Introducing Hear Nebraska’s Spring 2017

We are thrilled to announce our Spring 2017 class of Hear Nebraska interns.

Regular readers will recognize Lauren Farris and Connor Lepert, who return for their third and second multimedia sessions, respectively. Both multimedia interns busted their tails last semester, producing a wide variety of compelling photos and video features.

We also have the pleasure of welcoming three new talented individuals to the fold. Margaret Davenport and Zach Visconti climb on as editorial interns, while Mike Mai will work out of Omaha as our new marketing intern. Davenport comes to us after a couple of years at the Daily Nebraskan covering food, arts and culture. Visconti and Mai are both active in the Lincoln and Omaha scenes, respectively; the former is a vocalist/guitarist in indie rock band Walk By Sea, while the latter fronts the pop band Bach Mai.

Read on as our Spring 2017 interns introduce themselves and forecast their work for the semester ahead.

[Editor’s note: Meet them in-person this weekend at both Take Cover concerts in Lincoln and Omaha.]


Margaret Davenport

Age: 22
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Current City: Lincoln, NE
Internship Focus: Editorial

What should Hear Nebraska’s audience expect from you during your internship?

(Hopefully) stories that will tie Lincoln’s music scene to the culinary scene.

In what ways/skills do you hope to improve the most during your internship?

I hope to improve my writing skills the most during this internship. I love writing more than most things, and want to just improve upon it. Other than that, I’d love to gain experience with different types of stories.

What was the first and most recent concert you attended in Nebraska?

I think the first concert I attended was a free Dierks Bentley concert in high school? But I grew up going to classical music concerts with my parents all the time. If you were to count those, it would be the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra when I was probably four years old (or younger). The most recent was the Walk by Sea show with The Hottman Sisters and Blet at 1867 on December 2.

Tell us about a time you realized music and art mattered/impacted your community.

Not only did my parents take me to the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra at a young age, but they also took me to Jazz in June at the Sheldon Art Gallery every summer, and to festivals that featured musicians and dancers of other cultures. I didn’t realize until high school how fortunate I was that I got to listen to so many genres my entire life. Music is a way for people to come together, and I got to see the diversity across Lincoln as people came together at events such as the festivals and Jazz in June.

What’s one Nebraska artist or band you’d like to work with or cover during your internship?

The Hottman Sisters or Mesonjixx. Both bands feature powerful front women and all have an amazing sound.

Tell us one thing outside of your musical comfort zone you’d like to explore during your internship.

Heavy metal or rap music. Though I appreciate and have listened to both genres, I don’t know as many local artists that produce for either genre as I do for the genres I’m typically attracted to.

What professional in your field do you most look up to and why?

Helen Rosner of Eater, and co-host of the podcast the Eater Upsell. Not only are her articles fantastic, but she has hosted the podcast by herself multiple times. She has a way of interviewing to the chefs/food writers/people related to the culinary industry, that makes them open up and talk about everything with her. Even her interviews with the super stars such as Anthony Bourdain (one of the podcasts she conducted alone) sound as though they are getting casual drinks at a bar and catching up. I hope to work more on this when I interview people, and emulate it one day.


Lauren Farris

Age: 21
Hometown: Mitchell, South Dakota
Current City: Lincoln, NE
Internship Focus: Multimedia

What is one thing you learned last semester that will prepare you for this one?

I learned the value of preparation! The more prepared you are (whether it be for a show, interview or video, etc.) the better your work will be. It seems like a no brainer, but I admittedly like to fly by the seat of my pants sometimes, and I’ve learned the importance of being well prepared and I’ve seen the positive effect it has on my work.

What skill do you feel most improved last semester? What are you looking to build on further this time around?

I feel like my video work improved significantly last semester. I was fortunate enough to work alongside Andrew Dickinson on a few videos which was really beneficial. He’s incredibly talented and knowledgeable and I always walked away with a better understanding of some aspect of videography. This semester, I hope to continue that. Videography is still relatively new to me, so I look forward building on what I’ve learned in the past seven months.

What is your single favorite piece of work from last semester?

