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Issue #215

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection students Dive into
Concept and Collaboration with Adam Moseley and Fender!

Recording Connection Fender

Adam Moseley, Fay Garrison, and Uriel Soto Jr. at Fender Musical Corp HQ

Once a week,  LA-based Recording Connection students Fay Garrison and Uriel Soto each make the drive to the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation Headquarters for something very special– the opportunity to train and collaborate with renowned engineer/producer Adam Moseley (Beck, Nikka Costa/Lenny Kravitz, Wolfmother, Spike Jonze, U2). Under Adam’s mentorship, Fay and Uriel are collaborating on a track slated for release and it’s all happening thanks to Fender who has graciously sponsored tuition for the two recipients!   Brian Kraft, Recording Connection’s COO, champions the Fender Musical Instruments Corp/Recording Connection Experience as an exciting opportunity with tremendous potential:   “We can think of no better way to show our continuing support for trusted brands like Fender who are paving the way forward in music making than to partner up for this stellar opportunity and enable two gifted and deserving individuals to advance their knowledge and build their repertoire and industry experience by working with this sought-after master of mixing, engineering, and production.”     Electronic music producer Fay Garrison and audio engineer Uriel Soto Jr. are both graduates of Recording Connection and are professionals in their own right. Fay credits her mother for championing her musical education and supporting her choice of career 110% saying, “She worked extremely hard so that I could have the opportunity to go to the conservatory for piano and violin. I’m thankful that has given me a fantastic foundation to build on with all the exciting technology we have now.” After training in violin and piano at a prestigious music conservatory,  Fay decided to expand her musical vocabulary and delve deep into the creative possibilities in electronic music. Today, the multi-instrumentalist is a graduate of our 36 week Recording Connection for Advanced Ableton Electronic Music Production program. Also skilled in Logic 10 and Pro Tools, she’s focused on building an exciting career in post-production and making “music that is expansive” for film and television.   A gifted keys, guitar player, percussionist, and a graduate of Recording Connection’s beginner and advanced audio programs, Uriel Soto launched his career in audio when he landed a coveted staff engineer position at ES Audio, the same studio where he trained. Now, with dozens of projects and a number of years under his belt, Uriel is refining his skills as a producer. He’s even got his own EP in the works and dubs it as a project that “gets to the roots” of his family’s rich musical heritage.   We recently connected with Adam, Fay, and Uriel to get a backstage pass into how the project and process is unfolding week by week. Here’s what they said.  

