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Issue #273

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

X
Student Successes
 

Recording Connection grad Kolby Benton Does Song with Borgore,
Releases New Album & more!

  

Recording Connection grad Kolby Benton aka Kayp

  Recording Connection graduate Kolby Benton aka Kayp grew up in a small town, so small that his graduating class had a whopping thirty people. Nevertheless, knowing his goal was to become an EDM artist, he didn’t waste his time. When he found Recording Connection he took action, moved to Denver, and got the training and insight he’d need to elevate his chops and get his music out to the world. Now Kolby’s collaborated on the track, “Brutality” with Borgore, released songs on Buygore Records and frshblood (a Buygore Records’ sub-label), just dropped his EP, Isekai, and has collaborations in the works with Riot Ten and Typhon.   What led you to Recording Connection?   “I found Deadmau5 when I was like in sixth grade, I started listening to him. Skrillex, I thought he was the coolest person ever, and then I discovered Borgore. I got on a launchpad, and I started doing little mashups on it with like electronic music and stuff, and I just got like a really strong passion for it. …   Going through high school, I took music theory with the local community college, and I was just like, ‘Man, this isn’t it. I need to find something that teaches me how to produce music.’… I was looking through the internet and I found… Recording Connection, and I found they actually had a program for electronic music production with Ableton. And I told my parents… ‘Guys, like this is it. I got to do this. This is my way to actually learn. I can actually go somewhere and learn how to do this…. They got a whole program, they teach you everything with Ableton, how to make the music… I get to go into a studio. All this stuff [is] available for me.’ My parents were like, ‘All right, yup, let’s do it. Let’s go ahead and do it.’ And so, I moved out from that little town, up to Denver.” Learn more about how Kolby got his big break in our Straight Talk video below!   But first you had to get accepted. Tell us about when you went in to interview at ConwaySound. Please, tell us about that.   “Ryan [Conway, a longtime Recording Connection mentor] came walking down the stairs, he’s like, ‘You Kolby?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m Kolby.’ So, he showed me everything… and he wanted me to show him some of my music… I had a flash drive for him… so he plugged it in, and we started listening to it on the speakers. And he was like, ‘Yeah, your stuff’s actually a little more advanced than what we normally hear from students starting out.’… It was like we really connected super easily because, obviously, he knew about music, I knew about music. It was a passion of ours…. And when I was doing my interview, Ryan told me that my mentor will probably be Josh [Denhardt, also a Recording Connection graduate] because he said Josh is really big on dubstep music and things like that.  

