Recording Connection grad Roland Rodas on Going Lean in Mixing & Mastering.
Founder of Toronto’s Cavern of Echos, Roland Rodas (Liminal Shroud, Stratosfera, Mausoleum), graduated Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production in 2016. Since then, he’s built an enviably good career doing exactly what he loves—mixing and mastering heavy music. We recently connected with Roland to discuss what led him to our audio program, learn how he’s gone lean and come out winning, and get his advice for metal aficionados wanting to get into audio and music production.
You had another career prior to Recording Connection. What can you tell us about that?
“I have always been a musician. But my initial career was actually as an electrical engineer. And, you know, going through some phases of my life, I get to a point where I decided that I needed a change. And then I met my mentor James Seabrook, and then he directed me to Recording Connection. So I looked into it. I decided to get enrolled. I got accepted, and now I’m here. And, yeah, it was one of the best decisions I ever did.”
How was your experience training with mentor James Seabrook?
“James is a great mentor, let’s start with that. Like, he basically fast-tracked my learning. The big thing that I learned from him was discipline. Like, we’re both self-employed, so clearly, discipline is a huge aspect of this. And when I started the program, I thought that it was going to be just like traditional school, where it’s just like if you just do work, you get, you know, your grades and off you go. No. He made sure that I understood that, ‘Okay if you want to be successful at this, you have to be disciplined, you have to keep going, you have to like be resilient. It takes practice. It takes a lot of ear training so he was really good at that. …
I’ll just give an example. When we started to learn how to mic guitar cabinets, he taught me his tricks. He would tell me the spot that he would aim for, and we would go back to the control room, and then we would listen, and then we would go back and adjust….
As opposed to how I thought it was done…. Just place the mic in the sweet spot, and then EQ it, but then now I learned from him that there’s this process back and forth to get it right at the source. I remember the first time we tried mastering, I didn’t realize how much I was going to like it at the time. Later… I was like, you know, I want to do more mastering, and it was because of him. Because he told me, ‘Hey, you know, I really think that everyone should learn how to master to understand really how EQ works,’ right?” What’s the difference between mixing and mastering? Find out in our Straight Talk video with Roland below!
So, what spurred your decision to go niche and focus on mixing and mastering heavy music?
“A lot of the clients that I work with… are either wanting to do it all themselves and they just want to give it to someone else that knows how to mix faster and better, or they want to mix it themselves and they just want to give it to someone that will master it and make it sound better. Or they take the DIY approach in which they want to save some money, and… record everything themselves at home, and then just send it to me.”
How were you able to go lean and operate with less overhead?
“Because this is a bit of niche [mixing & mastering metal], I started to go after clients that were not in my geographical area. So… say someone records an album in the states, or records the album in Europe, but then they send it to me for mixing or mastering. That’s when I started to realize, ‘Hey, I don’t really need to be in a recording facility all time, I can just set up shop at home and rent a facility what I need to, but then just market myself as this online guy who mixes and masters,’ right? So that’s how it started to happen. …
When I started, I always thought… the way to go was just to have a facility and have a big studio to be successful…. It’s very possible to be lean, to just have a set up at home that is very well acoustically treated, and basically get business and work from home. Like, to me, that was really exciting when I learned that I could do that. That I don’t have to have the overhead of a commercial facility to be successful. I can… just rent the studio when I need to go. But when I don’t need to, I just can be at home, and I don’t have that overhead.”
What’s your advice to metalheads who want to get into audio engineering and music production?
“[Have] a real clear reason as to why you want to do it. Because it’s very exciting, but it’s also very tedious sometimes, right? Also, it’s a hard industry…. It requires a lot of diligence, a lot of discipline, so the why has to be very clear. And also [have] patience, because this stuff takes time to learn, and the ears take time to develop.”
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