RC grad James Kyle Dickey: Because Work Begets Work
Ever hear the saying “work begets work”? If you haven’t, acquaint yourself with it now. From the time he was an apprentice with Colorado Sound Studios in Denver, Colorado, where he studied under Jesse O’Brien, James Kyle Dickey has not shied away from learning or assuming responsibility. He’s been downright proactive about building his audio career and it’s leading him to more work and more opportunities.
Like many currently working music industry professionals, James’ entry into the industry was on the performing side. Starting as a bass player for a pop-punk band, he then transitioned into being a vocalist. From there, he developed an obsession with the mechanics and creativity behind producing music. Wanting to learn in a real world environment rather than a school setting, James enrolled in the Recording Connection where he apprenticed under Ryan Conway of Conway Sound. After graduating, he decided to pursue things even further in the Recording Connection’s Master’s program during which time he was paired with mentor, engineer/composer/mixer Jesse O’Brien. Jesse has worked with the Lumineers, Amos Lee, Cowboy Junkies, among others.
Speaking of his time apprenticing with Jesse, James says, “I was definitely impressed with the way he was working…I could just tell, like the way Jesse, he’s so relaxed and able to express his credentials without seeming like he’s cocky or whatever. He’s just really laid back, and really cool guy, really understanding…It really seemed like they really knew what they were doing, and obviously, I’m with it. Just like the client list on Colorado Sound website, you know, they’re working with some of the biggest names in the industry right now.”
James seized the opportunity to show what he was made of. He went above and beyond by not only attending all his lessons and applying what he was learning dilligently, but by coming in and helping out as much as possible. Because of the flexibility of the Master’s program, James was able to get very direct, specific direction from his mentor, enabling him to develop fast, more efficient workflows and skillsets that went beyond the traditional paradigm, the stuff Jesse’s had up his sleeve. “Every time we were in there, he’d just pull back one of his old mixes and he help me work on it and do some really cool stuff…He’s got all the really awesome old vintage gear, and then mixed with a lot of the new digital stuff, so it was a really big opportunity to get my hands on that stuff. So Jesse was just really cool about creating opportunities where I would be hands-on…because that’s how I learn.”
So when it was time to graduate the program, James did so with a handshake and an offer to work at Colorado Sound and do A2 for the studio’s mobile department. He took the job without hesitation. The Colorado Sound Mobile is a lush, fully appointed audio van with a Studer Vista console, great live mics, and the ability to broadcast live. It’s the same van that Colorado Sound partner Kevin Clock used to record Mumford & Sons’ Red Rocks Live Grammy-winning album. In this new position James is “the guy right there interfacing with the live engineers and the artists to make sure we’re getting the best sound we can in the recording truck.”
The Colorado Sound Mobile also broadcasts the Keggs and Eggs Show in Denver every year. Serving as A2, James got to interface with the musicians, engineers, and everyone working behind the scenes on the sound and broadcast. About a year later, while at a friend’s MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) event, he saw a face he recognized: one of the guys from Keggs and Eggs. That singular exchange led to a handshake and, thanks to his affiliation with Colorado Sound, he didn’t even need to interview. “You’re good, man. Just come shadow” were the words and that resulted in yet another steady rise up the ranks.
James Kyle Dickey is now working at both Colorado Sound and Kinnon Entertainment in-tandem. He’s building experience and a career he’s excited about. When asked if he’s got advice to share with other Recording Connection graduates, he’s quick to respond: “You’ve got to put in your time, you’ve got to put in the work, and not be saying, ‘This is beneath me’…It’s just that opportunity where someone’s not available one day and the boss will ring up and say, ‘You know the board, right?’… It’s those little opportunities that you need to be ready to take and to get yourself where you need to be.”
We could not have said it better ourselves, James. Keep on making it happen!