Fay and Uriel with Ed Magee, Fender SVP of Operations

So how did you get the ball rolling creatively?   Adam: First I just asked them to bring in pieces of music that we could consider and decide which one would be the piece we would work on. So they both brought some music in, and we listened and listened. I wanted to see which one they both reacted to out of each other’s stuff. There was a clear winner for that; I could just see it from their reactions. So that’s the track we’re working on.   Uriel: Absolutely. When Fay and I started working with Adam we shared our productions, back and forth. Fay always showed us more cinematic [music], moving violins with very, very atmospheric sounds that I love. I thought, “Wow, that’s something I can add to my stuff.”   My stuff has always been more playing bass, pianos, keys, guitars, live instruments, and making pop music, funk, and more that type of music. I presented a song that, immediately when I started writing that song, doing the beats, the piano line, the guitar, laying down the basslines, I immediately thought this is something that Fay can definitely get on…This is something I hear both of us putting our strong suits into making it work. Then with Adam’s guidance and what we’ve been learning from him, it’s just been such a great experience.   Fay: It’s really good to listen to other styles: to be aware. And I think what’s fun is it’s a challenge to take something that Uriel has done initially…then think, “Okay, how can I add on to this? This is the challenge here.” And it was a good challenge, having to envision “Okay, what do I hear that could work for this that’s different than my initial inclination?”   I told Uriel, “If you don’t like something, just let me know. I want to know if it’s not working for you?” But he said, “Oh, this is great. We’re going to keep all this.”…Now that we’ve created something together, we’re hearing all of us in this piece of music.   Adam, you have a steadfast adherence to concept as the bedrock of your creative approach to songwriting. Could you tell us more about that?   What is the emotional purpose of the song? Is it meant to make people happy, sad, fall in love, fall out of love, make them angry, depressed, melancholic, make them want to go out and party all night? Whatever the purpose of your song is, really think about it, define it, think about what colors and sounds and dynamics will achieve that. And then you can set about filling in the spaces of your empty canvas and creating that song that does exactly what you intended. But you have to have a plan. You have to have a concept.   How was Adam able to see where you were at, meet you at your level, then help you elevate your game?   Fay: Uriel and I both have a great awareness of mixing…When [Adam] met us and started working with us, he recognized our awareness and understanding already and basically told us “Great. You know, we can really, really push and go far because we’re already there.” And we’re hungry. We want to know. I mean, I’m just taking notes viciously when we’re in session with Adam because he’s got so much to offer.   Uriel: With Adam, what I’ve learned more than anything is focus. Focus and to just narrow in on an idea. It’s happened to me in the past that I start putting a lot of ideas together that in the beginning had a concept, and then I end up going many different directions… So Adam helped me to narrow in and focus on the concept which is great…I guess I knew it but I don’t know if I just started forgetting that but it’s good to have somebody to remind you and to show you that’s the way to make music. He’s been making music for over 40 years.   And the second thing Adam helped me understand is the mixing and how much mixing is an art. Mixing is definitely not a two-dimensional, flat plane. Mixing has so many different things going into it, height, it has depth, it has width, it has so many different things that you can add to make a great song sound even better.   So in your approach is it a question of analog or digital, or do you choose to go with both?   Adam: At the end of the day, it’s the song that counts, and getting an honest performance. With old songs, people hear them, people love that were recorded 20, 30, 40 years or more ago, if it’s an old Beatles song or an old Radiohead song. Technology has always changed, you know? Every 10 years McCartney could be going, “Oh, now there’s more technology, now I get it. Let me go and re-record everything again.” Radiohead could go back and think, “Oh my god, we did those songs so long ago. Technology is so much better. Let’s redo ‘Creep’ or ‘The Bends’ or whatever.” If you captured an honest, true performance at the time, it stands the test of time.   Fay: The physical [aspect of the] instrument that you play affects the sound that comes out. It’s just funny because I don’t think people realize that that also happens with outboard gear, you know? I honestly have to say that I never really factored that into my thinking. That a giant piece of outboard gear would have every channel cut up just slightly differently.   And those slight differences affect the entire sound of a composition. And listening to Adam talk about that saying, “Oh, you know, when we put this on [that console]” And [then Adam] he says, “You can put this on your mix” and without even turning any of the knobs, it’s going to give a certain character to your piece, because it’s going to add in some frequencies that weren’t there before, just based on the design of the hardware…And he’s showing us these tricks to just smooth out that kind of that digital edge, because, he says, no matter how pixelated something is digitally, it’s still going to have that binary corner, you know, that digitized corner. So he’s taught us how to add in these random noises from hardware, to help soften that.   Uriel: I’d say 50/50. Even at home where I do a lot of my work, I do use some samples but if I need a bassline, I grab my bass and I record it through an amp. If I feel like I need some tambourine, I record a real tambourine. I mean, there’s only so much you can get from samples but if you’re hearing something and you can record it, record it. Experiment while recording, experiment with what you’re listening to.   We bring in our Fender guitars, Fender basses, and it’s always fun to record to something that’s there in digital as an idea but then if I hear a bassline that’s already recorded, let’s record it, let’s add some distortion, let’s figure out different ways. There’s always the conventional way that everybody does it but let’s experiment with something different.   Fay:  I recently bought a Fender Duo-Sonic™ HS after they personally helped me pick a guitar that fits my body. Although I already know how to play the guitar, the new Fender PLAY app has been really great at helping me master different styles and expand the number of sounds I know how to make. A lot of what I’m learning is going right back into the song.   Check out our blog to learn more about Fay and Uriel’s experiences with Adam Moseley and Fender!    
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Mentor News

Film Connection mentor Richard Brandes
on Sellable Scripts, Star Students, and Who He Hires

