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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER June 25, 2018 by Liya Swift


Recording Connection grad Lindsey Kappa
Releases New Album & Lands Studio Job!


Recording Connection grad Lindsey Kappa

It’s been a busy year for Recording Connection graduate Lindsey Kappa. She worked SXSW last March, just released her new EP, and now, she’s landed an assistant engineering position at Chicken Run Studios, owned and operated by award winning singer-songwriter and SXSW Artist Scott Collins and designed by Grammy winner Chet Himes, with Dylan Fischer serving as Head Engineer.   We recently caught up with the DIY artist, songwriter, and engineer to talk about the recent release, find out how she nabbed the covetable studio job, and garner a few insights to share with our readers. Enjoy!   So Lindsey, prior to signing up with Recording Connection, you’d just graduated from college where you earned an Associate’s Degree in audio production and engineering. So what made you decide to apply for our program?   “I wanted more hands-on work since I was used to the typical classroom environment. I just did my research and ended up finding Recording Connection. I made some phone calls, asked some questions, and it just seemed like kind of the perfect thing for me to start out with…with [ordinary] colleges, there’s a classroom of six or eight, at least for my program, because it wasn’t a huge school and everybody gets their turn of trying to experience things, but sometimes you want that one-on-one action, which I didn’t always get. So I wanted something that would provide me that kind of education.”   So you got accepted, started Recording Connection, and externed with Frenchie Smith (The Dandy Warhols, Meat Puppets, Scorpion Child) over at the Bubble. Could you tell us about that experience?   “Frenchie was a lot like me in the sense of we’re both musicians, we’re both songwriters, we’re both producers, and we’re both engineers, but I needed to improve on my engineering and get some more experience under my belt. He was perfect for that because he understood how I operated…What was really interesting too was I really got to see the more rock n’ roll aspect of things. I am a more digital person but I love rock. I mean, I love everything from The Doors to Led Zeppelin and all that stuff, and working with Frenchie definitely sparked up that side of me, because at that time I was listening to a lot of synth and electronic and 80’s pop, that kind of stuff.”   So Frenchie reenergized your interest or your inspiration to work in rock. Did that end up showing up in your music?   “In the EP that I released I’m playing my electric guitar along with my synths.”   Tell us all about the new album, You Don’t Own Me.   “The first song entitled, “You Don’t Own Me,” is one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written. I feel like it really captures how I feel emotionally, because this honestly was the first album where I just sang through the whole thing. I didn’t want to cut or edit…Because the thing is, digital music, electronic music especially, gets such a bad rap.   A lot of people say, ‘Oh, this person can’t play their instrument,’ or, ‘This person can just slack off and then fix it in computers.’ But I always want to try to break that stigma because you do have to have a somewhat musical background. And that’s why I also want to introduce all these other instruments into my electronic music and it’s also the reason why I want to play them, to kind of prove a point [that] I’m more than synths and digital music. I know my sh_t. So there’s a little bit of proving a point in there.”   How much of what’s been going on in the world is filtering into your music?  
band Ready Betty

Lindsey Kappa, live sound gig with Ready Betty

“‘You Don’t Own Me,’ is definitely a feminist song. My mom’s a feminist, and so I kind of grew up in the equality atmosphere. I definitely wanted to make it very heavy synth, electric guitar, just gritty and something that kind of shows more of my blues, soul, rock n’ roll side while at the same time keeping it more of an electropop feel, which I’m happy with…   The next song, “Side to Side,” even though it sounds happy, when you read the lyrics, it actually describes my struggle with anxiety. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 15. So you know, I always wrote about sadness, but I never wrote about the anxiousness. When I wrote that song there were a lot of anxious feelings happening. But I also like to keep it happy and light so that whether [the listener] knows or doesn’t know what I’m talking about, both of them can enjoy it.”   What’s your advice for other DIY’s (Do It Yourself artists) who are getting into the program because they want to engineer and produce their own music. What’s your advice to them?   “My advice is, go with your gut. For me, I don’t have any interest in working with a record label. I just want to create my own business, [build] my own empire. I want full freedom to do what I want, say what I want, work with whom I want, and do it wherever. And I’m not saying that record labels are bad. [They’re] just not for me…   And sometimes that’s hard because…sometimes you doubt yourself, you’re thinking, “What if this happens?” or what if I did sign with someone? I would have been here or there. But you can’t focus on that because there’s a reason why you make the decisions you make, and the reason why I made that decision is because I want to have full-on opportunities completely open to me. If I were to ever talk with someone who was thinking about approaching it the way that I approach it, go with your gut, be willing to improve. Because sometimes I think some artists get stuck in thinking that they don’t need help. But there’s no end to learning.”   So how’d you get hired at Chicken Run Studios?   “Before I finished my [externship] with Frenchie, he told me the way to start off is to offer to record people for free. Scott Collins, who’s now my close friend, got back to me saying, ‘I really would love that if you could help me record some stuff.’ So I was like, ‘Sure.’ So I came over, we recorded vocals, guitar, just a bunch of stuff, I mixed it up for him, and he was so happy with it that he wanted to work together again. He started telling me about the studio and his visions for it. He was kind of re-staffing at that point or just trying to get a more permanent setup in there…So he asked me if I wanted to assist, and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ So that’s how that all happened. We recorded some bands in the studio, and it’s been great.”   Follow Lindsey Kappa on FB.    
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Recording Connection mentor Mark Scobra
on Songwriting & Going All-In

