Musitechnic is proud of both it’s graduates and teachers who share their passion for audio. This interview combines the two. Karim Blondy is both a Musitechnic graduate and also currently teaches at Musitechnic.
MT : Describe your job :
KB : I have been a freelance audio technician at Radio-Canada for several years but like many freelance audio technicians, I work where ever and when ever I can. I worked full time at Radio-Canada for many years but with all the financial cutbacks over the last few years I have had to diversify. Overall I do sound recording and mixing for albums, I do a bit of Live sound, compose music for various projects and also have been teaching at Musitechnic for 10 years now.
MT : Who are your clients ?
KB: At Radio-Canada my clients are mainly the Directors of the shows that I am working on. For the music that I record and mix, my clients are the artists. For Live it is the venue where the shows are happening who are my clients. The producers are my clients when it comes to the music I write.
MT : How did you start your career ?
KB : There wasn’t an official launch of my career but it slowly built over the years. In fact I started in sound because I hadn’t really planned a career in any other field! It was basically through contacts. I was living in the United States and a multicultural radio station that broadcast in several languages was looking for someone to do a French voice over for a radio ad. The station called a French language school and I happened to know the receptionist who then recommended me. I was paid to do the French voice over and the next day I went back to the station and proposed to do all the French vo’s they needed if, in exchange, the would teach me how to use the equipment. I learned that it was important to respect those people working at the reception … never ignore the receptionists! That’s how I started mixing my first radio ads. Once I got to Montreal I studied International Commerce and was doing community and student radio at the same time. After graduating I came to Musitechnic to perfect my skills. I took every internship and volunteer work that was offered to me and even helped out with other students projects. Musitechnic is also where I met many of the people that I would work with in the following years.
MT : Tell us about a turning point in your career?
KB: The day I became a freelance audio technician! I lost my full time studio job and all the work I could find was on short term contract. Very quickly I was working so much that I didn’t have time to look for a full time job of the type that I was used to. Despite a short time on Employment Insurance, it seems that evidently I did the right thing. It has been 8 or 9 years now and I can’t imagine going back.
MT : Tell us about a project that you are particularly proud of.
KB: I am proud of a lot of projects that I’ve worked on, often for different reasons, for example trying something new or different, succeeding despite budgetary or technical constraints or experiencing a perfect moment or an awesome performance. I love classical music so I am also proud of the times I have had the chance to work with orchestras and the musicians I have recorded. [su_pullquote]Wether it be symphonic, operatic or solo, it is always special to have the opportunity to work with good musicians in a good room with good gear.[/su_pullquote] When I stop and look around and see how others earn a living I can say that I am proud to work as a sound technician. To be happy and look forward to going to work is a wonderful thing!
MT : What are some of the things that most surprised you the most about the reality of the business?
KB : To survive as a freelance audio technician you have to be able to do many different aspects of audio and never stop learning new things. The industry never stops. Projects are always being created and people always have new ideas. Even though the industry here in Quebec is small, I am always meeting new people who have experiences that I’ve never heard before! These contacts often come back and are useful even 10 years later. I am often surprised to cross paths with people that I have previously worked with and it is always easier to work with those that you’ve worked with before. It’s like we already trust each other.
MT : What are your preferred tools of the trade?
KB: It isn’t always me who decides what equipment I am using on a particular gig. My favorite tools are those that allow me to work quickly even if they are not the best out there. Microphones and mic preamps are obviously important but the tool that we don’t always have control over is the sound of the room itself. When I am recording I always prefer to work in a good sounding room. I like to capture a good ambience rather than try to create it in a mix. In general I like to work with transparent clean sounding gear. When we are working with high end gear there is a better chance that we can capture the spontaneity and high light the performance of the artist. For example if you are doing a fast gain setting and you boost it just a little too much, a good preamplifier with be forgiving. With more headroom there is less chance of it distorting. If the signal is too low then with a good preamp with a low noise floor you can boost the signal after and not worry about it being noisy.
MT : 3 words of advice for those starting out in the business.
KB : In the audio industry like any other business, you have to persevere and know how to be patient. A freelance audio technician today needs to be specialized and at the same time be polyvalent (this is not a contradiction). You have to have an open spirit and smiling helps too!