Since graduating from the RECA program, Alex Pasco ’07 has worked with some of music’s biggest names. At this year’s Grammy Awards, he brought home two wins for his engineering work on Adele’s hit album 25. We asked Alex what it was like to win his first Grammy, and how LMU helped prepare him for a rising career in the music industry.
How does it feel to have won not just one, but two Grammys?! (This isn’t your first Grammy nomination, but your first win, correct?) It was a great feeling taking home two Grammy wins this year for my work on Adele’s 25. I engineer mainly for producer Greg Kurstin, who won both Producer of the Year and Song of the Year, in addition to Record and Album, so it was a big win for the team. Last year, Greg and I were nominated for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for our recording of Recreational Love by Greg’s own band, The Bird and The Bee, but we didn’t end up winning. This year was a nice change of pace.
You’ve worked as a sound engineer with a number of musicians, including Beck, Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani. Can you tell us about your work with these artists? While the job of a recording engineer is less creative than it is technical, there is always some creativity involved. Problems always arise when dealing with vintage recording equipment (the vintage stuff always sounds the best!), and it’s the recording engineer’s job to find the quickest and most efficient way to continue recording and let the artist’s creative process continue. The great thing about working with artists such as these, is that they are so good at what they do; they have an amazing sound and I just have to capture it.
How did you break into producing/sound engineering/mixing? I started my career right out of college as a live sound engineer, touring with my old RECA classmate Brian Reyes ’06 and his band The Little Ones. I worked as a live sound engineer and tour manager for the better part of six years while producing and recording in my free time. My big break came when I was introduced to Greg Kurstin by good friend and LMU Alum Edward Reyes ’97. I started engineering for Greg Kurstin in 2013, first working on Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas record, Wrapped in Red, and the tail end of production of Sia’s hit album 1000 Forms of Fear.
How did your time at LMU prepare you for your career? I had a work-study job while I was a RECA student working for Doug Freeman in the SFTV recording studios, and every day I was fielding a different tech support call. By the time I was a sophomore, I had already helped the seniors to properly complete their projects. I also worked as an engineer and production director at KXLU, which taught me how to act quickly on my feet, in a live situation. I would say half what I do on a day-to-day basis as a recording engineer is troubleshooting finicky vintage equipment, just like I did with the old Trident Series 80 in LMU’s Studio L.
You regularly come speak to current RECA students. What advice do you give someone wanting to break into your field? Your time at LMU is just the beginning of your education. The world of studio recording, or any technical field, is constantly changing and evolving, so staying on top of new technologies and trends is a must. When you’re in these big high profile sessions, the engineer needs to be able to move from tape to Pro Tools to Logic Pro X, or anything else the client may want, fluidly. So being knowledgeable about the technology and being comfortable with it are crucial.
What are some of the other projects you have been working on? We have recently worked on Our Town by Niall Horan from One Direction, The Greatest by Sia featuring Kendrick Lamar, as well as songs from the movies Lion and The Eagle Huntress. I also recently mixed a track by L.A. based indie rock band Local Natives that was released on a tribute album called Day of the Dead. That was a fun project because I’ve known those guys for years. I was their tour manager and sound engineer when they first started playing shows.
Adele’s latest album 25 won two Grammy’s, and the hit single “Hello” won three more. What’s your favorite song off the album? While I really should say that “Hello” is my favorite song, I really like “When We Were Young” which was written by Adele and Tobias Jesso Jr. Jesso put out a record called Goon in 2015 that was a favorite of mine.
SFTV alums! We want to know more about your accomplishments! Have you earned a Grammy, Emmy or Oscar award? Drop us a line and let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org