Τετάρτη, 06 Αύγουστος 2014 00:38

Darryn De La Soul and her Soulsound Resource Centre

interview: Katherine Vamva

Darryn De La Soul, founder of Soulsound Resource Centre, talks to Katherine Vamva and shares with aLive readers, everything about her unique idea and the music (and sound) industry as it is today…
Darryn de la Soul, a sound engineer herself, shares with us her great idea of the establishment of the Soulsound Resource Centre. An online centre which is not only an educational place, providing Continued Professional Development, but also a meeting place for sound engineers. She has also established Soulsound Agency to create job opportunities for sound engineers and provide high quality sound services to the Agency's clients.

aLive: What stage are you at in your career, and how did you get there?
I made the move from a career in restaurants and night clubs, to a career in sound engineering at the turn of the millennium.  I went to college to study studio and fell into the live industry by accident.  After a decade as a jobbing engineer, I got drawn into a very successful 4 years in education, running the Alchemea Live Sound Diploma.  Realising that the one thing that young engineers lacked, no matter how good they were, was contacts and someone to vouch for them, I founded Soulsound Agency, which helps entry-level engineers find opportunities to prove themselves, as well as placing more experienced engineers in gigs and events all over the place.
Recently I have returned to education, with the brand new online Soulsound Resource Centre. In keeping with the agency work, I am concentrating on improving skills, broadening knowledge and enabling engineers to better their craft.  This kind of continued professional development was not available in my career and I really missed it. 

aLive: Could you please share your memories from your early life as sound engineer. How did you get started? What made you choose to become sound engineer? Did you had any special influence?
At the age of 30 I decided I needed a career change.  I had spent the last few years managing night clubs and found myself intrigued by the DJ kit. The sound engineers who maintained the system came in quite often, and I got to know them. One of them decided to educate me and took me to the famous London club, Heaven, where he took me into an area I had never had access to – the sound booth. It was high on a balcony (it still is) and I was over-awed by  the privileged view of the dance floor, and knew that this was where I wanted to be. In the background, but with a good view of things! I ended up working at Heaven on-and-off for years. One thing my mentor did was put me in front of the FOH mixer (it was a little analogue desk, 24 channels I think), plug a mic in, hand it to me and say “play”.  I really had no idea whatsoever what anything on the desk did, neither did I have any idea what I was trying to do with it, but I loved the feel of the knobs and faders and desperately wanted to know what it was for and what it could do. That’s how I made the decision to go into sound engineering.  I first did a part time course, and once I knew I loved it I spent a year paying off credit cards and saving to do the studio course at Alchemea. After that I fell into live music completely by accident and have been in the industry ever since.

aLive: What it is like for you as a woman to work in the male-dominate tech industry?Did you had any obstacles to overcome or doubts?
It is totally fine being a woman in the music industry, in the UK at least (I have no idea what it’s like in other countries.) I know it’s male dominated, but that’s because most women aren’t interested in the career rather than the boys not wanting us in the industry!  I have often had people express surprise seeing me behind the desk, but never once did anyone say they didn’t think I should be there.  Most people are pleasantly, rather than unpleasantly, surprised to find a woman behind the desk.  The female engineers I have on my Soulsound Agency books are some of the most sought-after.  I can send them in anywhere and they do a brilliant job. I never had any doubts that I could do it, or that it was the right path to take.

aLive: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I think I finally understand what the word “career” means.  I think it means “gather everything you’ve learned in your life so far and take it with you on the next step”.  Looking back over a very varied working life, there is not one job, no matter how horrible, that didn’t give me a skill or teach me a life lesson.  And everything you do brings you one step closer to finding your niche in the industry.  Right now I am 44 years old and I can only now, with the benefit of hindsight, see how everything that has happened over my life, every job I’ve done, has led to this moment and the launch of Soulsound Resource Centre.
If you are at the beginning of your career, just starting out - get out there and learn those lessons.  When life knocks you down, wallow in self-pity for half an hour, drink a stiff scotch, get up, brush yourself off and then get on with the next thing. Each and every triumph and disaster will make sense later in your life. And always remember, you are human and you will make mistakes - just don’t make the same mistake twice.

