Thursday, September 7, 2017

MMP's work on Infinity Chamber

I'm proud to have been part of the film Infinity Chamber, Available on Amazon September 26! You can bet I'll remind you! Thanks David Emrich and Postmodern Company for inviting me to join the crew. I had a blast editing sound effects along with Foley assistance by Josh Kern and Drew Jostad.

Here's a sneak peek:

Friday, March 31, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Ebonie Smith


Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 19: Ebonie Smith

Ebonie Smith (Photo Credit: David Divad (IG: @divad))
Today, we are featuring Ebonie Smith. She is "an award-winning music producer, audio engineer and singer-songwriter based in New York City. Ebonie is also the founder and president of Gender Amplified, Inc., a nonprofit organization that celebrates and supports women and girls in music production. Ebonie holds a master's degree in music technology from New York University and an undergraduate degree from Barnard College, Columbia University. She currently works as an audio engineer and producer for Atlantic Records." [Courtesy of  http://www.eboniesmith.com/]

Leslie Gaston-Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio?
Ebonie Smith: Originally, I wanted to go to the WNBA and spent much of my youth playing basketball. However, I had this latent interest in getting into music. My mother exposed me to music. When I was four, she bought my first album: Blacks' Magic by Salt-n-Pepa. In many ways I think that album set the tone for who I would become as a woman and a human being. Also, I adored listening to the radio in the car. It always had to be on. As a kid I developed a very emotional relationship to music and to sound.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording?
ES: I started recording in college. I was an audio/visual technician at Barnard College while an undergraduate student. This was my campus job. It exposed me to the world of audio recording, and I have never looked back.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?
(Photo Credit: David Divad (IG: @divad))
ES: I dislike questions about obstacles, largely because I don't know how to answer them. There is always this assumption that I have struggled because I am a woman. Music is the most enjoyable thing I do in life, and my career has been pretty smooth. There is nothing that I have "personally" experienced that could be characterized as a struggle. Nevertheless, I would never negate the fact that there is gender-based inequality in the audio world or deny that women face challenges in all professional areas. However, questions about challenges and obstacles shouldn't overshadow the other myriad points I could address about audio and music production. Obviously, I prefer to be interviewed because of my work and my approach to my craft.

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?
ES: I would prefer to be asked questions about what I'm working on. I love answering questions about my process. I love questions about the nonprofit I founded, Gender Amplified, Inc.

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
ES: So many: my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Frances, E.W. Harper. Issa Rae, Tamika Catchings. Julie Greenwald. Ann Mincieli (This is a super abridged list.)

(Photo Credit: David Divad (IG: @divad))
LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
ES: Gender Amplified and Art Girl Army recently joined forces to get girls into music production and audio engineering! We are co-hosting a hands-on workshop in a professional recording studio, followed by an intimate discussion with artist/activist Genesis Be on how to combine production techniques and political activism in powerful ways. It will be held on April 8th, 2017. Visit GenderAmplified.com to learn more.

Learn more about Ebonie Smith at:
Eboniesmith.com
GenderAmplified.com

Saturday, March 25, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Käti Rosehill


Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 18: Käti Rosehill



Leslie Gaston-Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio?
Käti Rosehill: I would say it started when I was around 8 or 9 years old. My parents took me out to a garage sale, where I happened upon an old cassette recorder. I don’t know why I wanted it so badly, but it was only a few dollars, so they got it for me after some pleading. I used to spend many hours a day recording into it- pretending I was a famous vocalist, pretending I was a radio show host- basically anything my young imagination could think of. I loved the feel of the buttons, I loved re-setting the timer, I loved keeping track of how long each segment was so I wouldn’t accidentally record over anything precious. I had a notebook dedicated to it. Also my father used to play guitar for me, which eventually led to my first guitar at 16.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording?
KH: I did my first “real” recording when I was about 22 years old, back when I was enrolled in the Music Technology Program at Clackamas Community College. We had to track a song for Audio Engineering 109, so I rallied up a couple of my band friends, stuck them in the studio, threw up some microphones, and went to town. We ended up doing a cover of Led Zepplin’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” I’m happy to say they're all enjoying varying degrees of success right now! Two of them even got signed to Rise Records. (Which I definitely had nothing to do with, but hey! Don’t forget who recorded you first, says I.)

