NativeAudio is building accessible, minimalist pedals that celebrate creator Mike Trombley’s Blackfeet tribal heritage
Based in Dayton, Ohio, this new pedal brand is winning fans across the globe thanks to owner Mike Trombey’s talent for building great sounding pedals,with liveries inspired by his Blackfeet (Amsskaapipiikuni) heritage.
How did you get into guitar?
“During high school I came across Guitar Hero and oddly enough, the game inspired me to pick up a real guitar, which I have not put down since.”
When did you start building or tinkering with effects?
“I started building and tinkering with effect pedals during my undergraduate studies for electrical engineering.”
“The schooling kind of went in parallel with my understanding of circuits. The more I learned from school, the more I’d apply to my own personal designs.”
When did you realise you had a viable business?
“I had been building pedals and sharing my builds with local Dayton musicians during my undergraduate studies. After building for a while and seeing that there was a demand, I kind of knew I was onto something.”
Did you have any external investment starting out?
“No way! Moving at the speed of cash and constantly working to improve my business knowledge, while learning from my setbacks.”
When did you feel like you’d nailed your branding?
“After I released my third product, I started noticing that my products had a minimalist look to them, and the artwork started to relate to my Native American heritage. It was at that point that I really liked the simplicity of the pedal’s layout, and each graphic had a unique story.”
Who does your graphic design and is it difficult to translate your Indigenous heritage into artwork?
“Alex Scalgia here in Ohio does all my artwork and he’s been doing it since the start of the company, back when we met in the local Dayton music scene. Coming up with the artwork isn’t challenging given that my heritage runs deep with so many stories and events that have shaped us – but it can be challenging at times to come up with artwork that really captures a story and tells it well.”
How did you come up with your best-selling product?
“Honestly, it was out of necessity. I’m a simple dude and needed a reverb that was easy to use. I loved the idea of multiple reverbs and presets, but the units out in the market at the time were just over complicated. Our Ghost Ridge ended up answering my need for multiple reverbs and presets, while keeping things minimal. The layout is just two knobs and two switches – I mean, that sounds like a dream to me.”
What has the response been towards your work from the Blackfoot community?
“I’ve had a great and supportive response! I’ve had many family members and friends from the Blackfeet Reservation reach out and share how cool it is to see someone sharing stories and bringing light to our Blackfeet ancestry. A lot of the members from the community don’t play guitar but they support the brand in other ways like picking up NativeAudio t-shirts, so it’s always cool coming back home and seeing others wearing NativeAudio stuff.”
What’s your proudest moment as a maker?
“Probably the day I finally paid myself as business owner. That was definitely the day that I knew this wasn’t a hobby and that I was actually a pursuing an adventure with the mission to inspire others with creativity.”
What are the biggest opportunities for the guitar industry in 2021?
“As with any other industry, we have to keep creating and adapting to the market. It’s thrilling yet a big challenge, for sure, but I love it!”
What’s next for NativeAudio?
“It’s simple, we plan to continue to inspire creativity.”
Find out more on NativeAudio at nativeaudio.com. Learn more about the Blackfeet Nation here.
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