Studio pro shares its skills with college students

MENTOR— Benny Factcone has decades of sound engineering experience. He shares his expertise with his students in the recording studio at Cal Lutheran University, where he is a faculty member. Courtesy photo

Agorua Hills sound engineer Benny Faccone has made his mark on a diverse international repertoire that includes American rockers X and Tom Petty, Mexican singer El Buki, “King of Pop” Michael Jackson and legend of pop barbra streisand.

The 68-year-old has also worked alongside several top producers such as Quincy Jones, David Foster and Phil Ramone.

Faccone, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, honed his sound engineering skills at A&M Records, his own Cavern Studio in Thousand Oaks and elsewhere. It won 17 Grammy Awards, most recently for Draco Rosa’s “Monte Sagrado”, which was named Best Rock Album at the 2019 Latin Grammys.

Now, Faccone is embarking on a new project as part of the 10-year music production program at Cal Lutheran University: coordinating the operations of the school’s new music recording studio, including a new recording console at Cal Lutheran University. 48 channels, a “live” recording room, an editing and mixing room with an Avid C24 Pro Tools control surface and a classroom.

At the state-of-the-art facility, Faccone, who in the fall became the program’s first full-time faculty member, teaches music production in a real-world environment, advises students on recording projects, and uses his connections to help land internship students.

“Mixing is a lot like painting,” Factone said on a recent studio tour. “We teach them to do 3D rather than just 2D black and white painting, and the little techniques to use. “

Making sure the drums don’t dominate the vocals, the guitar solo goes through, the bassline is bold enough that everything stays together, and the sax isn’t too brash are examples of what happens in the mixing of a musical composition.

“When you mix a song, you’re not just looking for balance, you’re looking for a lot of feel, you’re looking for depth,” said Faccone, citing Quincy Jones and the late Bruce Swedien as an example. of the way some producers / engineers approach their work.

“When they work, they talk about colors,” Factone said. “How, when they’re working on a song, how they need more reds, deeper reds.”

That day, a student was sitting in front of the giant mixer inside the studio the size of an airplane hangar, using buttons and switches while mixing a band’s version of covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke”, the singer’s tribute to Duke Ellington.

Each passage was a little different from the last. Maybe the student was looking for her own deep reds.

Faccone looked on with an approving smile.

Without its location on campus, the studio in the K building could be mistaken for a pro shop.

The vision for the installation came from music teacher Mark Spraggins, president of Cal Lutheran’s music department from 2013 to 2018, who visited Faccone’s studio about five years ago.

The result, he said, was that all production and mixing classes were in his studio.

FACcone later became an assistant professor at Cal Lutheran, and classes began to move to campus. This year he did it full time, and the program takes a big step forward, bringing the entire production process under one roof, where future sound engineers can record, sync, mix and play back. music, voices and sounds.

The new president of the music department, Michael Hart, takes up the torch from Spraggins.

The music production course that Faccone teaches involves taking a song and making it sound good, and preparing students for a career.

The department is able to offer its own courses in special subjects, such as audio engineering, songwriting, electronic music, and music business.

“Kids want to learn how to properly record music,” Factone said.

But learning how to budget is also a big part of the job, especially when working from home.

“You may not be paying overhead. . . but you could work for three months and not get paid. You could also do a project and have to figure out what kind of budget is required, how much things cost, or even sit there for five hours making an arrangement. . . . It’s all part of the budget.

Music production has changed a lot during Factcone’s career. When he started at A&M in the 1980s the producer / sound engineer was there from the time the first track was written, say the drums, until the end.

It may take a few months.

“Now the engineer records it, he sends it to a mixer, it’s kind of like piecemeal,” he said.

Change can come down to the budget.

“It was a bit expensive,” Factone said of the old method. “Now the producer has his own home studio and they’re working on it. “

Factone said music is a passionate and nuanced endeavor, regardless of genre, and it is often the drummer who brings music to life.

“There is such a great talent pool in LA, and I have been fortunate to know a lot of it. . . . “Factone says.” When you work with them, they bring out the feel in the music. ”

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