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Issue #244

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection graduate Alexis Schwarting
Gets in, Gets Hired, Gets Going in Audio.


Recording Connection graduate Alexis Schwarting at work

When recent graduate of Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production Alexis Schwarting, came to us, she had already completed several semesters attending a conventional university. Nevertheless, her drive to get in and get going in music led her to Recording Connection (RRFC) and consequently, to longtime mentor, Rick Rooney (Clay Aiken, Warner Bros, Interscope, Sony). Now, with a job as a broadcast engineer at a local church and a game-plan for building her future, Alexis is on firm ground, ready for all of the adventures ahead.   What led you to Recording Connection in the first place?   “My mom actually found [you]…I really wanted to find something quickly that was near me…We heard a lot of really good things about Recording Connection and that they find studios closer to you rather than [putting you] in a school. So that really interested me…   After high school, I started at UNT, University of North Texas in Denton. I went there for about a year and a half studying film and audio design in film. When I was there, I just realized that I mainly wanted to focus on production in the music industry itself. I was really drawn to music for my whole life. So that’s when I realized that I needed to go down that path and start working towards that and audio engineering as well.”   So you then went into longtime mentor Rick Rooney’s studio. What can you tell us about that experience? “I went in, we did a little tour of the entire studio…then we sat down in one of his studio rooms, and he really just asked me what I wanted to do with this, what I had in mind, what I saw in my future for engineering. It really made me open my eyes as to what I was going to be doing there, that this was finally something that I was wanting to do for a long time. I definitely got really excited.”   What was Rick like as a mentor?   “He was very hands-on and wanted to make sure that you knew everything that he was trying to get into you. It wasn’t just about taking some quizzes like it would be a lot of times in schools. It was really about, you know, ‘I want to make sure that you understand this…that you’re understanding what you’re doing outside of the studio, and when you’re at home and working on this stuff.’ He wanted to really make sure that you grasped what you were learning, and not just reading a book and trying to get by…He would be really hard on you about it, and I loved that kind of teaching. All throughout my life I’ve always had people that were very strict on me but it was always good. It helped me and it pushed me. So it was just nice to have somebody do that again. I didn’t get that much at UNT. It was a great school, but [they’re trying] to check boxes there. It’s a large university. You can’t get that one-on-one time there.”  

Alexis Schwarting in her home studio

How did the job working at a large local church come about?   “Actually my Recording Connection Career Advisor [Gervais Maillard] helped me find [it]…They were looking for a broadcast engineer. So I applied as quickly as I could. I went in for an interview, did a little tour of the church… [The person interviewing me] wanted to know what I was trying to get out of working there as a broadcast engineer. I told him I want to get working with as much audio equipment as I can, sit down in as many different studios as I can.”   Do you have other projects you’re working on?   “I’m working with a few people and I’m working at a good friend’s studio…With Rick’s studio, it was definitely more instrumental: drum sets, guitars, keyboards, vocalists. My favorite genre of music is R&B and rap and hip hop so working at my friend’s studio is definitely different than working with real acoustic instruments and getting that kind of engineering. Whereas, now I’m mainly working with producers who are making beats on their computers and trying to make that sound as clear as possible. And then working with those types of vocalists, too. Rappers are a lot quicker. It’s definitely different recording with them. So it’s a lot of fun learning that genre, too.”   So what are you focused on achieving right now in your career?   “Something that I definitely have always been passionate about is trying to help other artists do whatever they’re trying to do, because even though it’s really common now for a lot of artists to teach themselves how to do [production], engineering is still something that’s more difficult….I’ve definitely met a lot of artists who really needed something like that. So I just want to do that. I really want to step in and help them with that.”   How do you feel about the path you’re on now?   “I’m a lot more confident in what I can do in the studio and what I can bring to the industry. I was a lot less confident when I was in high school and definitely when I was at the university. I just didn’t feel like I was getting myself out there enough. But now I feel like I’m pushing myself and I’m a lot more confident now.”   What’s your advice to Recording Connection students on how they can make the most of the program while they’re in it?   “Be at the console as much as you can, sit in that A2 spot, do as much hands-on work as you can to put yourself out there and to feel more comfortable in the studio environment. The more you work on putting yourself in front, the more confident you’ll feel in yourself, and the more confident the artists and team will be in you.”   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 Lucas Abend
Talks Burning Man, Musical Expression, and Getting Wowed by our Students.


