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Brandyn Zellmer is a Recording Connection apprentice currently learning the ins-and-outs of working in audio with Jon Locker of Sonic Factory Studios in Des Moines, IA.
Under Jon Locker’s mentorship, Brandyn’s gained an understanding that’s completely real-world. From delving into live sound and recording, to learning what goes into running a professional recording studio, Brandyn’s been a dedicated apprentice all the way. He’s even struck a deal with Jon and recorded a number of his own tracks at Sonic with members of his rock blues band (sleep, alas, is not a priority for the 20 year old).
Well you never know when the next opportunity is going to present itself. Brandyn got a call while a celebration was taking place: “I was at my cousin’s wedding,” he says. “Jon texted me and asked me if I would like to set up for a famous band. I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’”
Brandyn left the wedding early and came in to see the band was none other than Lady Antebellum who were currently on tour but had to make a stop to record a few tracks for the upcoming Dirty Dancing remake.
Brandyn says, “I set up the mics and ran the patch bay and stuff and got to meet everybody, meet their producer…They did a three-part harmony for it, and so that was really neat to watch them in action and seeing one by one and how everything kind of fell together.”
A lifelong musician (he plays guitar, keys, bass), Brandyn had followed his passion into community college where he was on track to eventually get a Bachelors of Arts in music. Nevertheless, he yearned for more technical knowledge about acoustics, recording, and the business side of music:
“After the first year, I kind of realized that it was going to be about two years of general education, and that’s not exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for more of a live production kind of thing or even studio production. So I started looking into recording schools and my mom was actually the one who stumbled across the Recording Connection.”
Brandyn enrolled and within months, his life was on a different track. While still an apprentice he’s earned himself the opportunity of running sessions on his own: “I do some hip-hop artists and then some singer-songwriter stuff. I just got done doing a project for a lady who had drums, horns, keys, a choir, and two lead vocals.”
So what’s Brandyn’s advice to students on how they can make the most of their time in the program? He says:
“Definitely take the book work seriously,” he says, “because that’s going to help you really understand the fundamentals of it. But there’s no substitution for hands-on experience. You could read a book until you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day, getting into the studio and sticking with your lessons and watching them do their work, and then translating that into your work is really the most important aspect.”
For now, Brandyn’s enjoying delving into the craft, from working with clients, to making connections and getting into the more nuanced aspects of recording. He’s confident he’s in good hands too: “At the end of the day, I know that if there’s anything that I’m uncertain about, if there’s anything that I feel needs fixing, I have Jon right there beside me to tell me what I need to do.”