Darren Fewins and Mark Christensen at Engine Room Audio
describes what it was like to recently sit at the helm in the control room of the world-renowned Engine Room Audio
in New York City. His task: tracking a 5-piece band as part of his apprenticeship in the Recording Connection master’s program.
“I got to sit at that big desk and act like I was in control,”
he quips. “That was amazing feeling.”
As his pronounced Australian accent reveals, Darren has traveled further than most to sit at that desk. He hails from Sydney. “My wife is from New York,”
he says. “I could have had the opportunity to do the Recording Connection in Australia…I just chose to come here and do it.”
Like many who find their way into music production, Darren says he started his musical journey on the performance side of the glass, an accomplished vocalist since the age of 12. “I saw this opportunity a little later in life,”
he says. “I felt the switch, like I wanted to switch to being behind the scenes and more in creativity, of songwriting…and creating music from behind the glass. And so I read about Recording Connection.”
Darren says the in-depth nature of the master’s program is really deepening his understanding of the craft of audio engineering and producing.
“Everything that I thought I knew is now put under a microscope,” says Darren. “Everything that I thought I was doing correctly, I’m kind of learning maybe it wasn’t correct, or maybe I’m learning why that was correct…my horizon is just so widened.”
The master’s program isn’t just about running the board, either. Darren says he even had to find the band for his recent tracking project.
“I did it from scratch,”
he says. “I didn’t know anybody in this country or city except my wife…So I went and found a band on the Internet, checked them out, went to see them, said, ‘Hey, I’m a student, and I need a band for a project, how would you like to be involved?’ Like old school.”
Darren’s mentor, Grammy-winning producer/engineer Mark Christensen,
elaborates on the in-depth nature of the master’s program, and how Engine Room utilizes it to prepare students for the “real world,” from finding the band to tracking and fine-tuning the mix.
“The master’s program is pretty open ended in a way in terms of the curriculum, which is a good thing,”
he says. “At Engine Room, we’ve taken that stance of trying to walk the students through the entire process, from finding the band—an A&R capacity—then doing good pre-production in terms of talking about song structure and all that, and then actually tracking them. So we’re interpreting the program in that way of trying to be very hands-on with the student, and then try to have the student really go through all of those steps in the process, because when you’re making a record, that’s all part of it.”
Darren sees his apprenticeship as a stepping stone for some big future plans. “I want to get a job as a producer,”
he says. “I want to have a hand in the writing process, I’d like to bring in clients to wherever I am, and I want to bring in clients and maybe even help them go through a writing process and record…I want to be in that creative environment…eventually I’d like to have my own studio, whether that was something for myself, or something as big as [Engine Room]. I mean, that’s a huge, huge goal to have, obviously, but why not?”
Wherever the journey takes him from here, Darren believes he’s in the right place to make it happen.
“The point of Recording Connection is that you are in a real studio,”
he says. “I figure you’re in the environment, you’re already getting the next step than you would in a school, you’re getting to meet people, you’re talking with people in the industry right at the very start of your course, you’re meeting people, you’re getting in that circle…I’m very lucky to be here.”
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