or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #247

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Echo Gabriel
Hired at Global Giant PSAV weeks after graduation.


Recording Connection graduate Aqellezra “Echo” Gabriel

A lifelong songwriter and artist, Aqellezra “Echo” Gabriel was on her second year of general education classes at San Francisco State University, pursuing a degree in Broadcasting and Electronic Communication Arts, when she found us online.   After some soul-searching, Echo decided to change paths and enroll in Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production. Less than one year later, she’s completed her externship with Recording Connection mentor Jason Intilles aka J-Intell (E-40, T.I, Tech N9ne, Mos Def, Sage The Gemini), earned her certificate, and has new music in the works. But that’s not all. Echo was smart about getting herself in the best possible position to land a great job just weeks after graduating.   How’d she do it? She made the most of the assistance provided by RRFC’s Career Services department to find job opportunities, create a killer resume, and persist, even when the chips were down. With more than 40 production branches worldwide, PSAV is a global giant in providing on-site audio visual support and staging for sports/entertainment venues, convention centers, hotels and resorts around the world.   We reached out to the recent grad to talk about the new job, learn more about her experiences in the program, and see what’s in store for her as an artist/producer who’s come far fast, in spite of the challenges.   So how did the job at PSAV come about?   “Literally Gervais [in RRFC Career Services] was the main reason why I was able to get into PSAV. One: he introduced me to it, and he helped me find any opportunities around my area. And two: he walked me through the interviewing process…he gave me all the advice I needed…He definitely helped me create an amazing resume. A couple of other people have seen my resume, and even [at] PSAV they’re like mind-blown, like, ‘You have an amazing resume.’ My boss said that right in the beginning of meeting him.”   But you didn’t get hired at PSAV on the first attempt.   “Yeah, I was able to score an interview for PSAV in Menlo Park, and I went there. However, I did not get the job for Audio/Visual Technician, and I don’t know why exactly…   I got a little discouraged. But when I talked to Gervais about it, he told me not to… He was like, ‘This is a male dominant industry right now. Don’t worry, there are other female students that have been able to do it. Do not let it discourage you.’   So I took his advice. I saw PSAV on LinkedIn and found that they had a hiring event in San Francisco, and I applied right away. Right when I got there, I got the job easily, and it was a totally different vibe. So I’ve learned that just because you don’t get accepted to one branch doesn’t mean another won’t take you. Everyone has their different wants in an employee, and you just have to keep trying.”   Now that you’ve landed the job as an A/V Tech, how’s it going with PSAV?   “It’s going great, and I’m learning really fast. They’re very supportive, and they’re not afraid to show you all the opportunities and the ways that you can work your way up…. I also got a job at Rhino Staging the same week, for concerts and events. So I’m a stagehand there as well.”   Let’s backtrack to the beginning. What led you finding us in the first place?  

Echo Gabriel with J-Intell and former Recording Connection students at Omina Laboratories in Sacramento, CA

