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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER January 23, 2017 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Full Circle: Recording Connection student Lindsey Kappa realizes a dream with her new EP!

Lindsey Kappa has traveled a long road since she decided to pursue a music career. From writing and performing her own songs as a teenager at local events to a major cross-country move, Lindsey (whom we first featured last year) has remained steadfast in developing and expanding her audio engineering and production skills, all while growing as an artist. Now Lindsey has come full circle with the realization of a dream—the release of her debut EP, World’s Collide. A truly DIY effort, Lindsey wrote, produced and recorded the songs herself, drawing in part upon the training and encouragement she received as a Recording Connection apprentice with Frenchie Smith at The Bubble in Austin, TX.   “The whole album was actually done in my bedroom,” she says. “Frenchie was the one who told me…I remember one day, he invited me to his house because he was recording vocals for somebody in his living room, and he told me, ‘You’re here so you can see that I can record at my house, too, and that anybody can honestly record in their house. They just have to kind of find a way to reconstruct the room you know with the tools and resources they have.’”   While nurturing dreams of becoming a recording artist as a teen, Lindsey decided to learn audio, not only so she could produce her own music but also hopefully to gain supplemental income helping other bands, as well. Perhaps a surprisingly level-headed decision for someone her age to make, Lindsey attributes it to her upbringing.   “My parents were very supportive, thank God,” she says. “They loved my passions, but they also wanted me to use my head. And you know, I think that’s kind of where it all kind of stemmed from, just having parents who kind of shake you and make you grounded. But then, when I was 15, my mom became a single parent, and I think that kind of put things in a different perspective for me because…I kind of had to grow up then. The things that you would usually do as a teenager, I couldn’t really do just because they were not responsible, and I didn’t want to put my mother through a freaking heart attack…I kind of had to think like an adult by that time. So because of that, I thought as an adult for my music as well.”   As for the do-it-yourself, take-charge mentality that prompted her to produce her own record, Lindsey credits her mother as a huge inspiration. “Her personality was, ‘If I can learn how to do it, I’m going to do it on my own,’” says Lindsey. “She couldn’t afford to hire people to do stuff for her like fixing…like even the simple stuff like fixing the oven…She would get books, or she would look on YouTube and like do all that kind of stuff and try to fix it herself to make it less costly. So I think that kind of transferred over to me to where I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this by myself you know learn and this could benefit me,’ considering the fact that in the music industry now you can’t just learn one thing, you know? You kind of have to have a couple of titles on your belt.”   Even though she’d earned an associate’s degree in audio from a school in Minnesota, Lindsey felt she needed more hands-on experience, which is why she chose the Recording Connection. Moving with her mother to Austin, the “Live Music Capital of the World,” seemed a great opportunity to get in the door of the industry by apprenticing with Frenchie Smith. She thrived in the studio environment and even earned some engineering and music credits while working with her mentor—but Lindsey never lost sight of her goal to be a recording artist in her own right. After completing the program, she felt it was time to focus her talents, energy, and knowledge on her own important project. The result is the World’s Collide EP, a combination of songs dating back to her teen years and one recently written in two days’ time. She says the idea for “Please Don’t Go Away” actually came to her while working a morning shift at Trader Joe’s.   “I just kind of started just thinking and humming to myself as I was, you know, doing my stuff,” she says. “All of a sudden, I came up with like a possible chorus, so I whipped out my phone and I kind of sang it in the phone and saved it for later. And then once I got home, I started writing it.”   Another interesting turn in the road for Lindsey is in the fact that her music has shifted from an early acoustic vibe to a more pronounced electronic feel—something that parallels her own shift from analog to digital in the audio world.   “I wanted to be fully tape machine,” she explains. You know, I wanted to be organic…I just thought that was the way to go. I performed around the Minneapolis area with like acoustic guitar, you know, just pretty raw…I had classes on tape machines and all that kind of stuff, and I realized that especially in today’s world, it’s going to be really hard trying to get my career started within an analog setting because I don’t have the money for it, first of all. It takes a long time to collect all those pieces…it’s hard to come by that stuff and because it’s so hard to get your hands on…And when I was recording digitally, it was more possible for me, you know? I could just be in my bedroom and be able to get like tons of work done. So some convenience and financial considerations were definitely in the mix of my transition from analog to digital. But…I started to notice my taste in music change, where I was listening to more artists like Lights and all that kind of stuff, so that was also kind of an inspiration as well.”   These days, Lindsey is immersing herself in the Austin music scene, gearing up to record a number of bands. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but she says she’s in it for the long haul. “It’s definitely not easy…I have had plenty of personal meltdowns in the process… [But] there’s no Plan B for me. I can’t picture myself doing anything else. And everything that I do is a way to get where I want to be.”   
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RRF SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Grammy-winning producer
DJ IZ helps RRF students stay “Connected!”