My favorite piece of work was the video I worked on with Stellmon about Marina and Benji Kushner.  It felt really special to me, not only because Marina is one of my best friends, but also because it was an absolute joy hearing their story and then getting to capture them interacting with each other on a really authentic level in their home.

What advice do you have for the other incoming interns?

My advice for the other interns is just to ask questions. Ask about anything and everything. HN does such a great job when it comes to providing interns with resources and guidance, you just have to ask.

What is one Nebraska act you would like to cover/work with?

Recently, I saw Unmanned at Duffy’s and I was really impressed. I would love to work with them at some point, especially since they will be releasing a new album soon.

You’re a Nebraska pro wrestler. Which Nebraska song would serve as your entrance music?

HARVESTMEN BY BOGUSMAN. And I would have [bassist] Andy [Peterson] be my hype man.


Mike Mai

Age: 22
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Current City: Omaha, NE
Internship Focus: Marketing

What should Hear Nebraska’s audience expect from you during your internship?

They shouldn’t quite expect to see me everywhere, as I will be doing a lot of behind the scenes work. But I hope to be a valuable team player at Hear Nebraska. Everyone at/or related to Hear Nebraska inspires me to say the least. I’ll be around at any of our events and will be behind the keyboard on many promotions and various marketing efforts here.

In what ways/skills do you hope to improve the most during your internship?

Firstly, I hope to develop more of my communication skills. Creating a vast network is invaluable. Fortunately, the people in the Nebraska music scene are incredibly sweet people. I’m mostly excited to be introduced to those that turn the big gears in the machine. Less exciting but equally as useful, various marketing tools and software are going to important in my career. Seeing how Hear Nebraska puts out their quality content will give me insight into how I can do that professionally in the future for work or my own personal endeavors.

What was the first and most recent concert you attended in Nebraska?

My first concert was pretty late in the game. I saw Say Anything crush Sokol Auditorium in 2010. This was back when their self-titled album was their newest record. They opened for Motion City Soundtrack, who obviously are no joke. But my teenage brain couldn’t even process how incredible Say Anything’s set was. I actually enjoy their latest album releases plenty. But their pre-Lucy (Max Bemis’ first child) was unforgettable and sometimes outright nasty. It was the best way to start my craving for concerts.

The most recent concert I went to was with the Lumineers/Andrew Bird/Margaret Glaspy at the Century Link Center. This was my first arena style concert as well. I still can’t comprehend how packed the building was. Seeing that many people out to see some good music gets me excited to perform more in the near future. Every one of those acts shared some love with the stage. This also my second time seeing Andrew Bird. It is unbelievable what he can do with his violin. Combined with a looper, guitar, and his whistling, that man is unstoppable.

Tell us about a time you realized music and art mattered/impacted your community.

I realized the importance of art in music in the orchestra room of Beveridge Magnet middle school. In that room, dozens of pimple-faced, hormonal cool kid wannabes held hands to prepare for their first performance of the musical Grease. I am certain the music wasn’t good. But I also know that somehow this musical created a community amongst many estranged students. Art taught us how to accept ourselves and each other.

What’s one Nebraska artist or band you’d like to work with or cover during your internship?

I would love to work with a group that’s outside of my immediate style. I’d love to see what Super Ghost is up to. Those dudes know how to write some grooves. I love how melodic everything is. The music is intelligent and tight. I need to learn how they do it.

Tell us one thing outside of your musical comfort zone you’d like to explore during your internship.

In general, I want to get over the whole concept of “successful musicians” being these demigods. Really learning how to handle myself around talent and prestige is definitely something I have to work on. I like the idea of being able to meet someone that inspires me and being able to hold a conversation rather than squealing and clamming up.

What professional in your field do you most look up to and why?

As a musician, I am inspired by genuine, honest performers. To me, none seem more real than Damien Rice. Especially with his latest record, his songwriting style always moves me. Gigantic orchestral swells and cryptic melodies next to the soft trickle of rain and a crackling fire describe my favorite song by him: It Takes a Lot to Know a Man. His lyrics and the raw nature of his performances help me find inspiration and excitement in feelings I thought I already understood.


