I was so excited when I heard that one of UCLA Extension’s music instructors, Pablo Munguia, had won an Emmy for his work on the 81st Annual Academy Awards (ABC) in the category of Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or Special.
A veteran of the music industry, Munguia has worked with some of the top names in popular music, including Britney Spears, Barbara Streisand, Alicia Keyes and the Back Street Boys. We are extremely fortunate to have him as an instructor for our Introduction to Independent Music Production class where he shares his insights into audio fundamentals, songwriting, production, and the business issues facing independent producers. This introduction course is the first class in UCLA Extension’s Certificate Program in Independent Music Production and his next class convenes in March 2010 in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood.
Pablo was kind enough to give me an interview about his recent Emmy win and his class. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!
Kristen: Congratulations on your recent accomplishment! How does it feel to win an Emmy?
Pablo:Although I’ve been nominated a couple of times before, this was an unexpected and incredible surprise. Of course, we all like to feel our work is special, and makes an impact to the show, but the recognition is very nice! On the other hand, I realize that there is an element of chance to the process, so I want to be careful it doesn’t go to my head.
K: How did you get your start in the industry? Was there one job that gave you your big break?
P: I started working as a runner at Westlake Audio in Hollywood. The job was getting the coffee, the drinks, the food, and then cleaning the bathrooms and sweeping the floors at night when it was all done. I guess my “break” happened when an engineer didn’t show up for a session late at night, and even though I was still a runner, I took his place, because I knew how to operate the board, an old Sony (MCI style). The artist turned out to be rapper L.L Cool J. That night was exciting, to say the least, and it was also my last shift as a runner.
In the television industry, my big break was when orchestra mixer, Tom Vicari asked me to cover, on the Academy Awards, for his assistant, who was going out on tour with Bobby McFerrin. I was thrown into the most prestigious production cold, and had to learn how to swim VERY fast. Tom asked me the night before the show, “Are you nervous, are you scared?,” and I said, “Are you kidding? Of course!”
K: What advice do you have for students who are trying to be music producers, engineers, etc.?
P: Find something you are passionate about. Something that you don’t mind spending hours, nights, days, weeks working on for FREE. The reason I say this, is that this is a good way of finding out how much you like something. At the same time, find something you are good at. Just as important as finding something you love, is finding something you’re good at. Then, if this happens to be producing music or engineering, start doing it, keep doing it, and start to politely knock down doors!
K: How do you think winning this Emmy will affect your career?
P: In some areas, I hope things continue as they are going, to get called back to work on the great shows I am fortunate to work on. In other areas, I hope that it will make the process of politely knocking down doors a bit easier.
K: Now that you have won this prestigious award, what are some of your other career goals?
P: Ha, ha! I hope to keep doing what I’ve been doing since I started, making music, working on exciting music shows, working with interesting and amazing artists, helping others get closer to their dreams, and finding new ways to adapt to the changing world of music…
K: What do you love most about your job? Has there been a single project that you have enjoyed most or that you are most proud of?
P: I love that my job is different every single day. I can’t imagine my life otherwise. This may sound great, but the unpredictability of it all, is something one has to have a personality for. For me, it’s perfect.
It’s impossible at this point for me to single out a project. I’ve been lucky to have more than a few favorites. I feel really grateful and blessed this way.
K: I know that you once asked your students the “desert island” question. What 5 songs would you bring with you to a desert island and why?
P: Nice turnabout! At least I get to pick five, they can only choose one! I am still going to cheat, and say I would pick an opera aria, a Dylan song, a Beatles song, a bolero, and a jazz standard.
K: Do you have an exciting projects coming up?
P: There’s a few things up in the air, but I am really excited about a project with a Mexican rock band called La Vox. It is a record I produced with the band, and will be coming out in Mexico this fall, so stay tuned for the cross-over!
K: Thanks Pablo and Congratulations again!