The BEST OF 2017

Anyone who knows us knows we’re all about making it happen through determination, hard work, and putting yourself right where you need to be to seize opportunity every time it arises. Over the past three decades, so many RRFC students (externs) and grads have done just that. 2017 was no exception and saw a myriad of successes from across the nation. Here are our Top 20 Success Stories for 2017.

Recording Connection grads Orlando Gómez & Robert Macias (El Paso, TX) got Gold/Platinum credits for work with chart-topper Khalid!

Recording Connection grads Robert Macias and Orlando Gomez earn Gold and Platinum album credits

Since graduating and taking a full-time position at his mentor’s studio, Orlando Gómez has seen his career take off in remarkable ways. 2017 saw him land a Gold record credit for his work on soaring R&B star Khalid’s American Teen, AND a Platinum credit for Khalid’s debut single “Location!”

Through it all, Orlando makes sure he’s true to his craft and his purpose. “If you love it and you dedicate yourself to be the best you can at what we do, it’s full of rewards…When you see a project that is complete, that sounds good and that can make people feel something, then that’s when you’re like, ‘That’s why I do this for a living.’” Orlando’s RC journey.

Fellow graduate Robert Macias was doing his RC externship when Khalid came in to work in the studio. “I’m honestly really lucky because I know that this credit doesn’t happen to everybody.” Speaking of his time in the program, he says, “It’s really helped me develop as a person and become more focused in understanding where I want to go and what I want to do.” Read story on Robert.

Recording Connection student/extern Emily Stamer (Orlando, FL) found her footing as an Ableton Live DJ!

Recording Connection grad Emily Stamer

Speaking of where she was at when she found Recording Connection, Emily says, “I really felt like I was destined to be performing…I don’t do well in classes. I wanted somebody who’s just focused on what I want to do.”

Now, Emily is building a thriving career as an Ableton Live DJ, playing festivals like Pass The Good and Asteria Music Festival and has a residency at Dubday Orlando. Read our interview with Emily.

Film Connection graduate Ofu Obekpa (Atlanta, GA) made his own action feature film Klippers featuring WWE wrestler Kevin Nash!

Graduate Ofu Obekpa

In 2017 Ofu wrote, directed, and starred in his gripping action/thriller, acting alongside wrestling icon Kevin Nash (formerly known as Diesel), as well as other seasoned actors! Learn more about Ofu’s filmmaking journey here.

“My education—you can’t put a price on it…You cannot put a price on what I learned…You have to go get it…You could be the best thing in whatever field you’re doing, but people don’t really know, or hear about you, it’s just as good as doing nothing. So you have to go out there.”


Recording Connection grad AXENZO (San Diego, CA) went from EDM fan to successful DJ!

Axenzo Recording Connection grad extern DJ career

Since completing Recording Connection, Axenzo has opened for Bob Sinclair, Marshmello, Steve Aoki, Robin Schulz, Borgeous, Nicky Romero, DJ Chuckie, WandW, and more!

“I love Recording Connection,” he says. “They are extremely helpful. I couldn’t say more. I am extremely thankful.”

Learn how Axenzo kicked his DJing career into high-gear.

Recording Connection Learn from Legends student/extern Jeff Riggs (Los Angeles, CA) worked and attended The Latin Grammys!

Having completed both the audio engineering and advanced audio programs with Recording Connection, Jeff said yes when offered the opportunity to train with 17-time Grammy winner Rafa Sardina. Months later, he’d find himself at the star studded awards ceremony, with performances from Logic, Pitbull, Diplo, Steve Aoki, Juanes, Alessia Cara, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and Natalie Cole, to name just a few.

Jeff recalls the moment Rafa asked him to attend:

“He said ‘Well, I’m going to Las Vegas to do the Latin Grammys. Would you like to be a part of it?’ My answer to anyone in the recording industry whenever they ask me, ‘Would you like to do this?’ is yes. It’s only a three-letter response, and it’s always yes…”

Want to learn more about Jeff’s trip to the Latin Grammys, including the unexpected recognition he received? Subscribe to the RRFC newsletter to get the full scoop (in the February 5th issue) and discover the ins-and-outs of how RRFC grads and students/externs are building careers they actually want.

Film Connection grad Joe Paciotti (Philadelphia, PA) landed gigs on The Voice, Fox Sports, and other big sets!

RRFC grad works The Voice, Fox Sports, Carnival Eats
Joe Paciott and Noah Cappe, host of Carnival Eats

Joe says, “Once I graduated, I think my main focus was just basically getting on as many sets as possible… This year alone has seen a huge jump for me in terms of the bigger, higher paying projects.”

Article on how Joe’s building a lucrative career as his own boss.

Recording Connection grad Desiree Holiday (Nashville, TN) landed producer/board op job at iHeartRadio!

producer job at iHeartRadio

Desiree is the tried and true champion of saying YES to opportunity. From sound design, to launching hip hop events, to producing audio segments for radio, she’s learned the power of shying away from nothing!

Her advice: “Take all the experience you can…Give everything a shot. You just never know where that’s going to lead as far as getting work.”

On getting hired at iHeart.

Recording Connection student/extern Brandyn Zellmer (Des Moines, IA) got the call to assist Lady Antebellum!

Recording Connection student extern works with Lady Antebellum

Was he nervous? Not one bit, thanks to his training and stellar mentor. Speaking of the experience Brandyn says, “At the end of the day, I know that if there’s anything that I’m uncertain about, if there’s anything that I feel needs fixing, I have Jon right there beside me to tell me what I need to do.”

