The Vol State Family: Asa WigginsA recording studio is full of complicated, high-tech equipment. It can often look like a sea of blinking lights and pulsating meters. Asa Wiggins knows that all of that gear is there for one primary reason.
“Everyone in the studio should have one end goal: it should be to make a great song; to make a song that is timeless,” said Wiggins. “The technical things are important, but it has to sound good. It has to make you feel good.”
Wiggins is a Vol State student in the Recording Industry Management program. Recently, he had the experience of a lifetime as part of the program. He interned with the prestigious Blackbird Studios in Nashville. The facility is owned by country music star Martina McBride and her husband John. Wiggins helped engineers with recordings for McBride’s new album, as well as a long list of other stars, including Kings of Leon, The Doobie Brothers, Los Lonely Boys and Halestorm.
“Most of what I did in the studio was setting up and tearing down. I helped to set up drum sounds. I was learning from some of the best engineers and assistants in the recording industry.”
There is plenty of grunt work during any internship. Wrapping up cables and stocking refrigerators with soda is not glamorous. However, it is essential to getting your foot in the door and seeing professionals in action.
“Those things are important to the studio. Knowing what a specific engineer likes is important.”
“This business doesn’t run on resumes,” said Entertainment Media Production director, Steve Bishir. “It’s a face-to-face business. Asa is representing us well in the community. The next time I call to try and place a student, the studio will say ‘send them over.”
Bishir knows a thing or two about the recording business. He’s a multi-Grammy award winner who has engineered sessions for a who’s who list of stars and worked in studios across the world. He also has the Nashville connections, and knowledge, to help students get out into the real world. The Blackbird internship is a big deal for a student.
“At Blackbird you have at least two of every piece of gear on the planet,” said Bishir.
Wiggins credits his family and his own music aspirations for his love of recording.
“I come from a musical home. My father is a professional musician. I loved watching him play with his band when I was a kid.”
It was a recording session with his own band that inspired Wiggins to learn more about the art of recording.
“I made my band’s first album in a small studio with just a couple of rooms. I watched the engineer. My band mates would go out to lunch and I would stay and watch him mix.”
The Vol State program includes theory and music business classes. The centerpiece is the state-of-the-art recording studio.
“You can get more hands on instruction at Vol State,” Wiggins said. “Recording is about processes. What’s so great about Vol State is that you learn processes. It’s a combination of getting your hands on equipment and asking a lot of questions.”
Wiggins plans to continue his education at a four-year school, expanding his knowledge with more business and marketing classes. In the meantime, he continues his work in the Vol State studio, on projects such as the Vol State Christmas CD and Spring Concert CD. That means working with a variety of musicians and songwriters.
“No matter how something works mathematically, it all comes down to the sound.”
For more information about the Entertainment Media Production program at Vol State visit: www.volstate.edu/entertainment.Pictured: Steve Bishir and Asa Wiggins in the Vol State recording studio.