Recording Connection graduate Devin Zorn: developing a “signature” sound
Spend a few minutes talking with Recording Connection graduate Devin Zorn, and it’s apparent that he’s got some very specific opinions about sound and audio in the music he records and mixes. Take, for example, his own band The Q, which he describes as “if Pink Floyd made a dance album.” The band’s sound is a blend of EDM and hard rock—but don’t expect Devin to start using premade samples anytime soon.
“I want it to sound kind of more analog with my own twist,” says Devin. “If I’m going to sample, I really want to go in and rent out a drum from my local shop…and kind of mess with the tuning and things like that and record it with different mics and make my own sample.”
It’s this kind of deep interest in the specific sounds of music that helps an audio engineer develop a signature “style”–and that’s exactly what Devin is doing. Since graduating from the Recording Connection, he’s been making his mark in the Dallas music scene, working with both local and national musicians ranging from blues act Tommy Katona & Texas Flood to Kayla Reeves of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Devin’s passion for music began, he says, in the sixth or seventh grade, at a time when everyone wanted to be a rock star. He started playing guitar, but realized quickly that his skills were lacking. However, his outlook changed one day while watching Classic Albums on VH1 Classic. “They were going over how they recorded U2’s The Joshua Tree,” he says. “I’m sitting there listening to Brian Eno and Daniel Anwar talk, and I’m seeing him push these faders around…[I was] like, ‘Oh, I could do that. I can’t be the rock star, but I will make the rock star’s music for them.’”
That decision eventually led to an apprenticeship/externship with the Recording Connection, where he was paired with music industry veteran Rick Rooney at January Sound in Dallas, TX. Having already taught himself a lot about audio, Devin says Rick was pretty good about letting him figure out the technical stuff—but one of the most valuable lessons he learned was how to get on with the clients and other professionals in the studio.
“A big part of it was me learning to get along in the studio environment,” he says. “Learning when to shut up whenever you’re not the person in charge of the session, and things like that.”
Eventually, Rick began farming out freelance gigs to Devin at the studio, and through connections his mentor helped him make, Devin even found himself rubbing elbows with some of the world’s best guitarists while working the All-Star Jam at the Dallas International Guitar Show.
As he continues to develop his sound and build a rapport within the Dallas music scene, Devin stays in close contact with Rick and visits the studio frequently, even when he’s not working the board. He particularly enjoys meeting other Recording Connection students as they come in to extern in the studio as apprentices. “Whenever these new students are coming in and I’m hanging out and saying hi to Rick,” he says, “they look at me and are like, ‘Wow, he really knows what he’s doing, and he went through this program. That’s going to be awesome.’”