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WEEKLY NEWSLETTER September 30, 2019 by Liya Swift


Recording Connection graduate Elijah Ibarra
hired at Electric Feel Studios in Hollywood.


Recording Connection graduate Elijah Ibarra

Freshly graduated from the Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production program, Elijah Ibarra (Los Angeles, CA) went on to get hired at Electric Feel Studios, the studio home of Electric Feel Management whose roster includes some of today’s hottest music producers including Camper, Louis Bell, Brody Brown, and more.   Now, one year into his position as studio engineer, we connected with Elijah to talk about his experiences in Recording Connection, find out how he’s fast-tracked his way to success, and to garner some advice on how aspiring audio engineers and producers can make the most of their in-industry externships.   What got you into music in the first place?   “My dad was actually a DJ back in his prime, and he was really good at mixing… When I was little he would slap me on headphones and I would always be listening…I was also a performer and a dancer. So music was always a part of my life, and I knew that I always wanted to be able to make it and create it, because I had a lot of ideas.”   So after you reached out to Recording Connection, we sent you to interview with mentor Brian Frederick at Hybrid Studios. Tell us about that.   “I remember when I walked in…[and] It had everything I was looking forward to…he was a really cool guy. I learned so much from him. I wouldn’t ask for another mentor. He was very cool.”   Was Brian able to help you learn anything which you first found to be challenging?   “The main thing I was really struggling with was the speed on the quick keys, on Pro Tools. He was very fast. He would fly through it and I was just over here, still struggling trying to memorize it. But he always took you step-by-step and explained everything. He used a lot of analogies, and it all made sense.”   So it sounds like Brian underscored the importance of being quick on the commands.   “Speed is the key, honestly…Mainly because artists have a lot of ideas in their heads and they just want to be able to get it out, and if you’re kind of struggling, like…you always have to tell them to hold on, they’re going to probably get a little upset and impatient. So it’s up to the engineer to be quick and fast, because you’re the driver and they’re like the passenger, and they have the directions. So you have to speed up the process.”   Did you have your own projects you were working on at home while you were going through the program? If so, would you apply what you were learning to your own music?   “I always made beats, that was my number one thing…Every time he would explain something, I would go home and put it on my beats and be like, ‘Wow, this sounds way better’…So everything I would learn there I would also take home. I would put my beats on Pro Tools and mix it on there and everything. It was very cool.”   How did you get hired at Electric Feel?   “My cousin knew someone in Electric Feel who said ‘Send in your resume’…So I sent my resume in, he gave it to the manager, and I went in for an interview. He liked me. He said, ‘Let’s go,’ and then he brought me in from there. So that’s pretty much the summary of how I got into there.   How long have you been working there?   “I’ve been there since late September…A year at this point.”   Have any projects in the works? Any other stuff you want to tell us about?   “Actually, I signed a nondisclosure about speaking on that, so I can’t really talk too much on that. But yeah, there are a lot of projects that are currently happening right now and that are also being released as well…So it’s pretty big. The spot I’m at right now, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”   So, what’s your advice on how students can make the most of their time in the program?   “Really, just pay attention and try to take up as much information [as possible] and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I feel like a lot of people get told it and they’re like, ‘All right, I don’t understand.’ And it’s okay to not understand it, because I remember when I first went in, I didn’t understand anything. And it could probably feel a little bit embarrassing, but it’s like, these people are here to help you understand it, because one day [in the past] even your mentor didn’t understand it, if that makes sense. So always ask questions, don’t be afraid. Even if you ask five times…”   Learn more about Recording Connection.      
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From Warehouse Job to a Career in Culinary,
Joey Mendes Builds his Future in Food.