Mark Scobra audio engineer and Ableton instructor

Recording Connection mentor Mark Scobra

In a career that spans decades, Mark Scobra has worked across numerous genres, from rock, to hip hop to everything in-between. He’s toured with some of the world’s biggest bands, taught music production at the Hawthorn Media Center for legendary manager Leila Steinberg, and he’s been entrenched in the underground L.A. hip hop scene, producing and recording for artists like Micky Avalon, The Shape Shifters, and Existereo, to name just a few.   Mark is dedicated to empowering serious young artists to get the confidence, skills, and awareness it takes to find their way in today’s music industry. Besides the work he does as a mentor for Recording Connection, Mark produces music and audio for film and television and serves as audio director for Noize TV. We recently caught up with Mark who shared a number of insights on songwriting and tapping into one’s soul so read on!   So Mark, what are the basics you wish people knew about songwriting?   “I wish people really understood arrangements, the power of literacy and the power of words. We live in a fairly monosyllabic society of people that are highly insecure and propagandized but our words are very, very, very powerful.   What I try to tell my students is just write, write, write, write, write…I teach them to write without editing themselves at first, without going “Oh, I’m horrible.” The fact is, we all write horrible stuff. Most of it is horrible. But if you write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, you’ll be surprised every once in a while, you’ll write something that’s actually halfway decent.   What I emphasize is daily, daily, daily practice, and the more you do that, all the excuses start to melt away. “Oh, I’m too cool.” “Oh, I’ve got to do this.” “Oh, I’m not good enough.” You know? That’s just the negative mind telling you that you can’t do it, basically. But just blind persistence is what it takes.”   When writing songs, do you start with a lyric and have a melody in mind to go with it? Or do you write lyrics and melody independent of one another?   “I’d really much prefer lyrical music…Because in music it all has to be a story. As Hans Zimmer says “It’s all story.” If you listen to a good song, the words will go for a little bit. Then you’ll hear, like, another sound pick up, and then it gets down into another word. And the story just has to continue to go along slightly faster than what you’d want to hear it, [to] kind of keep you on your toes. The song should be over with before you know it. Then they want more… And the more you’re into the egotistical stuff and all that, the less good your song is going to be. Aim for something in yourself that’s beyond the ego.”   Let’s say I’m a student and first-time songwriter in session with you. I’m going to write a song. What would you tell me to do?   “Get out a piece of notebook paper. Don’t stop until I tell you to.”   Okay, so once we have the lyrics how do you go about incorporating the music?   “In word structures we can break it into syllables. Like, you could look at one word…say “love” is a beat, you know? “Be love” is a duplet, that’s two beats. So, if you look at what’s going on, you can kind of take those little pulses and craft something. And then if love comes in on the one beat, then we’ve got maybe a kick-drum right there, and we start reinforcing it with percussion. Then we have to take the words, and then we change the notes along with it. Try to keep it as simple at first…trust me, it’s going to get complicated quick.   Try to keep it direct, and try not to over-embellish or brag. Just keep the story nice and clean. You don’t need much a lot of times. So the first thing I would do is just make them write. And if they wait more than three seconds to write another word, you know, they have to write another page or something. Just write, write, write, write, write… then once you get all of those illusions of the mind and stuff out of the way, your soul will come through and say something profound and touching and meaningful.”   Once we’ve got the lyrics and we’ve got the skeleton, what would you do next?   “I’ll look for just the simplest little hook, and then that will be, like, the chorus section. Maybe that’ll be the pre-chorus section that’ll work up to even a bigger triumphant chorus. Or maybe that’ll be the chorus section. Look for hooks. Write a bunch of mindless stuff and look for a hook.”   So pre-chorus and chorus, can you break that down for us a little bit?   “And a pre-chorus is just simply something that bridges into the chorus, or gives you the sensation that it’s not going to the chorus, and then it doesn’t go to the chorus, but it comes back and then it goes to the chorus, teasing or something like that, because teasing is a part of my writing style…There are no rules in music, but when the pre-chorus comes in, it should typically have an expectant feel. You know, like something’s going to happen.”   So what makes a chorus a chorus?   “A chorus is typically something that people can sing along to because you want to engage intimately with your listener…The chorus is the most dynamic, widest, and typically…but not always, but the loudest part of the song. And you usually bring the low-end in on the chorus too…The chorus is usually what the song’s titled. It’s the most important part of the song in the end. You know, don’t bore us, just skip to the chorus. The chorus is the thesis statement of the song.”   And, as James Brown says, “Take it to the bridge.”   “In standard songwriting, I would say the basic dynamic of a song is verse/chorus/verse/chorus/verse/chorus. The thing is, if you just do that, it’s just too boring. So if the song is like one big story, the bridge is kind of where you remind the listener that there’s a big world out there as well, and they can interpolate more universal energies into the context of just the verse and the chorus. It’s a time to take a break sometimes. And it’s usually something that’s pretty drastically different to the chorus. So that when you go back into the chorus, there’s a huge, huge contrast between the bridge and the chorus, which should make the chorus even more profound and bigger if we do our jobs well.   So the bridge is super important. I don’t like to hear any songs without bridges…you can change the key a lot in the bridge, or the rhythm and stuff…It really opens up the song to all kinds of nutrients and new kinds of things.”   So the bridge is like the sonic palate cleanser, right? The listener goes through the bridge and when they’re back to the chorus their ears are reinvigorated by the sonic contrast you’ve created.   “Absolutely.”   So do you think songwriting on Ableton is a pretty intuitive process?   “I do the Pro Tools Advanced course but my focus is on Ableton because it’s my dream to train students to sit down and make a beautiful piece of music right there. I find Ableton Live just to be the best digital audio work station today where you can sit down and make a whole piece of music that’s fresh and exciting and looks to the future…You don’t need a bunch of stuff, outboard gear, any of that. You can just sit down and make a world-class song right there, right on the spot. No excuses. And for me, showing that to students is very empowering.”   In your opinion, how can students make the most of the opportunity while they’re in the program?   “It’s just best that they just work as hard as they can to bring as much excellence as they can to the situation. So don’t miss any classes, study hard, and under-promise and over-deliver. Just work, work, work, work, work. There’s no time to fool around. It’s a very intense business…No question is a dumb question. Ask as many questions as you can. Always offer to help out and learn as much as you can. Take notes as much as you can.”   Do you think it’s beneficial for students to be working on their own songs while they go through Recording Connection?   “Absolutely. Never deny your spiritual artistic self to any convening force on earth. You have to be all-in with your soul.”  
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A Day in the Life of Our Students