aLive: Which do you believe are the DO and DON'T in a live sound environment?
Be on time
Do your share of the work
Help others when your work is finished – you’re all on the same show after all
Be friendly
Remember people’s names
Admit it when you’ve made a mistake
Label things properly and keep your stage neat
Take pride in your work environment
Maintain your gear (when was the last time you dusted the fans on your amps?)
Realise you don’t know everything and learn from those around you

Be lazy – there’s nothing more annoying than that one guy who just doesn’t do his share of the work.

aLive: Where do you think the sound engineering industry is heading? What we should expect in the next years? Where the trend of our time will lead us?
This is a very tricky question.  Because I run an agency, I know that work really does exist for sound engineers.  Granted, there is stiff competition, especially in London, but there is really plenty of work.  You just need to know how to get it.  Good engineers are always in demand. Trying to make a living entirely out of mixing live music is quite difficult, however.  You do need to look at alternative means of generating income – the corporate sector is brilliant for this as it pays well.  Spoken word, conferencing, award shows – they all require some pretty hard-core technical skills. So there is job satisfaction to be had, even if the content isn’t your cup of tea.  Or look for a business idea that works well with being a sound engineer. In the end, there will always be a need for sound to be amplified, so there will always be work.
People will also need to diversify their skills and make sure they keep up with the current technology.  Learn as many useful things as you can - learn about lights and AV so you can do those jobs too.  Being able to drive vans and build stage and truss will also make you more employable.  When you are starting out, you can't afford to be fussy!

aLive: Would you like to share any advise with up and coming sound engineers and especially young girls who would like to get involved with sound engineering?
If I had to choose only one thing, I would advise young engineers, men and women, to really understand that their profession is a craft, and like all crafts, takes many years to perfect. Know your theory thoroughly and get to grips with Phase!  This is hugely important subject that affects every link in the audio chain. And don't for a minute think that when you graduate from university or college, that you know everything. You don't.  Keep learning!
For women in particular:  there is nothing about pro audio that you can’t do.  Perhaps some of the very heaviest lifting should be left to the boys, but apart from that, you can do it all.  It’s a dirty job, and you get to wear a lot of jeans and black T-shirts, but it’s an enormous amount of fun to be a girl in the industry.  I highly recommend it as a career path for women.

aLive: Darryn could you please let us know about the Soulsound Resource Centre project? What is all about? What we should expect?
My mission with Soulsound is to help make people more employable by teaching things that often are impossible in the classroom, to give young engineers examples of success to aspire to, and to help jobbing engineers improve their skills. For me it's all about getting people working, and showing them best practice and providing opportunities to improve themselves.  I aim to support other forms of formal education by being a "library" of information from some of the best and most successful minds in sound engineering, and to provide “continued professional development” for engineers who have reached a plateau in their careers.
The website is a collection of video tutorials, master classes and inspiring interviews with our resident tutors and fantastic contributors from the industry.  It is not a “course” as such, rather it is a resource centre for sound engineers to come to for advice and inspiration.  We have an open question box where you can ask us anything you like about audio engineering or career advice, and you can respond to videos too.  We will use your questions to ask directly to our tutors, or to inform how we film the next topic.  We are also very open to suggestions on what you need us to film, and what topics you want discussed.
We want to inspire people to excellence.  There is too much mediocrity in the world today.
We also have a fantastic twitter feed with excellent articles and audio-related content.