Joey Mendes and CASA mentor Chef Walter Cotta at L’Opera (Long Beach, CA)

When Joey Mendes of Chino, California, first came to us, he had little more than a newfound passion for cooking. It had emerged after he’d left home, moved in with roommates, and found himself manning the stove. Now, Joey’s got a firsthand understanding of what it takes to work in the culinary arts, thanks to us and the training he’s receiving as an extern at high-end, award-winning Italian restaurant L’Opera under the direction of Chef Walter Cotta.   What brought you to CASA in the first place?   “I was browsing online for a bunch of schools, and CASA was the only one that interested me because of the one on one mentorship thing. Because all the other schools you just go into a class and sit there and watch a teacher. And I wanted more hands on stuff, and CASA was the only place I could really find that was hands on.”   What’s it like training with Chef Walter? What have you learned?   “I’ve learned literally everything. I’ve definitely honed my knife skills a whole lot, a lot of chopping and stuff. And literally this is probably one of the best things I could have possibly done because of the amount of experience I’m getting, because before this I worked warehouse jobs. I never really worked in the food industry. So this is probably the best thing because it gives me work experience. I work on the line with Walter. So I am fulfilling tickets and stuff…it’s really nice because I get to know how the pace is, how fast I have to move, and get used to prepping stuff and cooking stuff. It’s really awesome.”   Were you surprised at just how labor-intensive working in food can be?   “Mainly when we have a big night with a lot of reservations, it is very, very, crazy packed. And the pace we have to move at is very shocking, which is very good for me to learn this way, because like I say, it gives me the experience so I can say I’ve served like 200 people a night within a couple hours with the team. It’s really good work experience…It’s really nice and satisfying.   Labor-intensive, I wouldn’t even consider it that because I used to work 10-hour graveyard shifts at a warehouse…It’s not exhausting labor because I’ve done exhausting labor. It’s enjoyable labor.”   That’s a winning attitude. Have your parents been supportive of you in your education with CASA?   “My grandparents are the ones that helped me with the tuition…It’s funny because my dad is a big food guy. He’s picky about his food. I’m pretty sure at the beginning he was kind of like, ‘I don’t know about this,’ because when I lived with them I never really cooked anything…But then I brought some food over to them the other day and I ruined lasagna for my dad. [Now,] he won’t eat anyone else’s lasagna…When I go over, all he wants to do is talk about food with me.”   We hear you recently got hired at a restaurant, how did that come about?   “It was funny how it happened. [Gervais Maillard in Career Services] called and asked me if I wanted to do a little volunteer chef thing in L.A. I told him no, I was looking for a job…He was like, ‘Oh, I can help you out with that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, really?’ Then it just kind of went from there…[We] worked together for the next week or so on making a really nice resume, which I definitely needed help on, because my resume beforehand compared to my resume now is like night and day.  

L’Opera Restaurant, a CASA externship location

I think it was just perfect timing or something, because we finished the resume…He emailed me some links. The day I applied, one of the places hit me back because they just recently opened, so they needed help and stuff…I was hired on and I didn’t even know I was hired on, because I walked into the place and they had me fill out a time punch-in and punch-out card…I thought I was just going in for training…I was like, ‘Am I hired?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, of course.’”   Tell us about your goals. What are you focused on achieving in the near future?   “I have a perfect plan…I found this place rather close to me that is a fine dining restaurant….And so my plan for the next couple months is to really just work a lot more on the line at L’Opera. I already told Walter this, too. I was talking to him about it. [I want] to really get the menu down at L’Opera, like basically be able to cook everything with my eyes closed. Then, I’m going to apply to this fine dining Italian restaurant..then I’ll be in the fine dining industry, and just keep working my way up and around, and just try to get into different cuisines and really expand my knowledge.”   How about five years from now? Where would you like to be?   “I want to gather as much knowledge as I can, even just about running restaurants, and the food industry, and cuisine, and making menus, and learn everything about it. So, I want to get a lot of experience from different places. And you know, when I feel like the time is right, I want to try to open my own restaurant and do my own thing.”   What’s your advice to other CASA students on how they can make the most of their time in the program?   “My biggest advice is literally just take advantage of going to whatever restaurant they’re at and stay there as long as they can. As long as your schedule allows you to…Just take advantage of it and try to get in on every little aspect in the kitchen, the prep, the line, making other sauces, anything you can do. Try to get on all the positions in the line, to rotating food. Get it all, [and] make sure you keep talking to your chef about stuff.”   Learn more about CASA Schools’ Gourmet Chef Program.      
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Roundtable with Engineer/Producer Josh Monroy (Ludacris,
OutKast, Justin Bieber, JoJo, Walla) of Studio 1 Zero

producer engineer Josh Monroy

Recording Connection mentor, producer/engineer Josh Monroy, Studio 1 Zero[break side="left"]

