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Issue #274

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Special Feature | Student Successes

IN 2021…


Recording Connection grad & mentor Dawsøn Recorded Kanye West & Broke Livestream Records.


Dawsøn with Wanya Morris of BIIMen at Junxion Sound

On August 5th, 2021, when Kanye West live-streamed the release of his new album Donda, at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Recording Connection graduate and mentor Alejandro Rodriguez-Dawson aka Dawsøn was the engineer there to catch it all for a reported 5.4 million viewers.   When Dawsøn got “the call” from Kanye’s people he jumped into action immediately.   “I got a call to bring myself, two other engineers, and three studio setups for each engineer…. We came through immediately. We dropped everything we were doing and got there as quick as possible.”   In a recent video interview we talked with Dawsøn about how he keeps it cool when working with really big artists, learned about the unconventional way he built relationships in hip hop fast, talked about how he got connected with Kanye, and more!     

Recording Connection graduate Kelsey Anderson Expanded Her Knowledge of the Music Industry and Got Hired at Universal Music Group!

Recording Connection grad Kelsey Anderson

Recording Connection grad Kelsey Anderson

  Kelsey Anderson had a job as an accountant at a utilities company when she found Recording Connection. Knowing she wanted to work in music, Kelsey signed up for the Recording Connection for Music Business Program ready to move on to something new.   “I knew I wasn’t happy. And I knew that I needed a change for my career just for my own sanity. I had started looking into other programs and other schools that would have been… three, four-year degrees online. And, you know, that just didn’t make sense for me.”   Considering she already had her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, Kelsey had done the conventional school thing. What she needed was actual insight into how the business side of music industry operated. She got that in our Recording Connection for Music Business Program.   “Until you really dig into how the industry works and what the actual business aspects are, it’s hard to almost imagine yourself finding a position…. G.W. [Childs]… introduced me to the owner of a small label that I got to… work with. So, not only was I learning from G.W. … I was also getting to work directly with a label owner and see how his label works and what that process looks like.”   See how Kelsey Anderson got the knowhow she needed in months and landed a coveted position at Universal Music Group (UMG)!     

Film Connection grad Shaylah Conley Worked Horror Feature Film & Launched Her Own Production Company.


Film Connection graduate Shaylah Conley

  When we connected with Film Connection graduate Shaylah Conley she was just wrapping production on one film project and gearing up to start another. In 2021, Shaylah went from dreaming about building her career in film to doing it and gaining the skills, experience, and insight she needed to launch her own production company.   That she could do the program remotely and see her hard work get noticed by her mentor were two big advantages of Film Connection for Film Production & Editing.   “It was online, so I didn’t have to go anywhere… then you’re set up with a mentor who brings you into the field. So, it’s not like you have to start from the bottom of the food chain and beg your way in. You get brought in and then you can move up depending on you, depending on everything about yourself.”   Find out how Shaylah put her goals into action, worked a full-length feature horror film, and even launched her own production company with help from her mentor Christine Chen of Moth to Flame Films and Film Connection.     

Recording Connection grad K Campbell Got Hired & On-Path in Beat Making, Audio Engineering & More.


Recording Connection graduate K Campbell

By the time K Campbell enrolled in Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production, he’d spent time studying nursing, then switched to mechanical engineering but neither of those career paths felt right. Once he set his sights on making music, the constant frustration of trying to “fill in the blanks” set in.   “I was just in a spot where I felt like I was trying so, so hard to grow my skills and become better. And I was just falling short, and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand what was missing. So, I was hoping that through Recording Connection, I would find that. It seemed, like being able to work in an establishment with people who are making money doing this, and this is their life, that I would get the best shot at that, and I did.”   Find out how K got the knowhow he’d been missing in just 6-9 months, took steps that led to getting hired at the studio where he trained, and finally got on his right path.     

Radio Connection grad Robert Kuse Landed a Spot Co-Hosting Full Throttle on SportsMap Radio!