aLive: Could you please introduce the Soulsound Team.  Who are they and what do they do?
The core team of tutors are Justin Grealy, Jon Burton and Marcel van Limbeek. Justin has been in rock and roll for over thirty years, and if you name a band he's toured with them at some point in his career, in some capacity, usually FOH or monitors. He is equally comfortable at both ends of the multicore and has one of those insatiable brains that simply MUST KNOW how everything works. Consequently, he does!  He knows more about audio than most of us know there is to know.
Jon Burton is currently (and has been for years) FOH for Prodigy and Bombay Bicycle Club and is known in particular for his love of sub!  He also own a studio The Laundry Rooms in Sheffield.  He is highly respected in the industry and is a regular contributor to Sound on Sound.
Marcel has spent the best part of 20 years working with Tori Amos, both as her studio engineer and her touring monitor engineer.  Marcel is particularly good at explaining theory - just watch his Drum Recording Techniques Masterclass! Not only will you learn about recording techniques, but also many of your confusions about phase will be cleared up along the way.
My role is the overall project leader, and specialise in career advice and how to "be" a sound engineer. Other members of the team include the wonderful boys from Sound You Can See. They film and edit all the content, Shiny Details who created the website and the lovely Emma Hammond who does all our social media.
We have had a huge amount of support and help from the industry, in particular Funktion One, Shure, DPA, Sound Network, PLASA, Thames Audio and Encore. We have also teamed up with SSR London to produce the Vocal Compression Webinar and have been lucky enough to film in their Neve Studio.

aLive: What are the benefits of becoming a member of Soulsound?
As a Premium Member, you will receive my eBook "Getting a Foot in the Door" for free, and can watch all the content without limits. 
Free Members get the eBook and access to all the free content.
There are Monthly and Annual membership options (Annual is the best deal!) as well as Daily and Weekly for those who just want to watch a particular video. We will shortly be opening our Forum too!

aLive: Could you please tell us a few words about your eBook?
Because of the agency, I get sent a lot of CVs.  I noticed that many people have a terrible approach and badly written CV's.  I am convinced that the current levels of "youth unemployment" are attributable to not only the recession, but also to the fact that people just don't know how to ask nicely!  They have no idea how to write a covering letter, or how to make an impact with their CV.
I found myself writing back to so many people with advice on how to improve their chances, that I decided to put it all down in an eBook "Getting A Foot In The Door - How to make your way in the Live Sound Industry". It is available free on the Soulsound website

aLive: Could you please explain what Soulsound Agency does?  How it works?  What criteria do you use when choosing an engineer?  Is it for Live engineers only or Studio as well?
Freelancing in the UK works on word-of-mouth.  Very few jobs are ever advertised or have an interview process.  When you need an engineer you ask around for a recommendation.  Entry-level engineers often have no contacts in the industry, nor anyone to recommend them.  So if I come across young engineers who really impress me with their attitude, passion and skills, I will try to find opportunities for them and can provide that all-important recommendation. I also provide mentorship and help people in other parts of their careers, even if it's work they find elsewhere. The clients my agency serves all need engineers on a regular basis and they just need to make one call to me instead of twenty, and I sort them out.  Life is easy for them! So, the agency solves problems for two sets of clients. Because the agency is more about Career Management than just a crewing agency, the agency keeps a small percentage of the engineer's fee, as would an actors agent.

My criteria are simple:
I need to see passion, a real desire to work, good skills, and a work ethic that includes being at your job on time, being nice to those around you and doing more than is expected of you.  This is what leads to great careers, and I'm only interested in people who have ambition, drive and integrity. Unfortunately, having only ever worked in the Live industry, I have few contacts in studio-world, so I deal mostly with live engineers and other techs in the live industry.

aLive: Working with sound engineers and clients, how do you maintain balanced relationships? How do you keep them all happy?
That’s easy - I keep sound engineers happy because they can pay their rent and have opportunities they wouldn't be able to find for themselves.  I keep the clients happy because they know the people I send are of a very high standard, are reliable, can solve problems and get the job done well with a smile on their face!

aLive: What are your future plans?
I plan to make people more employable and get people working!  To do this we will continue our production of superb content.
Ι am working on a TED Talk style roadshow where we take a day of seminars on the road to colleges and universities.  We will be presenting another day of "Inspiring Excellence in Audio" at PLASA London later this year.
We hope to bring you more webinars and eventually we would like to present weekend-long workshops. All in all, I want to inspire people to be better engineers, better people and to build great careers.

aLive: Thank you very much for your time Darryn also for sharing so many useful informations you rock!

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