Hard work and a willingness to diversify have taken Recording Connection grad Jamaal Taylor
a long way. Working in Hollywood as a DJ tech and sound engineer for the prestigious Avalon Hollywood (at the historic corner of Hollywood and Vine), the dynamic composer/producer recently landed placement for two songs in the film Sleight
, a genre-bending flick that recently scored high marks in its theatrical release!
The songs that made the soundtrack are named “Stick Up” and “S.O.G.”. Both tracks are co-written by Jamaal and hip-hop artist and lifelong friend AmirSaysNothing
. Jamaal says his ability to create beats from scratch had a lot to do with getting it placed.
“The guy who was the music supervisor of Sleight
hit up Amir and was like, ‘Hey, I need some hip hop for this movie that we’re working on, and this song literally fits perfectly in it.’ …When they found out that I didn’t use any samples and I made everything from scratch, that was when they sort of freaked out and were like, ‘Yes, we want this in the movie because we don’t have do clear anything.’”
Growing up in New York, Jamaal says his interest in music started with making beats using GarageBand as a teenager, and it eventually took over his passions as a college student. “I went to Wesleyan University,” he says, “but it ended up being too expensive and I had to drop out because I couldn’t afford it. But even while I was in school, I would stay up all night making beats on Garage Band, and a lot of my friends were creative people too, and we were recording ourselves…I ended up realizing that I wanted to do music more than I wanted to study and become a lawyer or doctor or something like that.”
A trip to visit his mom in Los Angeles turned into a permanent move, he says. Three months later, he discovered the Recording Connection. “I was like, ‘This looks more like what I’m aligned with,’ like having an externship, because I had already been to college,” he says. “I was kind of over the whole college atmosphere and just that way of learning…It was definitely a good idea.”
Jamaal soon found himself apprenticing at Angel House Studios with Recording Connection mentor Drew Kapner—a relationship that has continued long since. “Our personalities meshed really well,” says Jamaal. “I still consider him a friend today. We still work together…He’ll hit me up if he knows that I’m the right person for a certain project.”
For Jamaal Taylor aka Cy Kosis
, who went into the program to learn music production as an electronic musician, he says the experience working with Drew in the studio gave him a broader perspective as to how to work in the industry in general.
“I needed some sort of direction because there are so many different directions to go in, in the music industry,” he says. I needed to have someone be like, ‘This is what you should do, this is what you’re good at, this is what you’re not good at, this is what you need to work on.’ I think learning how to be a better music producer helped inform the decisions that I make now.”
Jamaal also says Drew went the extra mile to help him learn the engineering skills he needed to hone his craft as an electronic musician. “When I was first learning just about engineering in the first place, one of the hardest things for me to understand was what compression was and how compression worked,” he says. ‘[Drew] veered off the curriculum and was just like, ‘Okay, I can understand, since you’re an electronic music artist, you really need to understand what compression is.’ And he just spent a really long time with me making sure that I really, really got it… He spent maybe a good month just explaining to me the details of compression.”
Yet another thing Jamaal says he learned from Drew was the importance of being diverse as a music professional without getting pigeonholed into just one thing. “He was like, ‘You can’t just be a music producer, you can’t just be a DJ, you can’t just be an engineer…In order to be successful in this industry you have to not focus only on getting good at one thing.’ That was a lesson that I clearly took seriously.”
Today, Jamaal does take that advice seriously, working on multiple income streams to make a living in music. While the DJ tech and sound engineer job at Avalon serves him well, he also works on landing production deals and placements, including the recent tracks on the film.
, an indie sci-fi/fantasy/suspense film from the producer of surprise hit Get Out
, is now showing nationally in theaters across the country. Go see it if you have the chance. Congrats to Jamaal Taylor on his achievements!
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