Michael Mikulka talks One Must-Have Skill, Solange, and More!

Recording Connection mentor Michael MikulkaMichael Mikulka is a seasoned music industry pro who’s worked with an array of major talents including Willie Nelson, Sting, Toby Keith, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and, most recently, Solange!

Originally from Los Angeles and now based in Houston, Texas, at his own
Lucky Run Studio, Michael shares are few insights on having the skills that make you attractive to potential employers and having Solange in to record vocals for her new, hit record A Seat at the Table.

Also a former audio instructor at a couple of other traditional schools, Michael now enjoys teaching Recording Connection students via our hands-on, real world approach.

The One Skill Everyone Working in a Recording Studio Should Have

“At one point when I was teaching, I went and I did information interviews with the studio managers of seven or eight of the largest studios in Los Angeles…I talked to them, and asked, ‘What are you looking for when you’re hiring somebody? What kind of things are important?’ Nine out of ten of them said, ‘Give me somebody with people skills. I can teach them the other stuff. Because I’m now going to put this person in a room for the next 8 or 9 hours with my client. If they don’t know how to get along, when to talk, when not to talk, the protocol, the format for that, they’re out.’

Sure you’ve got to learn the technical stuff. There’s no question about that. But if you’re talking about getting into a commercial recording studio…so much involves making the artists feel comfortable, making them relax, treating them professionally. Nothing makes more of a difference for the quality of the vocal than the singer being relaxed and comfortable. I don’t care what mic, what preamp, whatever you do, the thing that will make the biggest difference I’ve found, and this is having done this a few thousand times, is getting a singer to feel comfortable and relaxed.”

What He Wants From his Apprentices on Day 1

In a nutshell, the right attitude and dedication. Michael says, “It’s not super important that you know a lot of stuff. It’s more important that you’re really observant and you’re watching what’s going on. What’s so cool about your program, is they get a lot of great background, and what we’re doing from the studio-side is trying to show it in real-time because having taught at a couple schools now, I can tell you that’s the biggest weakness of the recording schools. You don’t get enough hands-on, and, for the most part, you don’t get real-time situations.”

On Having Solange Cut Her Vocals at Lucky Run Studio

“She can work wherever she wants. And she came in and virtually cut all her vocals here. She just liked the room. She liked the sound, liked the vibe of the whole thing and was really a sweetheart to work with.”

What Students Should be Thinking About During their Training

“Knowing what your general goal is and sharing that information with your mentor can help you greatly when it comes to getting the right tools in your toolbox. Michael says, “People ought to decide whether they want to be an independent engineer, an engineer/producer, or whether they want to run a recording studio. You know, there’s three different areas of expertise, all of them based on that same discipline of studying engineering but you’ve got to decide. If you’re an independent engineer and you’re planning on working at several studios, then you have to really be good at signal flow because you’re going to be going into different rooms and it’s going to look different. It’s going to have different equipment and stuff like that, and you have to be able to adapt to that. If you’re looking to be more of an engineer/producer you’ve got to have sequencing and programming skills, and composing skills. If you want to jump in with both feet like I do and actually run a studio, then you also have to know that you’re running a business besides the fact that you get to record.”

The week after we interviewed Michael Mikulka guess who’s band game in to overdub?
Hint: Lady…

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