Kaylee Bittner is an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison majoring in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She is also pursuing certificates in History and Gender and Women’s Studies and will graduate with the class of 2023.

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“SMART” Banner by Dennis Nechvatal, Madison, WI, 1983. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society ID #2011.63.2

OBJECT HISTORY: "SMART" Banner by Dennis Nechtaval

During its twenty-seven years of operation, Madison’s Smart Studios was a cornerstone of the music scene, responsible for producing a wide array of music all the way from unknown local acts to big-name artists from around the globe.

Garbage band members (pictured left to right) Steve Marker, Butch Vig, Shirley Manson, and Duke Erikson. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, image ID 93605.

Garbage's Origins in Madison

Out of all the bands and musicians who have roots in Wisconsin’s capitol city, Garbage is perhaps one of the most successful products of the Madison music scene, having sold more than seventeen million albums worldwide over the course of their career.

Exterior of Smart Studios at 1254 East Washington Avenue, Madison, WI. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, image ID 243309.

The History of Smart Studios

Smart Studios, founded by Butch Vig and Steve Marker, was a recording studio located on Madison’s east side. Over its twenty-seven years of operation, Smart Studios was responsible for producing music for both local acts and world-famous artists in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, putting Madison on the map as a significant location in the music scene of the time.