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?
KH: I dislike being asked out on a date after the gig is over. But on a more serious note, I dislike being asked if being a woman makes it “challenging.” To me, that’s just kind of a boring question and also a no brainer. Of course it’s challenging. We make up less than 5% of the industry. I argue that I had to work twice as hard as the other students to even be acknowledged as "taking it seriously.” Even just working in the CD plant, clients who called over the phone would specifically ask for my male co workers and refuse to talk to me, even after explaining that the boys were busy, but I’m also a production worker. Sometimes people ask to “speak to an engineer”, immediately assuming that I’m not. Women are immediately at a disadvantage in this industry, just like they are in many other fields.

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?
KH: I love it when people ask me what particular field(s) of audio I enjoy doing and what I like about them. “Audio” is such a broad term: it could mean a great number of things, anywhere from a boom operator, to a live sound engineer, to a studio engineer, to a radio producer. I actually started out as a boom operator on small film sets here in Portland, but eventually worked my way into a studio, finding a much greater love for it. Mic technique on set is so important and very fun to learn, but you don’t get to press any buttons unless you’re the field mixer too, which I never was. I’m tall and strong- naturally I ended up a boom.

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
KH: Joan Jett stole my heart when I was about 17 years old. I'm still not entirely convinced we won’t be best friends someday. I admired her fire, and deeply appreciate how she paved the way for women like me to actually have opportunities in this field. I’m also a huge fan of Katniss Everdeen.

LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
KH: I can’t talk about it too much since it’s still in the works, but four Portland musicians from modestly successful backgrounds have recently come together to form a whole new group, including the ex-drummer of Millions of Dead Cops. They’re currently working on writing songs, and when we have enough material, we’ll be recording and mixing that here at Cloud City Sound.

LGB: Finally, be sure to tell me about anything you’d like to promote: website, recordings, films, etc.
KH: I'd like to thank the chair of the music department at Clackamas who recommended me for this job:


Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Terri Winston


Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 17: Terri Winston, Women's Audio Mission





I am breaking the format of the blog a bit, because today's blog isn't just about a woman in audio: it is about a movement, and the woman leading that movement is Terri Winston.

When I first met Terri, she was an associate professor at City College of San Francisco and I was an assistant professor at CU Denver. I wanted to be like her: Tenured! I remember it was 2006 and she was running a "Women's Audio Mission" booth at an AES convention with an assistant. She gave me a light blue t-shirt with the red WAM logo.  I was inspired by her, and later that year I gathered together a group of women in Denver to talk about issues related to women in audio.

But WAM wasn't about getting together and talking, they were about "Changing the Face of Sound" (their motto). They got sponsors, built their own studio, began offering classes, and over the last 14 years have become a true force in training women for careers in audio. Terri eventually left her position at City College and is now running WAM full-time. This year, over 1,500 girls will receive audio training at WAM. WAM studios were built by women and they are run by women. They've even inspired other groups, like Soundgirls.org, which focuses on women in live sound and was born out of a panel hosted by the Women's Audio Mission.

Terri was kind enough to be featured in this blog, and I am truly honored. I'd like to urge you to get involved and help WAM train over 1,500 under-served middle school girls this year! 

Leslie Gaston-Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio?
Terri Winston: My Dad is a research scientist/mechanical engineer so I was around and comfortable with technology and science from a young age – his lab was my playpen – and he was always fixing things, the car, the television, the radio, so that was all big fun for me. Trips to the hardware store, one of favorite places in the world, all big influences on me. I was also a songwriter/musician from early on so audio was a natural way to combine both of these loves of mine. I definitely have my 10,000+ hours with tape recorders of all varieties from my childhood.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording?
TW: I was a musician and songwriter first, so my earliest experience was recording myself playing guitars and singing, back and forth on two cassette tape boom boxes, probably in middle school. Then in college, I was studying electrical engineering, and I started recording the bands I was in on various analog 4 tracks, bouncing a ton of tracks. We did a lot of overdubs. I am a guitar player so I was always tinkering with amplifiers, biasing tubes. We eventually were signed to Polygram, toured a bunch with the Pixies, Throwing Muses and that’s when I ended up working in proper recording studios. My biggest influence during that time was working with Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group). That’s how I got the engineering bug and learned what it meant to be a producer.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio? “What’s it like being a woman anything” bugs me, it’s not like we are aliens or that different.

