Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Electronic Production and Design (Page 1 of 3)

Electronic Production and Design

Berklee Indian Ensemble: Have you met Ishita?

Credits to Anantha Srinivas Pawan Dommeti

Credits to Anantha Srinivas Pawan Dommeti

“Aunty ji, how are you?” I say as I run to hug Ishita, a dear friend and a constant ray of sunshine, no matter what Boston’s weather is like. Ishita Sinha has been a part of the Berklee Indian Ensemble since her second semester and there is so much that I’ve learnt from her over the past two years. With a heart as pure as her voice, she is a friend, mentor and confidant to me the people around her. As she nears the finish line at Berklee with a dual major in Electronic Production and Design and Film Scoring, Ishita has a lot to say about her journey so far.

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Carreiras na área de EP&D (Electronic Production & Design)

Vinicius Sa
Vinícius Cavalieri de Sá Coutinho, born in São Paulo on March 8, 1992, is a Brazilian guitarist and composer. 

Nesta semana escolhi o major de EP&D para poder pesquisar sobre os diferentes ramos que podem ser tomados após a graduação neste. Descobri que este major abrange inúmeras áreas, e todas elas são muito interessantes e há uma grande procura de recém-formados em cada uma destas áreas.

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Student Post: Friendliness, Generosity and Kindness Abroad

Drum principal and professional performance major, Elena Bonomo ’14, blogs about the recent BIN visit to Kuala Lumpur’s International College of Music. 

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Having the chance to perform in Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life! At the start of our journey, Annie (Grunwald) and I had no idea what to expect. Neither of us had ever traveled so far from home before! As soon as we were introduced to the students from International College Music (ICOM), we knew that this trip was going to be special.

Our first days were spent rehearsing with the girls for the Tribute to Classic Rock Concert. Annie and I were part of the “Women In Rock” portion of the show (the other two sets were tributes to American Rock and British Rock). The rehearsal process was one of the most intense that I’ve ever experienced. We ran through our set, performed numerous sound checks, learned the stage blocking, got fitted for costumes, ran dress rehearsals, and received notes from the directors and producers of the show. The attention to detail (from the monitor levels, to the video angles and lighting cues, to the stage blocking, to the sound in the house) was at a level that I never experienced before. Everyone who was responsible for producing the show really did an amazing job ensuring that every single aspect of the show was perfect.

I had such a fun time performing in the two concerts! The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) was such a beautiful venue in which to perform. What really amazed me was the fact that everyone who performed in the show also doubled as a guitar tech, drum tech, etc. And many of them played multiple instruments during the show! It was hard to tell which one was their principle instrument, since they were all equally amazing on everything that they played. Many of the students also ran sound and lighting, which can be such a hard task, given that there were three different sets with multiple instrument changes. It was really an honor to share the stage with such talented musicians! We really appreciate that the students from ICOM let us be part of a show that was so special to them.  They had been working on this show for 3 months before we got there.

Annie Grunwald (guitar - Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series - Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Annie Grunwald (guitar – Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series – Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Along with performing in the two tribute concerts, we also had some time to explore the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. We visited the Batu Caves (and became best friends with the monkeys), shopped at Central Market, visited some malls, and ate a tasty banana leaf dinner in Bangsar Village. The girls had been telling us about how we just HAD to try banana leaf since the first day we got there — and wow, it was so worth it! It’s basically a ton of spicy chicken, lamb, fish, rice and vegetables that are served family style, on top of a banana leaf! And you’re supposed to eat it with your hands. It was definitely messy, but so worth it!

Traveling to Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will remember it forever. In just a week, we made such close friends and it was hard to say goodbye. Even though we were halfway across the world, everyone that we met made us feel right at home. We were so humbled by the friendliness, generosity, and genuine kindness of everyone we met at ICOM. I look forward to working with all of these talented people someday in the future, and also seeing some of them at Berklee next year! I hope that someday we will get a chance to repay them for all that they did for us. Many thanks to ICOM president Miss Irene (Savari), ICOM vice president Dato’ Ravi (Savari), professor of music technology Mr. Nilesh (Thomas), Roger Brown, Tod Oliviere and the Scholarship Office, Jason Camelio, and everyone who made this trip possible! I am truly honored to have been part of such an amazing journey.”

