Zack Slippy on Finding his Purpose and Building the Career he Wants
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We recently connected with grad Zack Slippy, who in just the past year has gone from living a life that wasn’t fulfilling him creatively or professionally, to being someone who knows what he wants and who’s in the process of making it happen, day by day. Thanks to the “tough love” of mentor Jim Somner, owner and manager of The Loft (Buffalo, NY) and our holistic Audio Engineering & Music Production program, Zack now has the skills, direction, and confidence he needs to build the career he feels he was meant to have.
What led up to you enrolling in Recording Connection?
“Well, honestly, deep down I always wanted to do something with music. I just didn’t know what to do or what to start at…I was enrolled in a college around here. I went there and I just wasn’t feeling it [and thought] ‘This is not for me.’ They told me four years and then you get into a studio. I said, ‘Nope, no thank you. It’s not what makes me happy.’
Then I came home and applied for the Recording Connection. They called me the next day, and I was like, ‘Yep, let’s go.’ It’s been great, a great journey.”
What was your reaction the first time you walked into The Loft for your interview with Jim Somner, your future mentor?
“That first time when I first walked in, I looked at all this gear and was like, ‘Whoa, that’s some serious business. I’ve never seen anything like that.’ …But Jim was warm and I was like, ‘Okay, I could do this.’
A couple weeks ago, I walked into the studio and just looked around and I was like, ‘Wow, now I know what all this is. I can explain it, I can use it and not just be turning knobs and not know what I’m doing.’”
What was Jim like as a mentor?
“Jim’s just taught me so much since then. It’s been like a year and I feel like I’ve been doing it for so much longer…He’s taught me a little bit about keys, like how to play, how to layer stuff and how to use synthesizers, because he’s got synthesizers and all this hooked up to speakers and he’s like, ‘This is what this sounds like. Do this, change the octaves. It sounds like that.’…
If I do something completely ridiculous, he looks at me and he’s like, ‘Zack, go recap and think about what you just said or think about what you just did.’
The patch bay took me so long, but in the end it’s just inputs and outputs. Jim just stuck with me and he wasn’t too hard, because if you’re too hard, you push people away. He was just like, ’Just sit there in this room and figure it out, and then I’ll come back in, and tell me how you did it and tell me why.’ And ever since then, just going home and studying has been great—tough love.”
So we hear you recently landed a side gig at the same place where you’re currently employed as a server. How’d that come about?
“I’m currently working at the Biggest Loser Resort. I’m a banquet server there. We had this group of 107 people who needed microphones. And mind you, everyone’s there and they’re like, ‘Zack, we know you go to school. We need you to go in there and figure this out.’ So I was like, ‘All right.’ So I go in there. Mind you, I’m a people person, but 100 people looking at you when you’re trying to figure something out, it was quite awkward…
I just kind of took a breath and I was like, ‘What would Jim do? And then I just did it.’ And my boss Kathy, she was like, ‘Yep, can you be the audio/video guy?’ And I’m like, ‘Of course.’ So I got that…I had to take a couple deep breaths but when I got out there, it was like, that was meant to be. That’s what I’m here for.”
Besides the connections you’re making at The Loft, you’re also actively meeting and collaborating with other artists. Tell us about that.
“I’ve kept on making beats and eventually I met some really nice people along the way that took me into their studios and let me meet some of their artists so we could see what it sounds like put together. I’m like, ‘Wow, it sounds really cool.’ Benny the Butcher who was recently signed with Eminem’s Shady Records a year or two ago, I do work with his cousins and all the friends that he was with before he got signed.”
What are your plans going forward?
“Right now I’m just working on building a roster of instrumentals because people can rap over it and sing over it… I have probably over 80 to 100 that are ready to go. With my beats, I want to get them in commercials. I can make a beat and watch a commercial and see that my beats would sound good in commercials. I want to be the guy that makes people say, ‘Wow, I used to know that kid. Now he’s making advertisements for Nike.’” Check out Zack’s work on SoundCloud as F3D-UP Productions. One track has more than 1 million plays!
Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot through Recording Connection?
“I don’t even feel like I’m the same person anymore. I can walk into a room, hear a bad sound system or bad feedback on a microphone, and I’m not even working. I’ll just be out to eat with my family and somebody talks into a microphone, and I’m like, ‘Whoa that sounds really bad.’ But I don’t think anybody else notices it. I hear different things. Now I can listen to different sounds and know like, ‘Oh they put reverb on that instrument or that voice.”
Has your family been supportive of you?
“My grandma and grandpa, Tina and Robert, are very supportive. Honestly, when I told them that I dropped out of college, like regular college and I wanted to do this, they looked at me like, ‘Hmm, okay.’ What are they supposed to say? But they have been so supportive. They always ask me, ‘Zack, what’s this like? Zack, how do you do this?’ And I’ll help them or teach them something or show them something I made, and they love listening to it. So they’ve been a great help.”
Learn more about our Audio Engineering & Music Production Program.
Recording Connection mentor RENEGADE EL REY does Big Boi Album, Hires Student, and More!
Our Mentor’s Top 10 Tips on Studio Etiquette, (it matters!)