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Issue #242

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Jamila Nicolas
Finds her Passion (by surprise) and Gets Hired Doing What She Loves!


Recording Connection graduate Jamila Nicolas

Recent Recording Connection for Live Music graduate Jamila Nicolas (Buffalo, NY) came to us for mentored externship with a very practical goal in mind. As it turns out, training with Jim Somner did more than enable her to meet her goal. In fact, it did nothing less than set Jamila off on a different path in life.   What were you looking to achieve when you first enrolled?   “So for a couple of years, I was throwing events, and would hire third party sound companies, and was never really happy with what I got. So, one day, I just wanted to do some research and maybe do sound myself…Long story short, I found my way to Recording Connection and decided to take the course. My life has pretty much always been surrounded by music. My brother’s a musician and we’ve always worked together. So the interest was already there but what caused me to find you guys was that personal research for the events I was doing.”   How did your mentor Jim Somner at LOFT Recording Studio approach your externship?   “Training with Jim was definitely an unexpected thing. When you hear that you’re going to be working with a professional audio engineer, you think it’s going to be about like celebrity status or whatever. But in fact, it was like the complete opposite. It was more serious and life changing than that. He basically taught me how to look at things the proper way when it comes to the music industry instead of [it] being glamorized.   I personally think, he started off training me the right way, with analog stuff, on how everything started when it comes to recording and music. He said, ‘We’re not going to get right into recording. I’m going to show you how it’s all made.’…I learned how to build cables and how to route them, and how to develop equipment and whatnot, definitely something I didn’t think came with the job. So that was really cool.”   Jim also had you shadowing him at live venues. What was that like?   “[Early on in the program] he mentioned being in a band and doing shows all over the city. He told me to come to one of his shows and learn how to live track and mic a live band. I was expecting around 20-30 people, you know, something small ..like a hobby band type thing. Anyway, when I showed up… the venue was gigantic and actually ended up having around 300 people attending. I was surprised to find out how famous they are in the area and how freaking awesome he is on the keys! I was just so used to him being my mentor/teacher and not this Western New York famous audio engineer and musician who rocked super freaking hard and has a huge fan base… [Later on in the program] everyone was so accepting of letting me shadow them and even work their board because he was so well-known as an amazing musician and engineer.”   Was Jim able to help you through specific challenges you faced during your externship?   “Jim was really good at recognizing when I came across something difficult to understand. If something wasn’t clicking he would change his strategy multiple times…For example, I had a hard time learning routing…When he realized the book material wasn’t sticking, he pulled out a dry erase board and had me do a drawing of inputs and outputs. And to further my learning, he decided to have me physically route processors to boards, microphones, etc.”   You recently got hired. Tell us about that.   “I got hired at Buffalo State College as their A2 at Rockwell Hall. So they have national acts that come in, and plays, and operas and stuff like that [which] I run the sound for…I use different boards and stuff, I use the SC48 [Avid Venue console] and Midas M32R…So I basically just run the sound there. I do the mic’ing, stage tech stuff, stage managing, really all of the production.”   At the start of this interview you said the experience has been ‘life changing.’ Could you elaborate on that?   “When I started taking the course at Recording Connection, I actually found a different passion. I realized how much I love live sound and audio…I think I really want to stick to live sound engineering and work different venues and do festivals and stuff like that.”   As a woman in live sound you’re definitely in the minority. Ever had to blast through the stereotyping or stand up for yourself?   “I have run into situations where they don’t treat you as an equal but then, you learn from Recording Connection and my mentor, and I have the knowledge. When you educate someone that’s being condescending, they’re like, ‘Oh, shoot, they actually know what they’re talking about!’   But for real, it’s like, ‘Come on, you know, we’re all human. Women are more than capable and they’re so extremely intelligent…It’s pretty badass to be one of the only female engineers out here because people are like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’”   What’s your advice on how Recording Connection students can make the most of their externships?   “Understand that in sound, anything is possible. There isn’t one set way [to do things], and to try to understand that there are so many different possibilities in working with it, and that you have to be pretty creative. And other than that, I would also say that networking is key. Get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid. Meet new people, try to get as many jobs as you can, intern, whatever… I think the most important thing in this is definitely who you know and just putting yourself out there.”   Learn more about Recording Connection’s programs in audio engineering and music production, beat making, hip hop, and more!      
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Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor Lionel Pedro
talks Recording Bands, Star Students, and Mentorship


