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Building Skills to Prepare for Big-Time Sound Projects

After earning an undergraduate degree in music business in 2018, Blake Sokoloff ’23 launched a small professional recording studio in Avondale called Abbey Cat Recordings.

What started as a venture with a few like-minded classmates he met during his undergraduate years has now become his alone to manage. The studio is in its fourth year of operation and records indie rock and the work of experimental DIY artists, as well as some reggaeton and Latin hip hop as more of those musicians come through the doors.

“We’re still coming out of the pandemic a bit in terms of Blake Sokoloffnot being as busy as we once were,” he explains, “so I felt like this was a good time to focus on a grad program if I was ever going to do it.”

After recognizing how comfortable he had become with the modern, analog/digital hybrid recording system used at Abbey Cat Recordings, he says one of the biggest reasons he wanted to earn his master’s degree was to expand his recording skillset.

When it comes to audio, he says he’s mostly self-taught. His love for it started when he recorded his high school band using a USB microphone, his mom’s laptop, and GarageBand software.

“If I were to go record a project with another band in another studio on really nice consoles, I knew I would’ve been in over my head,” he explains. “I didn’t get a ton of audio work in with my undergraduate degree since it focused on the business side of music, and I wanted to change that. That’s already happening in classes and as I get to work with the SSL consoles we have at the sound stage on campus. The experience has been fantastic to help me build those skills.”

He’s also enjoying the program’s film sound classes, which are exposing him to post-production film sound for the first time. “I’ve never recorded with a lavalier mic before, and I’ve been able to do that now. Doing work like that has been great. It has already greatly expanded my knowledge and sound expertise, and we’re still early in the program.”

He appreciates the fact that the MA in Sound Arts and Industries program allows him time to do what he loves: work in the studio and continue on with a band called Perfect Blue, where he serves as one of the sole writers and producers.

Although Sokoloff loves recording at his own studio, he believes the skills he’s building now will give him the experience and confidence he needs to record in larger studios down the road.

“Going to some of the studios in New York or California and feeling comfortable recording there would be a dream,” he says. “And getting to work with larger-scale film projects, or even shorts in terms of film sound and sound design, would be amazing as well. This program is preparing me for all of that.”

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