Want to stay in the loop? Hide Hide Sign up to receive the RRFC Weekly Newsletter!
Hide
Schedule your campus tour today!
Hide
Back to Top
Call: 800-755-7597 or 310-456-9623
Recording Radio and Film Connection Visit our Mentor/Apprentice Schools: CASA Schools Film Connection Radio Connection Recording Connection Connection
For More Info: 800-755-7597 or 310-456-9623
Menu Menu Search
Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Job Opportunities & Student Success Stories Search Results For: rock-falcon-studio

 

 

11-23-15 Apprentice Media

 


Check out this work by RRFC apprentices!

Apprentice Media

   

WANT TO LEARN MORE? CLICK HERE TO APPLY!

Quotes from Students:

 

11-9-15 Student Successes

 


When Jimi and Brian get you working on the job, you’ll learn things one-on-one from the pros that textbook training can never teach you. Read below about a Recording Connection student who fine-tuned his production skills under the mentoring of a Grammy-nominated engineer, and now uses those skills in his burgeoning career as a producer!

Student Successes

Recording Connection student Jordan Robertson becomes an
emerging music producer in Baton Rouge!

   
Jordan Robertson

Jordan Robertson

“I just love music,” says Recording Connection student Jordan Robertson of his passion for music production. “I bet I have music notes in my DNA,” he adds, laughing.   From as early as age four, Jordan was figuring out the notes from movie themes. “I would hear themes from Home Alone, Boyz n the Hood, and I would just go to the piano and start playing,” he says.   It stands to reason that by the time he came of age, Jordan was passionate about becoming a music producer and film composer. He even had his sights set on a particular recording studio in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana—namely, Grammy-nominated Sockit Studio, owned and run by music industry veteran engineer Devon Kirkpatrick, who’s worked with icons like Jay Z, Tony Bennett and Timbaland.   What Jordan didn’t know—and what he soon discovered—was that Devon was a Recording Connection mentor, and that he could learn from Devon one-on-one in the studio by enrolling in the program. Jordan jumped at the chance.   “The one-on-one attention, the fact that you’re in a real recording studio, you’re not in a classroom with 20 other students—if you have a question, your mentor is right there,” says Jordan.   In fact, during his very first lesson with Devon, it became clear to Jordan that he had some “blind spots” as far as what he’d taught himself to that point about music production and engineering.   “I brought in some of my original music, and he evaluated my technique that I was using thus far,” says Jordan. “[I was] using too many stereo tracks on one project, like when you played my mix back in mono, most of my instrumentation was gone…I didn’t even know about that at the time.”   Devon told him, “There’s really no wrong way, but I’m gonna show you the right way.” Jordan says. His mentor then showed him some techniques for dealing with some of the phasing issues in his recording. “[It] was an orchestral-type piece, and he noticed the panning of the cellos and instruments,” Jordan recalls. “He recommended how I should pan those particular instruments.”  
The Easy

The Easy

Jordan proved to be a natural in the studio. After completing the basic apprenticeship, he stayed on with Devon to go through the Recording Connection master’s program. For his master’s assignment, Jordan was able to bring in popular Baton Rouge funk band The Easy to record. “The master’s program is excellent,” he says. “[It’s] focusing more on the fundamentals skills you learned in the bachelors program, but focusing more on the mixing-recording-mastering side.”   Meanwhile, as Jordan wraps up his Recording Connection assignments, he’s wasted no time in working to set up his career as a producer/engineer. He maintains a relationship with Devon where he’s able to work on freelance projects out of Sockit Studio, he networks via social media and word-of-mouth, and he has even found some creative ways to generate income online.   “I started an online music production company, Fiya Records Productions LLC, so that’s up and running online,” he says. “I offer online mixing. Clients will upload their mixes to my Hightail account, and I will mix and invoice them for payment. Or they could listen to instrumentals that I’ve done, and they can pretty much buy directly from my site.”   For the long term, Jordan hasn’t lost track of his lifelong dream of composing and producing for film and television. In the meantime, however, he’s putting his newfound music production and engineering skills to good use. He says he has plans to continue working with The Easy to produce a 12-track album; he’s also working with a Christian rapper named Rock on a Christmas dubstep-hip-hop album, and even has plans to collaborate with a music producer from Brazil on some dance/reggaeton tracks. While his passion is more toward music production, he recognizes the value of the recording and mixing skills he learned from Devon, and keeps a level head about it.   “Being a music producer as a career, if the song doesn’t do very well, you still have the side of recording, which is pretty much a never-ending career,” he says, “because clients and people always need to record, whether it’s music or whether it’s vocal overdubs for a commercial.”   As Jordan continues building his new career, he is quick to recognize how his apprenticeship helped fill in the gaps for him. “I learned a lot about myself as a musician and producer since I started with the Recording Connection,” he says. “My whole work flow producing music has changed.”    
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

