AC’s Taylor brings experiences to Sound Recording
Jim Taylor’s entrance into the world of sound engineering came about more from necessity than curiosity.
A musician since he was old enough to hold a guitar, Taylor attended college as a Composition Theory major. He wrote jazz compositions, and he needed a way to demo his songs so he could sell them.
At the time, he was working as a guitar player for a studio. An engineer there told Taylor the studio wouldn’t charge for recording and mixing music if Taylor did it himself. With a little guidance, Taylor got good at it – so much so the same engineer offered him a job.
From there, another branch of Taylor’s career blossomed.
Now an instructor for Angelina College’s Sound Recording Technology program, Taylor can list on his credentials work with such big-name musical acts as Dierks Bentley, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ton Loc, Vanilla Ice and others.
“I stared at the studio in Nacogdoches, and we’d record gospel albums and some other local stuff,” Taylor says. “Then I got a job running live sound for some of the acts performing in the area. At that point, that’s where I really learned how to make drums sound better, and to mix the music. You’re trying to make the live shows sound as much like the album as possible. When I was there, I got the chance to work with some big acts, and I learned from their sound men as well.
“I was in charge of the bands, and if they didn’t have a sound guy, I was it. Sometimes I got to run the monitor board, and if anything went down, I was there to fix it.”
For the next 10 years, Taylor would combine his own musicianship with work in studios. He played guitar for country artists Clay Walker and Johnny Rodriguez, along with other touring bands. When the road got a little too long, he’d return home and resume his studio work.
Then came his biggest break. “As far as recording, my big break came when I recorded Willie Nelson doing a live show in Nacogdoches,” Taylor says. “That gave me a lot of credibility, and I became the go-to guy in the area. Before that, people would question what I was doing. After that album got done, no one questioned me. I didn’t do anything different; I just happened to get to work on an album that got a lot of notice, and my name was on it.”
Taylor, who earned his master’s degree, says he’d always wanted to use it. After experiencing the feel of teaching young people, he decided to parlay his desire to teach with his extensive experience in the field of sound engineering.
The result was the Sound Recording Technology program at AC, a program that has grown from a couple of classes to an actual associate’s degree.
Taylor said the course is divided into four major parts: Audio I, which is an introduction to basic sound and equipment.
“This course takes it as if you don’t know anything, and we build from there,” Taylor says.
The second course, Audio II, is actual recording, and concentrating more on Pro Tools – the digital audio station used by professionals.
“That’s the program we use, and it’s the industry standard,” Taylor says. “Just about any recording you hear nowadays has been done with Pro Tools.”
The third class, Audio III, involves the mixing process, where students take recorded music and mix it to album standards. The final class, Audio IV, is when students take everything they’ve learned and produce a song. Students come into the recording studio – maybe they’ll bring a band with them – and they record a song from end-to-end. They book the time, deal with bands, and get the project done complete with overdubs and everything else the process entails. Those students will also serve in the internship programs Taylor has set up with different studios in the area; this to ensure the students get plenty of experience.
Taylor says his program just graduated its first full class, and those students are already getting “nibbles” from future employers. For those considering the program, Taylor simply offers this advice:
“If you have a job you love, you never retire,” Taylor says. “I’m never going to retire. I love what I do. It’s not a job as much as it is a passion, and to get paid for it is amazing. There are so many jobs in radio, TV, churches, all sorts of different areas. You might be on the road with a band, you might work in a studio as a sound engineer, you might even become a composer. There’s a big market for all of those.
“My main job is writing music. I’ve worked for MTV, the BBC, Muzak. You have to record your music to submit it, and I’m able to do all those things. There are plenty of awesome musicians out there, but if the end product doesn’t sound good, no one will want it.”