Radio Connection grad Robert Kuse

Robert Kuse knew he wanted to work in radio and entertainment since he was a kid. By age 19, he’d graduated Radio Connection, forged a number of great industry connections—including one with Radio Connection mentor Craig Larson, COO of Gow Media—and now he can be heard on SportsMap Radio every Saturday morning, network hosting Full Throttle with co-host/producer Andrew Carlson! Spending years studying English or Communications just didn’t make sense to Robert. He knew where he wanted to go. He just needed help getting there.   “I looked at a lot of options. When Covid hit I was not out of a job, but my job was closed for a period of time and I was like, ‘How do I move on from here,’ you know, ‘Regular college?’ I was in a community college and I wasn’t getting anything out of it, and I was like, ‘This isn’t what I want to do. I don’t see how this is going to help get me into broadcasting. So [I asked], ‘What’s the best way to get into broadcasting?’ I looked up a lot of different options and the best way to get my foot in the door was the Radio Connection. They have given me such a plethora of networking opportunities. It’s been amazing.”   See how Robert went full throttle in just a matter of months with Radio Connection!   

Film Connection grad John Lacuesta Got Hired at Mentor’s Studio & Worked Award-Winning Documentary.


Film Connection gradute John Lacuesta

  When John Lacuesta found Film Connection, he’d recently graduated high school and had his sights set on pursuing a career in cinematography. Now John’s got a full-time job as studio supervisor at EQ Studios—where he trained as a student extern—is an experienced 1st AC, and he even recently completed an award-winning documentary film.   Like others, John recognized the advantage of our one-on-one approach to training in film.   “I was just looking at different choices as far as schooling when it comes to film…. The Film Connection was a lot more hands-on. And I was like, ‘This is the new generation of learning,’ you know, ‘This is the new way to do it.’… It was really, really nice, finding out and knowing that I would actually be in a studio… just learning the new things.”   Film Connection graduate John Lacuesta talks about the award-winning film he recently worked on and gives us the lowdown on how he got hired at EQ Studios, right where he trained!   

Recording Connection grad Zach Eaton Got Audio Skills & Hired at Premier Recording Studio with Help from Career Services.


Recording Connection grad Zach Eaton

When Zach Eaton made the decision to drop out of conventional college and enroll in Recording Connection, his mom was behind him 110%.   “She knew how much I liked making music and just being around the music…. She actually pushed me towards dropping out in the first place and going and doing something that I really wanted to do. So, that’s what she did. She did a lot of research into different schools… to see what they did, [and] what was different about each one. And we found Recording Connection and thought, like, ‘Wow, it gets them hands on, it puts them in the studio.’ And, you know, that’s the kind of learning that I am best with, when I can actually sit down, and see things, and, you know, play around with them.”   Zach jumped into the deep end and learned all he could during his time in our 6-9 month Audio Engineering & Music Production Program. Landing the job at Enviyon Entertainment Recording Studios started with a lead from Recording Connection Career Services Lead Advisor, Gervais Maillard.   “He sent me an email, basically just saying that Enviyon had reached out to the school, and they were looking for some engineers, just to come onto the team…. And, I mean, within 15 minutes of me getting that email, I had already finished the application, because I figured, like, this opportunity just got handed to me on a silver platter. How can I not take that? That was just my whole thought process, that you gotta beat everybody to it, and I did.”   Learn how Zach went from bored student to working pro in one year.   

CASA graduate Josmira Batista Got Hired at the High-End Restaurant Where She Trained!


CASA graduate Josmira Batista on the line at Sandbar

CASA graduate Josmira Batista was on her way to becoming a nurse when she had the realization that nursing, as noble a career as it is, just wasn’t for her.   “I remember doing clinicals… [while] doing a certified nursing assistant program, and I was like, ‘Yeah, this isn’t for me.’”   Since enrolling in CASA and doing her culinary externship with Chef Amanda Mathosian at Sandbar, Josmira’s culinary skills have grown exponentially and her knowledge and passion for food gets deeper by the day.   “[When I started], I didn’t know how to stand when cutting. I would lean to one side, [and] cross my legs and she [Chef] fixed that for me…. She helped me improve in a lot, a lot of things…. I learned a lot…. I became part of the team in a way, which was really cool to feel.”   In less than one year since she started CASA, Josmira landed a job at Sandbar, the restaurant where she trained. Find out more about Josmira’s experiences in CASA and watch our Straight Talk interview with the recent grad!   