Read our story on Brandyn.



Film Connection grad Steven Hadrych (Los Angeles, CA) got hired by Roland!

RRFC graduate hired by Roland!

Steve volunteered to crew on a film shoot for RRFC. While he was there he made a good impression and did all the right things, and ultimately… he got hired by Roland!

“With the Film Connection, you’re able to meet with the right people, expand your network, and gain knowledge that is not gained through a classroom setting.”

Read our interview with Steven Hadrych.

Recording Connection grad Devin Zorn (Dallas, TX) threw his career into high gear!

Devin Zorn Recording Connectiion

2017 saw Devin land a great paying job in live sound, record and mix for indie rock band Tom Devil and the Wizard, join IATSE local 127, and even elevate his platform as a guitarist, playing with Kenny Hada and The Others, Pampa Gray and more!

“Literally the only reason why I’m successful right now is because I didn’t quit,” he says. “It was one of those things where I had to just put my foot down, like, ‘I’m making something happen.’ That’s been the most important lesson in life that I always followed but never thought about till now – don’t quit!”

Learn how Devin pulled himself out of a slump and customized his career path.

Recording Connection grad Tommy Hendricks (Houston, TX), went from Ex-NFL player to signed music maker!

After his career as an NFL player came to an end, Tommy Hendricks was adrift until he found his way to Recording Connection. Now, he’s landed a music production deal and is making music day and night!

“It just shows how much I’ve grown since I first started with the help of going to school at RRFC.”

Read our story on Tommy.


Film Connection student/extern Rachel Svatos (Dallas, TX) worked on dozens of productions and completed her own Award-winning film!

graduate Rachel Svatos

Rachel’s hands-on experience has paid off. In 2017 she completed her own film, “Don’t Forget Us” which went on to win at Best of the Best Film Competition in Los Angeles and is currently making its way through the festival circuit. Rachel’s Film Connection journey.

“About a month after I started I got on my first feature film. That was fantastic…I learned so much, and I somehow ended up assistant directing the film.”

Recording Connection grad Jamaal Taylor (Los Angeles, CA) landed tracks in Blumhouse feature film!

Jamaal Taylor aka Cy Kosis

Since graduating Recording Connection, Jamaal Taylor aka Cy Kosis has built himself a diversified career as a composer, music producer, DJ tech, and sound engineer.

Jamaal says training directly with a pro enabled him to gain valuable insight that’s served him well ever since.

“I needed to have someone be like, ‘This is what you should do, this is what you’re good at, this is what you’re not good at, this is what you need to work on.’ I think learning how to be a better music producer helped inform the decisions that I make now.”

Learn more about how Jamaal leads a creative, career-focused life and how he landed tracks in a Blumhouse feature film!

Recording Connection grad Billy Gardella (Norwalk, CT) got hired, then promoted at his mentor’s studio!

Recording Connection extern hired
“After I finished my program…I really stayed dedicated,” he says. “Through all my hard work I was able to secure a position as an assistant engineer, and now I’ve recently moved up to engineer.”

How Billy did it.

Film & Recording Connection grad Dylan Rothbein (Brooklyn, NY) completed his own dramatic short film, featuring his own musical score!

RRFC extern scores and directs film
Even though he is not a typical learner (and has autism) Dylan accomplished a great deal, first in Recording Connection, then in Film Connection. Our non-traditional approach worked for him! Get the full story.

“I learned a lot about production, about storytelling…I think I’m a better quality artist and a better musician because I was here.”

Recording Connection grad Michael Shelton (Atlanta, GA) went from forklift driver to studio owner!

Recording Connection grad Michael Shelton

When an accident ended Michael’s career as a forklift operator, he had to make a change. Recording Connection helped him find a more fulfilling path which culminated in Michael opening his own recording studio in 2017 (learn more).

“I kind of got tired of dealing with the maybe’s, the if’s. I was like, ‘Hey, I can go to school and figure out how to do this.’…So that’s how I really ended up doing it. And basically life changed when I went ahead and did it.”

Recording Connection grad Chris Locke (Austin, TX) won Austin Hip Hop Award for ‘Engineer of the Year’

Recording Connection grad Austin Texas
And the studio he opened is thriving.

“I went in there without any habits, so they started me off with good habits to do…The Recording Connection…it didn’t give me the spark, but it definitely was lighter fluid for the flame I had inside of me.”

Learn more about Chris’ year.

Radio Connection grad Ian Schebel (Las Vegas, NV) got his own show just weeks after graduation!

RRFC extern graduate on air in Las Vegas

Ian Shebel went from a dissatisfying job to working at one of Vegas’ top alt-rock stations where he’s producing for the city’s most popular morning show and has even got his own show on weekends!

“You have to shake those hands, and you have to show them that you are worth something, and the knowledge that you’re acquiring is going somewhere that’s going to benefit you in the long run…You have to go in there every day and you have to make your presence known.” Find out more.

Recording Connection grad Ryan Abbot (Sayre, PA) landed chief engineer job at his mentor’s studio!

Recording Connection extern hired at mentor's studio
Speaking of his rapid ascent, Ryan says, “All the sleepless nights and hours in the studio and rerecording and redoing and waiting anxiously for the album to come out…I wouldn’t trade any of that time for anything.”

Read Ryan’s story.

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