Many of our RRF students are already familiar with our livestreamed, weekly hangout series “Connected,” hosted by DJ IZ and Cloie Wyatt Taylor, offering helpful advice to viewers along with weekly tips on job openings (or “grind opps,” as IZ calls them). DJ IZ also happens to be a multi-Grammy-winning producer, part of the sibling production team Avila Brothers, whose credits include El DeBarge, Chaka Khan, and several tracks on Usher’s iconic R&B album Raymond v. Raymond, among others.   If you haven’t become a viewer yet, you’ll want to sign up to watch “Connected” THIS MONDAY, (January 23 at 11:00 AM PST). On the program, DJ IZ will be laying out the details of a unique scholarship opportunity where “Connected” viewers can apply for a $10,000 scholarship to attend the RRF school of their choice!   In the interview below, DJ IZ reflects on how he got into the industry and the importance of mentors in his own life, and he pulls back the curtain on how “Connected” came about.  
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  RRF: So tell us a little bit about how you and your brother got started in music.   DJ IZ: My dad was a keyboard guy, and the guy who had all the gigs, and had his own band…He would make me and my brother go up on stage when the band would break, and we would go up and play… So the great thing was that without even noticing, I mean, we just kind of overcame being nervous in front of people…And because my dad always had equipment around the house we slowly but surely started playing with drum machines, you know, turntables, and other stuff and just eventually started making our own music.   RRF: So how did this turn into your break into the music industry, and what were some of the challenges?   DJ IZ: So my brother actually had his first recording deal at the age of 13, which was to RCA Records. My brother was 13, so you figure we started playing when I was, you know, 6 years old. He was eight. His ability to just pick up any instrument even at that age, I mean, he was like a genius…My dad had shopped his music around, and RCA ended up signing him. So it literally went from 0 to 100 really fast for us. And through that process, I mean, that was like our real introduction for us to the industry. You know, being on RCA, then doing a world tour. And that demand and that pressure, now performing in front of thousands of people, now you’re performing your own songs that you wrote, the whole nine. It definitely caused us to learn really, really fast…   So when his career took off, I then, you know, took the back seat and continued to polish my musicianship skills and creativity, songwriting, producing. And then, you know, at the age of almost 14, and we had just worked on another record for my brother, which was going to be an independent record….Terry Lewis happened to call in, and he heard our music in the background. And he asked the mastering engineer at the time, Brian, ‘Hey man, what’s that playing in the back?’ And he said, ‘Just some young kids, you know?’…And Terry Lewis said, ‘Hey man, are they looking for a deal?’… And two weeks later, me and my brother were in Minneapolis with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis…Learning from Terry Lewis on the way you put a song together, the melody, the lyrics, I mean it was just, it was like going to college. And through that process we built an incredible relationship with them, and you know, Terry Lewis kind of became our, like our godfather, our mentor. And for me personally, that’s when I kind of began to really come into my own as far as my own songwriting, my own producing.   RRF: Let’s talk about producing for a minute. What does your job look like as a music producer?   DJ IZ: Everybody kind of has a different view on what producing is, especially just the new generation of creators, you know? Some people think it’s a beat maker, some people think it’s, you know, a business person who knows music…And for me being around guys like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, or Babyface, or guys at that caliber, or even with Quincy Jones, what I learned was that a producer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a musician, songwriter, or a beat maker, what have you. A producer’s most valuable component is being somebody who can look at an artist, understand that artist, understand what they’re great at, understand what they need to be better, take the vision of that artist, and put people around that vision. When I say put people around it, I mean, if you’re working on an album then you’re going to put together an album for that artist, you go get the right bass player. You get the right keyboardist. You get the right guitar player. You get the right songwriter. And you put this amazing team together and you create music that complements that artist’s artistry. And first and foremost, you start something, and you finish it all the way to the finish line. To me, that’s what a producer does.   RRF: You mentioned Terry Lewis as a mentor. What role has mentoring played in your development, and what does mentoring mean to you?   DJ IZ: I always looked at a mentor being able to give me so much more than a teacher because I think an experience of a mentor is completely different than an experience of a teacher. When I’ve sat down with teachers, the most they can give me is what a book has given them. When I’ve sat down with mentors, the most they can give me is what they’ve actually have done and have created and have, you know, put the mileage in as a professional musician or, you know, being a musical director, writing a song that has had thousands of plays in a region, or has sold X amount of records. To me, the experience has always been different. And I think through the mentors I’ve had throughout my life, I mean, it’s completely different than what I would’ve gotten from a teacher, you know? I’ve been in rooms with Norman Whitfield, who wrote most of Motown’s biggest records. And to sit in a room with him and have him tell me what his formula for songwriting is, you know, I can look at that and take in that information, and say, ‘Now this isn’t the guy who’s just talking about what he read in a book. This is a guy who’s done it over and over and over again.’ So it’s a completely different experience.   RRF: So let’s talk a little about the show “Connected.” How did you become part of this, and how would you describe the mission of the program?  