“I went to school at SF State for audio but the process was just really long and certain classes I had to take had nothing to do with it. Then I found Recording Connection online, along with a couple other schools. And when I looked at the newsletters and the success stories and spoke to you guys over the phone, I instantly really wanted to join, and I decided to do it.”   What sparked your interest in audio and music production?   “I had a rough childhood since birth…been taken into the foster care system. You know, not having a safe and good household for me…all the crazy things that have happened…music was always the thing to turn to and help me express myself and escape from the issues that were going on, and [it] allowed me to make art. It was my escape and my hobby at the same time. I’ve been writing music since I was six years old, singing since I was little, and trying to teach myself how to produce my own music, just using what I had, since I was 12.”   So what DAWS did you start out on?   “I started with GarageBand. Then I moved to Logic Pro. Throughout foster care I would use Logic Pro. I didn’t have a midi at the time, so I would try to use the key pads to create loops and make that happen…Once I got Pro Tools running and access to Midi Control in high school, [while] taking an audio production class, that just excited me more. After that, I started getting my own things and making a studio for myself.”   Tell us about that first meeting with your mentor J-Intell at Omina Laboratories.   “The first time I went in I can definitely say I was nervous. It was a very nice studio, and I was just like ‘I get to sit in here?’ Just coming from my background, it was a shock to me. I was probably in shock the whole interview. I don’t even know if he noticed. But he actually, he explained how it worked and everything…   At the end of the interview, he was like…‘I’m going to talk back to the Head of Admissions and let them know that you’re amazing and we’re going to get you started.’…That was a shock to me. It was just awesome.”   Were you able to start right away or did you have to wait?   “I was able to start right away.”   Awesome. And how did J-Intell’s mentorship make an impact on you?   “From the very beginning he definitely changed my thoughts about how we perceive sound…It’s amazing how creative you can be with a class like this. He definitely showed me how to work with clients as well. And me being there, utilizing my [externship] hours definitely showed me the full studio environment… I’ve performed in a studio before but actually sitting at the table it’s so different. It’s an amazing experience. There was a lot to learn, and it took some practice but he made sure that he went over it with me constantly and answered all the questions that I had, no problem.”   Did you take what you were learning in the program and apply that to your own songs?   “Actually it opened up a new door for me. I haven’t put out anything yet because I’m working on a full project…When I’m ready to put it out, I will. But yes, definitely…   I also worked with him live and tried experimenting while he shadowed me [to] correct anything or answer any questions that I have.”   So what’s your advice to people who enroll in Recording Connection? How can they make the most of the program while they’re in it?   “They can best utilize the program by using their personal time outside of school to create and to explore new things within what they’re learning. And I recommend to utilize your extern hours as much as you can. Go as much as you can, and take as many notes as you can, and start putting it to use…. I’ve fallen off before for a couple of weeks, you start forgetting things. So just stay consistent….Don’t be afraid to ask questions because that’s what they’re there for. And once you’re done, utilize your [Career] Advisor as much as you can.  And don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn…. Just keep going!”   Learn more about Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Ableton, Beatmaking, and more!      
 *  *  *  *  *  


or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

CASA mentor Chef Walter Cotta talks Mentorship,
Bringing 100% and Training Inside of the Food Industry.


CASA mentor Chef Walter Cotta at L’Opera (on right) with CASA graduate Joey Mendes

Chef Walter Cotta knows all about learning on-the-job and working one’s way up in the culinary arts. Starting out working in a restaurant as a dishwasher, Walter’s tenacity and passion for learning, as well as his in-born talent for cooking, enabled him to rise through the ranks, from dishwasher, to line cook, to ultimately Executive Chef at the upscale, award-winning Italian restaurant L’Opera, in Long Beach, California.   We recently spoke with Chef Cotta to garner his insights on what it takes to succeed as a chef, discuss in-industry training, and talk about recent CASA graduate, Joey Mendes. Enjoy!   What qualities are the most important ones to have if one wants to become a chef?   “To become a chef, you have to have two things. You have to love cooking and you have to have the time to do it. Because actually being a chef, you’re not just only cooking or coming up with the nice recipes, it’s about time. It’s a long day, you know? I think we start around 8:30 in the morning until the day is over…You’re actually married to this career.”   How did you become a mentor for CASA?   “First I got an email, and then I got a phone call…They explained to me how it works. I thought it was great. What was exciting, back in my country I was supposed to become a teacher for physics and math. So actually, it was the opportunity for me to teach and grab that part that I left in my country, bring it over here, and start teaching again. And so, that’s great. I think it’s a great concept. Now, I can teach them [CASA students] everything from how to handle the knives to create a full menu…My students have a great future in front of them.”   Recent CASA Gourmet Chef graduate Joey Mendes has gone far, fast and is already cooking on-the-line at a well-known restaurant. What can you tell us about Joey as a student extern?  