Kolby Benton aka Kayp

And so, when my first day came around, I walked in and I met Josh, and… this guy has the same humor as me. He’s instantly like someone I can joke with, super easy to just be myself around. Like, we’re just joking the whole time. He’s like, ‘Yeah, just sit down. Just work on some music. Your first day here, I’m just going to watch your workflow.’ And I’m just working on music, and like, I just feel comfortable with this guy. …   That first day, I learned a lot more than I’ve learned in months of doing my own little research through YouTube and trying to figure things out myself. Josh was just super big on taking me in, and actually like showing me things, and inviting me to come and sit in into the studio and watch how things are done. He introduced me to a lot of people he was working with [and] was just super cool.”   Right from the start, Josh wanted to observe your workflow. Under his mentorship were you able to refine your approach to songwriting?   “Before the program, I would get caught up so bad… on the smallest, little things… I’d be starting on just the intro and… get caught up on little details. And working with Josh… he taught me, ‘Hey, it’s okay. Just get the song done. Get the overall idea, and [don’t] worry about the little things… because when you’re doing that, you’re actually not writing the song, you’re just nitpicking.’… If you think you don’t like how [it] sounds, put little placeholders in it or something, so at least there is a song there, an idea…. Just get the overall idea out. …   He was like, ‘Just make a story in your head, it helps you visualize it.’ So that was a big thing.”   Anything else you want to say about your time with Josh?   “I love you, Josh. You’re such a fun person to work with. He actually had me working on a remix for Buygore. Oh, I never thought I was going to get on Buygore. I was like, ‘Dude, I’m going to do this remix alone, I’m not going to get on,’ and he was like, ‘No, do it, man. Your music’s good. You can do it.’ And I got on and I was like, ‘Bro.’… This guy saw it in me, and that’s the thing. I think Josh sees things in people. He’s a fun person to work with, he’s super easygoing, you can joke with him…. He’s just a good person. That’s all I have to say. I think he’s a great teacher, he’s a good mentor. He lets you work at your own pace, but he teaches you things along the way, so you don’t feel like you’re being rushed.”   You also learned that when it comes to building confidence, setting realistic goals is key. What can you tell us about that?   “Josh really taught me that. Setting realistic goals is a big thing, so you don’t disappoint yourself. Something like, ‘All right, I’m going to release a song and I want to get 1,000 plays on it.’ And you would [get those plays], and you build your confidence…. And once you hit that goal, you go to the next one. …   Now I’m at a point where I’m like, ‘All right, my goal is to hit… 100,000 monthly listeners, or something like that on Spotify.’… So that’s the next goal for me. We’ll see where that goes after the Riot Ten collaboration comes out but that’s somewhere we’re trying to go.”   Okay, so collaborating with Borgore, give us the lowdown. How did it happen?   “I had been graduated [from Recording Connection] for maybe five months. And I sent a song to Buygore Records. And they took a little bit to respond… so, I ended up releasing the song by myself, and the very next day, they actually reached back out to me saying they really liked the song, and they want to release it. And I was like, ‘Oh man, I actually already released it and everything.’… Okay, so collaborating with Borgore, give us the lowdown. How did it happen? They were like, ‘Oh, dang it. Okay, well, send us new music whenever you can.’ And so, I was kind of on the radar at that point and so I became a hermit and worked on a song for like four months…. I was like, ‘The song has to be perfect. I’m going to send it to them, and they’re going to really like it.’ So I sent it to them.   And like a week later, [Borgore’s] girlfriend, Sonia, she emailed me, said, ‘Hey, Kayp, what’s up? I actually showed the song to Borgore, and… he said that he really liked the song and wanted to know if you want it to turn into an official Borgore and Kayp collaboration. Just send him all the stems, and he’ll work on it.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’… I was so excited. I was there with my girlfriend, we were making breakfast burritos… and I kind of like blacked out a little bit because I had never had like a big release or anything, never done anything, and the first song like I sent to them, they responded well, and then the second one I sent, ‘Hey, let’s make it a big collaboration.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been listening to this guy forever, since I was a kid.’”   What’s your advice to current Recording Connection students?   “My advice would be, be patient. I know everybody wants to be big one day, and they want to be playing concerts, releasing these songs that are just blowing up all over the place…. [But] if you rush yourself and you set unrealistic goals and expectations, like, ‘All right, by the end of the year, I’m going to be Skrillex’… you’re going to disappoint yourself. So, I say set realistic goals and expectations, and be patient. …   You’ll get there at some point, if you stay true to yourself [and] actually set realistic goals… you’ll see the progress.”     Learn more about Recording Connection, for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Beat Making, EDM, Live Sound, Music Business, DJing, and more!  
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Student Successes
 

Pro Dancer & Choreographer Ramone Wilkinson Expands
into Film with Film Connection.

  

Film Connection graduate Ramone Wilkinson

Film Connection graduate Ramone Wilkinson is no stranger to the limelight. A professional dancer and choreographer, he’s worked with Camila Cabello, Kanye West, TLC, Gwen Stefani, Big Sean, Jennifer Lopez and he’s done commercials with brands like Apple, Google, and Nike. When Ramone found himself with some extra time on his hands due to the worldwide pandemic, rather than take it easy, he switched into high gear and pursued getting more training and connections in film so that he could expand his potential as a visionary creative who’s capable in working in a multitude of formats.   What made you reach out to Film Connection? What appealed to you about us?   “During the pandemic, I was searching for film schools…. I actually registered for [another well-known film school] before talking to a few people that told me it’s not a good idea…. So, once I went to Film Connection [online] and I read some of the newsletters and I watched the video on how it’s so hands-on and the price. And, you know, I was just like, ‘I could really balance this with my schedule and educate myself and, you know, gain a great connection with mentors that already have experience in that industry and in that realm.’ So it was very attractive to me. And then once I talked to them, you know, it sounded great, so I just went for it. …   Now here I am. It’s been a great experience. Daniel and Bayou are great people, great leaders, you know what I mean? Like it’s been awesome.” Ramone shares more of his experiences in Film Connection in our Straight Talk video below!   What was the impetus behind you deciding to learn filmmaking in the first place?   I’ve always been a fan of movies… But what led me to have like, a big interest in it to the point where I wanted to pursue it was in 2019, a big choreographer, his name is celebrity choreographer, JaQuel Knight. He put on a choreography challenge on social media, inviting any choreographer from all around the world to submit and, you know, join in this competition. So, I did that choreography challenge and that opened my mind up to truly being the visionary. You know, I had to cast, I had to choreograph, I had to hire a cinematographer. I had to make sure me and the cinematographer was on the same page. And this was every week. So it almost felt like I was doing a film where I had to shoot. You know, I had multiple shoot days every week. …   So, from having all of those responsibilities, it made me realize that I can do it. And it made me realize that I’m passionate about more mediums in artistry other than dance…. And, it also made me realize, I didn’t know enough and I think that was key to it all. I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t know enough because I would be able to handle this in a better way.’ And that led me to just wanting more education… and really become that visionary that I see myself being in the future.”   Due to the restrictions during the pandemic, you first interviewed with your future mentor, Daniel Lir (of Dream Team Directors) via phone. Please, tell us about that.  