Recording Connection grad Kolby Benton Went from Small-Town Boy to EDM Producer, Fast.


Recording Connection grad Kolby Benton aka Kayp

Recording Connection graduate Kolby Benton aka Kayp grew up in a small town, so small that his graduating class had a whopping thirty people. Nevertheless, knowing his goal was to become an EDM artist, he didn’t waste his time. When he found Recording Connection he took action and got the training and insight he needed to get his music out to the world.   Now Kolby’s collaborated on the track “Brutality” with Borgore, released songs on Buygore Records and frshblood (a Buygore Records’ sub-label), and just dropped his EP, Isekai. He’s also got collaborations in the works with Riot Ten and Typhon. He says getting into Recording Connection and getting his production workflow in order made all the difference in his ability to produce intriguing tracks without getting lost in the brambles.   “Before the program, I would get caught up so bad… on the smallest, little things… I’d be starting on just the intro and… get caught up on little details. And working with [mentor] Josh [Denhardt]… he taught me, ‘Hey, it’s okay. Just get the song done. Get the overall idea, and [don’t] worry about the little things… because when you’re doing that, you’re actually not writing the song, you’re just nitpicking.’… Just get the overall idea out.”   See how Kolby Benton was able to accelerate his producing skills fast with Recording Connection, got signed with Buygore Records, and more!   

Dancer/Choreographer Ramone Wilkinson Jumped into Film with Film Connection.


Film Connection graduate Ramone Wilkinson

  Film Connection graduate Ramone Wilkinson is no stranger to the limelight. A professional dancer and choreographer, he’s worked with Camila Cabello, Kanye West, TLC, Gwen Stefani, Big Sean, Jennifer Lopez, and done commercials with brands like Apple, Google, and Nike. When Ramone found himself with some extra time on his hands, rather than take it easy, he switched into high gear and pursued his goal of expanding his skills as a visionary creative who could work in dance, in film, and direct and produce a multitude of commercial projects.   During his time in the Film Production & Editing Program, Ramone had the opportunity to work and earn professional credits on the stunning “Time is Eternal” film with mentors Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett of Dream Team Directors. He even expanded his knowledge of choreography into the arena of film with one-on-one mentorship from Bayou.   “I’ve seen my choreography on big stages and television and etcetera but for me to do it in a film… I never had that experience. I’d never been exposed to that world. So, it was next level for me…. Now here I am. It’s been a great experience…. It’s been awesome.'”   Learn more about Ramone’s experiences in Film Connection and find out what inspired him to expand his creative skills into the world of film.   

Recording Connection grad Ian Izquierdo Went from Ho Hum to Hired & Inspired.


Recording Connection graduate Ian Izquierdo

When Ian Izquierdo found Recording Connection he’d gotten to know firsthand just how ho-hum a life of working 50-hour weeks doing uninspiring work could be. When the pandemic hit, Ian found himself laid off. More time equalled more time spent soul searching. Ian just couldn’t doubt it. Music was what he loved.   “It just got me into thinking like, ‘This is like something I want to do.’ It’s always been like the one thing in my life that I felt like I couldn’t leave. [When] I got laid off from my job because of COVID… I said, you know what, I’m going to see if I can find some type of school.”   Ian had looked at other schools, even signed up with one, but the going in and meeting Steve Catizone (T-Pain, Black Eyed Peas, Charli XCX) at his multiroom studio told him he was in the right place.   “I knew the moment I walked in and did the interview with Steve, I knew this is where I need to be and this is where I’m going to learn the most.”   Learn more about how Ian went from stuck in a rut to hired and inspired with Recording Connection.   

Recording Connection grad Miley Knox Said Yes to Challenges, Learned Ableton & Placed 2 Beats with Wu-Tang Affiliate!


