A Beginner’s Guide to the Audio Industry – Interview

If you follow my Facebook, you’ll know that about twice a year I head over to Fordham University and assist the audio program students build and tune a theatrical sound system, then demonstrate how to execute “quiet time” with the sound designer. I always look forward to those calls.

Last week, Ian Donach, one of the students from the program, reached out to me saying he was referred to me by the head of audio program, Chris Hart, and now that his post-graduate work at PRG is done, he asked if he could ask me some questions. After answering the questions, I thought maybe there’d be some interesting information for those who are just starting out in the audio industry, and he graciously permitted me to publish it.

IAN: First and foremost, I’m curious how you got your start in the business?

KRIS: From a professional stand point, my first full-time audio gig was at Electric Lady Studios, NYC. That was in 2005 and I’ve been full-time ever since. I had my own studio already for the 7 or so years leading up to that. In between was attending the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, AZ.
 
IAN: If you had to pick the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey what would it be?

KRIS: It’s a slooooow burn. I have this philosophy: drips become puddles become streams. So, being experienced in as many facets of the audio genre as possible helps towards longevity.
 
IAN: A lot of people mention that in the entertainment industry one should be prepared to live an unordinary lifestyle where things like ‘weekends’ and ‘early nights’ are a thing of the past. However, has your work ever greatly interfered with your life (i.e. missing important life milestones whether they be your own or the milestones of others, rigorous work impacting your personal health, etc.)?

KRIS: I have missed all those things. Theatre work will destroy any kind of social life (including missing the kids’ events). You have to remember, in theatre, we’re working when everyone is not. That’s how you explain an 8 show work week. In the studio, you’re often smack in the middle of a project that someone has already paid for. You stick it out. I’ve tried to strike a balance with my family, and give them “backstage” trips, which helps them understand why I didn’t do something.
 
IAN: As I am someone who is just getting started in the industry, what are the most important things you’d recommend ‘being’ in this industry? What should someone be or aspire to become (i.e. personality traits, work habits, etc.)?
 
KRIS: Have lunch with the crew. Go to bars after work for at least one pint. You never know if the guy you just had a beer with the last week won’t call you first, because you’re front and center without selling to them. Networking. Go to the parties. Be 15 minutes early to every gig. Have a proper tool bag to go. Look the part. Added…Respect the crew hierarchy; unless something is about to go literally, catastrophically wrong, your safest bet is to trust your upper-ranking team members.

IAN: What has been your greatest obstacle (whether it be an exceptionally complex and intricate gig or a long term goal)?
 
KRIS: People. Haha. Relationships that go sour often will impact your client base. One poor relationship I had cost me work with the whole company. So, the biggest obstacle is navigating social interactions in a delicate and sensitive way.

IAN: What has been the most rewarding moment of your career thus far?

KRIS: I don’t know that there’s been just one. Building a keyboard summing system for the Grammy and Emmy winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live in one. Another was flying to Ibiza to shoot a music video that ended up with a lot of awards and exposure.
 
IAN: Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer my questions. I greatly appreciate it!

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You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @haloaskew

2018 – The Year of Buzz

We're thankful for all the organizations that help us spread the word this year

Reflecting back on 2018, there’s so much to be thankful for; so many people to be thankful for.  But to understand 2018, I really have to give credit where it’s due.  A few years ago, before I made Halo Askew a “legit” business, I adopted a couple philosophies from someone who’s made himself accessible to ask advice from:

1.   D.T.O. – Do The Opposite (but be smart about it).
2.  Always have something else to sell.
3.  Find someone who is more successful than yourself and ask them what they need.
4.  Always say yes.