on location BTS of “Time is Eternal” crewed by multiple Film Connection students/grads & film pros

“I spoke to somebody from the Film Connection, and he basically walked me through, you know, the whole process… and he was like, ‘Your mentor can turn you down or they could say yes, based on the conversation, based on the vibe, based on their schedule. So go ahead and give him a call tomorrow.’ And that was nerve-wracking for me…. So I wrote down anything that I felt was important to bring up in our conversation just to be prepared beforehand. And the next day I called him, he was with his son at the park and we had a great conversation, you know.   He was like, ‘Oh, you know, I love how you just called me. And you were so confident and driven and forward about what you’re saying.’ Once I got on the phone with him, I felt this feeling in my heart and, you know, I just was talking from experience, from my struggles, from me having this vision of truly being a great creator and visionary to influence the world and my people and to show people that they can really, you know, create something out of nothing, you know? And I feel like I’m a great example of that.”   Let’s flashforward to the fantasy film you got to work on with your mentors, Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett.   “[First] they had me… helping out with preproduction. So specifically, I was helping out with casting and finding fashion film festivals that they would be able to submit to within the next two years.   I’ve seen all the roles for “Time is Eternal” that they had listed out and all the people that had submitted. And there were specific heights, waist [sizes], colors, certain descriptions for each character. [Daniel] told me to send him back who I feel is the best for each role, you know, just testing my mind… mind you, this was like… like hundreds of people. So it was great…. It made me realize I like casting. I really do. You see a lot of cool faces, a lot of cool personalities. Yeah. It’s really awesome. And it made me realize that there’s just a lot more to this and now I respect the casting director’s job way more now, you know.”   You even got to use your talent as a choreographer on “Time is Eternal.” Give us the lowdown on that.   “Bayou asked me to help with choreography for this one scene in “Time is Eternal” where the two main characters are dancing [as if they’re one person dancing with themselves]. That’s what it’s going to look like in the film. She trusted me to be able to help with the movement.   I’ve seen my choreography on big stages and television and etc., but for me to do it in a film, you know what I mean? I never had that experience. I’d never been exposed to that world. So, it was next level for me.”  

Film Connection mentors Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir of Dream Team Directors in Los Angeles

Having to choreograph for the camera, especially for such a technically complex scene is quite a challenge.   “I had to keep in mind what the camera was doing. Usually, when I’m creating dance movement I’m not thinking about what the camera is doing. You know, I’m probably aware of where the camera’s going to be so I can like position, you know, the movement to be a certain way but I never choreographed and also was thinking about the choreography with the camera.   In “Time is Eternal” it was a body double. So, you know, it’s the same person dancing with the same person. So we can never see two people’s faces at one time. So you can imagine the challenge of me being in the studio thinking like, ‘Okay, so we have to film this a specific type of way. We can’t just film a why, film closeups. Like not each time we do it has to be done a certain type of way.’”   What are your goals for the future, short term, and long term?   “Right now, my goal is just to continue to learn…. But as far as like spot on goals as far as like things that I definitely want to knock off the list is, actually of creating and directing a commercial for a brand. And you know, having a budget and having that control over it and being able to hire a team and, you know, really bring [projects] to life. …   Long term, directing and producing big commercials, big movies with friends, myself, family, and, you know, potentially having a production company that I can own and, you know, just continue to work and be consistent and inspire. That’s the long-term goal.”   How can students make the most of Film Connection while they’re in it?   “I think students can make the most of Film Connection while they’re in it if they really take advantage of the eBook. There’s a lot of links… that you need to click on and like just do your own research and continue that research…. [As] soon as you learn something about lighting, maybe go look up more lighting videos and just focus that week on that, you know. Whatever your course is on, whether it’s directing or producing production design, treat that week, like, ‘Okay, this is my week dedicated to that specifically.’”   Learn more about Film Connection for training in cinematography, film production, film editing and more!  
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Mentor News
   

CASA mentor Chef Carlos Garza on Keeping an Egoless Kitchen
& Training Tomorrow’s Chefs with CASA.

