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!

***

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