A few years ago, Tavior Mowry
(San Francisco, CA) was on the road to pursue his dream of becoming a professional football player. Excelling in high school, he earned a full-ride scholarship to play at U.C. Davis.
But then something happened that forced him to rethink his plans.
“I ended up actually having a career-ending injury,” he says. “And from that point forward, they still paid for my schooling, but I wasn’t able to play sports anymore.”
Tavior had a lifelong interest in music, and he even began picking up instruments and producing some music on his own in college, but he hadn’t considered it as a career. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and took a job as a wine salesman. “I was very unhappy with that job,” he says, “because it was difficult for me to spend so much of my time doing something that I wasn’t passionate about.”
The turning point for Tavior came during a conversation with his mom. “I was telling her where my passions were as far as music, creating, engineering,” he says. And she was like, ‘You know what? Maybe you should go to school.’”
That very day, Tavior says, he started researching different schools for audio production, and soon discovered the Recording Connection and the opportunity to learn on-the-job. Within a week of calling the office, he had an initial interview with industry veteran Zack Phillips (The Kooks, Talib Kweli), who teaches Recording Connection students out of the famed Hyde Street Studios
in San Francisco.
“When I walked in,” says Tavior, “I saw all the artists that had come into there and had recorded there and left their mark…There’s a lot of history there.”
Tavior quickly understood the opportunity he had been given under Zack’s mentoring. “Zack is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” he says. “Just hearing from all the other engineers at Hyde Street Studios, he’s very highly regarded. Every time I tell somebody I was studying under him, they‘d be like, ‘Man, I wish I could do that.’ And these are like engineers who, you know, are established in their career, and they still look up to Zack. So I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to…just be like a sponge whenever he would speak about things, whether it be the music industry, the business, or engineering.”
Tavior says apprenticing with Zack has helped him up his own game as well. “When I would hear records play on the radio,” he says, “or producers and artists that I admired, my beats didn’t sound like theirs. And I was trying to understand like, ‘Well, how did they make their kick so loud? Like why are their 808s blaring? Why are their snares so sharp? And then that’s what led me to, ‘Oh, it’s being mixed properly.’ And not only is it being mixed properly, but it’s being mixed in a proper acoustically-treated environment. And that’s where my eyes started to open when it came to engineering and the importance of mixing.”
In addition to his one-on-one training, Tavior says Zack also arranged for him to spend more time at Hyde Street Studios in an intern role. “I was able to meet all different engineers and artists that would come in and out of the studio,” says Tavior. “I would also have the opportunity to sit in on sessions, sit in on tracking sessions, and even set up for tracking sessions.”
With his newfound skills, Tavior looks forward to working on more projects with up-and-coming artists as a producer and engineer, as well as continuing to develop as an artist himself. But the lessons he learned in football are coming into play as well, as he purposes not to limit his options.
“Something that I’ve taken off the field into the studio is that if you can play all the positions, you won’t find yourself on the bench,” he says. “That is kind of a motto that I live by…I feel that the more diverse you are, the more opportunities there are for you.”
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