Tag Archives: executive

The Evolution 
of Pop Music

April 15, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Admittedly, 34-year-old Omaha native Jonathan Tvrdik doesn’t sleep much. Between co-owning Benson’s Krug Park, working as a consultant for his wife Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik’s business Hello Holiday, being a father to 2-year-old son Hugo, directing music videos and commercials, making music, and holding down a day job as both the executive creative director at Phenomblue and head of product design at Rova, there’s not a lot of room for much else. It’s a path he can trace back to childhood.

“When I was a little kid, I played by myself and was always building things,” Tvrdik recalls. “I’m an adult version of that kid who is constantly making new project—like a band, bar, new app, or music video. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person with lots of irons in the fire.”

Ironically, that’s where the inspiration behind the name of Tvrdik’s upcoming solo album came from. Titled Irons, it’s a project over two years in the making and one that took careful crafting with the help of longtime friend and drummer for The Faint Clark Baechle. Busting at the seams with heavy themes of introspection and emotional growth, Irons illustrates a tumultuous period in Tvrdik’s life.

“For better or for worse, that’s where I’ve always been—busy,” he says. “I don’t even know what that has created in me—like who am I as a person? I’ve always been a workhorse, but who am I really? Each song dissects a different thing I am doing or interested in, or a certain vice I have as a result of all the stuff I am working with. It’s a very self-analytical sort of record.”

Beginning with “Something Better” and culminating with “Star Stick,” the 11-track album is like Joy Division meets The Faint, or as Tvrdik describes it, “Frank Sinatra on top of electronica-goth.” It was a true labor of love and Tvrdik really trusted Baechle’s expertise. Some tracks he thought were polished and ready to go; Baechle would hear them and mistakingly refer to them as “demos.” It took the experience of his fine-tuned ear to sew up any loose ends.

“We’ve made a lot music together over the years from a musician and engineer standpoint,” Tvrdik explains. “For this one, we started working through the process of what it was going to look like. I always knew when I was done mixing and recording it on my own, I would take it to him to refine. My producorial technique is very raw. For songs I thought were done and perfect, Clark would be like, ‘I got your demos’ [laughs]. I’m very right brained and he’s very left. I wanted his brain to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and nit pick the hell out of it, which he did. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Although Tvrdik’s music background goes back to The Cog Factory days, where Omaha staples like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Cursive’s Tim Kasher, and The Faint’s Todd Fink (Baechle’s older brother) got their start in the early ’90s, naturally he’s experienced plenty of evolutionary changes in terms of his musical output. At one point, he was in a hardcore band, and later a noise-based outfit. While he felt he was still emotionally expressive in all of them, it’s with the forthcoming Irons he felt he was truly able to effectively communicate to the listener exactly what he was experiencing.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Brian Langbehn

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

An accounting career wasn’t what Brian Langbehn, the executive chef at 801 Chophouse at the Paxton, had in mind when he graduated with a business degree, but that’s exactly what he took on. When the position didn’t work out, he recalls telling himself, “I can get another accounting job…but do I want to go back? Or change my life?”

Having a love of food and a fascination with even the simplest of spices, Langbehn packed up and moved east to attend the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. One of his first jobs in the industry was as a pastry assistant at Sugar in Chicago for Christine McCabe, who was named Bon Appetit’s 2005 Pastry Chef of the Year. She taught Langbehn skills, technique, and professionalism. Another opportunity Langbehn took in his quest to learn more about food was an internship with a bed and breakfast in Italy.

Upon moving back to Omaha, Langbehn continued to hone both his cooking and baking skills first as lead baker with Paradise Bakery & Café, followed by work as a caterer with Attitude on Food, and then as a chef in a small café owned by his aunt. He was brought on as the pastry chef for 801 Chophouse in 2007 and has continued to grow there, moving up to sous chef, and eventually executive chef in Spring 2010. (The sous chef role at 801 Chophouse is now covered by Ivan Dondiego, who Langbehn says is doing some great things.)

When Langbehn isn’t working as executive chef at 801 Chophouse or cooking any number of his favorite foods, including risotto, which “is like a blank canvas,” he says, he and his wife enjoy competing in and teaching swing dance. In fact, they met when he began to take dance lessons where she was an instructor. “Time isn’t something I have a lot of,” he notes, adding that being with his wife, brother, sister, and parents is always appreciated.

And while his grandmother, who he was also close to, has passed away, Langbehn fondly recalls the small tart cherry pies she used to make for his family using fresh cherries from her backyard. Recently, he has worked to recreate them and feels that every batch gets him a little closer to his grandmother’s original recipe.

801 Chophouse at the Paxton
1403 Farnam St.