Greetings from…Chester Springs PA!
Although that introduction may not be nearly as exciting as those coming from my peers, I believe that my internship at Echoes has certainly provided me with a set of equally fascinating experiences thus far.
The past few days inside Echoes have been a tad hectic, mostly due to the chaotic nature of this area’s winter weather. The recent snow storm has unfortunately forced one of this week’s featured performers, Phil Keaggy, to cancel his recording sessions and performances with Echoes. When one takes into consideration that the roads near the performance venue were very poorly cleared, and that late-night travel conditions were almost certainly going to worsen, it becomes clear that it was a good decision to cancel these two sessions. Additionally, the performance that was supposed to take place on Monday with Balmorhea was canceled due to a band member’s family emergency. All of these sudden cancellations illustrate the unpredictability of the radio industry. On Monday, I sat in on a meeting with the entirety of the Echoes team (John, Kim, Jeff, and Liz), during which they planned how they would fill in the gaps created by these cancellations. It was interesting listening in while they reviewed recordings they had made in previous years, and discussing how they could possibly fit some old features in the holes where these new features were supposed to fit. As a performer, it was thought-provoking to see how one decision (canceling a show or an interview, for instance) has the potential to jam up other processes taking place throughout the music industry. These events have made me both more aware of how my decisions as a musician affect others, and how, as a potential radio worker, I would be able to face and overcome challenges similar to those faced by the Echoes team this week.
Unfortunately for my internship, these cancellations only mean one thing: more desk work, and fewer opportunities to interact in hands-on situations. Mr. Diliberto has done a great job of keeping me very busy this week, assigning me jobs such as artist biography research and filing, CD library organization, and everything in between. One of my favorite jobs at Echoes is to take a chunk out of the mountains of new CD releases piled around John’s office, and be the first person to give them a listen-through. During this process, I check to see if any material on any of the CD’s is playable on an Echoes program. John told me that over 80 percent of the albums they receive do not make it to the second round of consideration for airtime. Interestingly, a radio station that has a musical focus primarily in the abstract and ambient world of music rakes in piles upon piles of CD’s of a wide array of genres. Within a pile of ten CD’s, I would often find anything from classical artists, to avant-garde noise music, to free form jazz,to modern pop, rock, electronica, and even so-called “sounds of nature” (entire CD’s consisting of recordings of, well, nature!). This was a really interesting part of my desk work at Echoes.
In addition to the desk work that I have been carrying out at Echoes, I have now begun to inch my way into some more hands-on work. John and Jeff (Co-Producer and Sound Engineer) have been introducing me to the intricacies of the computer program Pro Tools. This program is the industry standard for nearly any type of sound recording. I have always wanted to work and experiment with this program. However, the several-hundred-dollar price tag that comes along with this program has unfortunately limited my ability to do so. Today and yesterday, I sat in while Jeff mixed a recording taken two years ago of a British group called “The Mediaeval Baebes”. Jeff told me that this was one of his most difficult mixing jobs to date. The band consists of eight musicians total (five singers, two stringed instrument players, and a percussionist). This video can give you a better idea of the depth of the instrumentation of their music:
As you can see, this is some crazy stuff! Jeff’s job was to set the level of each instrument and voice so that the Baebes’ live recording sounded as close to that which is on their album as is possible. Jeff’s work is truly an art. He spends hours on end analyzing each individual part of each song, adding reverb, boosting or lowering volume levels, removing speech pops. His ability to make a disorganized and unequalized piece of music sound beautiful is truly unbelievable.
I will be in close contact with Pro Tools next year while I take my gap year at a recording studio house in Long Island, NY. I am very excited to explore the possibilities of sonic manipulation, especially when it comes down to my own personal compositions.
Tomorrow, I will be working at the first (and, unfortunately, the final) live performance session happening during my internship. I will have the amazing opportunity of experiencing a performance by the world-renowned Bill Frisell. His ambient and experimental guitar technique is astonishing. He is a true master of the instrument. Being a guitarist myself, I will be in awe throughout the entire performance tomorrow.
I’ll leave you with a video of Frisell’s playing. By this weekend, expect a post about the performance!