10-26-15 Apprentices in Action

 

10-26-15 Apprentices in Action

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

    
Anne Marie Cummings

Anne Marie Cummings

Film Connection student, Anne Marie Cummings (Los Angeles, CA and originally from New York) just signed a contract with Intrinsic Value Films for both her culinary romantic comedy feature, “Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet” and the fresh, half-hour TV series she’s currently developing. So how did it all come about? Anne Marie was meeting with her mentor Aimee Schoof when she asked her if she would like to hear her idea for a TV series. Upon hearing it, Aimee told her, “I’m not gonna let you not do this.” Flash forward to today and Anne Marie is busy writing the TV pilot while her screenplay is in circulation getting coverage. More on this in an upcoming issue!   
Jordan Robertson

Jordan Robertson

Recording Connection student Jordan Robertson (Baton Rouge, LA) is recording and mastering a full-length LP for well-known funk band The Easy. When he’s not doing that, he’s working a hip-hop/dubstep Christmas song for rapper ROCK. Well jingle, jingle all the way! We can’t wait to hear the new tracks!   
Michelina Friss

Michelina Friss

Film Connection student Michelina Friss (Lancaster, PA) is being coached by her mentor Sebastian Triscari in effective storyboarding. Although she was initially intimidated by the idea of storyboarding, Michelina has found it to be a very effective way of catching and getting her ideas down visually so she can communicate them to other pros!   

READY TO GET STARTED?
CLICK HERE TO APPLY!

 

10-26-15 Student Successes

 


When Jimi and Brian get you working on the job, you’re in a real-world setting where you can hone your skills while getting your feet planted in the industry. Read below about a Recording Connection student who is gaining inroads into the Nashville music industry while learning to fine-tune his mixes from a Grammy-winning engineer!

Student Successes

Recording Connection student Jones Nelson: Learning the Art of The Mix

  Recording Connection apprentice Jones Nelson recalls the first time he set foot in his mentor Jamie Tate’s studio, The Rukkus Room in Nashville, Tennessee:   “I was supposed to be meeting with my mentor on a Wednesday,” he said, “and I got a text message from him that morning that said, ‘Hey, we’re actually going to be doing a tracking session this evening if you’d like to swing by.’ It was just kind of ad hoc, but I thought, ‘Well yeah. We’ll swing over there.’ I went in and…they had a session band in, and the session band was going through and just recording a bunch of different artists that would come in…What was really interesting is that these guys, if you even accidentally have listened to country music over the last 10 years or 15 years, you likely heard some of these folks on the record. The drummer, I know his work, toured and worked with Reba McEntire for like 15 years. The guitarist that was in the recording, I think he got the Nashville Guitarist of the Year or something last year…It was that moment that I realized that I was standing amongst giants and really had, at least somewhat, stumbled into the big leagues.”  
Jones Nelson and mentor Jamie Tate at Rukkus Room, Nashville, TN

Jones Nelson and mentor Jamie Tate
at Rukkus Room, Nashville, TN

As a serious blues-rock vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, and having had some previous experience in radio, Jones was not entirely unfamiliar with the studio environment. He’d even been doing home recordings of his own music for several years. But coming into the Rukkus Room as a Recording Connection apprentice meant taking things to a different level—a chance to polish his skills. “I’ve been in and around production rooms and audio studios since I was 15 years old,” he says. “I just kind of gleaned different tips and tricks over the years, but this is my first time in a real professional studio to where my sole objective is to learn…You think that you kind of have a handle on how sound is put together and how a mix is put together. When you see somebody do it just completely differently and much better than what you’re used to, it’s just like very awe-inspiring.”   Perhaps the most important thing Jones is learning as an apprentice is the art of the mix, and how the mix can make all the difference between a good recording and a great one.   “Every producer does it differently,” says Jones. “Some folks really like to get in there, carve out the frequencies and really try to poke holes in the mix. My mentor Jamie, his approach is a lot more ‘record it right the first time, and then just mess with it just a little bit.’ I had a problem with one of my mixes and I had carved out frequencies…He looked it and said, ‘Man, you’re zapping a lot of real frequencies here.’…After he went through and just did some minor tweaks, my mix was sounding much fuller. He said, ‘At the end of the day, these frequencies are really supposed to be there…All those frequencies could really live together. It’s just all about blending them.’”   Jones says he learns a lot by just watching his mentor at work. “[Jamie] mixed a tune on a record,” he recalls of a recent session time with his mentor. “He was actually remixing something that he’d done earlier, trying to beat an earlier mix that he had done. It was really neat to be able to see that deconstruction occurring…to see kind of how he can breathe new life into something else, and kind of make it better…He even said during the course of mixing it, he’s like, ‘You know I’m spending all this time for something that really and truly I’m probably the only person that can tell the difference, from mix A and mix B,’ but he said, ‘I know, personally, that it’s going to be better by the time I’m done with it.’ I just think that’s awesome.”   How is Jones’ in-studio training helping his own mixes? “I feel like my vocals are able to float a little bit better within the mix,” he says, “going into it kind of with the idea of how the compressor is going to work or work with my voice…It’s one of those things that certainly has been helpful and a tool to be able to kind of grow with that.”  
Jones Nelson

