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Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Issue #82 Author Credits: Liya Swift & Jeff McQ

BRIAN KRAFT, C.O.O. and Chief Academic Officer of RRFC, can HELP YOU LAND A JOB

  Here are just a few of the latest jobs & opportunities for RRFC students & graduates this week:     


  Click here to see full details on the jobs currently available. Visit the official RRFC Job Board for more opportunities, and check the RRFC Blog for news & updates!   Contact Student Services for more information on logging in.  
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When RRFC gets you learning on the job, you find yourself at the right place at the right time to get your career off the ground. Read below about a Recording Connection student whose apprenticeship in a real recording studio proved to be the turning point in his career!

Student Successes

The right place, the right time: Charles Huston finds his groove in the studio

Recording Connection student Charles Huston

Recording Connection student Charles Huston

“My whole life I’ve kinda been a tech head—you know, a gear luster,” says Recording Connection student Charles Huston of Chicago, IL. “I am just constantly enthralled with this equipment and everything.”   Indeed, from the beginning, it seemed like Charles Huston was meant for the recording studio. “My dad actually comes from the old L.A. record industry,” he says. “My Dad’s been having me in and out of a few studios my whole life.”   Even so, it wasn’t until his teen years that his love for music turned into a desire to be behind the board and to produce. “I was big into shoegaze at the time,” he says, “so I started getting into Radiohead. I was really big into Pink Floyd, My Bloody Valentine, just the craziest textures coming from keys, guitars, whatever. And I started getting really into the Beatles and everything. And then you get into the Beatles, you really like the song, and you find out the reason you really like it is because what it is doing sonically and the crazy arrangements. And then you figure out that there is Sir George Martin involved… You realize there’s like this whole process around things.”   After graduating high school, Charles tried going the college route to learn audio engineering, but was soon disillusioned. “I actually dropped out of the Berklee School of Music out of Massachusetts as a production student,” he says. “Took a couple years as a break because I didn’t really find their program worth it for me.”   It turned out that the time off wasn’t necessarily the best idea. “I was getting into a good amount of trouble living in the burbs,” says Charles, “and it kinda got to the point where it’s like, ‘Okay. How serious can I take this whole music thing?’…And I found the Recording Connection program, with basically the main allure to me being that you guys ran your curriculum through a mentorship at a professional-level studio.”   Rax Trax Recording Fortunately, Charles says, his parents have always been supportive of his dream of producing, so his mother put up the money for him to attend the Recording Connection. He was placed in Rax Trax Recording in Chicago, where he was mentored by studio manager Andy Shoemaker. That’s where things began turning around for him.   “Andy was amazing,” says Charles. “He’d literally take any question I’d have, and we’d sit in that room if the time was available and just explore each topic until I understood it completely. It was great…I really can’t say enough about the wealth of things I took away from that studio, and I’m still not done yet.”   Given his personality and his background, Charles predictably proved himself to be a natural in the studio, which allowed him to advance quickly. “Once I got in the Recording Connection, it wasn’t long before they go through the whole shadowing plan, and then they let you start assisting,” he says. “I got into having my own sessions booked real quick.”  
Control Room A in Rax Trax Recording

Control Room A in Rax Trax Recording

Once he had his foot in the door, Charles wasted no time in forming relationships and connections in the industry, and his entrepreneurial spirit really kicked in. “You have to be clever about it,” he says. “Some things that have really put me forward, I’d say, is finding relationships I want to create, figuring out a way to create them, and then not only getting that relationship initiated but then developing that relationship to the point where you can have a good working business relationship. But not only are you working on a friendly level, where you guys just work together personality-wise, but also business wise, you know. Creating a reputation for yourself, and having a body of work that also speaks for you as well. A lot of kids have the desire to be the next great producer or engineer but aren’t willing to put in the work on the things that happen outside the studio, which is sometimes more work than what actually happens in the studio.”   Between his on-the-job training at Rax Trax and his own initiative in making connections, Charles has turned his passion into an emerging career as a freelance producer/engineer working out of multiple studios in the Chicago area. The former shoegaze fan now focuses largely on the booming Chicago hip-hop community, working with up-and-comers like Chisanity and Lucki Eck$ (recently featured in Complex Magazine), and forming working relationships like producer Tapez (who recently earned production credits on Kanye West’s “New God Flow” off the Cruel Summer mixtape). What’s more, Charles says he’s in talks with investors to build a studio. “They are gonna pay for the build-out and everything, basically giving me a platform to engineer and produce out of, so I can be generating more revenue for myself,” he says, “so I can make myself more valuable to the whole team, which is just beautiful.”   So much of industry success is about being in the right place at the right time. Charles Huston, it would seem, was meant for the recording studio. After being disillusioned with classroom instruction and “getting into trouble” in his own words, it turned out that the opportunity to get into a real studio was the very thing he needed to find his place in the industry. It was the right place for him, at the right time. Today, he’s in the early stages of what he plans to be a long and productive career.   “I’m trying to be one of the producer/engineers [that is] really sought after in the industry,” he says, “and it’s been kinda happening around me. I’m just trying to make sure my work is always on par, if not excelling past my peers.”    
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  #82 – Apprentices in Action

Here’s what some RRFC Apprentices
have been up to!

Corey Pitts, Billy Bob Thornton, Matthew Gibson, Jon Sartain

Corey Pitts, Billy Bob Thornton, Matthew Gibson, Jon Sartain

Film Connection apprentices Matthew Gibson, Jon Sartain and Corey Pitts went on-location to Huntsville, Alabama with mentor Zac Adams of SkyDive Films to work a shoot for Billy Bob Thornton. The documentary airs on WNET – PBS Oct 3rd!   
Nacor Zuluaga

Nacor Zuluaga

Recording Connection grad Nacor Zuluaga is now the operations manager over at Engine Room Audio in NYC and says this when speaking of his new job: “The level of satisfaction and gratefulness is ridiculous.” Meanwhile, Nacor’s band Pool Cosby has got a new release on the way!    Danni Winn Ever wonder if being a fan can pay off? Film Connection apprentice Danni Winn (San Antonio, TX), a diehard lover of horror, recently wrote an article about the upcoming season of the show Holliston. Her words had a huge impact on fans and even the show’s cast, who shared her article via social media. What’s more, she’s been offered her own column at TheHorrorNation.net called “Girls Like Gore 2!” Congrats, Danni!   


Watch us on Larry King here:
Issue #82


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  #82 – Announcement! – Congratulations Jake Kiyokane!

Recording Connection grad Jake Kiyokane Wins Pensado’s A.I.R Award 2015!

Jake Kiyokane

Jake Kiyokane

We are proud, honored and downright jazzed to announce Jake Kiyokane, graduate of our Audio Engineering and Advanced Engineering programs, has won the 2015 Pensado’s AIR Award for outstanding work as an assistant/runner!!!   Taking place at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA and attended by more than 600 recording industry figures, the Second Annual Pensado Awards was hosted by mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge, mixer/engineer/producer Sylvia Massy, and Young Guru. Jake apprenticed at Serenity West in Los Angeles and has since gone on to secure work there as an assistant…  
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  #82 – Mentor News
RRFC Interview: Recording Connection mentor Mike Johnson discusses the importance of people skills, studio skills, making art and having fun
RC mentor Mike Johnson

RC mentor Mike Johnson

As the founder and chief engineer of Clear Track Studios in Clearwater, FL, producer/engineer Mike Johnson is a true industry veteran with 20-plus years of experience and a client list that includes names like Chick Corea, John Legend, Save the Radio and DJ Ravi Drums. Talking with him, it’s clear that the very same passion that inspired him to pursue a music industry career is alive and fresh today, and it’s something he passes on to his apprentices. In a recent interview with us, Mike offered plenty of helpful insights on the importance of blending people skills with problem-solving skills, what he tries to instill in his students, and what it takes to make it for the long term.  
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  RRFC: What inspired you to become a mentor and want to pass along your information to an up-and-coming generation of engineers?   Mike Johnson: Well, a few things. Number one, the fact that a lot of people are trying to get into this—they need to be steered in the right direction…It’s kind of like passing the torch. If people don’t pass the torch, then it gets lost and then eventually people would have to reinvent the wheel which is kind of a loss, if you look at it that way. So I really feel like, with the amount of people getting into this field, they really need to get passed on all the tools, all the tricks, you know, the profession itself. Otherwise, we’d have a bunch of bedroom engineers that wouldn’t be able to re-create the caliber of records that we’ve liked.  
Control Room in Clear Track Studios

