Carolina Perez Q&A

Carolina Perez is a sound designer and audio engineer with experience in music production, film, theatre and interactive multimedia. She teaches AET classes in music technology and audio production, and she also works as a freelancer as a sound designer and audio engineer and writes and produces music. Perez holds an M.F.A. in Sound Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a B.M. in Music Technology from Florida International University. We recently caught up with her to talk about her work.

Tell us a little about your background.
I hail from Cali, a city in a valley in the southwest of Colombia. Since the age of 5, I was writing and reading little dots on staff paper, singing in choirs and playing musical instruments at the Instituto Departamental Bellas Artes. My family moved to Miami, Florida, when I was 17. Florida International University was my second musical home, where I was introduced to my primary go-to musical instrument, the computer. This might sound weird, but the countless sound generation possibilities I encountered in electroacoustic music led me to sound design. My journey as a sound designer began at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Since then, I have been infatuated with the powerful, yet invisible, role that sound plays in storytelling. As a musician, sound designer and audio engineer, I have been involved in a mixed bag of projects in theatre, film, interactive multimedia, music production and music performance.

What are some projects you’ve done or experiences you’ve had that you are most proud of? Why?
I am most proud of my personal music projects, not only because they are my vehicle for unadulterated self-expression, but also because of the people whom I’ve had the honor of collaborating with. I have built the fondest and most rewarding professional relationships and friendships around my music. Having my music be graced by the talent of people whom I admire has been one of the best experiences of my life.

What can you tell us about the courses you’ll be teaching this year?
In the fall, I will be teaching Contemporary Music Styles. In this class we will listen to and analyze songs in different genres and work out our composition and music producing muscles by writing our very own songs. Complementary to that course, will be the Multitrack, Recording, Mixing and Mastering course. A song won’t reach a very big audience unless it is recorded. That class will go over how to best capture and process the sound of musical instruments and vocals, in a way that effectively portrays the artist’s or producer’s vision. Oh, the fun we will have writing music for film and games in the spring of 2018! Film scoring will provide a good foundation for theme development and orchestration, and then we’ll move on to the really exciting world of dynamic music, where different music segments are triggered in response to a player’s actions. Also incredibly useful for our music composition tasks will be the Sound Synthesis and Audio Processing course, in which we’ll explore the vast sound generating capabilities of virtual instruments such as synthesizers, samplers and drum machines.

What do you hope students take away from your courses?
I want my students to come out my courses feeling confident and empowered to create. I want to inspire them to push boundaries, to experiment and try new things. I also like to challenge my students to constantly LISTEN. When it comes to music and sound work, our ears are the most valuable tools. Developing critical listening takes time. It won’t help if you repeat something because you read about it in an article, or because somebody told you; you need to develop the ability of letting your ears be the judge. The more you listen, the better you will hear.

Tell us about projects you have been working on outside of the classroom.
Right now I am leaving the city that was my home for 18 years. If you do the math, you should know my age now! That means I’ll be leaving behind the people I collaborated with on many projects over many years. My last project in Miami will be to record a few of my original songs with some of my favorite musicians and friends. My idea is to create music videos for the songs and eventually perform my music in Austin.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in following a career path in music and sound production?
There are many routes in music and sound production. For better chances of employment, I would suggest the live sound engineering and game sound design routes. But let’s not forget, we are still within the very competitive arts and entertainment industry. Therefore be prepared for a slow, winding climb, in which only a few make it to the summit. If you decide to pursue music and sound production as career, do it because you love it, and that will be the fuel that helps you go further and reach higher.