Jones Nelson

It turns out the connections Jones is making in the studio are helping with his own projects, as well. “I’m working on a solo record that hopefully we’ll have out the end of this year, beginning of next year,” he says. “I’ve been recording all of the pieces myself. I’m a singer first, guitarist second, [then] everything else. So I’ve been doing everything, all the instrumentation myself and the writing myself—which is fine, I enjoy doing it—but I think one of the big things in working with Jamie and being able to be around some of the tracking sessions and just seeing some amazing studio musicians is to be able to procure the services [of] some folks that do this for a living, bringing in a professional drummer, a professional guitarist, because those little touches will make an enormous impact on the record itself.”   As Jones finishes up his apprenticeship, he’s got his eye on the future—not just for producing his own music, but also for putting his newfound studio skills to good use. “Ideally, my five-year goal is that I’ll be running my own studio,” he says, “so that I’m able to work with new bands and new artists and so forth to the point where I’m able to help them kind of realize their dreams and aspirations, while at the same time have the perfect conduit to be able to record my own music.”   Meanwhile, the opportunity to learn in a world-class Nashville studio alongside a top industry engineer has been priceless for Jones. “I think it all comes back around to being in the real world,” he says. “You can’t be taught the real world out of a book, you know…I mean, [Jamie’s] got a Grammy hanging on the wall…So I think more than anything, the big difference, if I had to say what the big difference would be going this route versus another, is that you’re getting a shot of real world confidence, because you know that you’re quite literally just one step away from being in the mix, so to speak.”   Jones Nelson is also 1/2 of Nonskid Blondes. He and bandmate Nigel Pawson’s full-length release entitled “Unlike Skylight” hits October 27th! Hear a track in Apprentice Media below.    
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

10-12-15 Mentor News

 

10-12-15 Mentor News
NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark on real world experience, qualities of a good apprentice,
and loving the work
 
Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark

Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark

Owner and chief engineer of Evenform Recording Studio in Raleigh, NC, Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark has years of experience both in the studio and running live sound. Jesse has worked with such names as The Outlaws, French Montana, Young Buck, Alesana and even superstar EDM/dubstep producer Skrillex. Suffice it to say he brings a lot to the table when mentoring Recording Connection students.   In a recent conversation with RRFC, Jesse weighed in on such topics as the value of gaining real-world experience over classroom training, what he looks for in an apprentice, how he got his start, and why he loves being an audio engineer. Some of the best excerpts from that conversation are below.  
 *  *  *  *  *  
  ON HOW HE DECIDED TO PURSUE RECORDING AND MIXING AS A CAREER:   “I used to play in a band, and the last big show that my band played…we played with a band called Third Day, which was like a Christian rock band. We opened up for them, and after that we kind of talked to some small labels and stuff, and we quickly determined that weren’t ready to take that big leap…So when that happened, I was like, ‘Okay, well I’m just kind of going to learn how to record and focus my time on that.’ And that’s when I took a step forward as far as that goes.”   ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEARNING TO PRODUCE/RECORD IN SCHOOL VERSUS LEARNING IN THE “REAL WORLD”:   I feel like when [people] go to a normal school or they’re taught in a classroom, and they’re taught these textbook ideas—and they’re great, don’t get me wrong… [but] the stuff that you hear like Chris Lord-Alge does or these big time producers, man, they are not afraid to put their hand on things, and they’re not afraid to push the buttons…that’s what I’ve done from the get go. And I try to teach any student that comes in with me, too: It’s like, ‘Look, you’re going to see these things in books, and they tell you to do this, but those aren’t a lot of times real world things to do.’”   FAVORITE MENTORS WHO HELPED HIM ALONG THE WAY:   “In the live [sound] department, a guy named Brad from the Lincoln Theater. He taught a lot about EQing and making drums sound good—a lot of that kind of stuff, and about the delays and compression, how to use a compressor…A guy name Jamie King, he’s probably my biggest mentors as far as the recording aspect goes. He’s a guy who records a lot of metal bands out in Winston-Salem area… I could send him stuff, and he would listen to it and he would give me positive feedback, and he was never negative but he would still tell me things that I could do…but he was always super positive about it, and any time I wrote him, he was quick to respond. He was just a great mentor, man.”   SHOUT OUT TO ONE OF HIS STAR APPRENTICES:   “Dustin [Bolanz]…he’s picking up things pretty fast. He’s kind into the punk rock scene…he’s just like a really laid back guy, easy to work with, and like I’ve actually put him in front of my clients, which I usually don’t do right away.”   ON WHAT HE LOOKS FOR IN AN APPRENTICE:   cables “I’m looking for somebody that really wants to learn…In order to get to where I’m at, I wanted to be [like] Michael Jordan . . . as Michael Jordan is to basketball, that’s how I wanted to be with recording. I wanted to be the best, and I find that a lot of people lack that. I find that they don’t really want it: they’re just like, ‘Oh, you know, I play in a band and we really want get into learning to record for ourselves.’ That’s not why I got in recording…In this business, if you’re on the right track and your mind is in the place of the artists, then I think that it is going to reward you. So I would just love to see the [student] want it as bad as I do, and if they do, man, they are going to shine, and there’s no secrets that I’m here to keep from any of them.”   ON WHY HE LOVES WHAT HE DOES:   “Once I started initially recording people and they were happy with their sound and they were stoked, that’s what made me happy. I love it when people come in…I had this one guy named Corey Thompson that came in, and this guy sings for the Apollo, and he is just local here. He came in and he recorded with me, and the guy almost . . . I mean, the guy was literally in tears. He was like, ‘Man, I’ve been in so many studios and I’ve never sounded like this before…Dude, I’m never going to anyone else.’ I really love hearing people’s reactions like that. I love those kinds of things, and if some of these [students] get to see that, I mean, I think that’s epic, like a great way to really see what this job has to offer.”   
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