“Connected” Hosts DJ IZ and Cloie Wyatt Taylor

DJ IZ: Well, “Connected” actually came about–it was an idea that me and Brian [Kraft] sat down and kind of just brainstormed. We just wanted to take his experience and my experience and kind of put this model together of reeducating the next generation of creators, entrepreneurs, who were into film, music, radio, engineering, and just make it exciting and make it very informational, and very inspiring. And we came up with the name “Connected.” And you know, the overall goal of this show is to not just educate, not just share my experiences, but to kind of reintroduce the fundamentals and values of what it takes from the very beginning, from your craft to showing up on time, to being able to execute, to be able to be the one that’s, you know, the first one in in the morning and the last one to leave. Just the fundamentals of presentation, work ethic, the grind, and kind of just bundle it all together and refine it for a community of folks who are looking to do what I do, or looking to figure out how to jumpstart a career path in such fields, and make it exciting, and make it very conversational, make it very intimate…   One of the voids I’ve noticed in this culture is the lack of understanding for work ethic. And you know, coming into this thing with no self-entitlement whatsoever, but more or less, willing to be a sponge, and reintroducing those habits, you know, into this culture again…My overall goal with “Connected” is to just share the information that I’ve been given, and do it in a way that’s real…Like when you get on “Connected,” you feel like you’re talking directly with me. There’s no hype. There’s no smoke and mirrors. And I’m just laying it out, you know, and I’m showing you what my day to day looks like…showing people what sacrifice means in this world, you know?…And I enjoy it…It does so much for me, just mentally and just in my spirit alone, being able to be on the ground with them and be a part of that process.   NOTE! Don’t forget to sign in to “Connected” live stream this Monday, January 23 at 11:00 AM PST to hear details of how you can apply for the Connected Scholarship Contest! Sign up is free! If you miss the show live, you can still catch it in the archives here.   
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

   Congrats to Recording Connection student Daniel Perez (New Orleans, LA) hasn’t had time to do his midterm yet. He’s too busy! Daniel’s mentor, the exacting, talented Misha Kachkachishvili (Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, Joe Jackson, Aloe Blacc) hired him to assist on multiple sessions with some very stellar talent including: Nicholas Payton, Sasha Masakowski, Trombone Shorty, Nolatet, Anders Osborne, Dr. John, Irvin Mayfield, and Jason Weaver. Daniel, a session drummer by trade, who’s been drumming since age 6, even had the opportunity to help setup for both Common and Sean Combs at Esplanade Studios.
When asked what prompted him to join Recording Connection in the first place, Daniel says, “I always loved coming into the studio not knowing what was going to happen and then get a feel for the song and do a couple of takes and just get it right. That experience just made me want to be on the other side of the door, in the control room.” We’re glad you made it Daniel!    Thanks to his super-supportive mentor, filmmaker Brian Ronalds, Film Connection student Isaac Verduzco has directed and filmed his own 6-episode comedic, coming-of-age webseries which Brian helped him develop, write, and produce. Speaking of the project, Isaac says, “Bad Reputation is about two very average high school girls who have never really partied before. Now that Amber, the main character, her father is out of town, he’s gives her ‘the wink’ to go and have fun while he’s gone for the weekend. So Amber’s friend convinces her to try and throw a party to impress this boy she likes. Of course, nothing goes to plan…” Webseries airs January 24th! Check out the BTS video here.  
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