or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #265

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection student Miley Knox Gets In,
Learns Ableton & Places 2 Beats with Wu-Tang Affiliate!


Recording Connection student Miley Knox

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 it’s hard.’”   Learn more about Recording Connection, for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Beat Making, Hip Hop Production,  DJing, and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Special Feature

Spotlight On… Angle on Producers’ Carolina Groppa!


producer Carolina Groppa (Miss Virginia, Autism in Love)

Angle on Producers is a weekly podcast which shines a light on producers from all corners of the entertainment industry. Recent guests include Eva Longoria (John Wick), Lynette Howard-Taylor (A Star is Born), DeMane Davis (Queen Sugar), and Jermaine Johnson, manager of 3 Arts Entertainment (Parks and Recreation, Everybody Hates Chris, The Mindy Project).   Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube, tune into the show for in-depth conversations on the many facets of producing, and a window into the life and experiences of working producers.   So, what kinds of people are “born producers”? What are they about?   “It’s really people who thrive in chaos. It’s people who are entrepreneurial in spirit and they love to learn. They see a challenge and they run towards it. They say, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I’m going to find out.'”   In your opinion, do men have a better chance of succeeding as producers than women?   “I feel like it depends on the personality of each person. If you have a man and a woman who are wired very similarly, I’d say they have equal shot, but you could have a man who isn’t as audacious about it as tenacious as maybe the woman, and then you could make that example. So, to me, it’s not necessarily about the gender. It’s got to be about the drive and the hustle of the individual. …   While I thankfully never dealt with some of the horrors that a lot of women dealt with coming out of the Me Too Movement, I certainly had my share of men calling me ‘sweetie’ and… treating me like I was a little girl instead of seeing me as their superior when I was, in fact, their boss.”   Do women producers need to handle themselves differently than men?   “I don’t think you need to shy away from your femininity…. It’s not about overcompensating and being… [an] overly masculine version of yourself…. I’ve definitely met some women who feel like they need to be that way. And it works for them, sure. But I don’t subscribe to that approach. I think you need to be authentically who you are, but yes, you do have to get tough skin. And that doesn’t mean you’re not impacted or affected by what happens, but you understand that ultimately, it really isn’t about you, and you can kind of start to have better tools to navigate what is inherently a very emotional experience.”   Ha! You just described production as “a very emotional experience.” Could you elaborate?   “You know, it’s [called] ‘showbiz,’ [but really] it’s like it’s ‘show emotion.’ It’s like there’s so much emotion involved, left and right, and half the job is just managing hundreds of people who are all feeling different things at different times, some who can actually vocalize it, some who can’t. And just really being able to herd cats and just keep everybody focused to get things [done]… that’s like no different, I think, than what I imagine being a mother would be like, if you had a bunch of kids rolling around. ‘All right, guys, it’s snack time. Clearly, you’re cranky because you haven’t had your snack. Let me go to craft services and get you some carrot sticks.’”   When it comes to hiring production assistants, who do you hire, and who gets called back on subsequent productions?   “They’re the ones that always volunteered to do the thing that nobody else wants to do. They’re the first person to respond on a walkie…. I remember that one person who was just ‘down’ and had a good attitude and did what needed to get done. And a lot of the people that have come up that I’ve hired, that I’ve now trained to be coordinators are those people. They have a really good attitude and they just get it. It’s like, ‘Yeah, doing some of this sucks, but it’s a necessary evil,’ because if you’re going to rise up [in the industry], you have to go through, and I speak, particularly, for producers, right? If you’re coming up through the physical side… you have to know every rung of that ladder, so when you’re running the show [you] know how long it takes because… [you’ve] literally done it.   And the other thing I always say is: You are an extension of the production team. So, when you are my office PA or my set PA, everything you do reflects back on me. So, if you forget a receipt, that’s not a big deal, but then it is down the line when I would have to go to accounting and be like, ‘Oh, we don’t have that.’ And if it’s a receipt that could become an outlier, it’s a big deal. Now, I have to tell my financiers, ‘I don’t have a receipt because my PA didn’t get it.’ And it’s a silly example, but it’s treating every aspect of the task, no matter how small, with utmost respect and that whether it’s getting a receipt, or driving an actor, or making a budget, like all of that is of equal importance, even if it feels tiny, tiny, tiny.   And if you have that work ethic, you’re going to shoot up to the stars because the people that are like that are the ones that are wired for it.”   Learn about Film Connection for film production, cinematography, editing, screenwriting, and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor Jony Mansilla on ‘Being a Business’
and an Artist, Constantly Creating & More.