  

Chef Garza visiting Linz-Heritage-Angus Farm, where he sources beef for Carnivale.

Chef Carlos Garza of Carnivale in Chicago—which ranks within the top 10% of restaurants worldwide, as TripAdvisor 2020 Travelers’ Choice Winners—is a dedicated CASA mentor who finds a great sense of fulfillment by helping CASA students gain the skills, techniques, and connections they need to launch their careers in food.   We recently caught up with the busy chef to talk concept and cuisine at Carnivale, hiring CASA grads, egos in the kitchen, and even a star student who’s left the police force to become a chef, so read on!   Chef Garza, what’s the concept behind Carnivale?   “The whole American continent, we take it from Mexico, all the way down to Argentina… including Havana, Cuba… Bolivia, Colombia, … Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico… including the Caribbean… and I can keep going on and on and on. Imagine the 27 countries that are connected to it. …   [It] opens the door for me to explore a lot of cultures… because food comes with culture…. Because it’s not just the food, what’s behind the food, the culture, the people, and the knowledge of them, and that’s what Carnivale represents. It’s a restaurant that brings the name of it, Carnivale, the celebration, but at the same time connecting and gathering all the cultures of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.”   What’s your approach to mentoring CASA students at Carnivale?   “[I] work with them according with their personality and try to connect with them…. They have their personality, so I have just to make adjustments…. I teach them the roots of a kitchen, from top to the bottom, show them knife skills, which is important…. I always tell [them], your knife has got to be one of your best friends and you’ve got to treat them well, and you’ve got to learn how to use it.   There’s a lot of stories with every student, and it’s so cool to see how they’re growing and how they’re learning, and how they’re moving on in life.”   Learn more in our Straight Talk video featuring Chef Garza below!   You currently have a student who left the police force to become a chef. Please tell us about him.   “David Gualdron, he basically quit police department to become a chef…. His family was… like… ‘This is a job that as a mom, I’ve been a police [officer]. Your dad was a police, and that’s where we met, and we want you to be a police.’… He left that type of environment of becoming a policeman because… he was… like, ‘No, no, no, that’s not what I want for me. I want to do something different.’…   After he lost his dad, he was more connected to [him] through food, because his dad was the one that always cooked at home…. I already gave him a lot of cookbooks to read, to go through. I’m always connected with him, asking him questions, the way he’s feeling, knife practice, ingredients, cooking, prepping stations, working a station by himself, and it’s been quite a bit of a challenge, but it makes me feel great when I see the improvement of how he came in, and how great he is now. And he wants more, and he is hungry to do more.”  

Carnivale in Chicago, a mentored externship location for CASA.

Have you hired former CASA students?   “I have a lot of them that I actually have… hired, and I have them working now in the kitchen, station-by-station… learning from prep, and then moving into one station, and then another station, to teach them how to treat ingredients, and then how to respect their station’s food.   And also, not just that, also to learn how to keep a kitchen clean, because no matter… how great you are as a cook… the kitchen has to be clean. And so, I teach them… that side too. After the shift, it’s like, ‘Okay, now we got to do a cleaning, team, and we have to clean the kitchen. And that’s what I want you guys to learn also, to keep your environment clean, to keep your stations clean, and your kitchen clean, because that’s what represents yourself, having a clean environment in a kitchen space.’”   What’s your take on egos in the professional kitchen environment?   “Basically, it doesn’t really exist in that side because when we start putting our ego in front of anything, things change…. It’s more about being respectful…. I always tried to connect with them and teach them that their ego has to be aside… even though they are really good cooks.   It’s more about working together…. You’ve got to make things right. You have to bring food [that’s] just amazing onto every single plate. And the ego doesn’t exist…. You can be the very good cook, but guess what, today we’re going to help the dishwasher because there’s no levels in the kitchen.   The grill guy, the pastry chef, the sous chef, myself, everyone is… as important as the dishwasher is… because without one of them, everything changes. So, there is no ego on that side, no I am better than you. You are beneath myself because I’m a cook and you’re a dishwasher. I’m a chef, you’re not. That doesn’t exist in my kitchen. Everyone has to be treated equally.”   Why do you choose to mentor for CASA?   “What I like about CASA is that they give the freedom to students to be face-to-face in a real kitchen…. They see the whole process of how everything works… and how they can take advantage of it, and how they can improve themselves by practicing. …   Being someone that can impact another’s life, it’s such a great gift…. [Being] someone that says, ‘You know what, I want to help this person to be better, and to teach them and show them that there’s opportunities in life and they can do it. I did it, they can do it as well. I will help them.’”   Learn more about CASA’s 6-9 month culinary training and externships.    
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