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Recording Connection apprentice Kowan May
has wasted no time in making the most of his apprenticeship with Ty Harris at Penthouse Studios
in Atlanta, GA. Not only has he had the opportunity to assist on an in-studio music video with major hip-hop artists, but he’s even recruited his own artist, Tony Port, and is in the process of recording Port’s album in his mentor’s studio!
Kowan tells us his mentor Ty’s teaching approach is an important part of the process for him. “Working with Ty is really cool,”
he says. “He’s going to pull the best out of you, and I like that. He’s not going to just sit there and give you directions. He’s going to give you the directions, and he’s going to make you find out how to do it. And I really appreciate that because that’s how it sticks.
“I didn’t know how important an audio engineer was to the recording,”
Kowan continues. “I have seen Ty have clients in there where things didn’t sound all that great from the client, but Ty will go in there and he would literally make people who did not sound good, sound like something. I mean my mouth dropped. I was impressed.”
Ty has some kind words for Kowan, as well. “He’s a little bit older, a little more mature,”
he says. “I think a lot of the younger guys, they just want you to give [it to] them. They want the easy route. They don’t want to work, they just want to be told…[Kowan] just knows what he wants to do. His mind is focused on what he wants to do, and he’s just open to learn.”
As it turns out, Kowan has been just the kind of person Ty looks for in a student—one of the reasons why he decided to teach with the Recording Connection in the first place. When he opened his studio, he took on students on his own, but was having trouble finding people who were truly passionate about the work. “I was just accepting people that I felt like they really wanted to do this, and most of them didn’t,”
he says. “I was trying to find a liaison so someone could filter them before they came to me.”
That liaison ended up being the Recording Connection, as shown by Kowan’s passion and work ethic. “He does exactly what he has to do. Usually he asks, ‘Anything you need me to do?'”
That go-getter attitude has taken Kowan far, even within the program. As an apprentice with Ty Harris, Kowan recently had the opportunity to assist on a music video shoot in the studio for hip-hop artist Dej Loaf for her single “Blood,” a video that also featured Baby
(from YMCMB), Young Thugs
(Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ty’s studio is working with prominent hip-hop artists, both from Atlanta and beyond.)
And that’s not all. Kowan has also recruited a promising young Atlanta producer/rapper named Tony Port
, and is now recording with him at Penthouse Studios on an upcoming album called Venus
, which Kowan describes as a “love letter” to Atlanta.
“I chose Tony Port because he reminded me of me when I was his age,”
says Kowan. “I was trying to break into the music business and I really didn’t know how. He literally showed up at my doorstep. He knew my son, and we shared a lot of the same musical tastes and Prince is both our idol. I built a studio in my garage, he started living with us, and we started making music…His song ‘Southside’ has really caught on here in Atlanta. Jermaine Dupri’s artist Rizzy Roys likes it so much he wants to jump in on the remix…Even my mother runs around singing ‘Southside.'”
Looking beyond his apprenticeship, Kowan tells us he has plans to continue building his own career in the Atlanta music scene. “I want to own my own studio,”
he says, “and maybe parlay that into a record company.”
He even makes veiled references to a ‘secret weapon’, but won’t tell us any more about it. (“Sworn to secrecy, sorry.”
) He sees Atlanta itself as “virgin territory” with a lot of promise for the future, and he sees himself in the role of developing up-and-coming talent.
“If you are young and upcoming and you have the skill set, Atlanta’s the place to be,”
Kowan continues. “What I’ve learned in Atlanta is that it’s all about building your relationships. And if you have the skill set to match that, you know people want to get at you anyway because they’re looking for people…as long as you’re building up those relationships and everything, you have a firm foot in the door.”
Another reason why Kowan wants his own studio, he says, is because he sees Atlanta as a burgeoning place for film. “You know, Atlanta’s becoming the new Hollywood, and all these movie studios are coming to Atlanta, and they’re going to need some place to record, so I’m right here in it,”
And Kowan doesn’t stop there: he tells us his son, Damien May, who is tapped to shoot the music videos for Tony Port, is planning to enroll in the Film Connection
—the makings of a powerful father/son team!
Kowan May’s story, his experience with his mentor Ty Harris and his progress within the program, provide a great example of what can happen when you combine a strong work ethic and passion with real-world experience. Kowan’s apprenticeship with the Recording Connection is giving him the tools he needs to venture out into his own career in a very tangible way.