Recording Connection grad Nate Riley Joins Staff at Mentor’s Studio
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Recording Connection graduate Nate Riley has proved himself to be a mastermind of assessing others needs and demonstrating the value he can bring as a hardworking, dedicated audio engineer and music producer. We recently spoke with Nate about his journey from band member and musician to newest addition to the staff at his mentor’s recording studio Anthony Walker Music (Fort Collins, CO), which takes its name from the owner/engineer/producer and mentor, Anthony Walker.
What got you interested in audio engineering in the first place?
“I was in a touring band, and we had gone through multiple different studios, and I was always kind of left a little confused and kind of unhappy with what we were getting out of the studio. So that motivated me to want to learn myself how to do it so I could start producing music for my own band that I was involved in at the time. So I was looking around just trying to figure out where I could get the proper education, and so I stumbled across Recording Connection, and it seemed really interesting to me because they actually put you inside of a studio rather than you just doing bookwork, which was a pretty big deal.”
What do you believe to be the biggest benefit of our in-industry approach?
“There’s so many things where you need to witness in a live situation, so to speak. And to work with a professional, it’s almost vital because you could have a teacher and they could show you, but there’s always a variable in the studio. You never really understand until you’re in there that, like, a cord could go out, and how do you solve that problem? Because you have to trace it back. [There’s] a lot of problem solving that you can only really get in that professional atmosphere.”
What was it like meeting your mentor, Anthony Walker, for the first time?
“Just right away, we hit it off. He was a really cool guy. He had a really nice studio. We had quite a bit in common as far as music that we enjoyed listening to, and he’s also extremely intelligent. So I knew that I would definitely have a strong advantage for learning, working with him.”
What led up to you joining the staff as an audio engineer/music producer at Anthony Walker?
“I wasn’t even finished with school yet…and he was talking about how he wanted to bring in more clients, and that’s when we started to have the conversation about what I have done in the past and I started bringing in ideas to sculpt and redo the website…So when we started talking about that [and] he could tell that I was really wanting to be involved. [Also], I was really motivated and picked up quickly with how his studio is wired. About halfway through my schooling with Recording Connection, I was able to effectively run everything pretty much alone, so that definitely made him excited. Once we started talking about the website, he was mentioning a staff page, and he said, ‘I would really like to take you on, if that’s something you would like, and I can get you some business cards’…And then we worked it all out. I take on my own clients, and yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Do you have any projects you want to talk about?
“I’m actually recording my own band in Anthony’s recording studio right now. It was this really big deal for the both of us. I was writing music for it for the better half of a year, and from the very beginning I said, ‘Yes, once it’s done I’m going to bring this in here.’ So we’ve been working on that now since August and just kind of fitting it in as the days go on, squeezing in between other clients and things like that. But that’s been a lot of fun because Anthony and I are really working together and really trying to create an art form. To me it’s fun because we’re not worried about the timeframe. It’s just all kind of this creative thing, and Anthony is a very strong music producer, which has also been very exciting. He knows music theory like no other, and he’s been bringing a lot of very strong ideas to the table. And it’s also just very exciting for me because I get to finally mess with all the things that I’ve always wanted to mess around with in the studio.”
So what’s your band like? What’s your sound?
“We’re like ambient folk rock. We have some heavy reverb on the guitar and the electric guitar backed up by acoustic and banjo, and then just really personal lyrics, I guess. It’s very melancholy sort of inspired stuff.”
So your folks, have they been supportive through this journey?
Yeah, definitely. My grandfather actually has been the main support through the whole thing. He’s really excited about it. It’s funny because I’m the only musician in my family entirely. I was always expressing the idea. They’re like, ‘Okay, awesome. You’re going to play guitar in the band, and maybe you guys will do something, but you need to find a way to sort of bring in an income or plant your roots,’ I guess. And when I took this decision, I’d always said, ‘Yeah, well that will be with audio engineering and music production,’ and I never really knew how I was going to get there, then I brought this up, and they’ve been very supportive and excited about the whole thing. They think it’s really cool. I think one of the big things is they’re like, ‘Okay, so the school actually puts you in a recording studio. That sounds very legitimate.’”
What’s your advice to Recording Connection students on how can they make the most of the program while they’re in it?
“Go to as many studio sessions that are offered to you as possible, always try to be present, and always be positive and motivated, and definitely pay attention because when you’re in the studio, time is valuable, so you need to be sharp and listen and be effective, and also just network a lot. I mean, the big thing is a lot of networking and a lot of expressing your interest and who you are and what you have to offer and yeah, then the rest just kind of falls in place like anything else…
It’s so vital to dig into your local music scene. It’s very important working in a professional recording studio to get clients in and that aspect of networking…Go and support local music, local bands, go to local venues, and just look for the people in your area, get really involved with that and try to make an impact, especially offering to help. That sort of thing is really influential towards success.”
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