Recording Connection grad April Edwards produces Kentucky Rapper & Climbs the Charts!
Recording Connection graduate April Edwards is a pro at making things happen. Today, April is the Lead Engineer and Studio Manager of NitroSonic Music in Lexington, Kentucky, the studio where she once trained as an apprentice/extern (more about April’s journey). And, she’s even signed her first artist to the Nitrosonic label, meaning she’s a triple threat, capable of engineering, producing, and now, signing a select number of artists to the label.
Last month’s release of the Pistol EP hit the Top 100 on iTunes’ rap album charts, where it appeared sandwiched between Drake and Cardi B EPs.
Furthermore, in Hazard and the greater Lexington area, Pistol whose real name is Eric Combs, is getting coverage in news and media, and his tracks are on the radio.
April is getting the satisfaction that comes with seeing the EP she recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered take off. Thanks to the EP’s success and the sensation it’s stirring, April says Pistol, whose real name is Eric Combs, has already got a number of opportunities in the works:
I’ve been told a very big distributor might be interested in a deal but that’s not formerly offered yet…He’s been in regular rotation in Hazard and other counties top 40 stations. Since the release he’s gotten a dozen interviews and he’s booked 6 shows including 2 county fairs and the Black and Gold Festival where he might be opening for someone big…He just dropped a music video today and it’s gotten 2k views in 3 hours.”
So how’d it all come to be?
Pistol first walked into Nitrosonic, back in October of 2017. April admits when she first met the artist, she didn’t expect him to be a skilled rapper:
He’s pale, he’s got bright red hair…His accent was like, so super thick, his twang. I said, ‘There’s no way this kid can rap.’ I was like, ‘Let’s take it for a test run.’ So he gets in the booth and the first time around, he just killed it, straight all the way through. It was unbelievable.”
Working with Pistol ultimately led her to offer him the chance to release on the Nitrosonic label, she says, because “he’s driven, he’s talented, he can perform, he’s not somebody you would expect” all characteristics April feels she can get behind and bolster as an audio professional who’s committed to being an asset to the industry for years to come.
And, even though Kentucky is generally a country and bluegrass state, his music seems to resonate with many Kentuckians:
He’s a rapper, but he’s a county boy, and he’s still got that element that he’s never going to get rid of. People can relate, especially around here. But he’s just a good old country boy and a normal person.”
April says the experience of doing the Pistol EP has enabled her to do some interesting things, especially on the “We Will Conquer” track:
There’s a delay on there, which kind of pans with the vocals and his ad libs. So I panned his ad libs left and right, you’ll hear a delay go to the left, go to the right, and center. So there’s a lot of movement which is something I like in my mixes.”
Definitely not a stranger to hard work, April says there’s definitely a benefit to pouring so much of her time and energy into a project–rapid growth:
If you listen to “Lie to Me” and “Drowning,” I did his vocals differently… there were months in between where I was just experimenting and getting better. I’m not crazy about my master for “Drowning” honestly, because the track was too hot when I got it. I didn’t produce the music, but I did all the engineering and mixed and mastered and whatnot. So I’ve learned a lot.”
Less than two years ago, April was looking for a way to make and release her own songs as an artist which is what brought her to Recording Connection in the first place. Today, she’s an engineer/producer who understands what other artists need and who’s using her insight to help them get their music made and sent out into the world.
I got into it so I could do my own stuff. That was my purpose, and then over time it changed because I started working with other artists and I realized that being an artist wasn’t my passion, it was the engineering side. I wouldn’t have found that if I hadn’t actively gone out and looked for a school and a studio to be in and took that step. Then realizing that I loved it this much, that was just a bonus.”
For now, showing up for the artists and tirelessly focusing on making great sounding music is April’s path and purpose. Even though it has its challenges, it’s work she knows she was meant to do:
I push people, I push artists, especially ones like Eric Combs that I see and know are going to go somewhere…If I have to spend a month on mixing something because I just can’t get the vocals right, I’ll do it. I don’t let that stuff go out there half-done…I just like being involved in the creative process and seeing their faces when they hear the final masters, and being like, ‘Yeah, I know. It’s all good. I did that. I made you sound great.”
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