From his teen years onward, it was inevitable that Coke Youngblood
) would eventually find his way from his hometown in San Antonio, TX to Los Angeles to pursue a music career.
“I remember coming out here [to L.A.] when I was 16 to go to Universal Studios with my brother and my step mom and my dad,” says Coke, “and I just remember being here like, ‘Oh my God, I want to live in this place….I would love to just live here and play music and be a musician.’”
When he finally made the move to Los Angeles, he wasn’t disappointed. “Everything that’s new and upcoming and that’s going to be popular starts here, for the most part,”
he says. “Living in the South, everything was three to five years behind. And out here, it’s cutting edge. You’re on top of pop culture and right in the midst of it.”
Coke managed to get his foot in the door with a job at Interscope doing licensing and marketing, but as he worked on his own songwriting chops and production skills, he realized he needed something more in order to be competitive, especially where mixing was concerned. That’s when he discovered the Recording Connection. “I wanted to do engineering,”
and says, “[I] took the course at Recording Connection because I wanted to mix my own stuff better.”
Coke was placed as an apprentice with veteran music producer Warren Huart
(The Fray, Aerosmith
) at Spitfire Studios
in Los Angeles. Not only did Warren help him up his game with mixing but the experience also taught Coke about trusting his ear more than the gear.
“Warren is extremely professional and he knows exactly what he’s doing,”
says Coke. “He’s an awesome producer and awesome engineer…a very ‘just get it done’ kind of guy. A lot of people think that you need this or you need that to record, and it needs to be like this, and you need to have these speakers and you need to have this board…Warren is just like, what you’ve got, use it. He has great equipment, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the end of the world if it’s ‘Oh, I don’t have this or I don’t have that.’ He just makes sure the music gets done and sounds good. He doesn’t let anything limit it…He just gets it there and he trusts his instincts. So it’s just helped me trust my instincts more and know, ‘Okay, what I’m thinking is right. I’m going to go with that.’”
As Coke continues to pursue his music career, he’s now finding more success by branching out in several areas. Not only is he currently working on his own pop album, but he’s also landed music placements on commercials by major companies like Kia and Gillette. He says he enjoys the challenge of working with the specific needs of directors and stretching himself to be versatile in a variety of music styles.
“Usually they ask for a certain type of style,”
he says, “and to be able to do that and give them that and then see it go to screen and have the picture cut through it, it’s a really cool experience.”
Coke is also putting his mixing skills to good use with a new venture called Write Me a Song.
Coke recalls how the idea came about: “I was having breakfast with my dad and my brother-in-law,”
he says, “and we were just talking about the music industry. I had played something at his wedding with my sister, and we all were just like, ‘That would be something really cool to do in general for people, to write people songs and for weddings and things like that.’ So I just went with it and started doing it.”
One point we make with all our students is that the Recording Connection gives you the opportunity to learn on-the-job, but success comes to the students who make the most of that opportunity. Coke’s experience with Warren Huart has certainly helped him hone his skills, but his own passion for music is what has helped him make the most of it, and what is helping him find success today. His best advice for other students?
“I would say listen,”
he says. “Listening is always better than talking, and just observing, just staying quiet and observing what they do and knowing that every little detail, even if it’s boring, is always very important. And doing bullsh*t little work is always really important.”
Listen to Coke’s music in the Apprentice Media section on Page 2.