Montgomery County Community College held the first of a five-part virtual interview series this semester called “Montco@Home: Global Perspectives on Electronic Music.” Through Zoom, Computer Science Professor Kendall Martin and Sound Recording & Music Technology (SRT) Instructor Jen Mitlas spoke to Rachel Alix, an electro-pop producer, performance artist and sound designer at Izotope, a renowned music technology plug-in company, about her career in the business.
Over 40 students, faculty and community members sat in on the hour-long discussion Sept. 17. Alix played her song “Oversight” and then explained the creative process she goes through to make music using the program Ableton, a digital audio workstation, which is the same program used by SRT students. The interactive conversation included topics like how Alix got her start in the business, to gender issues in the music production industry. Alix said she’s no stranger to discrimination, having faced it early in her career.
“My engineer would let me down all the time. They don’t always take you seriously (as a woman),” she said of her experience with men in the industry when she would offer suggestions on a song. That led her to start taking more ownership of her own work. “You know what sounds good. So I took the process on myself and got the results I wanted.”
Following the interview, Mitlas and Martin said the conversation was incredibly important.
“To me, this was monumental for both the college community, as well as the industry,” said Mitlas. “Rachel is an accomplished electro-pop producer and who works as a sound designer for one of the top software companies for this field in the world. I have a master’s degree in music production from Berklee College of Music. Dr. Martin has a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. We were facilitating an inclusive, welcoming, and educational workshop on a topic normally dominated by men.”
Mitlas said it was important for people to see women at the forefront of design and creation in the music industry. She appreciated Alix’s candor on the subject of gender equality.
“I hope students took away from this that there are so many different tools to be creative right here at Montco,” she said. “That you can be good at more than one thing, as well as totally be fine with collaborating with others. I hope they also realize there's no right or wrong way to create music or other types of art.”
Martin was proud to have cohosted the event calling it terrifically successful.
“We got great feedback from our students. Dr. Mike D'Ericcio, from Albright University, brought his production class in to participate live,” she said. “We had community members of all ages and a great set of questions. Rachel Alix mentioned it was one of the most interactive sessions she had given!”
Truly exemplifying the global aspect of this series, the next live interview event will take place Thursday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. featuring guest Fred Azarty, who will be talking to Mitlas and Martin via Zoom from Paris.
Azarty is an artist who explores the use of technology for creating audiovisual experiences. After obtaining a computer science degree, he began developing complex software components for a variety of companies. At the same time, he developed his musical skills by working on several projects as a live musician, music producer, and rapper. Today, he uses his music as raw material for producing visual artwork, interactive installations and immersive experiences.
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