Recording Connection mentor Ira Parker
With more than 20 years of experience Recording Connection mentor Ira Parker has worked with the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Gunna, Young Dolph, Jadakiss, and is the CEO of the acclaimed Maximus Music Records in Charlotte, NC. Not satisfied to teach just the fundamentals, Ira’s downright passionate about helping students acquire the skills, understanding, and insight it takes to launch their careers in music. We recently caught up with Ira to get his take on how to use one’s time during COVID-19, hear about his brand new 4000 square foot studio complex, talk about a number of his star students, and more.
Have any recent projects you can tell us about?
“I can’t tell you exactly to the extreme or how far they’re going because, you know, it’s not information I can put out yet. But I can tell you I am working with Anthony Hamilton on a number of different things and am having a blast. I recently filmed a
segment of him singing
the late Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” to raise money for COVID-19 relief. It ran on BET and was watched worldwide. It was a great way to help out. I’m working with J-Harris, which is a songwriter, a hook writer, [for an] incredible R&B act…. There’s a couple of other artists I can’t mention yet.”
Tell us about a number of your recent star students or star graduates.
“It’s hard to say stars because I feel like all of them have amazing potential and they have very unique characters. For example, Chris Williams, he’s one of the Advanced Engineering students. Chris has the ability to pick up [quickly] and be extremely detailed. Like on my advanced mixing when I was working on the G-Eazy mix, he literally was picking up everything I was doing. And not only did he pick it up, he questioned what I was doing to make sure he understood it.
And then, you’ve got people like Malik [Franklin]. He’s a graduate. Malik is actually the guy that’s going to be over persistent….Malik picks up on details really fast. He’s over persistent, and he’s going to question you to death but I like it.
Kristin Gillespie, she’s a graduate….She can sing, she can play a couple of instruments, I believe, and she’s more into the folk music but her mind is open to all music. So she picked up on a lot of R&B and pop real quick. She even threw in a couple of harmonies by accident. I was like, ‘Yo, can we use that?’ She picks up on harmony and she picks up on soul and feeling. So it’s like everybody here is a star. I could go on….Then you have the original guy, Chris Hancock. He works for me now. So yeah, he’s a star.”
What was it about Chris Hancock that made you decide to bring him on?
“Chris showed me the absolute most astonishing achievements ever. He started matching me on what I was doing. That blew my mind. And he was paying attention. Chris came in every day. When I say every day, I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re supposed to call me before you show up.’ ‘I’ll be back tomorrow then, boss, if that’s cool.’…Chris really just stayed. He sat through every session. He sat through all my mixes. He sat through other engineers’ sessions and he just kept calling me and I was like, ‘Okay Kid, come on in.’”
Where was Chris at when he started the program? Did he have a lot of experience? A little experience? None?
“He had an idea. He wasn’t sure about a lot of things. He just knew he loved engineering. He loves music, and he loves production but he was not clear on the functionality, the translation of it. He really needed guidance. He needed to understand how the equipment works, the processes of mixing, recording. He was open to it all.
Chris couldn’t tell you everything that’s in the room when he first started off. Now he can point out every piece of gear in here, tell you the voltage. He can tell you dynamics. He can tell you if it’s a condenser. He can tell you if it’s an optical compressor, an FET compressor. He’s on it now. And he’s also doing some of the analog console work. Before he didn’t know much of anything.”
You recently moved Maximus Music. What can you tell us about the new space?
Studio A aka “The Mother Ship” at Maximus Music Records
“First of all, the building is 4000 square feet. It’s two rooms that were combined. We have a podcast room that’s literally 16 x 16. It has a high-definition recorder for the mics. Yes, I know that’s overkill. I’ve already pre-EQ’d the mics, compression EQ and everything to where it can actually adjust itself to your vocals. So it’s almost like I mixed and mastered your record as you’re speaking. Not only that, it has a broadcast system so people can go live…
The new lounge is like 1300 ft.². The podcast room is beautiful but the mothership is our 1000 square foot condo-style recording studio. I mean we have a 7-foot British console. Everything people have plug-ins for, we have the actual gear…
It is just a load of imagination. There’s screens in each room. We have a screen in the hallway … [so] the artists’ music video can play in a complete separate hallway that just enters the room, just to appreciate their value of being here…
We’re still going to build two more living quarters for clients that come from out-of-state to stay with us, and we’re going build a production room and another recording studio. The production room is to invite writers from all over the US to just come and write, just come and create.”
So Ira, how should aspiring audio engineers and music makers be using their time during COVID-19?
“First of all, you got to have the attitude. For every negative, there’s a great positive because in this business if you can’t think that way, you’re already doomed. So the way I look at it, I’m like this man, ‘Are you serious? The world just got put on pause.’ …So now take this time to build yourself….Take time to rebuild yourself, re-create your brand, be excited about it. You know what I’m saying? Take the time to really feel out what was missing before. So when this COVID crap blows over, which it will, you should actually be like 10 times stronger than what you were before it started.”
Want to learn how you can train with Ira Parker or any of the other talented Recording Connection mentors? Get started here
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