Sonic soundBlade Power User Profile: Katrina Degel
Q: Why did you get interested in mastering?
Katrina: I am a composer, vocalist and producer, and do so many projects that need mastering. There’s not much credible info online related to mastering, and most musicians don’t know what it is. So, I went into mastering in order to get a better understanding of it for my own purposes, and to find out what it entailed. Once I got into it, I found out how much I loved it and started getting mastering work.
Q: How did you get started?
Katrina: I have been adjusting mixes and performing complicated edits on other musician’s projects for years – not knowing that those concepts are part of mastering. I truly began mastering through the guidance of Allan Tucker, ME 'Extraordinaire', through a graduate level Mastering Audio class at NYU. We were introduced to soundBlade and its capabilities – which blew my mind. SB is a whole new world from standard DAW’s. The EFM in sB is fantastic and I find myself wishing I could do all my composing and recording in sB!
Q: What's your favorite part of being a part the mastering industry? …and least favorite?
Katrina: My absolute favorite part is pulling out the potential of a song or album; adding that little something to shine it up. Of course, making a customer happy is always great too.
My least favorite thing regarding mastering would be the log work – keeping track of everything you do is incredibly important and can save so much time and heartache. It can be incredibly tedious, though.
Q: Are there notable challenges to women becoming successful in the mastering industry?
Katrina: The truth is that there are few women in mastering and music technology. Some might think this is a drawback, as a client might be more inclined to hire a male because it seems that men drive the industry. I do not believe this holds me back. Bottom line: if you are fun to work with and you do great work, clients will come. I tend to think that having fewer women in the industry puts more of a spotlight on those of us in it – and I don’t mind if I stick out!
Q: Why do you think more women aren't involved in Mastering?
Katrina: I really wish I had an answer for this. Hmm. Honestly, we tend to work where are our interests lie. So a follow-up question might be: Why aren’t more women interested in Mastering Audio? I grew up loving video games, enjoying the challenge of getting my Atari to work regularly (the beginning of my love-hate relationship with technology’s inconsistencies), and playing instruments. I suppose I was always meant to find a job where I could marry technology and music.
If you want to look at it further, perhaps it comes down to comfort zone. We tend to do things that others like us do. It takes a strong desire to step out on your own and join a club that is comprised of people who are of a different background or gender. Perhaps the more women that join the field, the more women that will be interested in joining.
Q: What's the craziest thing a client asked for?
Katrina: The oddest thing I have ever done while mastering was when I was asked to “make this song so bass-heavy that it will make you sick when you listen to it”. It was a success, but tough on me!
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming an mastering engineer?
Katrina: Begin training your ears. When you listen to songs, listen for each instrument individually. Define the quality of the instrument and what it is doing musically. Listen to everything all the time. Make a catalogue of songs with mixes or sounds you love. Find a great book on mastering and find out if this is something you truly want to do. Then approach a mastering engineer for private lessons or studio time. It is very important that you expect the highest quality from yourself, and learn from the best. Don’t take shortcuts in your education, as you will be undercutting your own potential.
Katrina Degel, Berklee College of Music graduate and NYU Steinhardt Graduate Student, is an accomplished vocalist, composer and producer. Katrina studies Mastering Audio with legendary mastering engineer, Allan Tucker. She received her degree in Contemporary Writing and Production and is currently studying Film Scoring in the Music Technology Department at Steinhardt University at NYU.
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