10-5-15 Student Successes

 


When RRFC gets you in the door of a real studio, production house or professional kitchen, you may have opportunities to turn your “on-the-job training” into much more! Read below about a Recording Connection student whose apprenticeship at an up-and-coming studio turned into a full-time position!

orlando-header Student Successes

Recording Connection student Orlando Gómez works himself into a job!

   
Orlando Gómez

Orlando Gómez

There are two huge advantages to learning a skill on-the-job. First—it doesn’t feel like school. Second—you might just work yourself into an actual job. Just ask Recording Connection student Carlos Orlando Gómez Hernández aka Orlando Gómez, whose apprenticeship at Beacon Hill Recording Studios in El Paso, TX has led him right into a full-time position as a staff engineer!   Over the past few months Orlando has assisted on projects with B.o.B, Jake Lambo, American Idol’s Tora Woloshin, McDonald’s and American Express just to name a few! So how did he do it? Having a clear goal in mind from the outset, then working hard to achieve it was instrumental in his success.   A skilled guitarist who had already dabbled a little in audio engineering, Orlando was drawn to the Recording Connection particularly because he saw it as a chance to get his foot in the door. “I didn’t see it so much as a school,” says Orlando. “When I got into Beacon Hill, I just had to do my best to keep the work there… keep my job. It was more like… it didn’t feel like school. It felt just like any job where you always have to learn something new.”   But it was also school, even if it didn’t feel like it to him at the time. His mentor at the studio, Alfredo Gonzalez, proved to be a perfect fit for Orlando’s career goals. “I wanted to be both an engineer and producer,” he says, “and the good thing is that Alfredo himself is both of them as well… He specializes in music production and engineering, so it was a really good choice for me to get him as a mentor…It has helped me a lot.”   The real-world experience helped as well. Beacon Hill is a large studio staffed with engineers who have worked with major artists ranging from John Legend to Sting to Shakira. Since apprenticing in the studio, Orlando has gained experience working with corporate clients like McDonald’s and American Express, Latin Christian artists like Marcela Gándara, Miguel Balboa, Un Corazón, Evan Craft, and perhaps most notably, hip-hop artist B.o.B.   beacon-hill-3 “When B.o.B came in, we were all pretty excited since… the studio is actually pretty new,” says Orlando. “We’d only been open for a little more than a year and B.o.B was our first big artist coming in. So we were all pretty nervous, but once you are in the session, once you get focused on your work, it’s not bad. I mean you forget that you are working with famous people or renowned institutions…it’s great having the opportunity to see them work and how these big names do all their projects.” Hear track in the Apprentice Media section below.   There have also been opportunities to solve problems on the fly. “We had this country band,” Orlando recalls, “and we didn’t know that we didn’t have enough channels for all the instruments they were playing. Right there in that moment, they took a break, a little break of about 15-20 minutes to eat lunch, and we had to solder in a whole patch bay and put it into a console and all of that stuff in just 15-20 minutes. And it worked well, so we were pretty excited about that.”   Between Alfredo’s mentoring and Orlando’s passion for the work, getting “in the door” of Beacon Hill has paid off, as Orlando has quite literally worked himself into a full-time position at the studio! Alfredo describes his new hire as “a rock star” and says, “He’s a hard worker, trustworthy, and super responsible. Even if he’s done with his job, he’ll stick around and make sure no one needs anything.”  
Orlando Gómez with mentor Alfredo Gonzalez

