Gonna be honest, had no real idea what to expect during my first session at Chung King. I was scared, excited, nervous, and completely stoked all at the same time. My mind was so cluttered that I almost went into the elevator of the wrong building next door. I remembered my first time being in the studio and seeing all of the records lining the walls. I remembered being instantly humbled by the success and history that Chung King has cultivated in the world of music, especially early hip-hop.
When I reached the third floor and the elevator doors opened, that humbling feeling came right back. Only this time I was to be making my first impression on my mentor, as well as perpetuating the somewhat-collected-kid image that I had hoped Steve Kennedy had in his head.
Rang the bell, Steve answered. Gotta love Steve. He sent me into a room to wait for Arnold, my mentor, to be done with another student. After being in the studio for literally 30 seconds, that feeling of anxiety and nervousness had melted away. I had the first chapter read over like 6 times, had purchased brand new school supplies on the way to the studio, I was ready.
When Arnold's student was finished, I went into the studio and had a seat next to Arnold. Right off the bat I could tell that he was a chill dude. One of the first things he asked me, before getting into the technical jargon and the curriculum, was, "So, what's your experience with music?" I went on to talk about my early days playing bagpipes and guitar in half a dozen or so metal bands. He told me that he had played in metal bands too, which is a really big deal to me. In my personal opinion, metal is a slightly misunderstood genre that not many people seem to "get." Finding out that my mentor shares interest in one of my favorite and most influential genres in music today is really important to me. It makes me feel as though we'll be able to connect better on a musical level and make this whole thing run smoother and be more fun as well.
We then got into the first chapter about the physics of sound and the intricate workings of the human ear. I didn't have many questions on the contents of the chapter, and I could tell that he noticed that. We spoke about my "setup" at home, where I'm running a MPC Studio with an Akai MPK mini MIDI controller through my iMac, along with some pirated synthesizer plugins. He told me that whatever questions I have about the textbook he'll be able to answer for me, as well as any other questions, related or not. I had him explain to me in greater detail what decay is, in terms of a waveform. He gave me advice as to what synth plugins he thinks I should be using, given my personal goals as well as amateur status. He gave me a quick guide of ProTools and gave me some words of wisdom about some DAW's that I had mentioned, such as Ableton Live Suite 9. In this session, Arnold demonstrated some key characteristics that I look for in a mentor. He's CERTAINLY knowledgeable, keeps me engaged with examples for things I didn't quite get, cares about my success in making my own music, and above all else seems patient. Dude's definitely batting 1000 so far, and I'm sure that feeling of anxiety won't be present at all come next lesson.
After me and Arnold said our goodbyes, I went to the lobby to check in with Steve to schedule my next lesson. He was meeting with an artist he was managing. Not only did we schedule the next sesh but we also just chilled for a little while, shooting the shit and laughing about stuff. I'm pretty sure I was there for an extra hour after my session with Arnold, but it certainly didn't feel that long.
Anyway, couldn't have asked for a better situation than this one. Great mentor, great studio manager, perfect studio, chill vibes, satisfied artists, and most importantly, music, man.
Date of sesh: 2/11/14
Time in: 5 PM
Time out (of sesh): ~6:30 PM
Time out (of studio): ~7:30 PM