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Issue #183

Weekly Newsletter

by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Student Successes

RC grad Orlando Gómez goes Platinum
with Khalid’s hit single “Location”!

RC grad Orlando Gómez left, mentor Alfredo right

RC grad Orlando Gómez left, mentor Alfredo Gonzalez right

Since graduating from the Recording Connection and taking a full-time position at his mentor’s studio in El Paso, TX, Orlando Gómez has seen his career take off in remarkable ways. His latest milestone: Landing a Gold record credit for his work on soaring R&B star Khalid’s release American Teen, AND a Platinum credit for Khalid’s debut single “Location!”   Orlando received both engineering and assistant engineering credits on the album, which he worked on alongside his former mentor, Alfredo Gonzalez, at Beacon Hill Recording Studios in El Paso, where Orlando now serves as Alfredo’s right hand man. “We were lucky to be part of six songs on the album,” Orlando says. “For ‘Location’ [and] ‘American Teen’ I was assistant engineer. Then I also got engineering credits…for ‘Coaster,’ ‘Angels,’ and ‘Shot Down,’ and also songwriting credits on ‘American Teen.’”   How did Orlando wind up working with a Platinum-selling artist? As he explains, it’s a classic case of the studio forming a relationship with an up-and-comer at just the right time.  Khalid is from here, from El Paso,” he says. “They were looking for a studio to record here in El Paso, and luckily they heard about us and gave us a call, and his manager told us he had a very talented kid that he wanted to help record some songs. This was before Khalid was even signed…So they came down here to the studio, and I think they were here for four days the first time they came to the studio. And in those four days that’s when we recorded “Location,” “American Teen,” so a few of the important songs from the album…They liked working with us, and we obviously liked working with them as well… And we just had another session with Khalid last night, so that relationship is one that’s continuing. We ended at like 1:00 a.m. He just came here last night. They wrote a song and recorded it…Every time Khalid succeeds in anything, we’re just happy because we know him and…we’re just happy that this is happening to him.”   Alfredo Gonzalez, who served as an engineer and producer on the record, offers praise for his former student and is excited about the success he’s seeing. “I think it’s great for somebody like Orlando,” he says. “He’s gotten some very good opportunities, and he’s making the most of it. There are guys that have been doing this for many years and no awards yet, and Orlando is getting off to a great start.”   Orlando isn’t the only Recording Connection alumnus getting credit on the album. According to Alfredo, the studio is more than willing to credit apprentices who work on their projects. “Robert Macias…also did the Recording Connection,” he says. “He’s got a Gold too, because the record won Gold…We put them down as assistant engineers…You know, I’ve been doing this for a while and I know how hard it is to kind of rack the credits, so we like to credit our people here. So we passed on their names, and I think the label put them on the album. So the album goes Gold, and everyone that gets a hand in it gets a plaque.”   El Paso is not typically thought of as a hub for major label projects, but the fact that a studio in this west Texas town has generated a Platinum single underscores the fact that industry success doesn’t just touch “hotspots” like L.A., New York or Nashville anymore. “It’s a small town, but we’re getting some opportunities here,” says Alfredo. “Now we’re getting people from LA and Atlanta and some of the bigger markets coming to El Paso to record in the studio with us.”   Now with Platinum and Gold to his credit, Orlando keeps it in perspective, knowing that the kudos only come at the end of a lot of work.   “You really have to work to be successful in this,” he says. “Everyone here has shown me that it takes effort and dedication to be able to succeed in this career. I always tell new apprentices or students, I just want them to have the right expectations of what this is. It’s not easy, and it’s not all partying and hanging out with celebrities. It’s a job. It’s a job that fortunately, if you love it and you dedicate yourself to be the best you can at what we do, it’s full of rewards…When you see a project that is complete, that sounds good and that can make people feel something, then that’s when you’re like, ‘That’s why I do this for a living.’”   
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Special Feature

Recording Connection staff member
Justin Ventling gets in the mix!