Orlando Gómez (left) with mentor Alfredo Gonzalez

For Orlando Gómez, he saw the Recording Connection as more than just an opportunity to learn: he saw it as a chance to break into the business. As he treated his apprenticeship like a job, it eventually turned into one. Today, Orlando considers himself fortunate to have gotten in on the ground floor of an up-and coming studio.   “I feel lucky that I got the chance to work with a very talented group of people,” he says. “People there are amazing. We all get along pretty well and the studio is very good as well…I love being at Beacon Hill…I love all the people there. I feel really comfortable working there. I just feel we have a good chance of being a really great production company.”    
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

9-21-15 Mentor News

 

9-21-15 Mentor News
RRFC INTERVIEW: Radio Connection mentor Marshall Thomas discusses the past, present and future of radio
  226kfrog-logo-2 Radio Connection mentor Marshall Thomas is a man of many talents; besides being a lifelong radio broadcaster, he’s also ventured into acting, teaching, woodworking and even writing children’s books. Thanks to his passion for radio in general, and country music in particular, he’s spent many years behind the mic, observing the many changes that have taken place in radio over the years. Currently hosting a weekend slot at K-FROG (94.1 FM) in San Bernardino, CA, Marshall is also passionate about helping our broadcasting students find their footing in the landscape of modern radio broadcasting. In the following interview with RRFC, Marshall talks with us about how he got his start in radio, the changes he sees in the industry, and the new world of opportunities now available to up-and-coming broadcasters.  
 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  
  RRFC: Can you tell us a little about your story and background? How did you get to where you are today?   Marshall Thomas: It started when I was a kid. I literally knew when I was a small child that I was going to be in the music business somehow, some way. Right out of high school…I went to JC here in Los Angeles, a junior college. They had a small, little 10-watt transmitter on the campus. You could get the station throughout the campus and out into the parking lot, and that was about it. I majored in theater and radio. Disco was huge at the time. I started spinning records in clubs and working on my chops that way. One thing led to another and I got an internship at a rock-n-roll station here in Los Angeles…Within a year, lo and behold, they saw my potential, believed in me, and I started picking up air shows, mostly fill-ins, and then it went from there, doing weekends and full time.  
Radio Connection mentor Marshall Thomas