Connor Lepert

Age: 21
Hometown: Beaver Lake, Nebraska
Current Location: Lincoln, NE
Internship Focus: Multimedia

What is one thing you learned last semester that will prepare you for this one?

Last semester I learned to always be prepared for something to go wrong or be different than you expected. I think every intern last semester experienced this. Whether it was strict security at a venue, audio malfunctions, or missing some small piece of equipment that is secretly the key to everything. Once I began to plan for every contingency I ran into less hiccups and those I did I could easily weather through.

What skill do you feel most improved last semester? What are you looking to build on further this time around?

My photo work improved significantly. I got lots of excellent feedback from my peers and pushed myself beyond what I thought was already a pretty good spot. I got to work in lots of challenging spaces and improve both my composition and editing skills. This semester I hope to continue improving my photography skills, but I’d like to shift gears to more video. It’s a field that I came into the internship with more experience and knowledge last semester and I’d like to polish up my videography a bit more.

What is your single favorite piece of work from last semester?

My favorite piece of work was the Ground Floor Guitar video. The musical gearhead in me was in seventh heaven the entire time. I think in total I spent 4 hours just playing around in the shop. The piece turned out great and it was an incredibly fun experience.

What advice do you have for the other incoming interns?

My advice for incoming interns is to not be afraid to rely on your peers for something. If there’s someone you’d like to meet, advice you need, or help with anything the HN staff has got your back.

What is one Nebraska act you would like to cover/work with?

Grand Poobah, I saw videos and photos of them all last semester and was drawn to their unique aesthetic. I think it would be really interesting to do something with them and find out why they decided to perform “behind the curtain”. (Sorry that was bad)

You’re a Nebraska pro wrestler. Which Nebraska song would serve as your entrance music?

“Wolfman” by Jump The Tiger, I’d glue on some mutton chops and howl as I enter the ring. My stage name could be something cheesy like “Lone Wolf Lepert”


Zachary Visconti

Age: 24
Hometown: Fremont, California
Current City: Lincoln, NE
Internship Focus: Editorial

What should Hear Nebraska’s audience expect from you during your internship?

A whole lot of writing. Some things about shows, albums, day-to-day music news, and hopefully some material about the current state of the music scene and where it goes from here. You know, the good stuff that people love about Hear Nebraska.

In what ways/skills do you hope to improve the most during your internship?

I’d like to grow as a writer and learn more about the statewide music community (not just Lincoln).

What was the first and most recent concert you attended in Nebraska?

I don’t think it was my first Nebraska show, but the earliest one I can remember right now is Maha Music Festival in 2013 with Twinsmith, Local Natives, Head & the Heart, Death Cab, and a slew of other great acts. Most recently, I saw Better Friend at The Bourbon with Aziza and Manslaughterer.

Tell us about a time you realized music and art mattered/impacted your community.

In 2006, my sister bought me a ticket for Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concert. Ticket sales for the annual concert go towards the Bridge School, which is a school in California for youth with severe physical impairments. That particular year I got to see Death Cab For Cutie, Trent Reznor, Foo Fighters, and of course, Neil Young. I remember thinking about the community of people that gathered around the music for that show and how Neil Young used his platform as a legendary musician to benefit the lives of these kids. I think that was the first time I truly comprehended the power of music.

What’s one Nebraska artist or band you’d like to work with or cover during your internship?

It’s tough to choose just one. I know Bien Fang is coming out with an EP in a couple months, and they have a killer live set. So maybe I’ll go with them.

Tell us one thing outside of your musical comfort zone you’d like to explore during your internship.

I have little to no experience with DJ sets if I’m being honest. I’m looking forward to learning more about that part of the scene, because I know there are more than a few DJs between Lincoln and Omaha.

What professional in your field do you most look up to and why?

As a songwriter, Isaac Brock. I go back to Modest Mouse every few months and revisit their discography. There’s something so raw and even uncomfortable about his writing, and while my songwriting is quite different, I really connect with his songs. I’m still pretty new to the world of journalism, and I’m still developing my preferences and role models. Instead of pretending I know things, I’ll just say that I love Andy Borowitz’ work on The New Yorker.

Andrew Stellmon is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. Reach him with news tips and story ideas at news@hearnebraska.org.