskool has also helped non-Bienen and Communication majors develop their art.  

She said school diversity is important because it opens opportunities for everyone to get in touch with their love for music –– from people that work as DJs for NU’s radio station WNUR to those who play music on their own.

“We have a music school on campus, but it’s definitely very classically focused,” Cui said. “There are a lot of talented people on campus that do more mainstream pop and we want to kind of connect those communities a bit more.”

Cui also said Niteskool is in a “transition year.” The club is aiming to become more than just a music video production house. In January 2022, the team created its record label: Niteskool Records.

Previously, Cui said Niteskool produced one-off music videos but did not promote the artists much beyond these projects. Now, the label will allow them to work with artists on larger projects, like albums. 

On Feb. 1, Niteskool officially introduced their nine-member Niteskool Records class of 2023 on Instagram. Cui said the organization will work with all nine artists — eight solo musicians and one band — for a full year, producing content.

Communication sophomore Ciel McDaniels, who is represented by Niteskool Records, said working with a student-led group to grow his portfolio has been very rewarding. He added he sees Niteskool as “a community of empathy.”

“We are all kind of in a similar circumstance as just being students, having other stuff going on (while) having this one industry-based passion that we all follow,” McDaniels said. 

As Rajwade looks to the future, he said the production house’s growth and the addition of new projects like Niteskool Records are setting the group up for expansion. Overall, he said, the group’s priority is to expand its familiarity among students.

Both Rajwade and Cui said they aim to keep the project on a good path. They hope the work they do outlasts them.

“I have really good faith in what we are building this year,” Rajwade said. “I’m excited that when I leave, I’ll be very confident that we will have transformed the club.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @RajeevGhanekar 

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