Determination Pays Off for Nacor Zuluaga at Engine Room Audio in NYC!
Drummer and aspiring audio engineer, Nacor Zuluaga was planning on taking audio classes at community college in Queens, New York when he learned about Recording Connection’s in-studio approach for training in audio engineering and music production. Although everything was already setup, including financial aid, Nacor called the community college and cancelled everything and decided to just give the RC program a chance.
But when Nacor went into start his apprenticeship with studio owner Mark Christensen at the world-renowned Engine Room Audio in NYC, he saw there was a challenge he’d have to face. Having moved to the United States from Colombia, Nacor felt he would only be able to make the most of the opportunity of getting in and training at Engine Room if he improved his fluency in English first.
“I did the interview with the studio manager…and I told him I’ll be back in a couple of months once my English is better,” says Nacor. “It was just more like a choice with me, to take some extra time to go out there, practice a little more, get a better conversational level.”
Just as he said he would, Nacor returned to Engine Room Audio a couple months later. Nevertheless, the learning curve was steep and the level of disconnect was palpable, especially at first. Speaking of those early days, Nacor says:
“I felt really disorientated, like lost, like a guy that is just wandering around. I always think about how hard it was to interact with people. I was able to understand a lot, but not to communicate what I thought. So that was very frustrating for like five months. It was the whole time just trying to learn more English and audio.”
But rather than deter Nacor, the challenge only steeled his resolve to learn and make the most of the opportunity. Well such determination paid off. Within a few months, Nacor earned the trust of Mark Christensen who invited him to sit-in and assist on a number of recording sessions . Nacor always jumped and said yes to these opportunities. A few months after that, Nacor found himself working on a jazz pop album that was being recorded at Engine Room. He says, “I became almost the leading engineer of the project.” The decision to dig in and dedicate himself 110% yielded professional experience and credits that spoke volumes above and beyond any traditional program. For Nacor, the investment paid dividends. “Just being able to sit in here, and then if I make the right moves and the right decisions, I can easily get this gig, or get involved in this project. And that [is what] happened.”
Nacor Zuluaga stayed on at Engine Room for two years during which time he completed work on the jazz pop album and then went on to accumulate a long list of credits and receive seven gold awards as Mark Christensen’s assistant on tracks for Trey Songz, Platinum-selling Italian rapper FedEz, and German electronic DJ Robin Schulz (Mr. Probz) just to name a few.
Now, Nacor speaks English effortlessly and with a distinctive NYC flair. He’s still recording at Engine Room but has moved on from assisting Mark to working with his own clients. He’s deeply appreciative of the time Mark put in to helping him build a career in audio. As an apprentice and assistant, Nacor has also built a great relationship with the studio, something he says should not be underestimated by any newcomer.
So is it all a walk in the park for Nacor? Not really. There are still the challenges that come with being a freelance audio engineer and musician. But working on great music and with great artists is where Nacor wants to be. “Once you actually start achieving things in something that you’re very passionate about, I don’t think there’s [anything like] that feeling of accomplishment once you’re doing what you’re passionate about or what you want to do.”
Well said Nacor Zuluaga! Here’s to making the most of the challenges ahead!
Nacor mastered and plays drums for Pool Cosby!