RC mentor Sax DMA gets Students Working on Album for signed-artist Sharrief!
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Just imagine getting trained in the recording industry while you’re also working with an artist who’s signed with a major label and getting record credits all at the same time. Well such is the case for a few hardworking apprentices who are training under major player producer/engineer Sax DMA at Terminus Recording Studios in New York City.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA and egging to get out of an environment he found stifling and uninspiring, Sax moved out to New York City in the early 90s. As a gifted rock guitarist, Sax probably thought he’d end up entrenched in the heavy metal scene but fate had other plans for him. “Immediately upon coming to New York City, New York being the mecca for hip hop and R&B… I was there for the whole BDP and Tribe Called Quest, Low End Theory album working with D Nice and Too Short and Busta Rhymes.” Hip hop found Sax who admits that at the time that he “didn’t even know who these guys were” but he always showed up, worked hard and had personality. In fact, Sax’s personality and willingness to be as helpful as possible to the clients, even when he didn’t know who they were, made a very big impression on none other than Missy Elliott who, met Sax on the floor at Quad Studios and went on to request that he be on staff every single time she was in the studio. And that’s exactly what happened.
Over the decades since, Sax DMA has gone on to work with the very best and biggest in R&B and hip hop including Wu Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey. Sax laughs saying, “I met everybody in R&B even though my thing was rock.”
By the time Sax DMA became a mentor with Recording Connection, he’d already shown more than 3,000 people the ropes during his tenure as studio manager at Quad. Now based out of Terminus Recording Studios, located on the penthouse level of the iconic Times Square building, Sax DMA asks his apprentices to dedicate themselves to the craft as he takes them through the real ins-and-outs of recording by working on an album for R&B artist Sharrief who is signed with AMG/Universal. For those who prove themselves, there’s real payback. Sax says, “At least the top four who have been ambitious since the beginning…they’re going to get album credits for this.” With Sax, apprentices who bring their A game can go very far, very fast.
Sax DMA gives us the lowdown on a few of his apprentices. Here’s what he has to say:
Marcus Charles—The 18 year old apprentice is proving he’s got what it takes. Sax says, “He’s just this bright young kid. He works on Logic at home. He just absorbs stuff so quickly. I teach him something and he knows it. As soon as I tell him once, he’s just got it. Now already he’s on Lesson 13, I think, and he’s tracking Sharrief and that’s the AMG/Universal project…He’s like a natural. It’s incredible.”
Kristen Bonano—“When she came in to be interviewed, she didn’t know anything about the studio. But she had read every Beatles book and Led Zeppelin book about how they recorded all this stuff and knew all the equipment by name, saying ‘Yeah, I heard about that and 1176 and the M49 microphone.’ I was totally blown away. I asked her, ‘How do you even know this stuff?’ And she was like, ‘I don’t know what they look like, but I just study these books so much I know about it.’ I’m like, this girl is amazing. I called the school immediately. I said ‘I want her. I need her. I want her in my class.’ Now she’s learning these things and she’s just picking it up so quick. I’ve never seen anything like it. She’s really absorbing it so quickly. It’s amazing.”
Frank Poulin—“He’s just that guy that you want in your recording studio. He’s got the demeanor, the personality, the attitude, the humility. He’s just a pleasure to be around and he’s ambitious as hell.”
So what makes the best apprentice in Sax’s opinion? Is it all about having the right chops or the right personality? It’s both.“It’s 50% skill and it’s 50% personality,” Sax says, “I can teach you the skills in school, but I can’t teach you the personality.” Personality is about taking the time to connect with other people, about honoring who they are even when you don’t know who they are and doing that over and over again, making it a way of life. Sax says, “It’s shaking someone’s hand. . . This is the first thing I even tell people [potential apprentices] on the interview…If you see somebody on that [studio] floor, in that environment, because the recording studio is the temple, if you are in the temple and you see somebody in the temple that you do not recognize, you immediately stand up, walk up to them, smile and shake their hand and introduce yourself, looking them in the eye and say, ‘Hello, my name is Sax. How are you?’ I’ve seen people’s lives change off that. That’s the biggest thing, that first impression. You want to make that incredible first impression.”
Thanks for being such an integral part of making our students’ dreams reality. You do us proud Sax DMA!