Producer/engineer Lionel Pedro of Trench Recordings

Lionel Pedro, Recording Connection mentor and co-owner of Trench Recordings in Toronto (Ontario, Canada), is a firm believer in direct, hands-on learning in audio engineering and music production. Boasting more than 3000 square feet of sound proofed recording space and located in the west end, the engineer/producer’s studio is a great launching pad for students looking to build their knowledge, studio etiquette and real world smarts. Known for capturing great performances in “live off the floor” recording sessions, the full-service recording facility includes a laundry list of great analog and digital gear. Lionel’s known for putting the artists first and seeing his role as that of a “facilitator” enabling musicians to create and capture their music as they’ve imagined.   How did you get started in audio in the first place?   “I was a huge music fan as a kid. I had two older cousins who lived with us for two years, and they were a good deal older than me. They were 10 and 12 years older. But they had a really big record collection, and I used to always listen to their stuff. I remember spending hours listening to albums and looking at the back and going, ‘Why was this recorded at all these different studios, what are all these names on the back and what did all these people have to do making this album, these different studios, these different producers and engineers?’   …But I didn’t really actually dig into the meat and potatoes of it until, in high school me and a bunch of friends started our own little high school jam band and we’d go to a friend’s house and make lots of noise. That’s where I first started approaching a mixer and really getting my teeth into it…Both me and my brother [co-owner of Trench] got into the studio business way back in 1998…And it’s been pretty steady since then.”   What’s your approach to mentorship? What are some of the fundamental things you’re trying to engrain in those who train with you?  

Live Room, Trench Recordings

“The first thing that I want my students to learn from me is that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to ask stupid questions and it’s okay to be afraid to look silly, because I tell them all, it’s going to happen, you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to feel silly about it. It might not happen today, it might not happen tomorrow, but you need to be able to [say], ‘Okay, I made a mistake,’ and then just pick yourself up and keep going. You can’t let that define you… You’re actually better off making mistakes here where I can point them out, and then you know exactly what happened, as opposed to making them further down the road where you may not exactly know what went wrong or maybe you made a mistake right in front of a new client or something like that, because I find that most of those students, those mistakes that they make, they almost never repeat them.”   Could you tell us some of what your star students Michelle Nutzati and Alex Sadowski did right during their externships?   “[Michelle] tends to ask a lot of questions thinking down the road, like ‘Okay, if we do this now, how is this going to affect something else later on?’ She definitely seems to be the kind of student that’s going to be really good at planning out and sourcing that kind of stuff out: sessions, signal flow, recording in general. I find that the further you kind of think down the line about how you want things to sound, the easier it is to get it up front.”   So you’re saying she’s always thinking about building up to a good mix in the end.   “Right, exactly…When she came in for the interview, she basically said, ‘I don’t see any women in this industry,’ or hardly any women. And I told her, ‘You know what, there’s not. It’s definitely not 50/50.’…But I’ve had clients over the years who have used our studio but didn’t use me as the producer because they wanted to hire a female producer. So there’s definitely a demand out there.   Alex is great as well. I got very lucky with these students. He’s very conscious about what’s going on in the studio… He’s good at helping where he’s very helpful, and then knowing when not to confuse things. So, he’ll often save questions or suggestions until the end of the session because he knows we’re just too crazy to get into it at the time.”   What are you looking for when you interview a potential student?   “First off, I think most importantly, is just kind of that feeling, like, you know, ‘Do I want to sit in a room with this person?’…Obviously, I’m also going to be introducing students to a lot of my clients, and so I just want to make sure that in that sense it’s a good fit, that everybody’s feeling comfortable and that it seems like it’s going to make sense…   Whether they’ve got experience or not is not nearly as important to me. Like that old saying, ‘Sometimes the people who have experience are the hardest ones to teach,’ because they’re already set in their thought process and thinking. So I want to make sure that I’m not just going to be running my head against a brick wall with a student. I want to know that there’s going to be an interaction here, [and] I can tell that I can teach you.”   What’s your approach to recording bands in the studio?   “The first thing we’ll do with a band is sit down and have a little heart to heart, see how everybody wants to do it, so each time it’s a little different…We have a general  approach of how we try to do things ‘live off the floor.’ I try to isolate [the sounds]…so I set up a lot of extra mics, because sometimes they sound amazing, but, if needed, I can always pull them out of the mix afterwards… I’d much rather let [the artists] feel comfortable because I know I’m going to get a better performance out of them, which is way more important than being able to set up the mics exactly the way I might want to…There’s been a lot of great recordings out there that have all kinds of technical flaws in them, but it’s just because the performance is so astounding that people love it. Sometimes we’ll record and there might be a little bit of distortion here or there, whatever the case is. If the performance is really jaw dropping, then I don’t want to touch it. Ultimately we’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle.”   Learn more about Recording Connection for audio engineering, music production, live sound, Ableton, beat making and more.    
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or call (800) 755-7597

