If there’s anything you can say about Recording Connection
graduate Mike Messina
, it’s that he’s passionate about what he loves—and he loves music and sound. “I’ve honestly been interested in sound since I was like five years old,”
he says. “I just screw around with sound effects and music—sound effects from movies, video games, animation—I’ve been doing some sampling with it, customization and re-mixing as best as possible. I’ve been doing that most of my life.”
When he says “most of his life,” he means it. As a kid, before he had access to recording software, he was tinkering with lo-fi recordings on his phone. Before he discovered the Recording Connection’s apprenticeship training, he’d already learned a lot about live sound by volunteering at the community theatre, and studio sound design by studying multimedia communications at Westchester Community College. From there, he was trying to figure out where to go next…
“My mother and I were looking at other colleges after I graduated WCC,”
he says. “I found the Recording Connection…and we were like, ‘Oh my God, do other people know about this?’
Mike jumped at the chance to learn from a mentor on-the-job, and the Recording Connection placed him with industry veteran Sax DMA at the acclaimed Terminus Studios
in New York City. For Mike, the difference between learning in the studio and learning in the classroom was like night and day.
“When it comes to being in the studio, you can’t really learn a lot of anything with just writing it down or just looking at a textbook,”
he says. “In normal colleges, you’re just basically going through lectures and nothing but reading stuff all day long. But with Recording Connection, you’re actually getting the hands-on work, and you’re getting very little written work. They’re not lecturing you on anything, but you’re actually just being taught as you go along.”
Working with Sax was also a bonus, Mike says. “He’s one of the best teachers known to man…If anyone gets hooked up with Sax, they’re going to have the best time with him because seriously he knows everything there is to know [about] being a studio engineer.”
Mike was so hungry to absorb all he could about the recording, mixing and sound design processes that for him it wasn’t enough just to take the basic course—he stayed on with Sax and went right into the Recording Connection master’s program. Mike talks about the difference between them.
“In the [basic] program, you’re just learning the basics of this and that,”
he says. “And then once you’re in the master’s program, you pretty much have all the knowledge that you’ve retained, and then you basically just put it all to the test, especially when it comes to gathering clientele, producing your own music, producing other people’s music that you work with. What can I say? It’s just a lot of fun.”
Now graduated from both programs, Mike has already begun to see his passion pay off, and not just by grabbing a few gigs here and there. After a recent stint doing sound design and live audio for an off-Broadway production of Hair, he says his summer is shaping up nicely with a great opportunity.
“I was just hired as lead sound engineer at Long Lake Performing Arts Camp in upstate New York,”
says Mike. “It is one of the most prestigious sleep away camps in the country. I will be away from June 23-Sept.1, designing and engineering the rock shows, the classic symphony and the musicals. I’m very excited!”
Even as his experience with live theater sound continues to open doors for him, Mike has definite ideas for the future. He says, “My ultimate dream is to stay in the studio and engineer, but not only for musicians. I also want to engineer for voice actors, too. There’s a lot of voiceover recording going on, like animated commercials, TV series, cartoons, anime from Japan that are dubbed into English. Stuff like that is always what I’ve wanted to do.”
With his passion and drive, we have little doubt that Mike Messina will get exactly what he wants. Meanwhile, his advice for up-and-comers: “Recording Connection is the best way to go,”
he says. “You’re learning a lot of hands-on work from industry professionals themselves.”