All of us at RRFC are seriously committed to providing great, real-world education, in-industry experience, and support. In order to be sure we’re continuously setting our students and mentors up for success, we recently started having bi-monthly meetings in which RRFC mentors come into our “headquarters” in Los Angeles for a roundtable conversation with our Admissions and Academic Facilitators team members.   Recently in, was none other than LA-based Recording Connection mentor Josh Monroy (Ludacris, OutKast, Justin Bieber, JoJo, Walla) of Studio 1 Zero who had lots to say about networking, getting work, hiring his externs, a recent songwriting trip to London, and more. Here are just a few valuable excerpts from that conversation. More to follow, so subscribe!   RRFC Team: Have you had any students who came in with zero experience and got hired by you soon after graduating?   Josh: “Cameron Torres…Cameron still works with us and for us. He’s actually doing a lot of songwriting for our projects and stuff, as well as mixing and vocal tracking. Cam was like, one of those guys that started out super quiet. Wouldn’t say a peep. But there on time, turned in all of his stuff on time…   He was one of those where I had to be like, ‘Hey dude, you need to speak up a little bit, man. How come you’re not getting in the rooms? You’re kind of like an outsider and there’s plenty of people to associate with and talk with and become friends with.’ And he said to me, ‘Man, I know you don’t know me, but it’s just because I’m not totally comfortable.’ And probably two weeks after that is like, I couldn’t get the kid to shut up, in a good way, I mean. And he immediately took on more responsibility… He built up that confidence, he learned Pro Tools and he was like, ‘All right, let me in now, I got this.’ It was like, all right, cool. Go. And he’s been with us for three years.   He just came to London with us, too, actually. We just took a big writing trip over to London in February. We had two RRFC students come with us, Sai Kripasagar and Cameron Torres, both graduates came with us [on a] big writing trip to London.”   RRFC Team: Six months (the duration of our Audio Engineering & Music Production Program) can go by in a flash. What do you recommend students start working on as soon as possible?   Josh: “I think one of the biggest things and hardest things to teach is opportunity, how to recognize opportunity. And one of those, you have to know when to close your mouth and you have to know when to be like, “Yo, that’s me, I can do this, trust me.” But without that trust in that person having shown up and done the mundane…If I ask you to sweep the floor and the floor is half-ass swept, I just don’t know if I can trust you with my contacts and my network of people that I’ve built for 17 years…take pride in every single part of the job, whatever it is–Smile on the face, happy to do it…When I was an intern at Tree Sound was big on dressing on the side, and then they’d come back without the dressing…and the artist would say. ‘Oh man. Where’s my dressing at, bro?’ So it’s like, if I can’t trust you to remember something as simple as that, how am I ever going to trust you to run a million dollar room?   Another thing I would say is, you never know who’s walking through the door. They might be dressed as whatever but you treat everyone with respect. Everyone gets hospitality. I think hospitality is a huge part of this industry, making the lowest artist or the highest artist feel like, ‘Wow man, they really care about me.’”   RRFC Team: How often do you talk with your externs about generating leads, getting clients and networking?   Josh: “I hate to say networking, because it’s such a broad term, but who you know in this business it’s everything. Every day we talk about how to talk to people. And they listen. They’re right there when I make my business calls, or when I’m dealing with the promotions, or I’m talking to the publicists or any of those things. They get to see a lot of the aspects of not just owning a studio, but owning a record label, owning a production company, seeing me with other students and teaching. So there’s a lot of different hats that I wear.   [When it comes to getting work] there’s tools that you can use now like SoundBetter, to get your gigs out there… There’s Fiverr, there’s SoundBetter, there’s StudioTime, there’s a bunch of different outlets out there that you can literally just be right there at home, fielding emails, working, responding to potential clients, on SoundCloud, making networks and collaborations with people. You can do everything that you would do out in a bar or at an open mic night online as well. So just building that network [of connections]. ‘Okay, you’re a rapper, but man, maybe somebody can remix your stuff in the EDM world. That creates cross promotion. So go and talk to some EDM people…That’s not your genre. I get it, but talk to these people because they got people, you know, they’re going to remix your record and now your audience has just doubled. So just being active on the platforms and thinking outside of your initial circle, just thinking bigger than yourself. I think it helps bring more clients in.   And then taking that into the real world. Go to School Night (at Bardot, Hollywood) or SuperSoul Mondays or any of these things that you can attend where there’s industry people there. There’s regulars there every single week. And if you’re there and you’re talking to people, you don’t have to make it about the work. You’re just like, ‘Man, I loved your set. That was really dope.’ And then you see them next time. You can just plant seeds. It doesn’t always have to be, ‘Hey man, I’ve got a studio and I charge $300 for a mix.’ It’s just like, ‘Dude, chill out.’ Just plant the seeds, let it grow…Everyone wants it so quick and immediate, but these are organic relationships. When you build that good network of friends and colleagues that you can call, you’ve got two people for everything you need, that’s what it’s about. I feel like it’s a balance of being present not just on Instagram, but [where] people that are looking for people like you.”   Learn more about Recording Connection for audio engineering, music production, beatmaking, Ableton and more!    
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A Day in the Life of Our Students


