Blind RC student Angel Ayala Sees a Clear Path Ahead
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Joey Heier of Crystal Clear Studio had extremely kind things to say about his apprentice Angel Ayala: “This guy has such a pair of golden ears,” says Joey. “He plays guitar, he sings, he raps, he records—he’s just a special guy…This kid can do more without vision on a Macintosh computer than I can do.”
Yes, you read that correctly—without vision—Angel also happens to be blind.
When asked about the logistics of Angel working in the studio, Joey tells us that Angel is fully capable of running studio sessions, micing drum sets, helping to build out digital files and record artists:
He runs my entire console totally blind. I put his hands on the faders, I showed him where different things were, and he runs entire sessions…He doesn’t use a mouse, he uses a voiceover utility where the computer talks to him and it tells him how to raise and lower volumes or pan things or add effects to things.”
Angel grew up in the rather rough, crime infested Kensington area of Philadelphia. As a result, he’s developed the mindset to take things seriously and not make excuses. He’s out there to work, make a name for himself, and is focused on his goals.
Angel’s love for recording became apparent while he was in high school, recording his own music and engineering it himself: “I could work on the littlest problems for like hours and hours and hours at a time. It got to the point to where I would forget to eat, you know, stuff like that. So I realized that I had a really huge passion for it.”
After high school Angel applied to a few different audio engineering schools and ran into some rough patches. One school didn’t accept him because they were unable to accommodate his lack of vision. Another school’s tuition was far too high. Angel and his mom, Angelica, went in search of alternatives and found Recording Connection.
Angel says he was skeptical at first and called the program “too good to be true.”
But the moment he went in to interview with Joey, his doubts were replaced with an urgency to get in and get going:
He had a band performing, and I was like geeking out. I was psyched. And you know, we sat down and we start talking. And he starts talking to me and mom like, you know, he’s like, “So what made you, what made you want to do it?” And he was like, you know, basically acting like, ‘You ready to put in the work that it takes?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah. Like I’ve been ready.'”
Shortly after starting Recording Connection, Angel was invited to attend a federally funded course called “I See Music,” put together to help blind audio engineers operate special technologies and add-ons, making it possible for them to work with audio gear that has, for the most part, been designed solely for those with sight. After returning from the program, Angel attacked the Recording Connection curriculum with such ferocity that it astonished his mentor. When Joey asked Angel why he was plowing through the lessons, doing 4 or 5 at a time, Angel told him, “If I understand it, you know, I’m going to take the quiz.”
Now Angel’s working his way through the Master’s program, growing the skills that will enable him to get working in audio. He says,
I’ve already tracked my first band. We actually have to call in the person to do guitar overdubs and the vocals. But I’ve already had practice within my stuff and other people’s things, and stuff like that. And I’m still learning when it comes to that. I’m still learning.”
When asked what he wants to achieve in his career, Angel says,
My end goal is to open up my own place. I feel like a lot of the times for a blind person to kind of make it in any industry, they have to be their own entrepreneur. So my goal is I want a beautiful place. I want a beautiful studio. I have a lot more confidence now. I knew that I wanted to be in music, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I didn’t have a road. I didn’t have a stepping stone to point me in the right direction… I don’t know what made [Joey] decide to take me as a student, but I’m eternally grateful.”
Angel is now looking for work! We’re keeping tabs on this future star. Thanks for the inspiration Angel!