Josh Kipersztok: Newfound Confidence

Berklee Blogs follows Joshua Kipersztok, a fifth semester EPD major interning at Bear Creek Studio near Seattle. Check back periodically as we post updates on his progress.

This has been a couple weeks full of newfound challenges. I feel that it is, more than anything, an indication of the trust I have earned from the people at the studio, regardless of the difficulties.

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Gary Lazzara: Interview with Keith Harris pt. 2

Berklee intern Gary Lazzara asks the question “How does music education translate into the reality of life in the industry?” Gary interviewed Keith Harris producer, songwriter, musician and performer with The Black Eyed Peas for answers. Read Gary’s story behind the interview here.

In October of 2011, I had the utmost pleasure in meeting Producer/Performer Keith Harris, current performer with the Black Eyed Peas and former Berklee MP&E (Music Production & Engineering) graduate of ‘99. As part of a stop at Berklee, Keith decided to give back to his alma mater by hosting a master class titled “L.A.B., Life after Berklee” where he shared his  experiences after Berklee. Beforehand, I had the privilege of sitting down with Keith for an interview on the differences between college and working in the music industry. As a preface to the interview, I described my story and had an extremely valuable conversation with Keith. This is how it went:

Gary Lazzara: So Keith, what was your biggest challenge leaving Berklee and what are the challenges you see Berklee students having today starting their professional careers?

Keith: The biggest challenge was [realizing] that real world situations aren’t like the text-books. But you think that they are. What I mean by that is, you can’t apply basic knowledge that you learn in school and apply it to all situations that you go through. Whether it’s publishing, whether it’s a writing split, whether its getting paid for a record, all of these things are variables depending on your relationship with the person you’re dealing with–the budgets, all types of things. [Also] we have so much information that we feel like we need to shoot everything out all at once. But the average person doesn’t understand all that information. But we, in this world of Berklee, understand because we all speak the same language. So it takes a little bit of transitioning out of that to be able to communicate properly to people that are not at our level musically, and then to find a nice medium of that.

GL: What is a job-search like in your line of work? For example, is there a traditional hiring process? If not, how do you recommend someone entering the industry to market themselves?

Keith: Its tough. There’s not really a hiring process. Sometimes they do have a hiring process where they have auditions for different things. You know, they’ll have a, “Hey we need a guitarist.” You Audition. If you get the gig, then you stay. If you don’t, you don’t.

Then 90% of it is just “who do you know?” If you play around the city, you’ll know a lot of cats. They know how you play. They know what you sound like. You’re more likely to get a gig that way than the audition process where they really treat you like you’re just hired to do the job. But when you’re in there with some people that you know, it feels like you’re playing with your friends.

GL: Right.

Keith: So, I would suggest that anybody that wants to get a gig outside of Berklee, they have to establish an extended network of people that they know. If you want to tour, you have to be in the state where all the touring is happening. So, if all the tours are coming out of Los Angeles, you can’t be in Connecticut trying to get on tour.

For me, back in the day, it was New York because it was the 90s, you know… Diddy. A lot of stuff was coming out of New York. So I had to move to New York. I think right now a lot of artists are coming out of Los Angeles and Atlanta, more so LA now. So I would suggest that a lot of people try and get west because that’s where a lot of the gigs are coming from.

GL: Does that same advice apply to engineers who don’t perform? Is there an alternative way engineers are selected for work other than word of mouth referrals?

Keith: Like I said, you just have to go where they’re cutting records. Including engineers. Atlanta is big now. Tyler Perry has a studio down there so they’re doing a lot of film stuff in Atlanta now. So, I would just say you just got to go where people are recording. That’s the best bet.

And then they have to work their way up the ranks. Unless they’re coming out of Berklee blazing and they already have mixed like 16 records in Berklee while they are students, you got to be a runner. For me, it was playing cover gigs, and doing all of these things until I got the big gig. With engineering, you got to be a runner, and then probably become an assistant, and then you move yourself up. So that’s what you got to do.

GL: Alright. What would you say is the most sought after personality trait in the studio?

Keith: Being non-confrontational and just being cool. One thing I pride myself is just being able to adapt to any situation. For example, if there’s a situation where people are drinking and smoking, I’m not about to do that. But I know how to still be cool and not be the weirdo in a room.