Control Room in Clear Track Studios

RRFC: And how does working with a pro give someone an advantage, as opposed to, say in a traditional program?   Mike: Because it’s in the right environment. I mean, you can’t really skip learning in the right environment, because then people don’t actually get what it is they’re going to be doing. Without the environment, they just imagine what they think it should be like. But when they’re there in the studio, they see it happen and experience it, hear it, they get to observe, you know, what a professional session is like, and the standards, and how good it really sounds.   RRFC: How do you go about kind of working with apprentices to determine whether or not they’re ready to start working with your own clients? What kind of people skills are you looking for?   Mike: They definitely need to be friendly. I mean, I realized at one point it’s not just about the skills, you know? The big part of being in this industry is, the client still needs to feel like you’re delivering a service. That comes across, all the way down to getting coffee for them. So they just have to have that confidence of, “Hey, I’m here to help.” And the client needs to feel like the apprentice or the engineer is interested in doing that. Not just doing it because they have to, you know, not faking it. It needs to feel a little more genuine because artists are going to be more sensitive. They’re going to perceive their environment and the people they are working with. So, I think these new guys just need to get it to a point that they’re comfortable to be friendly.   RRFC: Have you noticed anything about the current generation of audio students that is maybe different than when you were coming up and learning?   Mike: I think the technology in studios is less incredible to the new guys. For me, it was amazing, you know. The fact that we were able to record on the computer in the 90s was incredible. It blew me away. I thought, “Wow this is the future.” Today, kids in high school could be recording on equipment better than I could when I started.   RRFC: Do you think they understand and appreciate the actual signal flow of some of these engineering tools?   Mike: No, I don’t think so, because I don’t think the necessity of having to know is actually there. I think the truth is that with the ability to just buy things, and plug them in and get going in 10 minutes, as opposed to having to solder and wire up your own studio. With analog you have to know signal flow, if you don’t know it, it doesn’t work. Whereas with digital you technically just have to plug one thing in and the signal flow is automatically behind the scenes essentially. I think they’re missing that and I think that that is the kind of stuff that strengthened us from the last generation of guys.   RRFC: So do you take it as a personal sort of responsibility to make sure these guys understand that?   Mike: I do, and I show them. And this is why the big part of this is that they’re in an analog studio, along with Pro Tools of course, because you need to know both. Having them in that room, I physically show them, here are the patch cables, here are the mic panels. Cables are going through the walls, under the floors. I show them wiring diagrams sometimes. You know, you’ve got to know signal flow. It’s there. If you don’t know it, you can’t troubleshoot it, you can’t get a session going.   RRFC: What do you think it takes, to not just make it, but to continue to work day in, day out in the modern recording industry?   Mike: I really think the most important thing is obviously how you treat people. All the people in the industry that we work with aren’t going to want to work with an A-hole. They’re going to want to work with somebody who can get the session going, gives them solutions…So, I think that skill has to be there, and the people skills, and the problem solving skills. But also I really think that people, to be successful at this, have to have very good quality control abilities. They have to be able to recognize when something truly does sound commercial or industry standard, not just get excited because they’re having fun being in the room because that’s not what you’re getting paid for. You’re not getting paid just to have a smile and [be in] a studio, you’re getting paid ultimately for making a finished record. So quality control’s so important to that. They have to know, “All right, well what are our references? How good does a real commercial record actually sound in a control room, and what do I have to do to get it there?” The level of the art itself is sometimes underestimated.  
Johnny Whiteside (engineer), Jim Breuer (comedian), James Forbes (engineer), Brian Johnson (ACDC singer)

Johnny Whiteside (engineer), Jim Breuer (comedian), James Forbes (engineer), Brian Johnson (ACDC singer)

RRFC: Any fun projects coming through the studio lately?   Mike: Last week we just had Justice League in here working on some tracks, some killer pop tracks. I’m sure they’ll be released at some point here. We just had Jim Breuer, he’s a comedian, he’s incredible, he was doing a rock record in here with Rob [Rob Caggiano] from Volbeat…Then Brian Johnson from AC/DC came in during that session, too, and worked on one of the tracks. The spirit of that stuff is so much fun. That’s what got me into rock, in the 80s when I was a kid, listening to this stuff. It was fun, right? It was really fun.   RRFC: When you look back at when you were starting out, did you ever think you’d have all this success and stick it out this long?   Mike: You know, I never thought about it because as a kid, I just had so much fun doing this. It was like climbing a mountain, you know, you just didn’t want to look down. You just think, “I’m going to keep climbing as high as I can.” Eventually a few people in my family asked me: “What do you want to do with all this stuff you’re doing? Where do you want to be 10 years down the road?” And it was just looking at the goals side of it that I said, “Well, you know, why don’t I make the goal to eventually have my own studio and work with a bunch of other people in the industry, and help bring it all together?” So, I kind of make everybody else’s projects my own, you know. I guess that’s the way I look at it. People that walk in here feel welcome to be here, and that’s why they keep coming here, too. They make good music here.   
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Want to Improve your Performanceship?

Get Onstage Success!
Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson has worked with artists including Sean Mendes, Taylor Swift, LeCrae, Magic!, The Tenors, Gloriana, Francesca Battistelli and hundreds more to transform their performances. Crafting a compelling show is all about learning the language and connecting with the audience in a way they’ll understand. Tom teaches these skills to artists of every level, style, and genre.    “Tom makes a major impact… he is a true creative partner who helps realize the artist’s full performance potential.”Matt Serletic, Producer Santana, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas   “A compelling live performance is key to building a successful career. Tom is the only person teaching artists real actionable steps to turn their live show into something that builds fans and drives merch sales.”Kevin Breuner, Director of Marketing at CD Baby   

Tom Jackson’s 2-Day Live Performance Bootcamp takes place in Franklin, TN (30 minutes south of Nashville)
on Friday-Saturday, September 25-26th, 2015.

  Included are two full days of fun and enlightening instruction and a chance to play for music industry pros at the evening Showcase!   We’re happy to offer this intensive 2-Day Live Performance Bootcamp for only $299. Seating is limited so act quickly!   **Hotel arrangements, lodging, food and travel are not included.  

Follow the link here, then click on the “workshops” tab and scroll down to “Tom Jackson Bootcamp.”


CASA The Culinary Apprenticeship School of the Arts can get you learning one-on-one
from an award-winning chef in a real restaurant!

For more information, Click here!

Check out this work by RRFC apprentices!

Apprentice Media



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