Premiere Ableton Educator: Recording Connection mentor Brian Jackson

Brian_jacksonA natural musician, Recording Connection mentor Brian Jackson has been working in electronic music for twenty years. So what led him into electronic music at a time when rock was still the rage? Initially it was little more than a desire to make things sound better. Here’s how Brian describes his progression into electronic in his own words:

I started out as a musician playing bass in bands. In college I also did college radio for four years, and while I was there they had a little production suite where we could make our own basically ads for our shows that different DJs would play at different times. I did specialty shows pretty much the whole time I was there, so you wanted to make these…they were like almost a track cassette tapes the way they look, they were like old school of analog carts and you would make your 30 seconds promo or one minute promo to get played or they’d have you make other announcements.

So I started learning how to do basic production with a couple reel to reels, a couple FX, then started wanting to record myself practicing and then wanted to start recording my bands rehearsing, and then started realizing that I could do a lot more if I got into electronics, computers, synths and drum machines.

Then over time I just really realized I had a passion for that and jumped into the computer based stuff in 1996 when most of my friends thought I was crazy. We were doing more traditional music and studios’ recordings. They didn’t want me to get a Mac to do music on. I’m the one laughing about it now I’m sure. I saw that was the future at the time.”

Mixing and mastering followed suit. Today, Brian Jackson is one of the world’s premiere Ableton educators. He is also the pro who put together our one of a kind Ableton curriculum. When asked about what went into creating the curriculum from scratch, Brian is sure to mention a few key educators who also lent their talents and expertise to the project.

I designed all six of the modules plus a six-lesson intro course, and I had my friend Jon Margulies, who is a well-known Ableton expert [who] wrote the Live Power books, I actually had him build out the intro course lessons. And then my good friend Tony Grund, who’s also another Ableton expert, assisted me with a few of the lessons in the bigger course.”

The fact that Brian is an artist and musician as well as a mixer, masterer and Ableton educator made him the ideal author as someone who would understand our students’ artistic and professional needs. Because electronic music is generally created by one individual rather than a team, it’s important for those who want to succeed to acquire a skillset that goes well beyond creating interesting sounds, beats, and harmonies. A production-based mindset is essential.

When asked to elaborate on this point, Brian tells us the following:

An electronic musician is primarily doing everything themselves from start to finish. So that would mean that not only would I have to know how to use the technology and the tools to actually write the music, I would also have to have a sense of how a composition goes together, how a project works from beginning to end, which is, of course, what a producer’s role is in general, whether they’re overseeing a band or an artist’s production or their own. It’s seeing something from beginning to end, understanding what the audience is, what the format is, which sounds are appropriate, what length is appropriate. And then, depending on the inclination of the electronic music producer, how much of the audio engineering they want to do themselves…Most electronic musicians I know do everything themselves except for the mastering when they can afford to use someone who just specializes in mastering.”

Being an electronic producer and a mentor gives Brian an insider’s view of what apprentices really need. He’s using the wisdom and skills he’s developed over years to explain the inner-workings of the industry in-tandem with the technology and musicianship. Thanks for paying it forward with us Brian!

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