Recording Connection grad Miley Knox

On the way to finding us, Miley Knox 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 she didn’t let any of it hold her back.   Through and through, Miley persisted in investing in her growth and becoming the pro she’d been wanting to become for years. When COVID-19 hit she could’ve put her plans on ice. Instead she persevered and stayed committed to her path neverminding the fact that she’d never worked on a DAW before. Now, thanks to the connections she made while externing with mentor Mark Scobra (Wu-Tang Killa Bees, Sly and Robbie, Moscow String Quartet), and her own innate talent, Miley’s placed two beats with Wu-Tang affiliate, Christ Bearer!   Get the full scoop (and watch the video) on how Miley overcame the obstacles and placed two of her beats with Christ Bearer within months of starting to learn Ableton.   

Film Connection grad Jaden Scott Discovered His Love of Screenwriting & Made His Own Film.

  When Jaden Scott enrolled in Film Connection, he’d just graduated from high school with plans of attending NYU. The pandemic led him to reassess his gameplan for the future.   “I started writing during quarantine. I tried to write a few scripts. Things didn’t come together. I tried to shoot a movie with my friends. Things didn’t come together…. I was going to go to NYU, but New York itself was… crazy at the beginning of quarantine. So, my parents were just like, ‘We don’t know about that.’ So… I always was looking into trade schools because I’m not really a school person, and a shorter program seemed like a fit for me.”   Thanks to Film Connection’s flexible, one-on-one approach Jaden was able to work directly with screenwriting mentor Aaron Feldman who helped him develop and write his screenplay for “IOWA.” In tandem with his training as a screenwriter, Jaden built his filming and editing skills with hands-on, one-on-one direction from Film Connection mentor Patrick Wimp at Digital Hydra in months, not years. Learn more about Jaden’s film and his experiences in the Film Production & Editing Program.   

Film Connection grads Carter Rutledge & Zack Wilson Parrish Made an Award-Winning Horror Film & Got Going in Film!


Film Connection graduates Zack Wilson Parrish and Carter Rutledge on the set of “A Good Mother”

Film Connection grads Carter Rutledge and Zack Wilson Parrish did their externship training with mentor and Emmy winner, Zac Adams, producer, director, and CEO of Skydive Films. Aside from working on commercial shoots, music videos, and more, all three came together to write, produce, and edit the short horror film, “A Good Mother” which is currently being submitted to festivals and won the Audience Award at the Knoxville Film Festival for Best Tennessee Short Film.   Film Connection mentor Zac Adams of Skydive Films tells how the film went from a filed-away idea to being the next thing he and his externs Carter and Zach tackled.   “I had the basic idea in my head for 15 years…. I pitched the guys back in the fall and they liked it. I said, ‘Y’all want to make it?’… then the three of us literally sat in my house for a couple days and ordered some pizza and just fleshed it out… over a day or two…. We all three got writing credit. And it’s on my IMDb now. We filmed at his [Zack’s] aunt and uncle’s house in Hendersonville… and we shot on the RED Epic, [with an] all-professional crew, friends of mine. And then we all did the editing at my house.”   We recently spoke with the filmmakers to learn more about the making of “A Good Mother,” their experiences in our 6–9-month Film Production & Editing Program, and more.   

CASA grad Jonathan Shahandeh Changed Careers & Got Hired at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant!


CASA graduate Jonathan Shahandeh with Pasta|Bar Team

In late 2020, during the pandemic, Jonathan Shahandeh decided it was time to change careers and finally invest in taking his passion for cooking seriously. Seven months after starting CASA’s Gourmet Chef Program, Jonathan was hired onto the team as garde manger at Scratch Restaurants’ upscale Pasta|Bar in Los Angeles.   Just a few months after that, Pasta|Bar won its first Michelin star. The Michelin Guide says the contemporary tasting-menu-only restaurant “is one for the books,” calls their caprese “exalted” and the chef staff “wonderfully engaging.”   Thanks to CASA’s externship approach, every day presented Jonathan with the opportunity of showing his commitment to culinary, but none of it would have happened without him first making the choice to change careers.   “It was the middle of the pandemic. I was not happy with my job. Cooking was always something I loved doing. And I… came to this crossroads where I was like, ‘If I don’t so something now, I’m going to be stuck with this job for the rest of my life.”   Find out how the CASA grad went from working a white-collar job that left him unfulfilled, to hired at Pasta|Bar in just one year.     