TW: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio? It would be great if there was gender parity and it was no longer something to ponder or ask questions about. But I am OK being asked why I think there is such a big gender gap in audio because it does need to be addressed if we want to have any sanity in this world. It is crazy that there are so few women in this world creating the messages we hear in that soundtrack of our lives everyday.

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
TW: Space was big when I was growing up so Sally Ride / Mae Jemison were up there for me. Then came Patti Smith, and more of a distant inspiration/mentor for me would be Leslie Ann Jones who paved the way for the rest of us.

LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about? 
TW: We just recorded the incredible Clarence Jones, the Civil Rights leader, and speechwriter/counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr.  His amazing stories are being used in a composition by Zachary Watkins that will be performed/recorded by Kronos Quartet. We had tUne-yArDs in recently; Fely Tchaco from the Ivory Coast; we're finishing up an album with the amazing artist Diana Gameros; and a ton of Audio Books with Simon & Schuster/Macmillan/Hachette. Our next Local Sirens, Quarterly Women’s Music Series is also coming up on 4/26 – we’ve had such amazing performances from women artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Upcoming classes in Wireless Microphones, Music Supervision in Film, Radio/Podcast Production.

You can learn more about Women's Audio Mission through the following links:
http://www.womensaudiomission.org
- KQED radio feature: “Women’s Audio Mission:Smashing the Glass Ceiling of the Studio World” 
- San Francisco Chronicle “SF group gets girls into tech through music, sound engineering” 
- Support WAM's fundraising efforts at http://wam.rocks/GiveToWAM


Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC

Sunday, March 19, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Brandie Lane

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.


Day 16: Brandie Lane




Today, we speak with Brandie Lane, a Sergeant First Class in the US Army who leads the Audio Branch of the West Point Band and former audio engineer at Sono Luminus.

Leslie Gaston Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio? (e.g. parents’ record player, making mix tapes, etc.)

Brandie Lane: Both of my parents were college music professors, so a love for music was instilled in me while still in the womb.  To get back at my parents for taking my drum away at age 2, I started playing percussion at age 10 and quickly developed a passion for music performance.  As I grew older, I developed an interest in science and wanted to focus on a career field that allowed me to use my creative strengths in music and still involve a strong science/engineering component.  The audio and recording field made the most sense. 

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording?
BL: I was a "late bloomer" with recording.  I did not have any real audio background or experiences until I got to college.  I arrived at University of Miami simply armed with passion and a lot of determination.  I struggled to catch up to a lot my classmates who had started their own labels, set up their own dorm studios, and had been recording since high school.  However, I remember my first time in the UM studio as an assistant.  I brought a book to read because I figured a 5 hour session could easily become boring.  However, after what seemed like 15 minutes, the band had recorded enough songs for a demo, my book stayed in my bag, and we broke down the session.  I knew at that point I was in a field that would challenge me and keep my interest for a long time.

LGB: Please compare your leadership role now with past roles you had in other, perhaps larger companies / crews.
BL: I currently am a section leader and in charge of the Audio Branch of the West Point Band.  This means I do a lot of scheduling and operations work, budgeting, and constantly ensure the studio is clean enough for guests to come through.  However, as a leader in my organization, I help facilitate and support new ideas for projects and events that educate, train, and inspire America's future leaders at the United States Military Academy.  

