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 and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC