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Interview with Andrew Kirk: Recording Connection Honors Graduate

Interviewer: Okay. Thanks again for being willing to talk with us. Let me pull up the right set of questions. There we go. Andrew, first of all, why don’t you tell us what you have been doing since you graduated from the Recording Connection.

Andrew: Okay. Yes. I did want to talk about that. I actually have no found work yet. The reason they said they want to feature me as a success story is because I was told that I graduated with honors. This was probably due to my ten years of recording experience before entering this program.

Interviewer: Okay.

Andrew: When I graduated, I was offered a running internship at the studio where I did my schooling at. The internship is unpaid and there is no guarantee of work from them in the future. So the best deal I have gotten out of it is at least keeping the recording on my resume and keeping it current. However, the studio that I did go to, because it is a top notch studio, one of the best in the world, is a two-hour drive from me. It’s a ways of a distance from where I live. I have not even been in there once since I graduated almost two months ago.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the season. I have several calls into them. I’m waiting for a call back from the guy that manages all the interns. I think they have probably been busy because of the holidays.

I have pursued working in a couple of smaller project studios around Sarasota, Florida, where I do live. I’m going to keep those studios anonymous. I have done some side work and helped some guys out that I know. Again, this is all unpaid. I have not landed any work in the industry as of yet. I have just done what I can to keep it on my resume as I continue to search for work and work with the Stay Connected Program through the program. That is what I have been doing for the last two months since I graduated.

Interviewer: Okay. What specifics are the Stay Connected Program doing to help you?

Andrew: Actually, I was just notified that there is a new girl at the Stay Connected Program. I just got my first email from her. I got a call from her a few days ago. I just got my first email from her. I haven’t had too much time to go into it. It’s detailing everything I need to do to participate in the Stay Connected Program.

Some things I did breeze over. Some things I believe I have already done. I already fine tuned my resume with the girl that used to run the Stay Connected Program. I guess she is no longer with the company.

When I was working with her she did help me fine tune my resume. I have that all ready to go. She directed me to a few websites where I might be able to find work. Again, I have spent a long period of time on those websites and have been unsuccessful as of yet in finding anything that I even could apply for.

Other than that, they have not done much for me. I’m hoping in the near future I will be working with this new girl. I’m going to go through this email in more detail as soon as I have a second. I do work another job to support myself. I’ve been very busy with that during this Christmas season. It has been kind of hard to find the time to do this. In the next day or two I will be able to go through it. Hopefully, they will be able to offer me something more.

I know I need to do most of the work myself but I am kind of curious about exactly how they are going to approach it. If you asked me this a month ago, I would have said they helped me fine tune my resume and that’s just about it. Hopefully, they are going to be helping me a little closer from here on out.

Interviewer: Okay. Good enough. I mentioned to you before that I am a freelancer. I’m not actually employee with Recording Connection.

Andrew: Yes. I thought that.

Interviewer: I do have an interest. I’m actually going through the program myself right now as an apprentice (extern).

Andrew: Are you?

Interviewer: I decided to take the program. Anything that I get like that is helpful internally as well. Just for clarity, I am not an employee. Nothing that you say is going to sway my opinion one way or the other.

Andrew: Cool. What I do want to say is that I loved the program. I did. I loved it. I did put me in a very prestigious studio. I was working under Dave Thomas, a very prestigious recording engineer and musician who has been in the industry for about 40 years I believe. I was working under him and one of his main engineers named [Garren].

It’s my understanding that this program is mainly about making connections. Having them get me into the studio in the first place is a huge connection for me. I have been in touch with the main engineer I was working under since I stopped the program. It’s just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s to get me going in as an intern when it is a two-hour drive. It’s kind of tough. There is a different guy altogether that is in charge of the interns.

In terms of the program, I did find it to be very successful. I loved it. I felt like I learned a lot. It was filling in a lot of Swiss cheese for me in my brain because, like I said, I have been doing it unprofessionally for ten years. Even if I hadn’t been doing it unprofessionally for ten years, they start at square one, which is nice.

I can see a lot of people that don’t have any experience going through this program and needing to work a lot harder than I had to but were getting just the same out of it.

