As stated in my Objectives and Learning Outcomes, It was important that I found an assistant engineer for my project. The salience of having an assistant was shown in my first session in the studio, which I undertook by myself. The practicality of performing, engineering and producing was too much to contend with so I decided I should find my engineer as soon as possible.
Firstly I considered exactly what I wanted from my assistant engineer and I found the IADT (International Academy of Design & Technology) website extremely helpful. (Please see references).
After writing a list of what I desired from my engineer, I began by sending an email to Audio Production lecturer David McSherry, as I was aware that he often forwards emails from students looking to collaborate with others. I was careful not to sound too formal as I also remembered I was effectively selling my project, a skill that will become extremely helpful in the future. I had decided to work with a fellow student for three reasons. The first was purely a budget decision as I would not able to afford a freelance engineer with my current funds. The second being that I wanted to keep it within the University community as collaboration is key to this project and I know I can trust someone who is regularly in and around campus. Finally I understand the importance of working with someone who is familiar with the software, hardware and acoustics of the studio. As I move forward after University I hope this represents a similar structure to that of working with an in house engineer.
David thought it was a good idea and kindly agreed to send out the following email:
The message was sent out at 10.04 am on the 3rd February and I received a response almost immediately from a keen 1st year student, Daniel Marnie.
After sending emails back and forth over the next few days, I was sure that I wanted Daniel to be my assistant. I could already tell he showed a great desire to learn and he showed me examples of his recording, mixing and mastering skills as shown by this cover of Jenny Don’t Be Hasty – Paolo Nutini:
Another factor that made me certain I waned to work with Daniel was that he understood the genre I was targeting with my E.P. and had similar interests musically. This is a factor Owsinski (2010) highlights when discussing what to look for in an engineer, under the heading ‘Experience in the type of music you’re about to produce’,
‘If you’re able to hire an engineer who has a lot of experience with the music you’re working on, then that’s the guy to get’.
He also states,
‘It’s important to have a meeting with the engineer prior to the first session to discuss the parameters of the project so you each know what to expect from one another’
Therefore I asked Daniel to meet me on 7th February in the Multitrack Studio for a quick informal chat about my project and what I expect from him. He agreed and the meeting went really well. Daniel took notes as I discussed my different influences and clearly defined the role he would have. I encouraged him to be vocal throughout the process and have a clear opinion but whilst understanding at the same time that my decision would be final.
The meeting was a great success and it did no harm that we got on really well! I finished the talk by discussing my proposed timeframe of the project and Daniel said he would come to as many sessions as possible / required. (I understand he will also have deadlines for projects so I shall aim to work around his schedule as well as mine).
I look forward to working with my assistant engineer in the coming months!
IADT (2013) What Does an Assistant Sound Engineer Do? [online] IADT Blogs. Available from http://www.iadt.edu/student-life/iadt-buzz/november-2013/what-does-an-assistant-sound-engineer-do [Accessed 7 February 2015]
Owsinski, Bobby. 2010. The Music Producers Handbook. Hal Leonard Books.