Recording Connection mentor Jony Mansilla of Jony Studios

Recording Connection mentor Jony Mansilla is both the founder/owner of Jony Studios as well as a busy singer/songwriter who’s consistently producing his own music. We caught up with the entrepreneurial creative to discuss being an artist and a business owner, get his hard-earned insights for anyone looking to build their career in music, and to talk about former student, JR Stewart, who he mentored in our Recording Connection for Music Business Program.   There are those fiery creators who say, “I just want to do what I want to do 100% of the time.” What’s your advice to them?   “I think there’s two sides to that coin. I think, with one side of that, it’s, yeah, you should follow your intuition, you should follow your creativity, but on the other side, I think collaboration can cause huge growth. Right? Take, for example, “Old Town Road.” …Little things like that can create a huge spark, and I think your network has so much to do with it. In anything, whether it’s the music industry, whether in business, it’s like that’s something you have to learn from really early on. If you are nice to people and you’re genuine and you come to them with a sense of, ‘How can I add value to you?’ without expecting anything in return, you’d be surprised what will happen to your career and what will happen to your life. And you’ll just keep growing exponentially. So, I do think you should be more open-minded. [But]… follow your intuition.”   You’re a believer in consistently cutting and releasing new music. Why is that so?   “For the longest time, I was scared of ever releasing original music…. In my head, I was like, ‘Someone’s going to steal the song. Someone’s going to steal the idea. Someone’s going to take my riff.’… And the funny thing is that that mindset is completely wrong because, first of all, if you never release it and then someone releases something that sounds like it, now you’re the one copying that person. So, you actually want it to be heard by as many people as possible. Secondly, you have to be in an open-mind frame realizing that your creativity is endless. Even if something happens with one song, you have plenty more songs to go; they’re going to just keep getting better, right?… I had to get over that by just saying to myself, ‘Alright, I’m going to release one song a week,’ and it started with covers, and then I was like, ‘Now I’m going to release my originals. I’ll give myself one month to do everything.’   Each time I released one, it got a little bit easier. I feel like there’s so many musicians where their best song is still in a note on their phone…. You just have to release it, you know?… Your next song will be even better…. That’s how you keep progressing.” More with Jony Mansilla in our Straight Talk video below!   So, when it comes to the goal of “making it” with that one song that goes big, care to bust that myth?   “Whether you’re a musician or a producer or a songwriter, you need to know how to network…. I think the thing is finding the perfect balance. Obviously, if you’re a talented enough musician where everything just aligns perfectly, that has happened to like 0.000001%, that’s not as important… but I think that’s where people need to kind of shatter that belief. …   A lot of people will look at someone like Billie Eilish, for example, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be like her,’ you know, like, ‘the one song I release on YouTube is just going to get so many views,’ … That’s not the case for most people, you know. For most people is going to be like the Russ [the rapper] scenario where you have to make 300 songs.”   How do you manage being a creator as well as a studio owner?   “To be a businessperson, you need to be creative. You need to find ways to reach out to the people you need to reach, to collaborate and create something amazing. You need to be creative on the text when you’re running an ad or when you’re creating a landing page. So, creativity is all around. And I think it’s super important to be creative…. Like I always say, ‘Everyone’s a business,’ especially in this industry.   Now, when you’re creating art, that’s when you have to have the separation.   So, if I have a song idea… I’m just focusing on my feelings and on my emotions. I’m not focusing on like, ‘This is going to make me money.’ No, I don’t even think about that because then the creativity is lost. You have to stay in that zone where it’s like, ‘I need to finish this song based on how I’m feeling, and it has to be essentially for me.’ …if I can convey the emotion that’s inside of me, then people are going to connect to the song and that song is going to be more likely to be listened to by more people…. If you have a very generic song that doesn’t come from a real place, people can smell it out a mile away.”   How is learning from a professional like you a more efficient way to learn? One can spend a lot of time trying to figure things out on their own.   “You get some direction, you know…. You’re connecting studio owners with students. And that’s huge, that’s something I wish I’d had. I would’ve been the first one to sign up for that. [As a student] you pick up on a lot of … [the] why they’re doing, what they’re doing, and their [mentor’s] creative process. And you can get inspired by that to find out your own creative process. And, if you have a question, you can ask it.   If he/she has a question about EQ, I can tell them, ‘Oh, you know what, it’s better to cut out this frequency, especially on the vocals because it can sound too muddy,’ or, ‘You need to have harmonic balance to make the track sound full,’ and ‘You need to have the track, you need to listen to it in the car and in different places to see if it actually is the way you want it to sound,’ because things sound different in every format, right? So, there’s a bunch of things, but just the fact that they could be here and… learn that firsthand, it’s going to save them a lot of years of time.”  

Belwin, grad JR Stewart, Jony M, and Harsim at Jony Studios

  JR Stewart, your previous extern who’s now graduated, how did he make the most of the experience? How did he change or grow over the months you mentored him?   “JR was a really, really nice person. I really liked how creative he was…. And he was really, really cool. He would even come up with like business ideas for like a music application and things like that and he would discuss it with me, and he would actually create PowerPoints. And this wouldn’t be a task I would give him. He would just be like, ‘Hey, man, like I have this idea. I created a PowerPoint. Can I show you this idea?’ And then I would give him my thoughts and I would give him the plan, if he wanted to move forward with it. …   We also started The Jony Studios Podcast together…. On the second or third episode, it’s on my website, you can hear… I’m interviewing him from his perspective. He couldn’t believe it because he joined this program and now he’s in a podcast for the best studio in town [voted Toronto’s Best Studio 2020 by The Record]…. If he wouldn’t have taken this step, he wouldn’t have had access to me and my network.   We would have conversations, not only about music but about growth in general…. A lot of his thinking had changed by the end of the program…. I definitely saw that growth…. He felt way more confident in himself too, I think, just being in a studio where I was essentially very similar to him when I was his age. It was a great opportunity for him to see that it’s possible to open up your own recording studio and do what you love. And the thing is a lot of people are too scared to chase something because they don’t think it’s an option. But anything is possible.”   Learn more about 6-9 month mentored-externship programs and remote online one-on-one training in Audio Engineering & Music Production, Music Business, Beat Making, and more with Recording Connection.  
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