Interviewer: Okay. I’m sorry to interrupt. For clarity, what you are saying from this is that the first initial benefit to studying at Recording Connection, besides the program itself, was the ability to connect. I’m assuming they let you know that a lot of what you do with those connections depends on you.

Andrew: Yes. Absolutely. It depends on you.

Interviewer: What you get out of the program is what you put into it.

Andrew: Yes. Absolutely.

Interviewer: Okay. Let me ask you this: because you did have experience working in engineering before, what first drew you to the Recording Connection as a training program? What made you decide to sign on?

Andrew: I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a tough industry to break into. Seeing how I never had any formal education, I had done a lot of freelance engineer work for a lot of different studios before, none of which paid very well. I had been considering, the last four or five years, actually getting a formal education.

I would call myself street smart equivalent to using recording gear. I did not know the science behind it. There was a lot that I wanted to learn. I was really intrigued and really wanting to learn so I would be able to better my, hopefully, career, build better work experience.

What drew me to Recording Connection was comparing them to a lot of different schools. I’m from Boston. I moved down to Florida to get closer to Full Sail which I went and toured twice. It’s supposed to be a top notch school. The price difference versus what you actually get out of it, Full Sail deals with hundreds and hundreds of students and they are just pumping out people with degrees into the industry without getting much actual real world recording experience, which is very important in this industry.

It was that aspect of the Recording Connection. I was going to be learning in a real studio, doing actual real work. During the program I had the opportunity of doing voice over work for MTV, something that you would never be able to do while going to school for this sort of thing. It was really, really cool. It gave me real world experience. I got to work closely with an MTV producer and an MTV actress. I actually did voice over work, which I can put on my resume. I have experience with that now.

It was things like that which drew me to this program.

Interviewer: Okay. Terrific. What was your mentor like? What do you remember most about your experience with your mentor?

Andrew: My mentor is actually great. Very friendly. He’s a younger guy, also just breaking into the industry but very, very smart. I believe that he excelled at the program. He not only excelled but went on to further his education with it independently afterwards. That’s when he got the offer to teach as a full time engineer at the studio I believe around the same time.

I actually loved my mentor because I connected with him a lot. We were similar age-wise and similar in interests. It worked out really well. It was cool to see that we were very similar. That’s what I liked about my mentor the most. Also, he was able to answer any question I ever had, which were a lot. Through the program he said I was asking questions that he had never heard before and never really thought of before, which is nice. He was able to answer them. He was obviously very knowledgeable. Very happy with that.

Interviewer: Okay. Great. Good. So your mentor was actually a Recording Connection graduate?

Andrew: Yes. He was.

Interviewer: Okay. All right. Great. You mentioned the MTV project. Did you have any other favorite part of learning in the studio? What was your favorite part of going to the studio to learn?

Andrew: Really just being there. It’s all about music for me. I love it. It is a passion. I want to make it a career as well. Just being there. Having the opportunity to work in a multi-million dollar facility is really, really cool when I am such a tech head. If you put me in front of a big console with a lot of buttons I just can’t stop drooling. I love it all. Being able to learn day in and day out in the same facility was really cool. That was my classroom. You got to sit down at a big SSL console with Pro Tools 10. It was just amazing.

Interviewer: Great. Okay. Just one more question then, Andrew. What would your advice be to somebody who wants to pursue a career in audio? Especially given your little range of experience outside of Recording Connection and freelancing on your own for a bit. If someone came to you and asked how to get involved in the music or recording industry, what would you advise them to do?

Andrew: That is a good question. There are so many ways around it. I believe getting an education is important. However, there are so many people out there that don’t even go that route. What everyone needs to understand is that it is a tough industry to break into. Some people get lucky and have the opportunity to get right in working under a good engineer in a studio as an intern. That can be just as good as taking a program.

For most of us that doesn’t happen. You do need to look at furthering your education some way. I researched different schools for three or four years while interning at different studios before I ended up doing something. Through my research I found that one of the best ways is through the Recoding Connection. They will get you in a studio. They will help you start making connections. From then on it is really all about you. Everyone needs to realize that you really do get out of the career what you put into it. Keep working at it and don’t give up.