I have over a decade of experience as an audio engineer. These days I work primarily as a mixing and mastering engineer and have built Neon Audio for these tasks. But whatever the job, my goal is always the same: to maximize the emotional impact of the music.
Frisson, or “aesthetic chills,” is a physically pleasurable sensation that can be brought on by various beautiful stimuli, but is most often experienced from music. Frisson is something I chase as a music fan, always looking for the next song that can deliver that rush of chills. It also explains my drive to play music: from a young age, I wanted to learn how to communicate emotion like I heard in my favorite songs. I studied saxophone in grade school and started teachng myself guitar around the age of 12. In high school I began playing drums and at George Washington University I studied percussion and music theory, using the later to teach myself some piano.
After college, I played in several bands, first in New York City and later Oakland, CA. During this time I was exposed to the world of recording, starting out in home "project" studios and eventually working as an assistant engineer at Anchorhold Recording in Oakland.
Upon moving to Durham, NC, I interned with Jason Richmond at SoundPure Studios. There I was exposed to a world-class room, with acoustics suitable for jazz and classical music, as well as an array of expensive microphones and recording equipment. Watching and assisting Jason, I learned some new techniques and recorded in new genres. The exposure to better equipment helped to firm my understanding of the tools of the trade. But the most valuable thing I took away was confirmation that many of the skills I picked up in more modest studios were the same being used in full scale facilities.
Eventually I decided to focus my skills on mixing and mastering, partly because I could more easily work with anyone, anywhere. Our networked world and the modern practices of digital recording have allowed me to work with clients all over the globe, as far flung as Brazil, Russia, and the Maldives.
After a decade of experience as a professional audio engineer, the most important thing I've learned is to utilize my technical skills without getting distracted by them. I prioritize the song and its emotional message as the primary focus for any part of the production process. In this way, I never lose sight of the creative aspect of my job, and I’m grateful to spend my days helping artists realize their vision. But I also never lose sight of the ultimate goal: the bottling of emotion inside a recording. Sometimes, when I’ve been toiling over minute details of a mix, I’ll remind myself to sit back and just listen to the song as a music lover. When I feel the chills of frisson, I know I’m on the right track.