Recording Connection mentor Luis Pacheco

Recording Connection student Kyle Oueis is glad took the plunge and started his externship at The at Hideout with mentor Luis Pacheco: “Today June 23rd, 2018 was a realization of why I got myself into this. It’s everything I expected and more! Real artists, real music, real studio vibe!   My mentor is legit! [I] got to set up a band rehearsal and did a mix down, start to finish…Right studio, right time, and with the right mentor. I didn’t realize how much local talent there is. That I get to sit in on the session, help out, and learn at the same time is everything I need to excel in this career!”     Film Connection student Derrick Turnage who externs with Patrick Wimp at Digital Hydra is gearing up to get in during festival season: “For these last couple months I’ve been super busy. A couple of weeks ago I was a Grip/PA for a couple days of pickup shots for a feature length film. Was honored to see how an actual set and its crew operate. I’m currently in the preproduction process for a short film I’m working on…My mentor has tasked us with getting a cast and crew and setting up our shoot…Next we’ll do some RED camera training and then host some auditions. We aim to start shooting early July, and submit this piece to multiple film festivals! Totally excited!”       
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Check Out Our Students’ Work

    Heard our Student Music Mixtape yet? In partnership with Symphonic Distribution, we’re excited to help our students get their music out to the world!   The Recording Connection is now offering this great opportunity for our students to broaden their understanding of the new role digital distribution companies like Symphonic Distribution can play in helping release their tracks and propel their careers forward!         


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