Audio Engineering student William Spencer recently went along to The Creative Networks Music & Audio Masterlcass with 3-time Grammy Winner KC Porter, hosted at JMC Academy's Campus. Here's what he thought of it..
Watch the interview with KC Porter down below!
"For the Creative Network’s first masterclass, the room is bursting with a vibrant mix of JMC students and members of the local music community. I can see some unfamiliar faces; a father who has brought his young daughter along for an insight into a possible career in music, some young men who are perhaps aspiring producer/ engineers and an older gentleman, no younger than 60, with questions in hand, eager to learn what KC might have to offer.
The JMC Melbourne auditorium is alight with anticipation and interest as KC enters the stage. Whilst busily adjusting the microphone, KC cracks a joke at his own expense, setting the tone for the remainder of his masterclass, and ensuring his immediate relatability.
Starting his discussion with his youth, KC discusses growing up in Guatemala, a precursor to working with some of the music industry’s biggest artists and their Spanish edition albums. Speaking fondly of his youth, he discusses the part his father’s career as a musician and composer had on his musical development, as well as his love for his own family. Two key themes arrive through KC’s history and youth, serving as a foundation for his career. The importance of his faith, that of the Baha’i, and the importance of his family.
The Baha’i faith speaks of oneness, unity of humanity and love, a theme that KC has carried throughout his career and in his words “completely shaped my world”. It is through this, that KC’s accessibility, even as a multi Grammy award winning producer, begins to make sense. For a producer whose success has spanned 30 years, KC discusses his career with the enthusiasm and excitement of someone at the very beginning stages of their journey.
KC continues to discuss his initial workings with Janet Jackson, one of his first big name artists, as well as working with Ricky Martin very early on in his career, a definite highlight and foundation to what would be an illustrious career working in Latin pop albums. KC’s childhood in Guatemala allowed a very specific niche in the market to be carved. The rise of Latin pop music made room for KC’s specific song writing talents and his abilities to create Latin tracks with the movement and flow of the originals.
An emotional moment for KC arrives when he discusses his late friend Michael Jackson and his response to 9/11, and specifically how Michael felt he could help. This came in the form of a collaboration track, What More Can I Give, a song involving no less than 15 superstars including: Carlos Santana, Michael Jackson, Shakira, Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin and Mariah Carey. KC expresses the beauty of the track, and his desire for its release some day, as the track was never officially released.
KC’s sessions with Santana and his approach to making music are particularly interesting. KC recalls, “Carlos entered the studio one morning and began pulling artwork out of his bag, spreading them across the wall. These are beautiful, I said, what are they for?
This is how I want my music to sound, he replied, like a sunrise.” This is in reference partly to Santana’s spiritual process involved in his music, as well as different experiences KC has come across in his creative career.
It became apparent that KC’s success was largely based on his temperament and his character. An important lesson for aspiring producers, as he shows us the importance of treating people with compassion. Whilst KC touched on working in studios such as Capitol Studios, microphones he’s used (his favourite being the Neumann U47) and some mixing techniques, his real masterclass message was much more subtle, and spoke more from the heart than from a technical standpoint. Due to this, as students beginning our careers, KC describes a number of key rules:
1. Be humble; don’t be pompous
2. Find where your strengths lie and focus on them
3. Don’t do it if you don’t love it
4. Groove is everything
5. We are all artists
Entering the music industry can sometimes seem like a daunting task, and with various approaches available to our professional careers, it is refreshing to be presented with a producer whose claims to success have come from a place of authenticity and genuineness. KC Porter is a welcome disruption to what may seem as an influx of cynicism from our chosen fields, and proves that the key to your success lies with blazing your own trail, and keeping your principles in focus.
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