Martin Atkins (PiL, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface)

Granted, I probably apply these ideas slightly outside of his normal context, but I don’t think he’d disagree that my application isn’t off base.  My personal music preferences usually lie in the Industrial category, but most of the buzz I have comes from Euro-Pop love songs.  Also, I don’t use social media for calls-to-action or to perpetuate a “persona”; I use it for everyday life (which drives my manager absolutely bonkers).  I never invested in a lot of merch (I stopped printing CD’s and now provide USB bracelets).  My highest selling product: Me!  My “something else” is providing audio technician and engineering services for large format events and productions (I’m a proud member of IATSE – the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).  And then for the last three years, I teamed up with Kim Cameron (who definitely fits under #3) and no matter what music-related service she needs, I say yes.   I consider DJing to be my “weakest link,” but when Kim offers me a stage, I say yes.  When she asks for a conventional Ragga track, I say yes.  When the shop foreman at Sound Associates asks if I can build a keyboard summing solution or a theatrical reading audio reinforcement system, I say yes. (It never fails that I find out it’s a high-profile gig after-the-fact).

Ok.  I’ll be honest.  I felt I needed that intro because of how many times, THIS YEAR ALONE, I’ve had to defend my business decisions to people who really thought I’m doing things “wrong” and I kinda realized that maybe I had done a piss poor job at connecting the dots in a more obvious way.  Here we go.  Hope that helps. 

Highlights of 2018

It sounds a little ridiculous, but I had some amazeballs gigs this year.

I headed up and mixed a theatrical reading of an upcoming jukebox musical by Britney Spears.  I was hired by David Weiser (Weisersound) to assist in providing keyboard support for Universal/NBC‘s Emmy Award Winning, Grammy Nominated “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”  The super-sexy, super-swank, Cirque du Soleil-owned venue, Heart Ibiza, plastered my name (literally) all over Ibiza Town, Spain, and hosted Kim Cameron, myself, and Rocky On Percussion on their dope stage as special guests of the Ibiza Burlesque Festival.  Oh, and I was the Audio Assistant for Gettin’ The Band Back Together on Broadway.

Three tracks I produced this year (and their music videos) were given recognition by the Global Music Awards, the Latitude Film Awards, the European Independent Film Awards, and the Orlando Film Festival, while around sixteen international, independent film associations, including the Forwardian Film Society, honored Scumbag by Mars Roberge; a film that included my track with Elaine Benavides, Liquid Bluez.  There’s nothing that makes an eyeball bulge a little more than seeing your show supported by Pete fucking Tong‘s International Music Summit (sit in on a Skype call with Deadmau5 and his and Calvin Harris‘s manager: check).  Then there was that cool interview with Italy’s leading Lifestyle publication, Livein Style Magazine.

Against all odds, and with the help of my newly hired (and fellow CRAS grad) assistant, Lauren Neidenberg, I was able to DJ and perform at the Amsterdam Dance Event, Netherlands, hosted by Kashmir Lounge DJ Cafe.  At that show, I debuted Drive With Me (To The Edge of Space), an eccentric track, with eccentric remixes, with two of the women that I’ve worked with since we were in diapers, Wendi Hughes and Elaine Benavides, which went on to rank #25 in the Top 100 Progressive House charts at Beatport.  

The biggest music distributor in China, TenCent, picked up a couple, super weird Ambient tracks and placed them at five Chinese record labels, a major theme park placed a track in one of their halloween themed attractions, and I’m ending 2018 with a newly signed band, Ten Cent Toys, hired for another Universal/NBC live in concert production, and producing music for an upcoming animated children’s feature film (there’s rumor of voice over action on this one).  

And now, is that stupid call-to-action that I hate so much:

Does following a guy who works in professional entertainment AND talks about his step-kids, science experiments, and awesome lamb-chop recipes sound like something you’d be ok with?  

Follow my personal Facebook: @haloaskew.  

Do you like Industrial, House, Ambient, and Euro-Pop songs?

Please follow me on Spotify: Kris “Halo” Pierce or, if you’re feeling adventurous, check out my playlist, Halo Askew Entertainment, for a few hundred hours of music that I’m proud to a part of.