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Issue #202

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

How One Recording Connection student
Got Invited to the Latin Grammys®


David Brik Laufer, Carlos and Bae Frontera, Rafa Sardina and wife Tami Sardina at The Latin Grammys 2017 (Jeff Riggs in front)

Hailed as the biggest night in Latin Music worldwide, the Latin Grammy Awards feature an array of talent from across the Latin musical spectrum. The star-studded 18th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards® raised the bar even further with performances from Juanes, Logic, Alessia Cara, Pitbull, Diplo, Steve Aoki, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and Natalie Cole, to name just a few.   And Recording Connection student Jeffrey Riggs (Los Angeles, CA) was there right in the thick of it.   No stranger to hard work, Jeff describes himself as a born and bred farm boy. And yes, he really and truly grew up on a farm where the day’s work started well before dawn, day-in, day-out, rain or shine. “I grew up in a town of 1,500 people on a small farm, in Webster, New Hampshire. And you know, you wake up in the morning, you feed the cows and the horses and the pig and the goats, and just go about your day. Midday you’re baling [hay], and then at the end of the day you’re sweeping up the barn, and that’s just pretty much how I was raised.”   Now, Jeff’s applying the same strong work ethic he developed working on the farm to something he’s passionate about—a career in audio—and it’s paying off fast.   Jeff found Recording Connection in late 2015 when he was looking to change gears in life. He was matched with Recording Connection mentor Luis Pacheco at The Hideout in Las Vegas, a well-known studio where artists from Alicia Keys, to Dr. Dre and Celine Dion to Ozzy Osbourne have recorded. Under Luis’ direction Jeff completed both the Audio Engineering Program and Advanced Audio Program. To say Jeff was green when he started is virtually an understatement. “I did not know a thing about how to use Pro Tools, I didn’t know anything about how to apply compression or EQ or even what reverb was.”   Having come very far in a little over a year, when the opportunity arose for Jeff to apply for the Learn from Legends Program and train with multiple Grammy winner Rafa Sardina, Jeff wasn’t about to shy away from the challenge.   Speaking of the experience he’s having learning under one of music’s greats, Jeff says, “It’s really intense because he works so fast…He’ll mix a session and do a quick mix session with over, I want to say, over 60-70 tracks. And he’ll have it, you know, all the way complete within an hour. So I mean, the speed that he works at, you can just tell that he’s been doing this for a very long time. He also tells me about things to do and things not to do in terms of, you know, just being professional.”   Session after session, Jeff makes it a point to always be helpful and appreciative for the truly immersive, hands-on education he’s getting by training with Rafa.   And although he didn’t know it, his can-do attitude had made an impression on his famous mentor. During a session, Rafa mentioned that he’d be attending the Latin Grammys and asked Jeff if he wanted to go along.   Jeff recounts the moment and says, “My only answer was yes…It’s always yes.”   Turns out Rafa wasn’t simply attending the Latin Grammys, he was the Executive Producer of the acclaimed event which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and was telecast worldwide.   So how did Jeff spend his evening at the Latin GRAMMYS? Answer: he spent it running.   “I was running to manage talent, finding talent, to making sure that people had certain supplies, to talking to lighting guys, to talking with the talent, making sure that they were all set, checking their levels, relaying that to the monitor people. I mean, I was everywhere. I had to work so hard I had blisters on the bottom of my feet. So it was just, and they were all worth it.”   He got to meet a few artists too. “I definitely met a lot of people. From Nick Jonas to Rosalita to Mon Laferte [and] Alejandro Sanz. The list goes on and on.”   And that’s not all. All of Jeff’s hard work culminated in recognition he didn’t expect. Jeff recalls the moment he realized Rafa had given him credit as Music Production Assistant for the Person of the Year Award segment. “For the Person of the Year [segment], and I was watching the screen from behind it, and I saw my name in reverse on the credits on the green screen, and I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I just saw my name up there.’”  
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Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor Jonathan Rego talks Audio, A&R, and his Superhush Project