Radio Connection mentor Marshall Thomas

RRFC: So you kinda worked your way up from the very beginning, didn’t you?   Marshall: I sure did. Working the clubs, I’ve got to tell you, helped me because back then we were still playing vinyl records. So it helped me with that particular skill, being able to do smooth transitions, and segues and build a set. I got to tell you though, it was free form radio, which is pretty much non-existent to this day. I don’t have to tell the youngsters that everything is so tightly formatted now, that those days are gone. We were told to play ‘x’ amount of A’s and B’s of the new records, and the rest was up to us to fill in the gaps. So it was quite a challenge, and you had to be quite creative with your presentation.   RRFC: It’s interesting that you talked about how radio has changed, and the landscape of radio is still changing quite a bit. From where you’re sitting, working on-air at a terrestrial radio station, what does the state of radio look like? What challenges are there? What opportunities are there that you see that maybe weren’t there when you started?   Marshall: I think terrestrial radio will always be there. For one thing, there’s a live and local feel with terrestrial radio that you cannot get through syndication or a network, [so] terrestrial radio will always be there in some way, shape or form. Yes, there’s satellite radio. Yes, there’s HD radio, which is one of those still burgeoning fields of radio…but terrestrial radio is still big as it ever was. But podcasting, I have to tell you , is what seems to be the wave of the future, especially for our youth, who are so inclined to use a device for everything—for gaming, for music, for video—so it just makes sense that you would want to do a podcast. You can set up a studio rather easily at home with a nice microphone and a decent computer and the proper software. You can have your own little studio in a quiet place at your house.   RRFC: That’s a really good point. It’s interesting because we’ve had several of our radio mentors mention to us about the need to find a niche, find something to talk about that you are passionate about, and develop a brand of yourself around that.   Marshall: By all means, branding [and] marketing, and it’s so easy with YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr and the rest of it…They’re all free. You can advertise to your heart’s content. Make yourself a brand, pick out something that you’re passionate about. I don’t care if it’s fashion, music, cars, you name it, pop culture. Yes, you can stand out amongst a crowd and have a very successful podcast, and, yes, make money. You know, if you have enough hits on YouTube, they will pay you to broadcast.   RRFC: Who do you have in your past, coming into the radio profession, that you looked to as a mentor and how did they help shape your career?   Marshall: Gary Owens should be known nationwide…Here in California, growing up, people like Charlie Tuna, who’s still on the air, God bless him, after 60 some odd years, he’s still on Los Angeles radio. The Real Don Steele and Robert W. Morgan, another wonderful name in radio, he’s gone now, and so is The Real Don Steele. These were all mentors of mine.   RRFC: What does it take to put out a good four-hour slot of broadcasting? How much time do you spend off the air preparing for those hours on the air?   Marshall: I tell this to my students: I never stop reading. I’m a voracious reader. I read anything and everything…I’m always looking for show prep, in every way, shape and form…I put quite a few hours in during the week to prep for that weekend gig. I always get to the station early and, again, I will spend another hour or so looking at emails and checking news and so forth, so that when I really hit the air, I have a pretty good arsenal of facts, figures, gags, funny bits, or whatever, artist information and entertainment news. I know I’ve done a really good four hour slot when I come away and I say to myself, “Gosh, I didn’t get to that gag, or I didn’t get to that bit.”   RRFC: If someone came to you and just said, “Marshall, I would really like to do what you do for a living,” if they had zero radio experience but they were passionate and they wanted to get in there and be on the air, what’s the first thing you’d recommend that they do?   Marshall: I would seek out some way of learning at least the basics, and the Radio Connection is perfect for that….You get to work with somebody one-on-one, which I think that’s magnificent, as opposed to maybe going to an unaccredited school, for instance, or even going to college, where it’s going to take you four years to get to where you want to go. You can start listening to your favorite stations, making notes. These days, more and more broadcasters, any celebrity really, is accessible through Twitter and social media. You’d be surprised how easily people are able to be approached, as opposed to calling the station, talking to the receptionist, maybe getting an email address, that sort of thing. That’s all old-school now. You can actually approach these people one-on-one by becoming a follower and letting them know that you’re interested and, who knows? They may invite you down to the station and give you a tour, as it were. I think the Radio Connection mentor program is pretty darn unique because you get to shadow somebody in the business. You’re actually there at the radio station, and really working with them one-on-one. What a great way to learn.   
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

9-21-15 Student Successes

 


When RRFC gets you learning on the job, the experience you can gain in a short time is far more valuable than anything you learn in a classroom. Read below about a Film Connection apprentice who learned how to think on his feet, overcoming challenges while shooting his first short film!

Student Successes

Recording Connection graduate Eric Gonzalez: reaping the rewards of passion

   
Eric Gonzalez

Eric Gonzalez

At RRFC, mentors and students alike often tell us that apprentices get out of the program what they put into it. Learning on-the-job has its own benefits, but there’s no substitute for taking your own initiative and making the most of opportunity.   No student exemplifies this truth more than Recording Connection graduate Eric Gonzalez. As he came to the end of his apprenticeship with mentor Derek O’Brien at DOB Sound Studios in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Eric scoured the Internet and began emailing all the Los Angeles-based producers and engineers he could find. Little could he have known at the time that this would land him a job as an assistant engineer for one of the industry’s most acclaimed music producers, working with rock legends like Slash and Ace Frehley.   Eric’s journey into the music industry stems from a love of music in general. “I’ve been a guitarist for about 12 years,” he says. “I’ve been bouncing between a ton of bands I’ve played in. The musicianship is there for me, which definitely helps. Audio engineering, I dabbled in it a bit before going to Recording Connection, but it’s once I got to Recording Connection that I really understood it, which really gave me the hands-on.”  
Console in DOB Sound Studios

