By Manny Yupa
Over the course of 5 months, I spontaneously started a live sound internship, practiced and studied constantly, and then ended up with a job in live sound at a music venue. Before that internship, I had almost no experience. Now… I do have experience, but I’m constantly stressed about my “accelerated graduation” and about needing to learn more while on the job. I work with talented people in a popular venue, and I have an obligation to do really well despite having relatively little experience. That thought and the accompanying stress make themselves hell to manage, yet they also push me to constantly improve.
When I ran sound for my first full show, plenty of things went wrong. Soundcheck ran late, one band’s levels often changed drastically and unpredictably, and I made mistakes that I needed help from the head sound engineer to fix. I was running around for six hours straight, and essentially underwent a six-hour anxiety attack. Yet I still had to continue running the show and dealing with every single problem that unexpectedly occurred. I could not even savor the option to walk away.
My worst days, as a result, are the ones where I learn the fastest. For example, running significantly overtime with soundcheck has taught me how to prepare better mixes for multiple bands in less and less time. Miking multiple bands with a multitude of instruments and limited microphones has taught me the importance of economy and organization. Running into entirely different problems every other night has expanded my troubleshooting skills. All of these anxiety-inducing moments have actually helped me improve at my new job.
To be honest, I’m still fairly stressed out at work. I’ve never had to work as hard to overcome my obsession with small details as I do when I need to mix live sound for a full band. If I had twenty-four hours, it wouldn’t be a problem. If the band’s set is half an hour long and they have a half hour sound check, I better work damn quickly to get and maintain a solid mix. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to get there.