The path to success isn’t always a straight one. In fact, it rarely ever is. No one knows this better than Recording Connection mentor Jonathan Rego (Los Angeles, CA) who started out as a recording and mixing engineer in his late teens and early twenties. From there, he ventured into the world of post-production and worked on multiple theatrical trailer campaigns as a sound editor on the Universal Pictures lot.   Today, Jonathan operates in Los Angeles and the Bay Area as an A&R for Fearless Records and also manager for mastering engineer Piper Payne of Neato Mastering (Oakland, CA) and Sam Pura of The Panda Studios (Fremont, CA), both of whom are Recording Connection mentors as well! We recently caught up with the on-the-go music maker to learn more about his journey and to gleen a few valuable insights. Enjoy!   RRFC: Could you tell us what you do as an A&R, day to day?   Jonathan: If I were to summarize it, the A&R side is artists and repertoire, which means you’re not only seeking out talent, whether that be [unsigned] bands or solo artists or bands that are just coming out of their record deals and may be looking for a new label, but you are also heavily involved on the creative side, when branding a band or figuring out what story to tell in order to sell records.   RRFC: Having started out as an audio engineer, how did you end up getting hired in A&R?   Jonathan: One of my friends was heavily involved in the A&R side. He’s been at Fearless for two and a half years now on the A&R side, and I had worked with him as a producer/manager. They had done lots of projects with lots of my people I represent, and when there came an opening to bring in someone to be involved in a support role for the A&R side, my friend reached out to me and said, “I think you’d be perfect for it. Why don’t you come in?”   RRFC: Does your audio engineering knowhow enhance your ability to be an effective A&R?   Jonathan: Absolutely. Yeah. Being able to speak the language goes a long way as far as being able to get other people to understand what changes you want and get things done faster. Basically, if you come from the engineering side or the producer side, you can say, ‘Well, I know what the personalities are like in this band and I know what they’re looking for sonically. I think that this producer checks all the boxes,’ and not only from a personality standpoint, but from a sonic perspective, this producer is going to give them what they want…   And then also once you’re getting mixes back, like once it gets to the mixing phase and you’re listening to stuff [you can say], “Man, that lead guitar needs to come up three or four decibels,” or, “That kick drum is way too round. It needs to have some frequency taken out of it because it’s muddying this whole mix.” Being able to just communicate that to a producer, to an engineer, to a band, that’s so key and so vital, because if you didn’t know how to speak the language, you’re kind of just sitting there like, “I don’t know what’s happening here. It just doesn’t sound good.” And then people just don’t really have a direction. They’re like, “Okay. You don’t really have notes for me. I don’t know how to interpret what you’re saying.” It just makes the whole process way too long and stressful and strenuous.   RRFC: What’s your advice for people who know they want to work in music but don’t yet know exactly what they’d like to do?   Jonathan: You’re never going to know what you want to do until you try something, and you shouldn’t just hold back just because you feel like you’re in a spot where you’re like, “Well, I don’t want to go that route, because what if I don’t like it?” Well, guess what, you’re never going to know if you don’t like it unless you try it.   RRFC: Any advice on how Recording Connection students can make the most of the program while they’re in it?   Jonathan: If you’re trying to get the most out of the Recording Connection, you just have to be able to say, “I realize that the minimum amount of time that I need to show up is this many days or this many hours, but I need to go above and beyond and I need to see if I can actually be here more than what the minimum amount of time is. I need to try to be here the maximum amount of time,” because that’s when you’re going to get the most out of it, and that’s also when you’re going to be around when opportunity presents itself. The more that you’re involved and present and around, it’s just a greater chance for you to get those opportunities that could lead to a successful career, or maybe the next path in your life.   Learn about our Music Business Program.  
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Despite having just wrapped a jam-packed shoot for a TV series, when Film Connection student Jacob Sizemore pitched his own short film “Song of Silence” to his fellow students and mentor Deen Olatunji at Rehoboth Pictures (Dallas, TX), they agreed to crew up and make his movie a reality. Of course, challenges were met along the way: “This was to be the hardest project I had worked on yet… the first few days the weather was horrible, actors showed up late, extras canceled, and props either went missing or broke. Despite all that, the actors that I had pulled out really good performances, the cinematography in the film is very impressive, and the crew members were able to push through tough times. I am very proud of all of them…   The final day of shooting was one big race against time and I’m glad to say, despite a few setbacks, we pulled it off and I’m happy with what we have on film. I am so happy to have been able to go through this experience and work with all these amazing people, at the same time I miss my bed. I’m eager to start editing the film so that we can see where it will go from there.”    Since studying with mentor Joey Paranoia, Recording Connection student Emily Stamer aka LUCY (Orlando, FL) has kicked her DJ career into high-gear, blazing trails in the Space Bass EDM scene. She’s played countless Orlando and Miami clubs, opened for Yheti, Shlump, The Widdler, Digital Ethos, Conrank and more. Lucy’s played festivals Zen Awakening, Fractal Beach and will be playing the Asteria Music Fest (again) and The Untz in California, happening in June. She’s released her Abduction EP this past January and has a new track dropping on a female compilation on ThazDope Records on the 13th! Hear a track by LUCY below!   Find her on Instagram @LucyWub     
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Apprentice Media

Check Out Our Students’ Work