Console in DOB Sound Studios

Given his own interest in punk rock, Eric found an instant connection with his mentor Derek O’Brien, a one-time drummer for legendary punk band Social Distortion. “That was a blast, especially me being into punk music and hearing his history with punk music,” says Eric. “Working with Derek O’Brien really set me up and really, really prepared me for how it’s really going to be.”   Eric’s own sense of personal initiative kicked in early on, and he immersed himself in the process. “I’d never touched Pro Tools [before],” he says. “The school definitely helped me get engaged with Pro Tools and that, of course, got me going. Once I was done with the school, I was just going and going learning Pro Tools even more, working my butt off, trying to record whatever bands I can, even if it’s recording myself…I would just get my little interface, all I need is my guitar, maybe an amp, mic or just direct in, and just start recording a bunch of things and just start editing it and having some fun. All of that, every single part of it, really helped me get where I am right now.”   And where is he “right now?” Interesting story, that.   Once he finished the program, instead of waiting for connections to come to him, Eric once again took the initiative, searching for L.A. music producers on Google and emailing as many of them as he could. One of the producers to respond was none other than Warren Huart, owner of Spitfire Studio and multi-platinum producer for artists like Aerosmith, The Fray and Daniel Powter. As it turns out, Warren also happens to be a Recording Connection mentor and one of RRFC’s biggest advocates, so there was an additional, unexpected connection. Warren gave him the opportunity to help out in the studio, and before long, Eric found himself assisting on sessions alongside other legendary producers like Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Miles Davis, Alice Cooper), and working on projects with icons like Ace Frehley and Slash, as well as up-and-comers like Disney Channel star Lauren Taylor (of Best Friends Whenever). To Eric, watching these producers work has only enhanced his learning experience.   “It’s really interesting seeing how they work with an artist,” he says. “How they phrase things and how they can just mold, and get what they want and what they know would really work, and in the end, the artist is just like, ‘Wow that was amazing. I love that’…Of course, you have to be on your game every moment, you be have to be observant of everything with someone like Jack [Douglas] in there.”   Eric’s passion and commitment to learn soon paid off, as Warren came in one day and offered him a paid position as an assistant engineer!  
Eric Gonzalez with Warren Huart

Eric Gonzalez with Warren Huart

“I was working hard to get hired, but I wasn’t expecting to get hired right away. I knew I had to prove myself,” says Eric. “So [one day] I was in the studio, and Warren came in and wanted to have a little chat with me. My heart was pounding because I had no idea what that would mean. I wasn’t expecting that at the time, and when I got the news, I was relieved knowing that I’m staying, and just completely excited because this is my first real job in this profession.”   Warren Huart has some good things to say about his new assistant engineer, as well: “The bottom line is he was he was doing everything it takes for me to notice him and find him invaluable,” he told RRFC. “And for people that work for me, I tell them all, you’ve just got to get to that point where I just can’t imagine not having you around. And that’s really what he did.”   Even so, Eric is clear that he still hasn’t “arrived” just because he’s got a paid gig.   “Even though I’m hired, I’m still learning every single minute I can,” he says. “I’m still in training. I’m still learning the console. I’m reading the manual from first page to last. I’ve gone through it twice. I’m going through it a third time right now. I’m not done learning, and I’ve got a long way to go.”   And he’s not just learning the gear; Eric says he’s also learned what it’s like to do business in this profession. “Yeah, it’s business, but you’ve got to have that closeness, that friendship, and that trust with the artist that you have to build very quickly,” says Eric. “You can’t just sit back and expect the artist to be talkative and let the artist talk to you. You, yourself, have to be the one that engages with the artist…Yeah, there’s business to it, but you’ve got to understand that everyone’s passion is pretty much working together to make this magic. It becomes less business, more fun, mixed with just a lot of talent…I didn’t expect it would be this much fun working 12-hour days.”   Now on staff at a world-class recording studio, Eric credits the Recording Connection for giving him the opportunity to learn in a real recording studio. “I don’t think I’d be where I am right now if it wasn’t [for] everything I learned at Recording Connection,” he says.   But Eric will also tell you there’s more to the story, because his success has come not just because of the opportunities offered by the Recording Connection, but because he made the most of those opportunities and took charge of his own future. His advice to other students says it all:   “Whatever you learn from the school, whatever you learn from a studio you’re apprenticed at, go home and apply it. Work on whatever you can,” he says. “Once they’re done with the program, if they don’t happen to get a job at that studio they’re apprenticing at, don’t stop, don’t be discouraged because of that. There’s many reasons why they wouldn’t get a position…Do what I did. Google studios. Send them emails. Because who knows? That one email can be that one that lands them a job.”    
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

9-14-15 Mentor News

 

9-14-15 Mentor News
Producer/engineer Mike Landau shares the secrets
to becoming a successful engineer
  If there’s anyone who has the credibility to talk about what goes into being a successful producer/engineer or building a great studio, it’s Recording Connection mentor Mike Landau. On his watch, the studio he co-founded, Phat Buddha Productions in St. Louis, MO, has grown and expanded to become St. Louis’ premier “go-to” recording studio, servicing major label clients such as Ludacris, Waka Flocka, Lil Wayne, Panic! at the Disco, Sade, Wale, Black Eyed Peas and many others. In a recent conversation with us, Mike shared some nuggets of wisdom as to what he looks for in his apprentices, how he gets them involved in the studio, and most importantly, what he believes are the three keys to succeeding in this business. We’ve shared the best excerpts of this conversation with you below.  
 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  
  MIKE’S FEELINGS ABOUT THE MENTOR-APPRENTICE APPROACH, AND HOW IT PLAYS OUT IN HIS STUDIO:   “We definitely enjoy it… Our goal is to really develop professional engineers. And that’s more than just cleaning up around the studio. That’s, ‘Okay, let’s start burning out a track, let’s start burning out a mix”–basic things. I might have an in-house project like a commercial that I might want to blow, just blast throughout the Internet. Well, that’s a great project for somebody who’s just starting out. And I can give him a bunch of content and let him edit it together and develop a piece that we can use. That’s just an example of something that we would try and throw on these guys to get them on the gear, really utilizing what they’re learning in a real-world situation, and then actually seeing it being utilized. And then all the way up to, ‘Okay, this guy knows how to track drums now. Okay, go mic that drum kit,’…Sometimes it’s challenging, but at the end of the day it’s worth it, you know?”   ON WHAT HE LOOKS FOR IN AN APPRENTICE:  
Studio A - The Dhyana Room