Special Feature

Hey L.A! – WIN You + 1 to see Grace VanderWaal at the El Rey Theatre!

  Due to demand a third L.A. show has been added to the artist’s tour. Best known for winning America’s Got Talent in 2016, her career has been steadily rising ever since with 3 million IG followers, a full length album, opening for bands Imagine Dragons and Florence and the Machine. Now she’s on tour and she’s just 15! Learn more about the UR SO BEAUTIFUL TOUR via Facebook.   Be the first to do the following (exactly) by the deadline – 3:00pm Pacific Daylight time on August 22nd, 2019 – and we’ll put you on the Goldenvoice list for you +1 to see Grace VanderWaal at the El Rey in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 7:30pm, only. Both attendees must be 18+ and have valid U.S. ID.   1) Be the first to follow us here @rrfconnection on Instagram.   2) And be the first to comment “I love Grace VanderWaal and #RRFC” on our first Grace VanderWaal Instagram post.   ATTENTION: We will follow you back and DM you to award tickets so make sure to check your DMs. If we cannot direct message you for any reason, we will award admission to next person who correctly follows these instructions. If you are deemed ineligible due to age, lack of ID, or any for other reason we deem appropriate, we will award admission to the runner-up. Eligible to all students, graduates, applicants, and residents of Los Angeles County over age 18.   See you at the show!     
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students


Callan McClurg and meteorologist Karlene Chavis on CBS News 8 (San Diego, CA)

Radio Connection for Radio Broadcasting graduate Callan McClurg (San Diego, CA) isn’t shy when it comes to seeking out opportunities to learn, network, and further grow his knowledge of broadcasting and announcing. In late July, Callan reached out to CBS News 8 KFMB’s chief meteorologist Karlene Chavis who, upon connecting with Callan, followed his “career adventures across the web” by reading his blog and learning of his work as a sports announcer on the beat in San Diego (announcing for five of Point Loma Nazarene University Athletics’ teams, the San Diego Gulls Hockey Club, University of San Diego Athletics, and more).   Karlene then extended an invitation for the hardworking, self-starter to come in and shadow her and the rest of the team at KFMB Channel 8 during their 5:00pm and 6:30pm newscasts! While there, Callan got to meet anchor Barbara-Lee Edwards as well as sports director Kyle Kraska who graciously shared some career advice and his contact info. Go Callan Go!    

Film Connection student Kelsey Murobayashi (center, red t-shirt) & crew.

Film Connection for Film Production & Editing student Kelsey Murobayashi is finding out just how much hard work goes into making movie (and commercial) magic. Nevertheless, he’s up to the challenge:   “I’ve been learning many things about the film business but the main things that stick out to me are the amount of mental and physical labor involved in making a flashy car commercial or celebrity special, and the number of hours, days, months spent writing and rewriting screenplays so they flow just how you want [them] to. It’s tough but I enjoy what I’m doing.”   Want to stay in the loop? Subscribe!  

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