or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #275

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Neil O’Reilly Doubles
Down on Music & Comes Out Winning!


Recording Connection graduate Neil O’Reilly

  Recording Connection grad Neil O’Reilly completed Recording Connection’s 6–9-month Audio Engineering & Music Production Program in 2019. And even though he graduated feeling on-fire and ready to launch his career as an audio engineer, he found life and his “regular job” perpetually standing in the way. When circumstances out of his control led to him getting laid off, moping was not on the itinerary. With time on his side, Neil got busy, built connections, and got collaborating with artists worldwide. Now, Neil’s right where he wants to be. As “the guy in the chair” he’s mixing it up at Barron Collective and making it happen, one session at a time.   Once you knew you were ready to build your chops in audio, what made you choose Recording Connection?   “Because I am or consider myself more of a people person and a creative, that it [Recording Connection] was just a streamline to really get a crash course on not only just technical aspects of it but just the relationship aspect… really appealed to me…. One of the greatest things somebody ever told me was, ‘You’re going to have more work as a decent engineer but a really good person that people like to work with than the best engineer in the world that people can’t stand to be around…. I love like working with people and just creative people and being part of the creative process.” Ryan Venable showed Neil how to run productive sessions with artists. Learn more in our Straight Talk video below!   You had the privilege of externing at Studio 713 where you trained with two very notable engineers, both with multi-platinum tracks under their belts—Matt O’Neil and Ryan Venable (Travis Scott, Justin Bieber, Don Toliver), a Recording Connection grad. What was it like?    
Ryan Venable aka Ryan Mellow and Justin Bieber

Ryan Venable and Justin Bieber at Studio 713

  “Walking into a studio and seeing like the setup and the vibe and the feel and just everybody just like cooking up or having a good time, it was incredible. It was everything I wanted it to be, or I wanted to see and wanted to feel. And I was the guy behind sitting on the couch, learning and slowly I just moved my way up to that chair. …   My goal in life was just to be the guy in the chair at the board. That was it. You know, I didn’t get into this like, ‘I want to be famous, I want to make money,’ I just want to be the guy in the chair. And that was it. And now that I’ve… had that experience and I’ve been that guy, this is what I tell people all the time, ‘I’ve made it. Everything else is just the cherry on top.”   You had to work hard, as you said, to slowly move your way up to being in the chair? Tell us about that.   “Some of the first sessions… they were so fast in what they were doing and, being very new to Pro Tools, it was incredibly overwhelming, to say the least. They were doing and using techniques and applying methods to all their mixing styles. I didn’t even know what questions to ask because I had no idea what was happening. Like it was insane. I couldn’t ask like, ‘Why did you drop that down a couple hertz?’ or, ‘Why did you take out this frequency?’ or, ‘Why did you have that verb [reverb] like that?’ I literally had no idea what they were even doing. Like I’d heard terms like ‘EQ’ and ‘compressor’ and ‘reverb’ and ‘delay’… and all that stuff but I had absolutely no way of knowing what they were doing. Like I couldn’t hear it, like the little tweaks they were doing, I had nothing like that.”   Yup. Growing those ears takes time. How’d you improve your game?   “Anytime I either wasn’t at the studio or sitting in, or working some other job, I was at home diving into, at first, the basics and then the ear tuning and music theory. It was like I had everything laid out, listed out from not only the program’s curriculum but also my own [list], just diving into everything. Like if I saw something… and I really didn’t understand it, I didn’t just guess. I was like, ‘Okay, well, what is this supposed to do?’ and, ‘Okay, so, this then…’ … Then had my little mini piano, it only had like 24 keys on it, but it was a start…. The Recording Connection [curriculum] was my guide, and then I took it even further because I knew it was a crash course. So, unless I really understood it, I didn’t want to move past it.”   It’s wonderful to hear how honest you were with yourself. People sometimes want to believe they fully understand something when they don’t.   “It just took me longer to start…. In the end… I was blowing past and really understanding what was going on and… things started making sense. It was like those realizations, like those little light bulbs, [went off] like, ‘Oh, this is cool. I understand what this is, I actually can hear that now.’”   Okay, so collaborating with all of these artists, how’d it happen?   “My whole thing was like ‘I don’t have the time.’ I mean that’s everybody’s excuse for anything…. So, once the pandemic started and I lost my job and I was out of work and this was going to be a prolonged thing, it was like, ‘Okay, that excuse is done, man.’ If you really want to do this, you can’t be the same person going into the pandemic than you were coming [into it].’   I just started diving into music and having fun. And Discord became a new thing for me, and Zoom as well, just getting invited to different Discord servers and chatting up with people all over the country…. I was like, ‘Man, everybody’s doing this!’ you know, ‘This is the new norm. Everybody’s at home and all the music makers in the world are just at home making music.’ I got 25 collaborations, over like I guess a year of the pandemic… and released music and worked with digital artists all over the world…. New York, LA, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Green Bay, Philadelphia to people overseas… in Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, and Nigeria. …   And that was just so cool, it was like, ‘Hey, guys, I just made this track. Here’s a little demo of it. If anybody wants to jump on it with me, let me know.’ And you’d have 5, 10, 50 people hit you back to be like, ‘Dude, I really like this,’ like, ‘Let me drop a guitar on it,’ or, ‘Let me do a piano,’ or something. And I just built my following and was making tracks, making music, getting better at like not only just the production part but me, as an artist, like I was better as a piano player and how I would mix tracks.”   Now you’ve got your foot in at Barron Collective. How’d that happen?   “I just sent off my resume and a couple of tracks and a couple things that I worked on, a little bit of a background kind of thing, and did a Zoom call…. At first, it was like your typical interview. Like, so, ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do?’ But like, after like the first 10 minutes of those like basic questions, we just started talking music. Chris Macek, he and his brother Todd Macek own Barron Studios but they also have another one called the Barron Collective… just a very cool community-based studio. You know, it’s not like your big recording studios, it’s more of like your room and your vocal, your mic, and you’re kind of in the same room together but all professional standard stuff. They let me kind of work with my own artists and bring people in, if there’s an available studio.”   What’s your advice to Recording Connection students? How can they make the most of the program while they’re in it?   “Take the time, your own personal time, whenever you can [to] establish that foundation. And then, once you do that, everything is going to start being easier. Like you’re going to be less intimidated, you’re going to want to know, as opposed to being afraid to ask. Everything is just going to fall into place a lot quicker if you have a foundation of just [the] basics. …   Just don’t be afraid to fail or ask the wrong question. Because I was like that too. I was very timid, I was overwhelmed, ‘These people are where I want to be, so, I don’t want to bother them,’… You got to take all that away. I get it. It took me probably like a month, 6 weeks just to kind of ask the right questions. It’s more about how much you’re putting into the opportunity you have, and that’s just the biggest thing. Ask the stupid question.”   Learn more about Recording Connection, for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Beat Making, EDM, Live Sound, Music Business, DJing, and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Student Successes