Film Connection mentor Zef Cota with Frank Oliviero of Italians of West Virginia at Ferragosto Festival (Little Italy, The Bronx)

Film Connection for Film Production & Editing student Mark Kelly (Forest Hills, NY) is enjoying learning from his multifaceted mentor: “Zef Cota is an amazing mentor. He is generous, supportive and has a great “eye” as a visual storyteller as well as being a great writer. Having written and directed The Trouble. Zef has a great range of film knowledge and passes that along at every chance he gets.   Working with him is a purely joyful experience, since he has such a passion for film and filmmaking. We have been collaborating on various projects but on this one we covered the Ferragosto Festival in Little Italy in the Bronx. We shot B-roll, stills of the festival itself, and together we are finishing a brand film for Arthur Cantina.”      

Film Connection student Joffre Valles and Dean Lyon

Film Connection for Film Production & Editing student Joffre Valles (Miami, FL) recently attended the Miami Media Film Market with mentor Kevin Sharpley, where he had the opportunity of connecting with a number of industry pros, including FX guru Dean Lyon, known for his work on all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, Armageddon, and dozens of other films :   “I met Dean Lyon. It was a fantastic experience. I also had the pleasure of meeting Adrian Wootton, the British Film Commissioner…I can’t wait for next year.   Kevin is a great mentor. He’s awesome. He believes in me and I am definitely getting better.”   Joffre has really impressed Kevin. So much so, that’s he’s also had him assisting on his podcast Screen Heat Miami.   We’ll have more on that later (subscribe).  

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Spotlight On… Star Student Richard Sedden Jr.


Richard Sedden Jr. recording Boots Greene at Breed Studio

Recent graduate of Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Richard Sedden Jr. had long time mentor Joey Heier (Crystal Clear Recording Studio) blown away the first time he heard him play:   “In over 34 years of teaching I experienced something magical with Mr. Richard Sedden. He came in and was very, very quiet. As time went on, I asked him to please play my piano. At that point I said, ‘This kid is a star. I need to get him recognized.’ I heard him play [and] in 30 seconds I knew he was outstanding.   [After hearing him play] I said, ‘Is this a new song that you’re working on? He said, ‘No I just wrote it.’   I can only say wonderful things about Mr. Richard Sedden. What a wonderful student. It’s such an honor to be his mentor.”   As a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, organ, keyboard, drums and now has engineering and production training under his belt, Richard is off to a great start.   After finishing Recording Connection, he connected with Tony Moore of Breed Studio. Tony then sent him on a regional tour, playing keys for upcoming artist Devon Lee. And as is often the case in music, it all happened last minute. Here’s what Richard told us about the gig:   “It was on a Thursday. He [Tony] called me. He was like, ‘Hey, man, do you want to do this tour? You’re going to leave on Sunday morning.’ I was like, ‘Okay, cool, sure, I’ll do it.’ …So I flew down to be with them for a full week. First day, on Sunday, we went to Chicago. Did a thing there because we were opening up for The Bomb Digz.   After that, we came back to Philly for a studio session and a rehearsal at Tony Moore’s studio. Then after that, the next day we went to Washington D.C. [then] New York City. Then on Friday, we went to Boston. After that we came back home. So yeah, that was my first tour. Everything was amazing.”   We’ll have more on Richard and his experiences in Recording Connection in an upcoming newsletter, so stay tuned!    
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