Recording Connection grad Jason Abranches Gets in with Mick Fleetwood on Maui!
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Shortly after completing his externship with mentor Zack Phillips at Freq Lab in San Francisco, CA, Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production graduate Jason Abranches made the move to the easygoing island of Maui. Thanks to Jason’s determination, it wasn’t long before he landed a job working with producer/engineer Lynn Petersen at Maui Recording. Since then, Jason has recorded and done live sound for some of rock’s most iconic names including Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Steven Tyler, Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Sammy Hagar, George Clinton, and more!
We recently caught up with Jason to talk about his experiences and garner a bit of advice to share with Recording Connection students.
What kind of audio work do you do on Maui? Talk us through some of the nitty-gritty of your day-to-day work.
“I’m a privately contracted audio engineer. So, instead of only working exclusively for one private company, I’m hired directly by bands, venues, other sound crews, and AV companies. I’ve done a lot of corporate work such as weddings or big company events. Those gigs pay great but my passion has always been in blues music…
Over the years I’ve worked my way from a stagehand to being behind the controls, typically spending show nights hiding right behind Mick [Fleetwood] with my iPad, controlling every monitor on stage and in constant communication with everyone involved (musicians, sound crew, photographers, stage managers, security, etcetera).
Every move is planned to precision. Along with my iPad, I have a set-list with me chalked up with cues. I am constantly adjusting stage mics and props as special guests come on and off, and different instruments are used, and I’m in charge of making sure the musicians are prepared to take the stage.”
We know the hours can be crazy. Could you tell us more about a gig that was particularly long or grueling?
“New Year’s 2017 was a 25 hour work day for me. It’s much more than just setting up mics. Dialing in dynamics is everything. Minimizing feedback is everything. Knowing what’s going to happen before it happens is everything. Studying your musicians and their habits is everything. I’m at a point now where I know what monitor changes Mick will ask for before he asks it, just through learning his habits within the set.”
Who are some of the artists you’ve worked with on Maui? What are you working on now?
“Today I am only working for Mick, whether that be with Fleetwood Mac or his blues band. Although my boss [Lynn Petersen] has passed me work with Dave Mason Band and others within the Fleetwood circle, as they arise.
With Mick, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several artists such as Stevie Nicks and everyone within Fleetwood Mac, [as well as] Mick Campbell, Neil Finn, Steven Tyler, Brian Johnson, Sammy Hagar, George Clinton, and many others. Even Guy Fieri stopped by once!”
When it looked like work on Maui was going to dry up for a bit, you got proactive and moved to the mainland. Could you tell us more about that?
“So when Mick left for tour I wanted to be sure I didn’t fall backwards so I too left for the states…In Charlotte I began working for an audio company that provides stage, sound, and lights for major events. It was a blast. Six of us guys, 1 van and 1-2 huge box trucks traveled up and down the east coast for seven months, mixing mainly festival events. It was an awesome experience staying in hotels and seeing the country. It was exactly what I had hoped for and then some. I also worked as a venue engineer off Lake Norman, [in North Carolina] where I worked with Tommy DeCarlo and many other awesome acts. I was the only man on sound so it was stressful but those are some of the best memories I’ll always have.”
You just released a new album. Tell us all about it.
“It’s a full length album, called What Was I Thinkin’?. I co-wrote it with my friend Maddy Gill, who recently moved to Maui from New Orleans. We named our group Haiku Hiatus since we wrote and recorded the album in the jungle of Haiku, Maui. It’s a mix of soul, blues, with a twist of urban hip hop. I produced the album as well as performed on it. We just released it and so far the response has been great!”
It’s been a couple of years since you graduated Recording Connection. What do you have to say about your experience with us?
“Recording Connection definitely helped me get my foot in the door with Mick and everywhere else. I hang my certificate in my home studio with pride. Not only does it instantly prove to potential employers that you know what you are doing, but also that you are dedicated and truly in this. A lot of people think it’s going to be all roses, hanging with celebrities and this and that, but when they see how hard the work can be and the dedication it takes, they fall off and quit…Audio engineering is a deep science and if you look at it as just setting mics and turning up the volume…good luck to you. It is extremely hard work sometimes! It’s extremely stressful at times. But it is also an amazing life to live. I’ve learned a lot about myself through these experiences. I refuse to fall away from the dream. This certificate was the key that opened the door to a new life for me. But, always, always, always keep studying. You will never hit a point of knowing it all. Keep striving and you’ll keep thriving.”
Haiku Hiatus’ What Was I Thinkin’ is available on Spotify, Pandora, CD Baby, and more.
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