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The apocalypse team (video)

A short documentary about Ellie Erickson and Koriana Kent, the steadfast fix-it team of Madison music.

The shed behind Koriana Kent and Ellie Erickson’s east-side home isn’t the only place in Madison where musicians can get a guitar adjusted or a blown amp fixed. It is, however, the only place in town to get music gear repaired amid a garden of outlandish murals, carvings, and doll parts, while soaking up the couple’s extensive know-how and frequently inappropriate banter.

“Even though we’re obnoxious, we’re cuddly,” Erickson says. “Except for the fact that we’re old, you want us on your apocalypse team, because we can fix just about anything.”

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Kent’s expertise as an electrical engineer and Erickson’s experience as a luthier have also yielded plenty of off-the-wall custom creations. They’ve built guitars with volatile overdrive effects and outlandish lights built right in, an acoustic flying-V, and a bizarre slide guitar that pours out sheets of grimy low end, among any number of other mutant instruments, amps, and effects. 

Building or helping build a custom instrument has a creative power of its own, and the two enjoy working through that process with musicians who are looking for something special, as long as they know what they want and have thought it through. “Don’t come in without a plan,” is Kent’s only warning for someone who wants to build a custom instrument.

Nothing motivates Erickson and Kent like being told that something won’t work or can’t be done. “Never underestimate spite and contrariness, and being disputatious. They’re great drivers when you’re an artist,” Erickson says.

Musician and videographer Paddy Cassidy collaborated with me to create a short documentary about two people who are absolutely essential to the Madison music community. Kent and Erickson talked with us about why it’s special to play an instrument you’ve built yourself, the hardest problems to fix, and the attitude they bring to their work. 

People interested in repairs or instrument-building can reach Erickson at [email protected]

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