One of the reasons we at the Recording Connection are so passionate about breaking our students into the industry is that we’re staffed with people who are industry pros themselves. Exhibit “A”: Justin Ventling, a member of RRFC’s Financial Services Department, who is a solid mixing engineer in his own right, and who in fact is right now in the process of mixing a record for up-and-coming metal band Dealey Plaza!   As is almost always the case, Justin’s recent project came to him through connections—in this case, a connection that was over a decade old. Justin revived the connection when he discovered his contact was now on the list of mentors for the Recording Connection!   “About 12 years ago I started booking bands for a local venue out in Palm Springs,” Justin explains. “I made some pretty decent contacts…[one of them] started an audio engineering business out in Florida called Kirkbride Recordings. The main engineer over there is a guy named Chris…we kept in pretty good contact, and then I saw him as one of our student’s mentors. So I reached out to him and kind of touched base and said, ‘Hey, this is really cool. I’m glad you’re part of this program.’ He was extremely thrilled about the program, thinks it’s a great idea, and then he brought it to my attention that he started a new band, [Dealey Plaza]. So he sent me over his most recent demo and had me mix it so that we can keep it within the family, so to say. So I’m just finishing up that and I’m really excited to see how it turns out.”   Justin, didn’t come across the Recording Connection until after he graduated from another audio school—but once he understood our concept, he was hooked.   “When I graduated school, I was kind of looking around for a different job, and I came across Recording Connection,” he says. “I fell in love with the idea of the program. I met with the Head of Admissions, Tommy [Kirby]. We had a meeting and he offered me the position, and I couldn’t be happier. I am really impressed with the program, the way that it works, all the success stories we have. The students I speak with are just blown away…I think that it’s just an incredible idea and I’m really honored to be part of the program.”   Surprisingly, when it comes to mixing records, especially metal, Justin’s DAW of choice is Logic, rather than Pro Tools. “One thing that always stood out to me…is how easy it is to mix within Logic,” he says. “I find it easier to map out certain frequencies. I also find it easier to just mix in general…I know Pro Tools is the standard for mixing, but Logic for me is just so much easier.”   For Justin, landing this project from one of his connections after all these years is just another case-in-point about the importance of relationships, which is what the Recording Connection is all about.   “Maintaining the relationships is imperative to success,” he says. “I think that to maintain those relationships and to keep them healthy is only going to make your success better and make you go further within the industry…the whole point of this program is for connections, and it just goes to show that even over time the connections are still there and you can still make great things happen even after time has passed.”   
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Just weeks into the program, Recording Connection student Reed Haynsworth (Dallas, TX) is getting ready to move into high gear: “Today was a smooth session with my mentor Leland [Kracher]. We went over a track I have been working on and also we laid out a timeline for the whole program. Slowly, Leland will be guiding me out of just using only samples into actual production, full-sound design. I also really like all of the other students in the Ableton Program. They are all much more advanced than me and it is very humbling. Leland also has it set for all of us to come in on the same day and sit in on each other’s sessions to listen and learn what they’re working on as well. Great creative atmosphere! Overall I am very satisfied with the program!”    Film Connection student Jacob Sizemore (Dallas, TX) is loving being in a professional environment at Rehoboth Pictures: “There is a passion in everyone’s eye that I would never have gotten the chance to see if I had gone to a normal college. So far we have been shooting season #2 of a TV series that we made for a church and I’ve had the incredible pleasure to operate a RED camera on set. Off set all of the students are working on their own personal projects, such as commercials and short films in which all the students get to participate in. Last week we shot a short commercial for the studio written by one of our own students…As for my personal projects, I’m currently in the process of writing a very personal short film that I’m going to be working with my mentor to make…I have written and directed many short films before this but this short will be my first professionally produced film and I can’t wait to get started shooting it.”    Recording Connection student Jim Battles (Louisville, KY) is seeing firsthand that everyone really does know everyone when it comes to working in music: “Called my mentor Dave Chale. He said to come downtown to the Taj club for some live sound. I assisted in running mics for the drums for Nellie Pear [and] met the rep from Axxis, who provided the heavy equipment for this gig. He used to work for Dave when he ran New Vintage. Said he, too, learned through Recording Connection. Small world!”  
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Apprentice Media

Check Out Our Students’ Work


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