Recording Connection grad Caleb Ostermann Got Hired to Take His Mentor’s Place.


Recording Connection graduate Caleb Ostermann

When Caleb Ostermann finally made the crucial decision to follow his bliss and build a career in music, he’d already taken a couple of different educational paths and found he just couldn’t commit do doing something he didn’t love.   Once Caleb aligned his love of music with his fierce work ethic, a whole new future emerged, along with one singularly golden opportunity which would reveal itself in time.   “So, I started out just… being, like, ‘Well, I got to do something in college. And so, I decided to go into physical therapy, did that for a year. And then decided to go into PE teaching, for some reason. And about a week and a half into that is when I got the call, just with some information about… [the] audio engineering program. And I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ School has never been my favorite thing and learning inside of that kind of context has never been… something that I’ve done well with. It’s more of the hands-on stuff that I do better with anyway. And so, within a week and a half ‘I dropped in,’ is what I like to say, ‘to something better.’”   Read on (and watch the video) to see how Caleb impressed his mentor and got hired—unexpectedly—to take his place at the studio where he trained!   

Singer Jania Foxworth Seized Opportunity to Become a Director/Screenwriter with Chops!


Film Connection graduate Jania Foxworth

Film Connection graduate Jania Foxworth (B.B. King, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones) already had a thriving career as a singer, songwriter, and voice over actress when she enrolled in our Film Production & Editing Program. Jania starred as Effie White in the Los Angeles Theatre’s production of Dream Girls, and wowed audiences all over the world as the lead singer of B.B. King’s All Star Band. Just weeks prior to COVID-19 sending Los Angeles into lockdown, Jania was on stage at The Abbey performing the chart-climbing dance anthem “Impulse” by The Perry Twins, which features her vocals. Then COVID hit.   What did Jania do? She recognized the opportunity in front of her. A less hectic schedule meant she suddenly had time delve in, learn, and show what she’s capable of as an actor, director, and writer with a unique voice and vision to share with the world.   See how Jania worked one-on-one with screenwriting mentor Eric Abrams (Married with Children, Liv and Maddie) on an original story she’d wanted to develop for years. See how she got connected and into production on her own film with Film Connection mentors Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir of Dream Team Directors!   

Radio Connection grad Larry Grant Went from Trying to Get His Foot in the Door to Owning a Radio Station!


Radio Connection graduate Larry Grant

By the time Larry Grant enrolled in Radio Connection, he’d been trying to get his foot in the door at radio stations for decades. Thanks to the training he received in our 6–9-month Radio Connection for Radio Broadcasting Program, Larry was able to get the foundational education he needed, locate areas he needed to improve upon, and elevate those skills through working one-on-one, remotely, with mentor John Caignet of Jolt Radio.   “I knew I wanted to be in radio, and I knew that I didn’t have any formal education into radio. I was sure there was things that… I didn’t know… so I wanted to find that ‘step in’ and get the education that I needed to make the next steps into broadcasting to further my love of what I do.”   By training one-on-one remotely with an experienced radio pro, Larry was able to gain the perspective he’d been lacking and boost his radio skills and marketability with direct input and guidance. A job in radio soon followed. Looking back on where he was prior to starting Radio Connection, he can appreciate just how far he’s come.   “My airchecks were horrible before. I mean, it was basically me mumbling and going on. After… [Radio Connection] my airchecks were spot-on. I knew exactly what they were looking for. I knew exactly what I needed to say… exactly how long it needed to be and, you know, what needed to be in a complete aircheck package…. That’s just one element. But yeah, that’s a big one because that gets you the step in the door.”   Find out how Larry went from trying to get his foot in the door, to hired and then making the lifechanging decision to buy a radio station!   Want to learn more about RRFC students and their many successes? Get that plus real industry advice from our mentors when you to the RRFC newsletter!     
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