With a campus located in the heart of the entertainment industry, it is no surprise that Occidental hosts a variety of student musical groups ranging from indie rock bands to a capella singers. RAW Records, Occidental’s student-run recording studio, aims to help these budding musicians record and distribute their music to a wider audience.
RAW Records is involved with all parts of the music recording process, from managing studio use to releasing and promoting music. The label has attracted a diverse community of student musicians.
“KOXY does a really good job of sponsoring [live] musical events. What we want to strive to do is try to get musicians to meet each other,” Vice President of RAW Records Micah Garrido (sophomore) said.
Garrido started working with the organization as a performer during his first year at Occidental, recording enough tracks to release an album for his solo project, Micah Manaitai, this past summer. He now manages studio usage and the production schedule for RAW Records.
Structurally, RAW Records is split into two branches. On one side is the studio staff of engineers and musicians. The other division is the business side, involved with organizing events, recruiting and promoting artists, coordinating music video shoots and keeping the recording process on track. The team also maintains an official registry of student musicians contracted to work in the studio. Most recently, they hosted a mixer to attract new talent and generate collaborations between artists.
“[The business team is] definitely taking steps to become more of a record label,” Garrido said.
Professor Simeon Pillich, the faculty adviser of RAW Records, is working to develop a professional network for club members.
“My own experience as a professional recording musician has given me some cache with people in the industry, so I’m working on having some of these people help RAW Records handle their business in a somewhat professional manner,” Pillich said via email.
This professional approach extends to RAW Record’s recording process. Students interested in using the studio contact the staff, who sign them up for a session and match them with a sound engineer, as well as any additional student musicians they want in the studio. Studio sessions occur in two-hour periods, and artists can sign up for as many sessions as they desire. Once an artist is satisfied with the recording of a track, it is sent off to mastering engineer Gabe Bethke (junior), who finalizes the track before it is officially released by the record label.
“We do really well with what we have. It’s like a step below an ‘official’ recording studio,” Bethke said.
Like Garrido, Bethke became involved with the studio during his first year at Occidental.
“It’s been a pretty defining thing for me,” Bethke said. “It’s been a really cool way to express myself and also do new things. It forces me to think outside of the box to how I would normally do things.”
One of RAW Records’ most active performers, Nina Carlin (senior), spoke about the educational benefits of having a recording studio on campus.
“I have been able to play more of an active role in recording for a band I’m in off-campus. I’ve learned what to do in a studio and also how to sing while recording, which has been extremely helpful,” Carlin said.
As RAW Records continues to grow, the club is extending its reach beyond the recording studio. The studio hopes to facilitate performances at local venues, such as a performance by Garrido and his band Contigos at The York. Other projects in the works include the creation of a two-unit sound engineering course and a music partnership with the Green Bean.
“We want to create this supportive community where we hear each other in the Green Bean [and say] ‘Aw, that’s really cool! That’s my friend on the radio!’” Garrido said. “That’s what I’m getting really hyped about—people hearing their own music playing out in public.”