Jordan Duffy Gets Audio Skills & Gets Hired at Earwolf!
Recording Connection graduate Jordan Duffy is no stranger to education in the arts. A lifelong musician and vocalist, she attended Worcester State University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she received her B.A. in Vocal Performance. As her senior capstone project, Jordan made the most of her four octave vocal range and proved that she can sing everything, from pop, to rock, to Broadway, to opera.
After just two months on the job as a point engineer at popular comedy podcasting network Earwolf, Jordan has worked on multiple comedy podcasts including “Queery” with Cameron Esposito, “Unspooled” with Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson, “Throwing Shade” with Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson, and “Hollywood Handbook” with Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport, just to name a few.
We recently touched base with Jordan to talk about the new job, hear what she has to say about being a woman in audio, and to discuss bringing studio smarts into the performing arts. Enjoy!
So you graduated Worcester State then found Recording Connection. Did you have a specific goal in mind?
“My big goal is that I want to record and produce my own album, all my own original material. I want to pick the bandmates, I want to be behind and in front of the scenes 100%. So when I came across Recording Connection, I had experienced so many times where I would reach out to either record labels or recording studios, and it became a hassle. No one understood my vision. And working with Recording Connection and my mentor Dr. Barry Johnson…it came to light that I want to be in this program to do not only my own material… I also want to help other musicians or vocalists or whomever it’ll be…
I would actually love to create an educational program to showcase the studio side. I think we have a lot of people who go to school and it’s just performing and being in practice rooms, but I think it would be extremely beneficial for these universities [because] even if you’re going for a performance degree, you still need to have studio etiquette…
Even for someone who’s talking on a microphone, you need to learn how to hold that microphone and where it should be placed, like how many inches away from your mouth. There are so many little details that make such a big impact.”
What was it like doing your training with Recording Connection mentor Dr. Barry Johnson?
“It was a wonderful process. He’s still one of my favorite people on this planet. When I got the job…I immediately called him…it’s one of those jobs that I didn’t think was going to happen. Everything that I have been able to do is because of him and because of Recording Connection. He has taught me so much. He was always down to earth, he was always patient with me…I had so many questions and he took the time to answer each one. And he was abiding to my schedule, because I had to work at a fulltime job.
I was basically broke and trying to accomplish this dream of being an audio engineer, and he’s helped me so much. I’ve gotten live experience with him, I’ve gotten studio experience with him, and every conversation that we’ve had, I can remember each part or funny stories or music stories. So he’s still one person that I call probably if not monthly, it’s every two months and we just go over things. And he sometimes will still answer questions for me.”
So tell us how you landed the audio engineering position at Earwolf?
“Right before Earwolf, I quit a corporate job…packed up and I drove myself to California and I moved in with my sister and her boyfriend…They offered me a place to stay, they said, ‘We believe in your dream and we think you should just come out here,’ and I had to give them an answer in one week, then I was leaving two weeks later.
When I got here, I said, ‘Okay, I’m here and I’m not going to stop until I get the job that I want.’ So I was applying everywhere, I got a part-time job at Starbucks just to have some cash. I was completely broke at this point, and probably the day after I moved to California I actually found an ad on LinkedIn for an audio engineer for midroll. I didn’t really know the full details. They were just saying, ‘We need an audio engineer. You need to know this, this, and this.’ And as I’m reading the description, I’m like, ‘Oh man, I’m already doing this.’ So I applied not thinking I would ever get the job, and I’m a very impatient person. So probably over a month later, I got a random email saying they wanted to interview me, and I was freaking out. I had a series of three interviews. I had one over the phone, then I had to go in in-person and talk to Brett Morris who’s now my boss…
They really wanted to make sure my personality fit well with the people I’d be working with, comedians, elite people. So during the interview they wanted to make sure my personality was good. I’m an extrovert, so I’m always talking to people…
About a week later, they said, ‘It looks like it’s going to be you.’ And I’m like, ‘Really?’ So I got the call, and I was like, ‘This is insane!’ I was in total shock. Because this is a dream job and I was so proud. All those hard days and nights and feeling like nothing was going to ever happen, to now get this call and it’s like, ‘Okay, yeah, we’re going to pay you and you’re going to be a fulltime audio engineer.’”
So audio engineering is still largely a male-dominated profession. What do you have to say about being a woman in audio?
“My prerogative is that if you’re doing the work and you’re making the quality, that’s all that matters…I grew up in a family where your gender didn’t matter, your race, nothing mattered. It was, ‘What are you contributing to the project?’ and ‘How are you contributing to the world?’ So as far as being female, [and working as] an engineer, a producer, whatever, wherever the majority is male-oriented, a lot of people will remind you that you’re female. It’s one of those things that you either have to get used to and just be like, ‘Yeah, I am female, okay. There have been moments where people questioned my ability… I’ll go into a certain music store and I ask for certain equipment, and they ask me why I need it and if I know how it’s used…
At Earwolf I am treated 100% like any other engineer…Especially the hosts of the podcasts who have been doing podcasts for years, or they do movies, they’ve been extremely kind to me.”
That’s great to hear. Have any side projects you want to talk about?
“I do a videogame podcast with some amazing guys. It’s called “Level Up Lore.” It’s going to start being biweekly. We’re making stories out of videogames and we’ve had some great luck with it. We actually had Bethesda, the videogame company in Maryland, retweet our stuff because we did a series for “Fallout” when it came out…It’s been super interesting, and some of our episodes have been very well-received. I’m actually really proud of an episode we did for “God of War.” I was able to sing in it, I composed all the music for it. I was super pumped, I was so proud of how it came out, and I was able to use all my abilities in this one episode.”
What’s your advice to Recording Connection students on how can they make the most of their experience?
“Don’t be upset if you don’t know everything during the program…take as much opportunity as you can just to shadow sessions, [whether] live or in the studio. There were definitely moments where I thought, ‘I’m not good enough or I don’t know this enough.’ Even being at Earwolf, the other engineers here have been extremely helpful, and I’ve learned even more Pro Tools and different EQs and de-essers and compressors. You’re constantly learning, and just remind yourself of that daily. Don’t get discouraged. Also, be bold and try to take on a session on your own. Everyone’s going to mess up. It’s part of our experience, but be bold and take on that challenge, because it’s not fun being scared, especially in the field that you want to be in.”
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