Recording Connection student Jeff Riggs attends Latin Grammys with Legends mentor Rafa Sardina

How did Jeffrey Riggs (Los Angeles, CA) get invited to the Latin Grammys? Ask the question and it all boils down to one answer—work ethic. When Jeff self-describes himself as a “farm boy” he isn’t messing around. Jeff really and truly grew up on a farm and having to get up early and work hard day in, day out was just a fact of life.Recording Connection Rafa Sardina and Jeff Riggs attend Latin Grammys

Now, he’s applying that same strong work ethic to something he’s devoted to—a career in audio and it’s paying off fast.

Jeff came to Recording Connection in late 2015 and was matched with Luis Pacheco at The Hideout in Las Vegas, a well-known studio where artists from Alicia Keys, to Dr. Dre and Celine Dion to Ozzy Osbourne have recorded. Under Luis Pacheco’s mentorship, Jeff went from knowing absolutely nothing about Pro Tools or recording artists, to recruiting talent and completing two fully-mastered tracks with a talented local artist. Finding an artist to record wasn’t easy. Jeff posted ads online, hit up local clubs night after night, talked to tons of musicians, and then weeded through the inquiries he got. Ultimately he connected with alternative rock artist Johnathan Watkins, who Jeff describes as “having some John Mayer in his sound.”

Jeff credits his first mentor Luis for helping him get his bearings and gain the skills and knowhow it takes to get from tracking all the way to the final mix:

Luis is a really warm and friendly guy, really cares about his students, and he’ll work with you any way he can. He’s completely knowledgeable. I mean, some of the stuff I would ask him, I felt like I was such a rookie, but he walked me through it and really made me feel like I knew what I was doing at the end of his explanation. So he’s just a really great guy. I can’t say that enough about him.”

Having completed both the Audio Engineering and Advanced Audio programs with Luis, when the opportunity arose to apply for the Learn from Legends Workshop and train with industry legend Rafa Sardina (who has 17 Grammys to his name!) Jeff felt he was up to the challenge. Speaking of learning under Rafa’s tutelage over the past few months, Jeff says:

It’s really intense because he works so fast. The guy he is, you know, he’ll mix a session and do a quick mix session with over, I want to say, over 60-70 tracks. And he’ll have it, you know, all the way complete within an hour. So I mean, the speed that he works at, you can just tell that he’s been doing this for a very long time. He also tells me about things to do and things not to do in terms of, you know, just being professional.”

Session after session, Jeff is always on-point, absorbing what Rafa’s doing and assisting in any way possible. Although he didn’t know it, just showing up and putting in the time and work, day after day was making an impression on his mentor. A few months ago, Rafa casually mentioned that he was going to the Latin Grammys and asked Jeff if he wanted to go along.

Jeff recounts the moment and says, “My only answer was yes…It’s always yes.”

Turns out Rafa wasn’t simply attending the Latin Grammys, he was the Executive Producer of the star-studded event with performances from across the Latin music spectrum, from Alejandro Sanz to Pitbull, to Natalia Lafourcade and Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Natalie Cole.

So what was Jeff doing during the show? Answer: running.

I was running to manage talent, finding talent, to making sure that people had certain supplies, to talking to lighting guys, to talking with the talent, making sure that they were all set, checking their levels, relaying that to the monitor people. I mean, I was everywhere. I had to work so hard I had blisters on the bottom of my feet. So it was just, and they were all worth it.”

And his hard work culminated in recognition he didn’t expect. Jeff tells of the moment he realized Rafa had given him credit as Music Production Assistant for the Person of the Year Award segment.

He’d told me prior…you’re going to be on the credits…He didn’t tell me what it was going to be…And I didn’t see it until the show was over. For the Person of the Year [segment], and I was watching the screen from behind it, and I saw my name in reverse on the credits on the green screen, and I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I just saw my name up there.'”

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