Recording Connection mentor Bernard Johnson on Learning, Teaching, and Who He Hires

Bernard ‘IQue’ Johnson and Efrain Matias at Noize Factory Studios

During his 20 years in the military, Bernard Johnson knew he had a love of teaching and a love of music and audio. During much of his service, he had run a department of 90 people. Once he retired from the military, he set out to achieve his goal to “educate people” and “transform some of that military training into the audio world.” In pursuit of that mission, he went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Audio Production and a subsequent Master’s degree.

Today, Bernard ‘IQue’ Johnson owns and operates Noize Factory Studios (El Cajon, CA) and chooses to mentor for us.

Your nickname IQue, is there a story behind the name?

“This goes back to when I was that 14-year old, back when I went to a mass media certificate program. I was so intrigued with the technology…I was that guy who always would stay for hours after class…just pushing buttons and trying to figure things out…That’s how I learned so much. So the next thing you know, I’m just really good at things. So everyone would say, ‘He’s IQ, he has an IQ. He’s the IQ dude. He can figure out everything.’ When I asked one of [the students], ‘Why is everyone calling me IQ?’ someone said, ‘Because of your intelligent approach to things.’ And you know, it’s ironic because I’m still the same way now as I was at that age. I’m very strategic the way I approach my teaching, my mentoring, and just dealing with students and their learning. I’m passionate about it at this point.”

We know you’re a big believer in our approach to audio education. Can you tell us why?

“It lines up exactly with all the feedback that I have been getting over the years from others, in addition to my experience coming up as a young 14 year old who wanted to do something like this. So that was very important to me. When I saw your model, I was like, ‘Wow, this is it. I love it.’ And it allows students to have the opportunity not to feel cemented to something like, ‘This is what you need to do, this is the direction and the route you need to do it.’ They actually get the opportunity to feel free and be able to get in a real environment and immerse themselves and learn from real professionals. That was big to me, to have that opportunity, because they get to take the skills that they’re learning and translate [them] into real-world situations… world. They’re actually are doing it and not just reading theory and text in the class.”

Have you experienced that moment when a student really understands something and you see that lightbulb go on?

“Matter of fact, my current staff engineer, Efrain Mattias, who was a Recording Connection student who has been brought on board as an employee, his eyes would just light up like a lightbulb every time. He’s like, ‘You know, I’ve been researching and reading about this all this time, and I never could understand it like this.’ He just gets so excited, he gets up and paces around in circles in the control room, and his eyes just light up. Then he’ll go home, because he’s invested in his own equipment to have at his home, and he’ll try everything. [Then] he’ll send me an email or a text and say, ‘Bernard, look what I did here.’”

What made you want to hire Recording Connection graduate Efrain Matias?
Noize Factory studios
Noize Factory Studios

“Now I’m not shaming education, because I went and got all my education and my graduate degrees but I had individuals who worked for me who had bachelor’s degrees in audio engineering and production and things of that nature from various schools and truth be told, Efrain has excelled more than them in my recording studio. His intuition about everything and how he deals with the clients and the business acumen, the production acumen, the engineering, he’s a go-getter, I mean everything. We love him and he’s a pleasure. I wouldn’t want to lose him for the world.”

What qualities do you want to see in the students who train with you? What do you want the process to be like for them?

“I do want to say commitment, passion, perseverance, and finishing until the end. I always tell my students, ‘Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun! Let’s not make this work. Let’s have fun, let’s be creative. And I drill this into every mentored student that comes in here, I say, ‘This is audio. Although we work in a DAW, digital audio workstation, that’s just visual. But audio’s about the ears. It’s audio. It’s about the feeling, it’s about the energy, and music is a song. It resonates with emotion, and it triggers emotion.”

Teaching audio seems to tie into the big picture for you. Why do you choose to mentor tomorrow’s audio engineers and producers?

“It just takes that one person who is passionate. They’re not just doing something for money or just doing it ‘just because,’ they’re literally passionate about it… I’m passionate about it, that’s the big thing. You guys are passionate about it…these are people’s lives we’re impacting…We’re the first responders. We can be that person, that gateway for them to have a better life, especially if they’re an adult and they always felt hopeless, now they can have hope. Whether they go on to be a recording engineer or producer or whatever that may be.”


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