Gary Lazzara learned that people skills can be just as important as technical ability while interning at Dirty Water Sound & Music
As an aspiring music producer, mix engineer and sound designer in the world today, I decided prior to beginning my studies at Berklee that I would expose myself to as many opportunities related to my career as I could. I knew before enrolling that Berklee provided many avenues for someone like myself to take so once I arrived, I began searching for things related to production, engineering and sound design. As a result, I was introduced to the internship program through the Office of Experiencial Learning and decided to pursue an internship.
At the same time I was learning about the internship program at Berklee, through a contact, I met Jared Mooney, Owner/Producer/Engineer of Dirty Water Sound and Music (DWSM) in Charleston. He informed me that he had an internship program through Berklee at his studio and invited me to come down. So I contacted the Office of Experiencial Learning to get more information about the internship program and how to register. The following day I visited the office, registered, and so officially began my internship.
Scheduling time to intern at DWSM was not a problem. They were usually busy Mon-Sat and as a result were very flexible with scheduling. Because of my busy schedule, this allowed me to intern on Saturdays and at times do a 10 hour session with them or stay as long as they were working with clients. While there, I would help set up and take down whatever equipment was needed (from micing a drum kit to rolling up cable) and mainly observe and shadow an engineer. They were also always available to answer any questions I had.
Interning at DWSM was unique because I felt like I was part of the team. During my internship, I had the opportunity to observe and interact with clients there. When it was time for lunch, we’d all (engineers and clients) go and get lunch together. Being at DWSM had a very “at home” type of feel where everybody was friendly, respectable, motivated, enthusiastic and hardworking. I was also never asked to do an odd job.
Of the many things learned and experiences gained while interning at DWSM, none stood out more than the valuable time spent observing interaction between the artists, label managers, and a producer with the engineers. Prior to interning at DWSM, a working Producer/Engineer once told me, “If given the choice, an artist will almost always choose to work with a producer/engineer who has great people skills and who is relatable over a producer/engineer who knows it all but has no people skills and doesn’t relate at all.” In short, DWSM showed me how its done.
From conversations over tracking to conversations about old movies and great tasting food, I observed how important it is for professional engineers to constantly change what “hat” they wear depending what a client wants and their needs. Although a certain level of professionalism was always maintained, I witnessed at times conversations that had nothing to do with the project at hand and that would sometimes take place for lengthy periods of time. It was then that I realized the importance of creating tight bonds of trustworthiness and friendliness with clients in the professional environment.
In an era of DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations), analog hardware and signal processors, some engineers forget that what makes great music is people, their chemistry, trust, and worth ethic- not the latest “plug in”. Many times I’ve observed engineers get overly consumed with the “high tech” and forget it’s the “high touch” that makes everything possible.
It’s about having the right attitude, being enthusiastic, stepping up and leading the way when needed and taking orders when not. Its about taking the time and getting to know a client when the time is right and not counting the hours that go by when a session goes longer than scheduled. Its about the tone of voice and body language used when speaking to the client and not how fast your can turn a pan pot or how much finesse you have with faders. It’s about never cutting the client short with short cuts and instead going the extra mile just to make them happy. It’s about loving what you do.
Interning at DWSM helped me realize that no matter what era we’re in, the most important matter at a studio is to be likeable, professional, enthusiastic, focused, hardworking and to always look out for what is in the best interest for the client.
Born and raised in Southern California, Gary Lazzara started his music career at a young age. From guitar to piano to playing low brass in his high school marching band, to orchestral percussion and drum set in college- all the while involved in both analog and digital recording in the music production domain, Gary has immersed himself in many different aspects to the music creation and performance process. Gary has won awards in music production, most notably winning the open MIDI/Production competition at Riverside City College, CA. Gary currently is enrolled at Berklee College of Music where he is dual majoring in Music Production and Sound Engineering and Electronic Production and Sound Design. Gary hopes to someday own his own music studio, travel around the world collaborating with artists to create hybrids in music genres by fusing new and old local styles of music with the popular music genres of today and perform on-location recordings with indigenous instruments to later combine those sounds with personally designed sounds to ultimately create an intriguing unique sound and flavor. Other avenues of musical interest include creating sounds for original compositions and sound effects for television, motion picture films and video games. When not focused on music, Gary likes to travel around the world, embracing new cultures, meeting new people, trying new food and whenever visiting home and during the racing season, going to local professional speedways where he has raced and continues to race his Kawasaki ZX-6R super sport motorcycle. He often admits, had it not been for music, he’d spend his whole life dragging his knees at high speeds.
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