The Career Musician Ep. 47: Making Mega Trax with Derek Jones
There's a huge college scene there. I think I read once that there's more colleges per square foot in Boston Massachusetts than anywhere else in the world like there's little tiny colleges and then there's big universities and a huge college town so there's a lot of live music. There's a lot of kids that like to go. Marty and I don't know if it's still this way but you know twenty thirty years ago Bands could make a lot of money playing at the bigger bars and nightclubs. But you had to do cover songs and it had to be kind of Pop rock music and you know so a lot of the guys that I went to school with excuse me. They were really focused on doing original music and honing their craft musicians artists and I was like forget that man I just want. I just want to make some money you know. I'd rather play music making money than you know sitting at a desk staring at spreadsheets but then go practice at home right. That's So I was like you know I started a band that was just going to be cover songs and just to try to play like the big club circuit and then I ended up moving out here as I was putting that together and I moved out to. La So I never really got that completely off the ground but so you land foot here. What was next. What happened You know the first thing I did when I moved out here I Through the Berkeley Alumni Network. I got a job teaching music at teaching drums at lessons at a youth center in South Central. La called a place called home and It's a phenomenal place. It's still there You know they have an amazing arts program. When I was there back in the early two thousands Dr Dre shook night will Smith. They donated a ton of money to create the music program. Janet Jackson donated a ton of money to create the dance program It's free for any kids eighteen and under and it's open all day. They serve food all day for the kids. There's a lot of kids that go there. That are homeless There's all yeah. I mean. There were a lot of kids that would try to get locked into the bathrooms at night so that they wouldn't have to sleep on the streets and you know at these kids are just so amazing at home would have a place called holidays. Okay and it's in south central. Yeah but yeah. There is excellent but phenomenal place. It had a tie in with Berkeley College of music for a while. I it still might But we were for the kids that really excelled in our music program. Berkeley would offer them. partial tuition scholarships and some full scholarships to the summer program. So they can go to Berkeley for the Five Week. Summer Program experience that and then if they wanted to go to college there They could apply for scholarships and try to get scholarships as well. This is just a dot org for our listeners. Place called home h. h dot. Org So phenomenal organization. I worked there for a while. I worked there for a few years but after working there for about six months I ended up. I I was applying at studios. You know. It's funny because I thought to myself well how to do. Sound engineering and two good. Plus if I can get a Gig a a buddy of mine worked at a record label out here and he said you know. I was talking to this drummer. And he was in one of the bands that got signed to a record label and he said that he got the Gig with the band just because he was an assistant engineer at the studio that they were trying to record at and after they fired their drummer he was talking about so I was like Maybe I should try to get a GIG as an assistant engineer here. So I started applying at different studios and I was looking at different studios and one of the studios I applied to was this place called mega tracks and they they do this thing that I'd never heard of before called library. Music didn't know anything about it. This was circa. This was two thousand and One wow okay. I moved here. December eighteenth of two thousand and then right around May of two thousand and one I got a. I got the job over tracks you heard about. It inquired you. I found out about it through the Berkeley Alumni Network Berkeley and they have A. It's it's crazy can trace every gig I've ever gotten or every dollar that I've ever made in the music industry back to going to that school amazing so that's testament back when you when I was looking at schools to go to. This is the listeners. If there's kids out there that are are listening into this. When I was in high school and I was trying to find what college to go to. I wanted to go to music school. I knew that and I started looking at the career placement rates of graduates. That's a statistic very and you know I was looking at you know like University of North Texas and nyu inside Nyu has a school music and Eastman School of Music and Miami. And and a lot of them their placement rate of their You know the within five years after graduation it was usually around twenty to twenty five percent of the graduates had a job in the field that they got their major okay. Berkeley's was eighty six percent that time I imagine it's probably higher now so this isn't Berkeley California. This is Berkeley school music to ease L. E. So I was like okay. Well that is a really strong motivation. Yes And then after going through the school you start to realize that you know the alumni Just like with Harvard or MIT or you know Yale. The alumni all stick together. It's almost like we all went through the same boot camp in so we all know kind of the same musical language. We all know what we all had to go through. And so you Kinda know you know what to expect. At least you know when you when you're working with somebody that went