Jay-Z’s audio engineer visits Berkeley

Young Guru stops in Berkeley as part of educational tour for students interested in audio engineering

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Fantasy Studios/Courtesy

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Those behind the scenes in music rarely get properly recognized. This isn’t the case for Grammy Award-winning audio engineer Young Guru, who has engineered and mixed seven of Jay-Z’s 11 solo albums, as well as music from several other high-profile musicians. Guru kept mum about Jay-Z’s forthcoming album. “I can’t talk about Jay (because) it’s not an album yet,” Guru noted. A new Jay-Z song, “Open Letter,” debuted on New York radio less than 12 hours later.

This spring, Young Guru has partnered with the Grammys for a 13-stop educational tour featuring town hall discussions and in-studio sessions for students interested in audio engineering. Last Wednesday, Guru visited the renowned Fantasy Studios in Berkeley to reveal his start in the field and technical advice about how to approach engineering in today’s world.

Audio engineers are generally known for recording music and being proficient with the equipment used in a recording studio. For those interested in the field, Guru suggests studying information from all resources, especially with so much available online. “The best thing is just to read and figure out things,” Guru said. “If you can read through the whole issue (of a technical audio magazine) without having to look up a word, that’s when you know that you’ve started to understand what’s going on.”

With regards to where audio technology is headed in the future, Guru described how the advancement of computers will allow for more innovative ways of music creation. If current technology only allows musicians to make music with their hands, “there’s no reason to say why your feet can’t be involved or the way your head moves can’t be involved,” said Guru. “The future of technology is going to be how the human being interfaces with a computer.”

Even as grand recording studios play a lesser role in the lives of musicians today, Young Guru seemed pleased overall with the direction of audio engineering in the future. He stressed to all the students in the room to refine their craft because music will always be a driving force in the world, and it is the engineer’s responsibility to help listeners receive the finest product possible.

Contact Rahul Pandya at [email protected].