Owner and chief engineer of Evenform Recording Studio in Raleigh, NC, Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark has years of experience both in the studio and running live sound. Jesse has worked with such names as The Outlaws, French Montana, Young Buck, Alesana and even superstar EDM/dubstep producer Skrillex. Suffice it to say he brings a lot to the table when mentoring Recording Connection students.
In a recent conversation with RRFC, Jesse weighed in on such topics as the value of gaining real-world experience over classroom training, what he looks for in an apprentice, how he got his start, and why he loves being an audio engineer. Some of the best excerpts from that conversation are below.
ON HOW HE DECIDED TO PURSUE RECORDING AND MIXING AS A CAREER:
Recording Connection mentor Jesse Clark
“I used to play in a band, and the last big show that my band played…we played with a band called Third Day,
which was like a Christian rock band. We opened up for them, and after that we kind of talked to some small labels and stuff, and we quickly determined that weren’t ready to take that big leap…So when that happened, I was like, ‘Okay, well I’m just kind of going to learn how to record and focus my time on that.’ And that’s when I took a step forward as far as that goes.”
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEARNING TO PRODUCE/RECORD IN SCHOOL VERSUS LEARNING IN THE “REAL WORLD”:
I feel like when [people] go to a normal school or they’re taught in a classroom, and they’re taught these textbook ideas—and they’re great, don’t get me wrong… [but] the stuff that you hear like Chris Lord-Alge does or these big time producers, man, they are not afraid to put their hand on things, and they’re not afraid to push the buttons…that’s what I’ve done from the get go. And I try to teach any student that comes in with me, too: It’s like, ‘Look, you’re going to see these things in books, and they tell you to do this, but those aren’t a lot of times real world things to do.’”
FAVORITE MENTORS WHO HELPED HIM ALONG THE WAY:
“In the live [sound] department, a guy named Brad from the Lincoln Theater. He taught a lot about EQing and making drums sound good—a lot of that kind of stuff, and about the delays and compression, how to use a compressor…A guy name Jamie King, he’s probably my biggest mentors as far as the recording aspect goes. He’s a guy who records a lot of metal bands out in Winston-Salem area… I could send him stuff, and he would listen to it and he would give me positive feedback, and he was never negative but he would still tell me things that I could do…but he was always super positive about it, and any time I wrote him, he was quick to respond. He was just a great mentor, man.”
SHOUT OUT TO ONE OF HIS STAR APPRENTICES:
“Dustin [Bolanz]…he’s picking up things pretty fast. He’s kind into the punk rock scene…he’s just like a really laid back guy, easy to work with, and like I’ve actually put him in front of my clients, which I usually don’t do right away.”
ON WHAT HE LOOKS FOR IN AN APPRENTICE:
“I’m looking for somebody that really wants to learn…In order to get to where I’m at, I wanted to be [like] Michael Jordan . . . as Michael Jordan is to basketball, that’s how I wanted to be with recording. I wanted to be the best, and I find that a lot of people lack that. I find that they don’t really want it: they’re just like, ‘Oh, you know, I play in a band and we really want get into learning to record for ourselves.’ That’s not why I got in recording…In this business, if you’re on the right track and your mind is in the place of the artists, then I think that it is going to reward you. So I would just love to see the [student] want it as bad as I do, and if they do, man, they are going to shine, and there’s no secrets that I’m here to keep from any of them.”
ON WHY HE LOVES WHAT HE DOES:
“Once I started initially recording people and they were happy with their sound and they were stoked, that’s what made me happy. I love it when people come in…I had this one guy named Corey Thompson that came in, and this guy sings for the Apollo, and he is just local here. He came in and he recorded with me, and the guy almost . . . I mean, the guy was literally in tears. He was like, ‘Man, I’ve been in so many studios and I’ve never sounded like this before…Dude, I’m never going to anyone else.’ I really love hearing people’s reactions like that. I love those kinds of things, and if some of these [students] get to see that, I mean, I think that’s epic, like a great way to really see what this job has to offer.”