Film Connection grad Hannah Salazar Gets Hired
by Global Audio Visual Leader Encore!


Film Connection graduate Hannah Salazar

When Film Connection graduate Hannah Salazar came to us she had a newfound interest in editing and a lot of curiosity about her career path. After training with mentor Roger Zamora Chavez of Rogy Productions and some real-world experience, Hannah’s got a clearer vision of the future she wants to build and a job at Encore (formerly PSAV), a global leader in events solutions and audio visual, so read on!   So it was gaming that ultimately led you to Film Connection. Could you explain that for us?   “I am a gamer…. So, on the PlayStation 4, you have the option to save clips or actually record, or you could live stream on there. And I play a lot of video games and I happen to catch something that’s like, funny or if it’s like, weird or scary, I tend to save clips. …   [When] I first started editing, it was through the PlayStation 4 console because they have like their own little editing program in there. And it wasn’t… How do I say this? The effects and the timing of things wasn’t fast enough for me. I wanted things to be really fast and I wanted, you know, some subtitles to disappear or I wanted them to move a certain way. And the program on the PlayStation 4 it wasn’t really capable of doing that.   And that’s when I got into Adobe Premiere Pro and I was dabbling in it for quite a while. And I learned how to make subtitles like, shake really fast or like, they would have some sort of effects to it. And that’s kind of where I get very tedious and I want things to be a certain way.” Watch our interview with Hannah in our Straight Talk video below!   And that led you to Film Connection and your mentor Rogy Zamora Chavez of Rogy Productions. What was training with Roger like?   “Training with him was a lot of fun. He encouraged me to tag along with him and help him with the projects that he was working on. And he taught me every… Like, not everything but he taught me the basics of how to work Adobe Premiere Pro. And since then, I’ve just experimented and played with the program itself on my own time.”   How’d you feel going in to meet with Roger and interview with him at Rogy Productions?   “I was very excited because I saw some big flat-screen TVs and I saw some monitors and a cool-looking keyboard and all of the equipment and was just really excited to just jump in and start editing and learning and all that good stuff.”   What did your parents think?   “They were impressed but my parents are… they’re a whole different generation. So, they were just… going with the flow of things and they didn’t really know what to expect.”    

Rogy Zamora Chavez and assistant at Rogy Productions.