Recording Connection mentor Lucas Abend on shoot for Snugs project

As a music producer, studio co-founder, DJ and mentor, Lucas Abend (Snoop Dogg, Krewella, Sony Music) of Studio 369 in Los Angeles, is the consummate example of today’s music maker who’s part of a movement that’s constantly pushing the boundaries, setting new rules, breaking them and propelling the culture forward at lightning speed. Nevertheless, Lucas isn’t fed on hype. Everything he does emanates from his artistry and a belief in the importance of creative expression, not only of his own, but of those he chooses to mentor. We recently caught up with Lucas in-between sessions for a conversation on everything from Burning Man to Kilimanjaro, to writing in Ableton, to learning to make music not only as a career choice but as a path toward growth and fulfillment.   We’re glad we connected with you. Seems like you’ve been really busy lately.   “I performed at Burning Man. I did five different sets…One of the most incredible things I’ve seen in my entire life. It’s just this giant art exhibit, essentially, and there are 70,000 people there and it’s this whole city. It’s incredible, but it was really awesome to get to play one of the big stages there and play for hundreds of people and perform the music that I’ve been working on for them. So I made a bunch of house music for that.   I’m also finishing up an album with a band that I’m in, that’s kind of like a synthpop freak folk weird electronic music thing. I’ve also got some releases for Snugs that are coming up. And actually we’re just finishing up a fundraising campaign for the studio that I own here. So we’re excited about that.”   So what got you into music production in the first place?   “As a kid, I was into music, I took piano and I was doing musical theater. And even when I was around 12 years old, I was actually producing some really silly techno music with my friend on Acid Pro, like this super old DAW…Then also, my brother got into music production for his band in high school. So we went in together on a little Mbox, you know, the original Mbox. This was back in 2003 or something. We set up a little studio in my sister’s room. Then a lot of time went by…  

Recording Connection mentor Lucas Abend in-studio with artist Die IV Ty

Then in college, I got into DJing and DJing electronic music and all of that. I was actually studying abroad in Florence, Italy, going to school for art, and my roommate was making electronic music on Ableton and I was just DJing, and I remember thinking, ‘You know, I could make something like that, I could make something better than that.’ And so I downloaded Ableton and immediately fell in love with it, and started producing my own tracks to DJ at the college parties that I was playing. So I finished college while working on production the whole time…Then I graduated and I went to Africa for a month, and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with my dad. And once I did that, I was like, ‘I can do anything I put my mind to.’”   Have you had any students that really wowed you with how far they’ve come?   “Honestly, I’m amazed at how far pretty much all of my students have gotten. And it’s really rewarding to see people who started out, they never opened Ableton before, they’d never done it before, and here we are four months, five months later, they’re making whole songs, they’re making three songs a week, and it’s really rewarding to see that growth…   Paige Carmichael, and she’s been opening for acts like CRAY, I think it was, and she’s working for Global Dance Fest. I remember her music was very impressive. She really had that personal motivation to keep experimenting and keep trying things, and it worked. It’s been really great to see that.”   Although you definitely mentor students who are building careers for themselves, you’ve also taught a lot of active professionals who work in other fields.   “I’ve had doctors as students, I’ve had software engineers as students…they’re happy with their lives, they’re happy with being able to support themselves, but then giving them that extra tool of expression, it’s really amazing to see how it opens up their lives. You don’t have to pursue it as a career…Having the tools to be able to express yourself through music is a goal in itself. It’s so fulfilling. It is honestly, I know it sounds weird, but it’s even better than listening to music. If you like listening to music, whoa, making music is the next level.”   What’s your approach when it comes to teaching the students you work with?   “I feel like is the most important aspect of mentoring, is how to maintain the student’s motivation of their own work…When you’re right there trying to learn something, it’s hard. It’s hard for everyone. There’s not a soul out there who’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s easy, it’s done.’ Maybe there’s a couple people who are like that, but at the end of the day, they’re probably not going to succeed because it was so easy for them that they didn’t have the motivation to keep going. So part of it is having the challenge inspire you to keep working…that’s probably my most direct way that I’m mentoring, is helping the students find a creative workflow that works for them so that they have that motivation to spend 15 hours a week. That’s not easy. It takes some effort to spend that kind of time, but once they’re spending [it] you just see them get so much better. They improve so drastically that that’s kind of what makes it all worth it, is to see them improve and start to feel like, ‘Hey, actually at first when we first started I didn’t know what 4/4 meant!’”   Learn more about Recording Connection for Ableton Electronic Music Production and more!    
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or call (800) 755-7597