somewhere else you don't know you know what they went through and what classes they were required to take and what they did but Yeah I can trace pretty much every gig including the album that I got nominated for a grammy for all the way back to go into Berkeley. So you know it's kind of a prop to the school. But that's hey. I was glad I was when I was walking around. I went to Some other universities around the around the country. I won't say which ones but I was just floored I would walk into their music school and this is what I heard. It was dead silent silent and I can remember waiting to take one of the The entrance exams. You know you had to do like a music theory test. And I'm waiting outside to take a music theory test and there was a kid playing bass electric bass just kind of noodling and practicing scales and stuff in the hallway and at one of these other schools and One of the teachers by stop. Oh come on so that. It was disturbing the classrooms. But that's what you're there to do and then you go to Berkeley College of Music. That's all and there is music coming from that school. Twenty two hours a day. They shut it down from six. Am to eight am in the morning so that the cleaning crews can go through in Greeley but there is music twenty two hours every day of the week from eight am to six am every day. That's incredible everywhere. I mean you go down by the the The mailboxes. There's all these kids with practice drum practice pads because the height like you take a couple steps down to get to the mailboxes. So if you turn around and put a chair down. The law is the perfect. There's everybody everybody has guitars everywhere. Everybody singing in the hallways everywhere. They go all this. Vocalists are always practicing singing as they're walking around so music just comes at you from everywhere. You're hearing music come out of every classroom bands performing teachers playing examples. And so that's one of the things that really drew me to it. But just now but I love it. Yeah so through the Berkeley Alumni network. They had a job posting for an assistant engineer at tracks and so I went over there to interview and it was. It was really cool the thing that I really liked about it. I get bored very easily and that was one of the things that I always had a problem. You know being in a band and you're playing the same sat through the same two sets over and over and over and then you practice them over and over and over and one of the cool things. When I was doing the interviews at mega tracks Was that they do all different styles of music and it's always different every week so one week. You're doing heavy metal the next week. You're doing big band jazz the next week. You're doing a string quartet the next week. You'RE DOING SALSA MUSIC. The just it's always different. It's always changing so that really appealed to me so I applied and I went through the process and they have a big process that you usually go through to try to get a job there. It's not just like an interview and you shake a hand. It's like you down in front of an editing system. And they're like okay. We need you to see new. Edit the stuff okay so you down in front of approach the system. Okay set up a recording session headphones on this and do this. You know so you have to. You have to kind of know your stuff and they have tests that you had to do to prove that. Sure and so I did all of those But the funny thing is The chief engineer told me this years later But the reason why or he says Maybe it's jokingly but It's kind of a good story. He said the reason why. I got the GIG OVER EVERYBODY. Else at applied. He is a big. Fan of the Microsoft. Logitech track where you use your thumb. Yes the trackball. In the news your fingers to Click instead of the Kensington which is huge always young I have carpal tunnel syndrome from trying to do drum corps and so I got I got a really really bad carpal tunnel syndrome so I had trouble using a mouse and so I always had that Microsoft's Logitech with the trackball and now I'm trying to thumb trackball and so every every guy that came in to interview in sat down and went to do the test they they just couldn't figure out how to use the track ball. I was the only guy that walked in and sat down. It was like okay cool and he literally said to me is that okay. Do you know how to use a track ball? And I'm like yeah. I love these things. I have one of them at home. And you know like okay done you know. It's it's the it's the little things that set you apart late. Ability man the other two that he said which nowadays especially for younger kids is is probably something to think about. I was the only person that actually up in a suit for the first interview. Very cool it was a very kind of more like Chic like sure. You industry styles wasn't like you know I remember. It was like an all black suit with like this gold sat anti you know but I took it seriously enough where I went the extra mile and got dressed up. You know out of respect and those two things were kind of been there now for almost nineteen years. Wow yeah that's impressing so I was working there and doing the a place called home thing for a little while and then after a couple of years I just got so busy at. Meg attracts that. I just I had to let the a place called Home Gig. Go and I stopped teaching there but you know I love since I've known you your incredibly busy over there. How did we meet through through mega tracks? I want to see who wasn't it through? I remember the way I remember it. Wilfredo Reyes junior frayed recommended. You that's Raphael's because he kept saying man. Do you know Michael Foale nomad nomad.