    Okay, so let’s flashforward to Encore. How’d you hear about the job?   “Gervais [Maillard], my career advisor had emailed me about this job opportunity. And if I was interested, to watch the videos and read the job description that was provided in the email. So, I did just that, and I was intrigued and interested, so I applied.”   Did we help you prepare for your interview at Encore?   “Before the interview, Gervais had called me… to go over some interview questions they could possibly ask me. He gave me some advice so I could go into the interview confidently…. [And] I got the job in the beginning of January.”   What’s your role at Encore?   “It’s an audio visual technician role. They deal with a lot of moving equipment like projectors and projector screens and speakers and microphones. So, we just move equipment to certain break rooms or ballrooms and we just connect everything, we set up everything, we make sure everything is running correctly. And once the conference or event is over, what we call, we strike it down. We strike down all the equipment and we just put everything back the way it was. Encore is a really good company… and I personally believe it’s a good steppingstone.”   So that’s your job today. What are your future goals?   “A personal project of mine that’s in the making is I want to get into live streaming on Twitch or YouTube. I just have to figure out if I want to be on PC or if I want to be on my PlayStation 4. And I just have to also figure out if I want to be on Twitch or YouTube. …   [In the long term] I want to be in the post-production side. I want to be behind the monitors and the screens. I just want to be editing videos and yeah, that’s where I want to be.”   What’s your advice? How can students make the most of Film Connection while they’re in it?   “My advice to the Film Connection students is always ask questions because if you never ask questions, you’ll never know…. Share your ideas or thoughts or your input… and just be open to taking criticism.”   Learn more about Film Connection for training in cinematography, film production, film editing and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor Lance Dean on Being a Creative Businessperson,
Launching Prysm, Star Students & more!


Recording Connection mentor Lance Dean of Prysm Talent Agency

Meet Lance Dean, Recording Connection mentor, artist, and Chief Marketing Officer of Prysm Talent Agency, a company he and a number of pros founded during the lockdown. Lance is also a former Recording Connection employee who, among other things, lent his talents to successfully matching students with the mentors who would take them to the next level in their learning and careers. Now as an Ableton and Music Business mentor, Lance is helping his externs turn their dreams into goals, and goals into reality.   So Lance, you’re both a creative and a business person. Care to dispel the myth that one has to be either/or?   “There’s a lot of, you know, you either do this or you do that [mentality in the world]. There’s the business or the creative…. Like I was interested in music. I was also interested in business. When I started planning releases out, making campaigns, doing advertising and promo for the music that I had spent time creating, that’s when it really clicked for me that… I can not only have a creative brain on this, but I can also get creative with putting it to a big audience because it’s not hard to do. You just have to find the right audience for your music and put it there. And you don’t even need a record label for that these days. So, I’ve always had a strong passion for both…. There’s a lot of misconception, like if you’re going into any sort of industry that’s entertainment-based, you’re going to have a hard time on the business end and it’s not true. You just have to know business.” Lance tells what he looks for in the artists he signs in our Straight Talk video below!   Speaking of business, Prysm Talent Agency is the result of a lot of work over many hours. Tell us about that.   “That was something that started up when everything was shut down. So, Colton Anderson, the CEO, and my manager, Justin Lizama, and Paul [Yu Asensi] … all of us collectively joined up to form Prysm Talent…. We were like, ‘So how do we build a company during a pandemic, especially when the company is centered around getting artists to perform places when there’s no performances?’ So, we got everything put together. I signed on a total of 50 artists and we had like nothing, nothing, nothing. And then the lockdown started ending [and] the floodgates opened. We’ve got 500 shows booked [until] …May 2022.”   How real is having to bring the hustle and put in the hours to build a career in music?   “If you want to do something like this or anything—radio, film, anything entertainment—I feel like you have to really, really go all in or don’t do it. Or if you want to, do it as a hobby. That’s cool too but… to take it full time, you have to put in so many hours.”   Considering you worked at Recording Connection/RRFC for a number of years, your perspective is unique. What’s your advice to our students?   “I feel like anytime that I was working for Recording Connection and we heard of something not so positive on the student end, it usually stemmed from hours not being put in, classes not being attended, lessons not being completed. You really, really have to dive in and just absorb all of, not only the information, but everything that the mentor is offering you like terms of sessions you can sit it on, projects you can work on.”   Have any star students you want to tell us about?   “Brandt [Krzenski, an Ableton EDM student], his music project Stoic is being scouted by a record label (it’s still being confirmed/contracted but they’re planning for an April compilation release) and we’re collaborating on music to release under my Blaqout project.  

Lance Dean aka Blaqout spins Disco Donnie Presents at Dahlia Nightclub (Columbus, OH).

  And Kai [Thompson], she’s gone from 1-100 so quickly on composing musical pieces. We put together a file system for her to organize her entire catalog and there’s close to 30 pieces already in it. I have her speaking with/submitting to a licensing company… that puts music in shows, movies, games etc. Versatility is a strong suit for her!”   Busy as you are, why do you choose to mentor for Recording Connection?   “The entire time I’ve worked for RRFC, I’ve really wanted to do this…. If you’re teaching somebody and they’re like into it, like really into it, there’s like this spark thing that really, you know, fires me up…. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years, so I’m excited to take this knowledge and just be like, here you go.”   Learn more about Recording Connection for Music Business, Audio Engineering & Music Production, DJing, Beat Making, EDM, Live Sound, and more!    
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