writer, director, producer and Film Connection mentor Richard Brandes

Film Connection mentor Richard Brandes

  We recently caught up with LA-based Film Connection mentor Richard Brandes (Penny Dreadful, Out for Blood, Dead Cold). The multifaceted producer/writer/director with more than twenty films to his credit is known for going the distance for hardworking, committed students.   Over the past year alone, Richard has helped a number of Film Connection students land great opportunities and build their careers, connections, and industry experience.   Your former apprentice (extern) Sourabh Chohan has gotten his career off to a great start.   “He’s a very sharp, very resourceful, talented guy and was able to parlay the internship that I got him into further jobs with people he networked with the same production company…He’s a go-getter and pretty resourceful.”   Nick Durant also impressed you. Having met Nick online, as his screenwriting mentor, when you booked a directing/producing job in Chicago (where Nick lives), you called him up and hired him onto the film crew for My Daughter Was Stolen, which is currently airing on Lifetime. What made you want to hire Nick?   “He took things very seriously, He’s a good writer. I keep trying to find something [for him]. He really likes horror. Horror and thrillers have kind of been my sweet spot, but not so much recently. [Right now] I’m getting a lot of demand for the action stuff so, I haven’t been able to do anything with his horror scripts but he’s written some good ones. He’s a good writer and a great guy.”   And once Nick started working with you, things kind of snowballed for him.   “Now he’s in L.A. [and] roommates with another former student, Bobby McKenna. They met on Jeepers Creepers 3, which I was also one of the producers on. They’ve joined forces and are doing things together. They’ve been working with a director and some people…they met on the production. They’ve been able to network and parlay that into branching out into other productions and other work.   It’s been fun watching that happen. What I tell these guys when I get them these opportunities, I can open the door and push them through it, but what happens beyond that is totally up to them.”   As a writer and director who also produces, what do you look for in a script? What kinds of projects do you consider for production?   “It depends on what my distributor partners are telling me is popular. Right now, for instance, action is popular but these things kind of ebb and flow. You’ll get a really successful horror movie and all of a sudden everybody wants horror. That’s what happened when Saw came out…everybody was running around trying to find that, then the market got saturated and everybody backed off on that.   The thing that’s tough is a lot of people tend to wait and try to capitalize on what’s hot after the fact. These things kind of cycle back around depending on just kind of what’s going on in the marketplace and what’s perceived as being things that are in demand, what the audience is looking for in any given territory, internationally and/or here in the U.S. Action seems to be hot right now, for instance. Thrillers tend to be universally popular on an ongoing basis.   …Originality isn’t a real prized commodity with distributors a lot of times because if you give them something too original that they can’t pigeonhole, or ‘see the poster’ [in their minds], as I’ve actually heard many times over from distributors…   So it’s good for a writer to kind of look at things from that perspective. I mean, I’m all for originality, and pushing the envelope, and trying to do something different. I’d be the last to tell a writer not to do that. But I’m also the first to tell a writer that if they really want to get on the map as a writer, they really need to focus on what’s commercial and try to get the attention of these people that will put money into films. It is a business, so you have to approach it like that. You can write the greatest script in the world, but if you can’t get it in the right hands and nobody’s willing to take a chance on it financially, it’s not going to matter.”   What do you look for in the individuals you choose to mentor with Film Connection?   “They have to make the most of it. They have to work hard. They have to be on time. They have to make the right impression because the idea is to broaden their horizons beyond me with other producers and production companies and give them greater opportunity…so that they can go on from there and branch out. And that’s pretty much what Kelsie has done, too.”   *FYI, Richard is referring to Film Connection grad, Kelsie Inserra, his most recent apprentice (extern). Kelsie just worked not one, but two feature films. We’ll be talking with Kelsie in a forthcoming issue !    
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Film Connection student Film Connection student Vanessa Pazmino is surprising herself with just how naturally screenwriting is coming to her, thanks, in part, to her screenplay mentor:   I have had the opportunity each week for the last 4 weeks to have one-on-one, open dialogue, screenplay lecture with Ron Peterson…It’s really incredible how much better I feel my understanding of story structure has gotten in this short time…Ron has offered to help me see my screenplay through to the final act and will allow me to seek his advice in the future…He has given me a real sense of confidence for the future of my writing…   I honestly never thought I could write my own short film until I started speaking with Ron Peterson,  film mentor Niko Brabham, and Elliot Campos [Academic Facilitator, RRFC]. I now believe I’ll be able to write a filmable feature length film. Choosing Film Connection has been the most rewarding decision of my life so far!”     Recording Connection student Jacob Windsor who apprentices (externs) at Mix Master Pro Studios is picking up speed and proficiency fast. Plus, the real-world experience is helping him make plans for the future:   “This week was a major breakthrough when it comes to Pro-Tools! I’m starting to feel comfortable with using Pro Tools while recording an artist and while mixing my tracks. By ‘comfortable’ I mainly mean, I have a steady work flow and I’m able to use the beginner shortcut keys with ease…This week with my ‘at home studies’ when I wasn’t doing the book work, I was creating loops, finding new sounds, and making tracks to advertise my abilities on social media platforms. My friend and I are currently working on getting our own house closer to the studio so I’m very excited for when this all comes together. I plan to make my new room into more of a studio equipped room with a bed inside of it. That way, when I’m home I’ll still be in work mode and will hopefully increase my productivity…Next week “Plugins & Processing” can’t wait!”       
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Apprentice Media

Check Out Our Students’ Work

    Heard our Student Music Mixtape yet? In partnership with Symphonic Distribution, we’re excited to help our students get their music out to the world!   The Recording Connection is now offering this great opportunity for our students to broaden their understanding of the new role digital distribution companies like Symphonic Distribution can play in helping release their tracks and propel their careers forward!