Recording Connection mentor Shane Anderson on Hiring, Working with Talent, and More!
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Recording Connection mentor Shane Anderson is committed to providing musicians with the environment, professionalism, and music production expertise they need to realize their vision and make their art. He’s also an avid believer in learning audio and growing the skills, awareness, and etiquette it takes to succeed in music through hands-on, in-industry education. We recently caught up with Shane at the helm of Unique Recording Studios, located in Sacramento County, CA, to get his insights on working with artists in-studio, find out why he made the choice to hire his former student extern Collin Jacka, and more.
What got you into audio in the first place?
“When I was about 13, I signed my first demo deal doing demo vocals for a hip hop label. So I was doing a bunch of demo vocals and I was on the other side of the glass recording vocals, and I was always thinking as a teenager how cool it is that the guy on the other side of the glass was like the rock star. He was the dude that was always making magic. So at a very young age I was like, ‘That’s so dope. I want to learn that.’”
How would you describe what you do? What various hats do you wear?
“I’m a recording artist, mixing engineer, producer, and songwriter. I do the gamut of everything.”
How do you go from playing the role of recording engineer for a band that just wants to get a song laid down, to being a full-fledged music producer in which different skills are being asked of you?
“When the bands come in here and they record, the biggest thing that I really focus on is I want to always make sure that I’m honoring their art. So if I’m just recording them and I’m not putting in so much of my input and [I’m focused] more so on getting the best sounding recording, so it’s a different direction. Whereas, as a producer you’re helping achieve that art through the process of giving them pointers, and you’re influencing the direction…A lot of times what happens with new engineers is they try to input too much into the art of the client, whereas the client is trying to make their art, and we have to elevate their art.”
If the audio engineer or music producer has a big ego or is very self-centered, can that detract from the session?
“That’s a big thing, understanding and being mindful of the fact that every artist is unique and has their personality. When they’re in the room, they’re the most important person in the room…you’re the magician, you are, you’re the rock star behind the glass, yes, but if the artist doesn’t think they’re the rock star, the artist doesn’t think that they’re the artist, then their performance diminishes. So sometimes as crazy as it might sound, sometimes we have to feed into that ego for the artist to get the best out of them…The artist is the person of the day. They’re the ones you’ve got to put all that effort into making sure that they shine. Your actions should always speak volumes so you won’t have to put the glitter on you. Your shine is when they’re sitting there behind you smiling, dancing, happy about their song.”
Why do you choose to mentor for Recording Connection?
“I look at the Recording Connection as a new way to encourage students with one-on-one training. So a lot of times in a classroom setting, I know this from first experience just being a student in high school, you can have someone telling you, ‘Hey, you need to do this, you need to do that,’ but it’s that one-on-one mentoring that’s really, really important. It’s critical I think, because you’re getting one-on-one time with someone who’s been in the industry, who knows how to guide you, and is not going to just tell to a group of people, ‘This is how you do X or this is how you do Y.’ You’re actually in there, hands on, in the trenches, learning the ups and downs of recording. You’re learning everything about the process and what it takes to get to the next level.”
What made you decide to hire your former extern Collin Jacka?
“So Colin, the main reason why I hired him was because of his work ethic. He came in, he was positive, he wanted to learn, he wanted to be a part of something, and not just be a part of it for the recognition of being in a studio. He actually wanted to know the details of why a compressor works. He wanted to know the details of why we should EQ a certain way and why to organize files the way that we do here at Unique Recording Studios… So all of that he really took notice of and he really wanted to be part of something with a work ethic and not just go like, ‘Oh, I just want to get hired by a studio.’
…Most people that are in the industry, time and time again, it’s going to be the people that show up, the people that actually are committed to learning the craft, and that’s what is the most important, because a lot of people get into the music industry to be rock stars. And they get in for the wrong reasons, like, oh, I’m going to go make money doing this.
Money comes, but it’s really hard work. So people don’t understand that part of it, and with Colin, he understood. Everything that I was speaking on, he was writing down. He must have, like seven, eight, nine, 10 composition books full of notes.”
Do you think it’s a good idea for students to have their own projects they’re working on at home and on their own time?
“Absolutely. I think that it would be a problem if people didn’t. I think the more you know, the more you grow, right? So the more you’re working at home, the more you’re focused on your craft, the better you can be. Then when you’re learning stuff in the program, then you can go home and apply those things you’ve learned in a home setting and really dive-in deep and take what you’ve learned and progress to the next step.”
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