Recording Connection student Miley Knox
has been a hip hop lover since age 8. On the way to finding us, she’s encountered challenges ranging from unilateral vocal cord paralysis, a condition she was born with, to surviving an abusive relationship, to dealing with social anxiety. But don’t think any of that is going to hold her back. In fact, challenges just seem to add more fuel to her fire.
Within months of starting Recording Connection for Ableton Electronic Music Production
, Miley placed not one but two
beats with Wu-Tang affiliate Christ Bearer after mentor Mark Scobra (Wu-Tang Killa Bees, Sly and Robbie, Moscow String Quartet) introduced her to the artist who was then in-studio, working on his latest album.
You knew about Recording Connection years before you enrolled. Then, when the pandemic hit, there were a slew of other challenges to deal with. Tell us about that.
“I was originally going to go to school [Recording Connection] in 2019 because I originally relocated to Las Vegas for that… I was kind of in a domestic violence situation… so it just crumbled. That ended right at the beginning of 2020…. I had the finances, the car, and everything [ready] to do it, but then this whole pandemic started and I was like, ‘I hope I don’t have to wait a whole other year.’… I went from working four days a week, long shifts, to nothing. It was crazy. And so I was like, ‘I’m going to use this opportunity. I have all this extra time. I’m going to do it…. This is my chance.’
And it’s been amazing. I’m so happy about it.”
You met mentor Mark Scobra to interview with him and see if it would be a good fit. How did that first meeting go?
“I was all nervous. I was like, ‘I hope he likes me. I hope he knows I’m serious about this.’ Because I remembered… that, like, 40% of students don’t get accepted for various reasons. And I was like, ‘I want to do this. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.’ So it went great. And Mark is awesome to work with. He’s such a great teacher, and he’s really hands-on with it. …
I wasn’t very computer savvy before all this…. He just has such a great sense of humor and the way he teaches, it fits well with how I learn.”
You weren’t familiar with working in Ableton or any DAW when you started the program. How did you make music?
“Most of the stuff I focused on was writing because I didn’t know of a program like Ableton. I’d heard of Pro Tools, but I wasn’t really sure how to operate all that. So, I was like, ‘I’m just going to wait until I go to the Recording Connection.’ I just always loved to write lyrics…. I’m mostly hip hop oriented. I love hip hop music; I love the beat making and the lyrics…. When I got into working with Ableton, it just clicked.”
How did you place not one, but two beats with Wu-Tang affiliate Christ Bearer?
“[When] I met Christ Bearer, I was all nervous. I was like, ‘Hi.’ And he was just sitting there in his element… listening to the same beat, over and over again…. So [later] Mark [and I] did a little FaceTime, actually. And he said, ‘Oh, he likes one of your beats.’ More on this in the video below!
One of the first ones he said he liked I [had] named it ‘Strong.’ And it was one of my first beats I made…. I remember… because I put the name of the song and then I put my initials. And Mark had told me, ‘Hey, put your initials first, then the beat, as a way to organize them in the computer.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’… That was one of the first ones I made back in October. That’s crazy.
And later on, there’s the other one I have…. I named it ‘Fighting in the Rain.’… [Mark] just told me, ‘Focus on the beats.’ He’s going to make another album because we’re finishing up the first one. It’s so exciting! There’s so much to learn and absorb…. You add in the school with real-life experience working with the artists. It’s such a blessing. I’m so thankful for it.”
What’s your advice on how Recording Connection students can make the most of the program?
“There are days when I kind of fall behind like, I’m like, ‘Oh, I got to send Mark some more beats.’… I sit there and I got to focus. Sometimes I just get stressed because it’s a grind. The whole six months has just been a grind: go to work, go to school, and do the tests every week. And even though I love that the program is like that—it’s just six months, so like, no break unless you request one—it’s just like you’re in it
. I love the way that works, but you do need to pace yourself.”
Have any future goals you’d like to tell us about?
“I definitely want to get into the rapping portion of it at some point. But right now, I’m really focused on the lyric writing and the beat making, and really mastering Ableton. There’s still a lot more I’ve got to learn…. More of my focus is based on mental health and physical health. I do have my paralyzed vocal cord. And even though that doesn’t limit me a whole lot, it’s still there. I still only have 80% of an airway. And I would have to do quite a bit of vocal practice [to rap], right?”
You shared that you have social anxiety, something many of us deal with. How do you manage it?
“Just the other day… I met all these other people. They came to take photographs and videos for Christ Bearer’s work [for] a behind the scenes…. Once I do something the first time, then I’m pretty much good after it. But the first time always gets to me, like, ‘Oh, no! I’m meeting someone new.’ But that’s what I deal with, so I just got to keep that in check.
And it was fun, Mark was like, ‘You’re on a Wu-Tang album now. Are you going to get a big head?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m actually kind of shy. I’m so happy, but I’m a little bit shy at the same time.’
And he was like, ‘Are you scared of success? Some people are.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s not that I’m scared of success, it’s just the pressure.’… Anything that you accomplish, there’s more of a workload, there are more demands, just higher stakes, and everything. [With] success, there’s a good part to it, and there’s also a negative part too. And you have to manage your mental health and you have to be able to adjust to the workload and just the newness of everything. Six months ago, I knew nothing about Ableton, now I’m like on a Wu-Tang record. It’s so crazy. It’s happened so fast. And it’s such a blessing that I’ve gotten this far. So that’s really what I’m focused on.”
You seem to have a clear understanding and maturity about what it will take to meet the challenges ahead.
“I had a trach [Tracheostomy] in my neck from 3 weeks old to 15 years old…. I was born with a paralyzed vocal cord…. I won’t ever have 100% of an airway…. And one of the things that attracted me to hip hop, like the vocal part of it, is because it’s a challenge. I guess I’m one of those types of people [that] when you have a deficit, you don’t want that to define you. You see it as a challenge like, ‘Hey, I want to do that because
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