L’Opera restaurant, a CASA mentor-externship location

“Joey is a great guy. When he came to me, he said he didn’t have any experience in a kitchen; he’d never been in a professional kitchen before. He was working at a big warehouse on the graveyard shift. And I explained to him, ‘You know, this is a hard job, this is how we’re going to work.’ I showed him everything in my kitchen, I gave him a tour of the restaurant, and he loved it. And one thing that Joey has is that he will put in extra to whatever he does. He will give 100% all the time…He was here three, four days a week, almost all day. That enthusiasm that he has to learn, [and] he really loves the kitchen, I think he found what he really was missing in his life…He really got into it right away.”   In your opinion, how can CASA students maximize their learning and growth during their culinary arts externships, whether they’re with you or training inside of another restaurant kitchen?   “Well actually, every chef is different, you know? I have my way to teach. Other chefs, they have their own ways to teach… [Students] choose the restaurant where they want to go and learn, and give 100%. They should try to [keep an] open mind to understand everything we tell them to do, and how to do it…The good thing about L’Opera for the students I have is that they can learn from A to Z, because we do everything from scratch. Our pastas, our raviolis, everything. We have a pasta lady starting in the morning, making the pastas fresh and the ravioli fresh. I have my bread guy, we do our own bread. We do our own cakes. It all depends on how far they want to go with us, you know? There’s no limit.”   Homemade pasta? That sounds delicious! Any last words for people thinking of becoming a culinary extern with CASA?   “Being a chef is not just being in the kitchen. You can do a lot of stuff. You can be a spokesperson, you can do consulting…As far as you have the ambition, like they say, the sky’s the limit.”   Learn more about CASA Schools Gourmet Chef Program.    
 *  *  *  *  *  

or call (800) 755-7597

Apprentices in Action

A Day in the Life of Our Students


Actors Jae Rasul, Bri-Timmons, and Rose Sanchez in “Monster in the Hood”

Just in time for Halloween, Film Connection grad Brandon Ladson has completed his PG-13 horror-comedy “Monster in the Hood.” Brandon explains the premise:   “It is about a teenage girl who’s searching for the monster responsible for kidnapping her parents. In the scene (pictured) the protagonist Lucy (played by Bri-Timmons Kepler) and her friends, Dennis (actor Jae Rasul) and Jessica (actor Rose Sanchez) are figuring out a plan to track down the monster, Norman.”   Proir to finalizing the script, Brandon got some great insight into the necessary constraints around dialogue thanks to his screenplay mentor, including word choices which were once seen as tame by the Motion Picture Society of America:   “It was going to be rated R at one point, before I dialed back to PG-13. [The screenwriting mentor] told me some surprising things about certain scenes that had certain dialogue that apparently today, in 2019, wouldn’t fly… If it had been done decades ago, I could have gotten away [with it]. So certain things I was surprised at, but it’s okay because at the end [of the day], I just wanted to be content with the story I had without watering it down completely.”      

Film Connection graduates Noah Cook and Jacob Sizemore at the PressPlay Festival, 2019.

A big congrats to Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduates Noah Cook, Jacob Sizemore, and Caitlin Cooke (not pictured) and everyone at Skymore Productions on winning the PressPlay 2019 Audience Choice Short Film Award for “Worms”!   Keep on making movies audiences love. We’re rooting for you! And Caitlin, send us a pic!   Connect with Skymore Productions on Instagram.      

Recent Recording Connection grad Miguel Giron at Sonic Faction

Thanks to his multi-platinum, Grammy-award winning mentor Nathan Jenkins (Beyoncé, Mary J. Blidge, Mariah Carey) at Sonic Faction in Los Angeles, the just-graduated Miguel Giron had the opportunity to go into Henson Recording Studios and observe while Nathan and a full crew of seasoned audio professionals chopped, assembled, and mixed Live Rounds for national reality TV sensation, The Voice.   Nathan gave us the lowdown on what happens during these whirlwind production sessions:   “Every week we do 12 songs, start to finish in three days, 72 hours straight. And I mean literally…There are six of us, and it starts with the tracking. They track the songs. Then it goes to me where I cut everything and chop everything and make sure it sounds perfect. Then it goes to a room where they record the vocals, it goes to a tuning guy or [from] a comping guy to a tuning guy. Then it all gets put all back together and goes to the mix guy. But I’m in the funnel-hose of the whole thing where everything comes through me, all the music.”   Here’s where you get the 411 on what RRFC students are doing, so (subscribe)!    

or call (800) 755-7597