Studio A in Phat Buddha Productions

“Obviously some of the normal things: intelligence, drive, and all of that good stuff. But I’d say the most important thing, really, is just to really have that passion. The ones who make it really exhibit that willingness to spend extra time in the studio, to go above and beyond what’s asked of them, just do things that they see need to be done, and having that intuition. So that’s sort of what we’re looking for. We’re looking for people that we can turn into professional engineers.”   ON THE OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO APPRENTICES WHO ARE WILLING TO PUT IN THE EFFORT:   “We have an open door policy here [in the studio]. So if you’re a student, you’re welcome to be here as long as you maintain proper studio etiquette and all of that good stuff. You’re welcome to be here as long as you want, whenever you want.”   ON THE KIND OF PROJECTS THAT COME THROUGH THE STUDIO:   “We do everything, you know…We’ve done audio for business. We’ve done cleanup for lawyers. We’ve done bands that have never been in the studio. We do all the top local acts. We do national acts. We just had, not too long ago, Lil Wayne was in the studio…We have a lot of national talent that comes through, a lot of hip-hop, a lot of rock. Eighty percent of what we do here is hip-hop and R&B just because that’s what the market dictates, but if there is a national artist that’s coming through Saint Louis, we’re pretty much the first one they’re gonna call… From Panic! at the Disco, to Travis Barker, to the Black Eyed Peas, to Rick Ross, to Sade, to Chuck Berry, so quite an extensive list of clients, and you never know what’s gonna happen on what day. That’s part of the excitement of working in this business.”  

will.i.am, Mike Landau, Stevie Stone and Jaden Smith at Phat Buddha Productions

ON THE DEFINING MOMENT WHEN PHAT BUDDHA PRODUCTIONS BEGAN EXPANDING TO HANDLE NATIONAL CLIENTS:   “For the studio, I would say when Nelly first came in, when that happened, it sort of really opened the eyes of some of the labels around town. And, there was a lot of energy in town at that time also because of Nelly…That sort of opened the doors, and at that point we realized, ‘Hey, we’re developing these connections with the major labels. Starting to really understand how the game works. And, yeah, we can do this. We can do this on a major, major level.’..That’s when we decided, “Okay, let’s expand. Let’s build this other, our studio A. And let’s buy this console. And let’s get a real analog console in here and build a world class suite.’ And that’s what we did.”   ON WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL STUDIO:   “There’s a lot that goes into it, you know. It’s like, there’s many spokes to the wheel. One spoke, of course, is taking a risk. Another spoke is gonna be your drive and sacrificing and a lot of other things to focus on this and push it forward. And another spoke would be, who you know, networking, connections.”   ON WHAT HE TEACHES HIS STUDENTS IN ORDER TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL:  
Studio B in Phat Buddha Productions

Studio B in Phat Buddha Productions

“There are three parts to really being a successful engineer. The first is obviously, understanding the technology…Go home, get on your Pro Tools system. Come here [to the studio], get on the Pro Tools system. Push yourself. Don’t just do what’s within the lesson. Go beyond that.   “The second is really understanding the social aspect of how to communicate with a client, how to bring out the best performance of the client. That has nothing to do with technology: that has everything to do with you as person, you being able to connect with the client, making them feel comfortable in the environment and bringing out the best performance in them.   “And then thirdly is the business aspect of it. Picking up on the business, being a businessman. Go get a business card, maybe even write a business plan for yourself as an independent engineer. Go to clubs. Go to bars. Don’t get drunk. Hand out your business card. Do business things where you develop clientele, where these people start to know who you are, where you’re working at, what your skill sets are. That’s so important. A lot of people just think, ‘Oh, man, all I need to do is have a good year and learn the technology.’ No, there’s much more to it than that. And so, that’s what I tell them: [If] you want to be successful, you need to learn these three components. You need to focus on these three components, and really throw away everything else in your life in the next year and a half if you’re serious about it.”   
 *  *  *  *  *  

 

9-7-15 Mentor News

 

9-7-15 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.  
 *  *  *  *  *  
  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.   
 *  *  *  *  *