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In 2005 I decided to drop out of mechanical engineering and take a gamble on a program called "Independent Music Production", offered by the (now defunct) Stylus College of Music and Sound Technology in New Westminster. I had been playing in bands and experimenting with home recording since I was around 10 years old, and was frankly sick of calculus and physics classes. There were less than a dozen of us in the program, many of whom I still consider close friends. This rash and uncalculated decision sent me on a career trajectory more fulfilling than I could have possibly anticipated. After finishing up the program, the school invited me to TA, which eventually led to teaching classes of my own in fields like Studio Operations and Synthesis. This worked out perfectly for keeping my musical brain exercised while I went on to complete a BA in Communications from SFU. I bid my farewell from the music school shortly after finishing my degree program, and put all my attention towards recording independent music projects. This was around 2011. I was playing in a few bands, recording other artists out of my home studio and a handful of small neighborhood studios around Vancouver, and low-key "living the dream". Reaching the end of my 20s, I still craved a bit of normalcy and stability not offered by a career as a hired studio gun and independent musician. A job posting came up in my home town of Williams Lake as administrator of an Arts Centre, and I thought 'what the hell.' I never really imagined myself growing old in a big city, and that angsty youthful feeling of regret that used to hit me whenever I returned home had long since been replaced with a quaint nostalgia. At first it was hard shifting back to small town living, but it quickly became clear it was the right decision. I started working with Arts on the Fly festival, first as a volunteer, then as a director, then as Vice President, then as a hired coordinator (a position I still hold). All the while, I had started organizing shows in the Cariboo to help pump up the festival in the off-season. It also served as a great excuse to get all my musician friends to come visit for the weekend. My live-sound rig continued to grow, and summers were busy, driving a gear trailer around the province to run sound at a handful of festivals, mixing a weekly summer concert series in the park in Williams Lake, booking tours and playing with a couple musical acts, all while maintaining my post at the Arts Centre (they were great about letting me book time off). Recording was reallocated in my life, back to something that I did purely for the love of it. I recorded and toured a couple albums of my own (check em out, www.blocktreat.ca), taught some recording workshops, led a drop-in hip hop production class for at-risk youth, and helped lots of buds with their own recording projects. Since then, the love of my life has brought me back to Vancouver, at least for a couple years while she finishes her degree in education. Aside from having to take my leave from the Arts Centre, not much changed from this. Then, a global pandemic. But it isn't all doom and gloom -- while I had to park the live-sound trailer for the year, and put a pin in Arts on the Fly festival, this past year has been the perfect opportunity to dive head first back in the world of recording. The Performances in the Park series that I run live-sound for was able to pivot into an online concert series. So rather than dragging a bunch of speakers and amps to a park every Thursday, we set up a remote video and sound studio in an assortment of beautiful Cariboo locations, and shot a series of 9 full-length concerts. A happy biproduct of the lockdown has been the massive influx of online concert that artists have made. In an apocalyptic era with so much uncertainty, its been extremely satisfying recording online concerts, running sound for live-streams, and generally getting to spend more time in the recording / mixing / mastering domain. My absolute favorite is recording on-location. Either album projects or music video projects, recording in beautiful churches, livingrooms, or parking garages -- the added challenge and potential for creativity that comes from unconventional locations keeps the work lively and spontaneous.
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