Before I joined the Army, I was head audio engineer at Sono Luminus, a small classical label.  My focus there was to ensure the client (usually a solo artist, composer, or chamber group) was happy and that the recordings captured their vision in the best and most accurate way possible.  While I still focus on high quality recordings and live sound with the West Point Band, the client and the vision are both very different - and many times not only music or audio related.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?
BL: The most interesting question that I've been asked is if I think women have better ears. My answer is that women's ears probably have a nicer shape?  But in all seriousness, I feel every audio engineer, man or woman, hears differently.  It's a personal decision how to describe and utilize how you hear and ultimately mix.  You don't read about an album have a "feminine (or masculine) engineering style", so it doesn't really make sense that women can hear "better".  Maybe there's a scientific study about women hearing certain frequencies, but that doesn't mean the mixes are going to be better.  If the client hates your mix, they are not going to care that you can hear up to 23.7 KHz.  Your sound/mix is going to showcase your engineering style and if that style is liked, then great.  

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?
BL: Any question that empowers women to stay in the audio field.  

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
BL: My mother will always be my personal role model.  She was lovingly referred to as a "steel magnolia" and embodied the perfect combination of charm and a sharp tongue.  No matter what, she treated everyone with respect, but did not accept anyone's excuses for not living up to their potential or not giving 100%.  She passed away in 2010, but I know her legacy will live on through her thousands of students and hopefully through me. Professionally, I look up to any female in the audio field.  There are so many incredible figures including (but not limited to) Leslie Ann Jones, Ulrike Schwarz, and Agnieszka Roginska and I'm always inspired when I get a chance to personally interact with them.

LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
BL: The West Point Band just finished a recording project for a nationally televised 4th of July event.  The recordings feature all of the performing elements of the band, including the Concert Band, Rock Band, and Field Music Group.  A lot of time and effort was put in to ensure that the event will be entertaining, have an incredibly high impact, and promote the American spirit. 

LGB: Finally, be sure to tell me about anything you’d like to promote.

BL: Please visit www.westpointband.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC

Friday, March 17, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Lisa Nigris

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.


Day 15: Lisa Nigris




Today, we speak with Lisa Nigris, Director of Audio Production at the Aspen Music Festival and School and Director of Audio Visual Services at the New England Conservatory.


Leslie Gaston-Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio? 
Lisa Nigris: I started taking piano lessons around the age of 7 and voices lessons at 12.  There was a bit of a revelation when my folks gave me a DX7 and I discovered that manipulating sounds interested me more than performing songs.  In high school, my voice teacher mentioned that Berklee would be a good place to go to explore the various fields within the music industry.  That was good advice.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording? 
LN: My earliest experience with recording was holding a mic in front of my TV speaker trying to capture Kiss performing on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.   I learned about the need for isolation in recording that day … among other things. While at Berklee, we had to record a sound alike project.  I chose the Beatles’ tune, "8 Days a Week".  It was a humbling experience.  Sounded awful, but I learned a lot about listening, and capturing the desired performance from an artist.  A little later in my college career, I was interning at Blue Jay and realized that the repetition of studio work was not for me.  I thrived on the pressure of live sound and live concert recording.  This was a major revelation that guided my career.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?

I’ll answer almost anything if it’s asked in a respectful way, especially if it’s a younger woman asking.

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?

LN: I’d prefer to have conversations not be guided by my gender, so whatever questions you’d ask a man, you can ask me as well.

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
LN: My first professional role model was Robin Coxe Yeldham.  She was an amazingly talented engineer and educator.  She seemed to be able to balance work, home life, everything, with ease.  I was privileged to have taken some courses Robin while at Berklee. 


LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
LN: At New England Conservatory, we’ll be opening our new building in September.  We began the design phase of this project roughly 5 years ago.  In addition to a new dorm and library space, the building will include a black box theater, large recording studio, orchestra rehearsal space, and a small stage area in the dining commons.  The AV installation begins soon.  I seriously cannot wait to see this dream become a reality before my eyes!

LGB:  Finally, be sure to tell me about anything you’d like to promote.
LN: New England Conservatory presents hundreds of concerts in 5 concert halls throughout the year.  Many of these events are free of charge.  If you are in the Boston area, please come and hear some music! http://necmusic.edu/concerts-events

Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Gender Amplified

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.


Day 14: Gender Amplified


You can find out more about Gender Amplified here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GenderAmplified/
and here:
http://genderamplified.com/.