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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER October 17, 2016 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Recording Connection student Kayla Parker gets
plugged into Atlanta’s music scene

Kayla Parker If you ask Recording Connection student Kayla Parker about her five-year goal, her answer is simple: “Grammys.”   Indeed, Kayla has been intent on a music career since childhood. “I grew up singing in the church,” she says. “My aunt was the choir director, my cousins were the directors of music. I just grew up in the church, in a musically inclined family. Gospel singers, hip-hop artists, and so on, it just comes natural to me…. I always wrote music, since the age of 10.”   So serious was Kayla about music, in fact, that after graduating high school, she registered with ASCAP, formed a business entity, and made a move with her mom from Huntsville, AL to Atlanta, GA to become part of the Atlanta music scene. Even before moving, Kayla says the Recording Connection’s hands-on studio training was on her radar and part of her strategy.   “I actually wanted to do it when I was in high school,” she says. “I really came into the Recording Connection initially to learn techniques, and to actually get hands-on work inside the music business that I wasn’t getting…I initially came into the Recording Connection to really learn audio engineering from some of the music’s best.”   Before she knew it, Kayla had been paired with Twelve Music Group in heart of Midtown Atlanta, to be mentored by head engineer Christopher “Cat” Taylor.   “When I first went in,” she says, “I went with my mother, my mother tagged along with me. It went very good, because Twelve is more like family, and I like that. So I knew right off the bat that I liked Twelve as the studio that I would like to go with, and it just took off.”   Kayla says her mother was impressed too. “She actually screamed all the way home from the studio,” she says.   Since starting her apprenticeship, Kayla says she’s already acquired a deeper understanding of the production process. “I knew the basics just from working in the studio when I was younger, and YouTube,” says Kayla. “But until you actually go in, actually doing it yourself in a setting like Twelve, you feel like you totally didn’t know what you were doing before….Learning how to work the soundboards as well as working it on the computer in Pro Tools is very important, and I had no clue of how to do that before. I’d seen it done, but I didn’t know how to do it myself.”   Kayla has also had the opportunity to learn work flow in sessions with talent that comes to work in the studio, such as producer Powlow da Don (Rihanna, Ciara) and Grammy-winning engineer Caveman (Ashanti).   “There’s a rapper here called Roscoe Dash,” she says. “He’s working on his mixtape right now, and I’ve seen how he stacked all his tracks together. And it’s so many tracks. And when you play it, it sounds like something totally different than what you envisioned. Caveman and Chris tell me all the time that your engineering ear is very important, because it’s not what you see, it’s what you hear.”   As for being female in a studio environment long considered to be male-dominant, Kayla takes things in stride. “The majority of the time, if you produce good work and focus on what you need to focus on, then you won’t have any trouble,” she says. “They’ll treat you just like one of the guys. As long as your work ethic is great, you’ll get great results.”   Now settling into her studies, Kayla is excited to have her foot in the door of the Atlanta music scene, and is already applying what she’s learning to her own hip-hop/R&B sound. “My goal is to try to do as much as possible,” she says, “but my main goal is to focus on producing my sound, as far as controlling my sound more and developing my sound. I would love to work with other artists as well. That way I can still do what I do as far as audio engineering, but also do it with other artists, more than just myself.”   From what we can see, Kayla is well on her way.   
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NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Veteran music producer Sax DMA offers advice on studio etiquette and building relationships

A long-time Recording Connection mentor, veteran music producer Sax DMA has been an integral part of New York’s rock and hip-hop scenes for many years. When we caught up with him recently, Sax was splitting his time between New York and Miami, working on a variety of projects. Always one to offer helpful advice for students, Sax shared some key tips on studio etiquette and the best ways to build relationships with clients in the studio—advice he put to use himself that led to a long-time friendship with rap icon Missy Elliott. Enjoy!  
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Recording Connection mentor Sax DMA

Recording Connection mentor Sax DMA

“You never know who that person is in the recording studio, it could be an artist, it could be a producer, it could be like the biggest producer, it could be an engineer, or it could be nobody. You don’t know. And you always got to be on your A-game…If you’re in session and you see someone, and you don’t know who they are, you go up to them, you immediately introduce yourself, ‘Hello, my name is Sax,’…find out who this person is…It’s a customer service based industry you know? I’ve seen a lot of people f**k that part up. Like they just ignore someone and stuff like that, and then the next thing you know it’s Michael Jackson’s manager, you know?”   ON BUILDING A RAPPORT WITH CLIENTS:   “It’s just being honest and sincere, and just being a genuine person…You’ve got to be kind and courteous, and remember it’s a customer based service industry, and you’ve got to be genuine because people see right through the phony [stuff]… It’s a lot of psychology, it’s a lot of patience…It’s all respect when it comes down to it.”   TIPS ON STUDIO ETIQUETTE:   “Whenever you maybe have a new student and one of their favorite artists or maybe someone popular comes through…you’ve got to desensitize them. You cannot act like a fan, you know, it’s not like that at all. You’ve got to step back down…If somebody’s an assistant at a studio and like J. Cole was in the studio, you do not tweet, ‘Oh, J. Cole’s in the studio’… These artists are paying a lot of money for their privacy. So if you just start tweeting or putting it on Facebook that you’re with them and you’re tagging a location with that artist, they’re going to have fans outside. And they’re not going to like that, and they’re not going to come back to the studio.”   EVEN MORE ADVICE FOR STUDENTS:   “Number one is always, you’ve got to have fun. As long as you’re doing this, have fun. As soon as you stop having fun, do something else. And one of the other ones is, [in] the recording industry, you know, the recording studio, don’t get it twisted, and do not forget that it is a customer service based industry. You are no different than Victoria’s Secret, or a Prada store, or Hallmark or whatever it is. It’s a customer service based industry. You’ve got to always abide by that. No matter how cool you think things are going or how cool you might be with your client, you’re still a customer based industry. Don’t get so comfortable that you’re going to do something stupid.”   
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A Day in the Life of Our Students

   ryan-brisbine Recording Connection student Ryan Brisbine (Pittsburgh, PA) was just settling into the idea that he’d be training with Hollis Greathouse “a widely successful engineer who has worked with some of the most successful musicians in the world” when something truly extraordinary happened in session. A 12-year-old master drummer named R.J. came in to record (parents in tow) with a Gospel artist. Ryan says, “Little R.J. started playing and it was like all the greatest drummers in the world came together as one. I watched him for about 30 seconds with a dead stare in amazement.  I looked at Hollis and he had a smile on his face and was shaking his head…I don’t have the words to explain what I saw.  It was so mesmerizing that you had to be there to understand.  Hollis told me that what I was seeing is special.  He said that in all his years in the industry he may have only seen this 3 times. His [R.J’s] parents said that he started drumming in his church’s choir band when he was 6…I will always remember the day I got to see this young man lay some tracks in a studio…It was an absolute privilege and honor to have had the chance to be a part of the session.”    Susan Berger Film Connection student Susan Berger (Washington D.C.) has been assisting her mentor Christian Galdabini of Z Force Productions at filming thousands of doctors, talking about their research at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. The team is even invited into the labs to grab footage! There will be more about this important project in an upcoming issue.  
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