Like I said, most of the time people get the gig because they know somebody, or people like him. There’s a lot of people that get gigs that aren’t the best. But, they know the MD. They know the artist. So they’re like “Hey that’s my boy. Put him on.”

GL: What are common business considerations in the studio that students are not familiar with and might find difficult to deal with?

Keith: For me, it’s the pressure of always just trying to be better than myself. Its like a pressure that you really don’t think about when you’re here at Berklee because everything is just fun.

What it really comes down to is when you’re working for a label and they have to make money, it turns into a job. Like you said, its numbers, it’s the quotas… the things that you really got to do. And if you’re really not turning that around its like, “Okay, why are you here?” And you know, that pressure is like, “Okay, I have to produce good work all the time” and that’ll really get your head a little screwy sometimes. So just remember that if you’re having a bad day, keep it moving and try and stay on that constant level of greatness all the time.

GL: What would you say is the most common mistake a new hire makes when entering the music industry?

Keith: I would think the biggest mistake is thinking that everything works like the textbooks. You know, school is good for giving you a good foundation of knowledge on all things and you learn how things basically run. And that’s what you should take from your experience at Berklee. This is a good base, a good foundation for you to adapt to any musical or business situation in music.

People that really think that everything they learn in the book is: “That’s what it is. It’s black and white. I get out, I write a song and because I did this its going to be like that; and I’m gonna get this; and I’ve learned that producers should get paid this amount of money; and this is what it should be… Nah” [laughs]. Everything is subject to change. You just got to accept those facts going in and I think you’ll be all right.

GL: In the music industry, there are professionals who are non-musicians or don’t know the same amount of information that we know. What percentage of the people would you say have been formally trained musically versus those that, you know, you tell them to play the e-minor scale and they have no idea what you’re talking about?

Keith: I would say a lot of the musicians I know are knowledgeable. But as for the producers, a lot of them have no clue. They can’t tell you what any of the black keys are. [laughs] That’s why they hire us. We know what we’re doing. So, I mean, there are very few musicians that I’ve met that don’t really know their instrument, but not really. Maybe there’s a couple that don’t know the names of the scales like we know them‚ like harmonic minors and all of that, but they know their instrument. They’re very proficient, they can hear things and they can play it the way it needs to be played. But like I said, a lot of producers aren’t producers they are beat makers. So when you’re doing beats you don’t necessarily need to know chords and scales and stuff like that. You’re just putting sounds together. So, in that case if they need to do some strings, that’s when they’re like “oh… I don’t know how to do strings.” That’s when they get people like us, who have knowledge, that can adapt to any type of situation.

GL: What’s the best advice you could give to a student leaving Berklee who has to work with one of these professionals?

Keith: I think it’s all about staying humble. That [producer or musician] is in a place because they are good at something that you’re not. You learn from that person and then you give to them. So its like a back and forth exchange. You know, me and Will (Will.I.Am); Will doesn’t know everything that I know musically. But there are a lot of things that he does, like song writing, the way he uses his plugins, and the way he uses Pro Tools as an instrument that I have never done before until I started watching him.

He comes to me or he’ll call me up and “Hey man, what key is this song in?’ I’m not even in the studio and he’ll call me up with “What key is this in?” [laughs]. So alright, its in G. “Alright thanks, bye.” You know, he’ll use me for certain things and I’ll use him for certain things. It’s just a good working relationship- you can’t come out, guns blazin’. Like I said, everybody has something to offer even if they’re not the most knowledgeable as a musician or on the technical things.

GL: Keith, I know you have a busy day today so I don’t want to take up more of your time but I just wanted to say it’s been a pleasure and again thank you for this interview and your time.

Keith: Oh, no problem. Thank you.

More on Keith at:
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Read Gary’s Other Posts

Interview with Keith Harris pt. 1

High Tech vs. High Touch in Recording Studios



Born and raised in Southern California, Gary Lazzara started his music career at a young age. Whether through playing the guitar, piano, marching trombone, percussion, drum set, or working in the analog/digital music production domain, Gary has immersed himself in many different aspects of the music creation and performance process. Gary currently is enrolled at Berklee College of Music as a dual major in Music Production and Engineering and Electronic Production and Design. Gary hopes to someday own his own music studio and travel around the world collaborating with artists to create hybrids in music genres by fusing new and old local styles of music with the popular music of today.

Say “Hey!” to Gary and continue the conversation on Facebook.

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