Sebastian Lefeld Hits Miami, Works with Shawn Mendes, Santana!
Recording Connection graduate Sebastian Lefeld, who currently works full-time at Big Wall and the Miami Studio City District in Miami, Florida, looks back on his apprenticeship (externship). “Even though you have a mentor and everything, 90 percent of what you learn is up to you,” he says. “I really like that, because that’s how the real world is. Nobody is going to hand you anything.”
Apparently, not only did Sebastian learn the ins and outs of recording and producing from his mentor, Dave Mikeal at StudioLive USA in Orlando, FL—he also learned the importance of a strong work ethic and taking the initiative. Those lessons served him well when he decided to try his hand in the Miami music scene shortly after graduating. Within 6 months, he had landed a full-time engineering gig, and has had the opportunity to work with big names like Ricky Martin, rising star Shawn Mendes, and even the iconic Carlos Santana!
When Sebastian arrived in Miami, he realized the best way to get in the door of the industry was to jump in with both feet and get busy doing whatever he could. So rather than hold out for paid job openings, he started out essentially as a volunteer, accepting an unpaid opportunity working with Big Wall and Miami Studio City District (two busy Miami studios under the same ownership), and paying the bills with a side job at Pizza Hut. Two months later, Sebastian was tapped to sit in as assistant engineer for a major touring artist who came to the studio to rehearse for a concert tour.
The artist was Carlos Santana.
“I was looking with [Santana’s] engineer at the new SSL 500, the live console,” recalls Sebastian. “I kind of felt somebody like brush me on my shoulder, so I turned around and it was Santana, and I was like, ‘Oh, man! I’m in the same room with a guy that I have been listening to since I was born.'”
Apparently, his work impressed some people, because the following Monday, Carlos says one of the studio owners called him in. “He was like, ‘Listen man, we are a good fit,'” says Sebastian. “‘If you want the full-time position, it’s yours.'”
Now a full-time engineer in the heart of Miami’s busy music scene, Sebastian has the opportunity to do everything from mixing smartphone ringtones to tracking vocals with recent Billboard chart-topper Shawn Mendes—and loving every moment of it all. “If I could say one thing to somebody thinking about getting into the industry,” he says, “it would be definitely get ready for long hours and a lot of days…But if you’re going to get into this industry, it’s because you love it. Time goes by quickly when you’re having fun.”