Special Feature

Spotlight On… Brent Chamberlin, Audio Solutions Specialist at Audio-Technica.


Brent Chamberlin, Audio Solutions Specialist at Audio-Technica U.S., Inc.

  What do you do at A-T?   “I work in the Audio Solutions Department. My title is technically Audio Solutions Specialist. We do troubleshooting and application support. We’re sort of a think-tank for Audio-Technica.”   Are you providing support to both solo artists as well as the major companies that use your products?   “We have a wide span of products. In our consumer products we have our turntables and headphones, and so we talk to people on those products…stuff like how to set up their turntables [since] a lot of people are getting back into those. Then we also have our professional line of products. So that would be our live microphones, our studio microphones, wireless systems, and then a lot of installed sound equipment as well. So we’re really jumping back and forth between phone calls, emails, handling just really a wide range of different situations that come up. So we have to jump back and forth.”   What budget-friendly mics do you recommend for hip hop production?   “I usually start people who are on a budget with our 40 series microphones…They’re really versatile in a lot of different applications. My first set of Audio-Technica microphones were the 4050 microphones. Those are very popular still to this day, for a lot of different people…There’s a lot of producers down in Nashville that use the 4050 for a bunch of instruments, then they take it into the control room and do their vocals with it as well. It’s a large diaphragm microphone, but it’s a multipattern mic. So it gives you the cardioid pickup, your standard 120 degree pickup, [and] omni-direction as well as bi-directional or figure 8 pattern. So in a way you’re getting three microphones in one.   For hip hop, the AT4040 is a very popular microphone, and it doesn’t have a big price tag on it…If their budget is a little bit higher, I would look at the 4047 microphone. It’s an FET microphone, so you get a little bit more warmth to it almost like a tube microphone. A lot of people I’ve talked to have said that’s their desert island microphone that, if they can only pick one microphone to go with, that’s what they would take with them.”   So what’s your advice for people looking to get their first job in audio?   “I would say never stop learning, and be willing to work anything you can. Everybody wants to be the rock star. Everybody wants to be the audio engineer that’s mixing and mastering and producing all the latest, greatest albums. But there’s really a lot of other things to do in the industry. And whether it be working for a manufacturer like Audio-Technica, whether it be working in sales, there’s a lot of different aspects of audio, even in broadcasting as well as mixing audio for video, [and] a lot of television stations…Just be open to work what’s in front of you.”       
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Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students

   When Film Connection for Cinematography student Reem Rawi’s mentor, Zac Adams of SkyDive Films (Nashville, TN) wrote in saying, “Reem Rawi shot and edited this! She is absolutely rocking it!” We just knew we had to talk to her ourselves.  

Film Connection student Reem Rawi films Nashville tourism video.

Just months into the program Reem has shot and edited a tourism video that’s slated for commercial release, done a couple promos, and when we spoke with her, she was headed to film a wedding and gearing up for another commercial shoot with Zac. Here’s some of what she had to say about the real-world learning experience she’s getting through working with her mentor:   “Zac doesn’t have a big production company…He’s not like maybe a multimillion business like big production companies in Los Angeles, but my determination and knowing exactly what I want from Zac is what’s making me improve in this program… It’s not the name of the college or the big studios and the fancy cameras. It’s all in your mentor’s mind, how experienced he is, and what your intention is…I feel like I’m doing the best program in the world…This program doesn’t keep you in classrooms with professors and stuff like that. It drags you from home, from where you are, and just puts you right in the business, connects you to the right people. This is so important.”   Want to stay in the loop? Subscribe.  

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