Alumni Interview with John Hurtado
What are the major achievements of your career?
Extensive contributions to the soundware development (sound design and/or sound/effects programming, or voicing) of the Kurzweil PC2 keyboard/synth controller, the PC2R (rack version of PC2), recent and forthcoming expansion ROMs for the PC2 series and Kurzweil K2600, KDFX v2, and the Kurzweil KSP8 multi-bus effects processor, plus several other products currently under development.
What made you decide to pursue Electronic Production and Design as a career?
I would say necessity and curiosity. Initially, I intended to center my studies around composition and arranging, focusing on a commercial music or film-scoring track, but I was also interested in the technology involved in bringing music to its fruition. Furthermore, I was aware that the more I knew how to do, the more all these different pursuits would enhance the practicality of each of the other aspects, thus making me a more versatile musician, with the ability to adapt to a variety of professional situations.
Synthesis was a natural choice, since it combined aspects of musical creativity with aspects of technological creativity. The line between the two has most certainly become blurred, and will continue to do so.
What is a normal day like in your line of work (assuming there is such a thing as a normal day)?
That depends on what project(s) I'm working on, and at what point in the process we're at with a given project. I could be working on samples in the morning for one, and programming effects for another in the afternoon.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Creating and then tweaking stuff!!
What are some of the personal rewards that have come with your job or career?
There's definitely a mutual respect between you and your peers - you get to work alongside extraordinarily talented and intelligent individuals. Everyone involved grows and benefits from this.
It's important to me that working musicians from all disciplines will use the stuff I help create. Plus, it's always cool to find out somebody used a product you helped develop on a CD, a tour, for a score, a commercial, a gig, whatever. It definitely fuels one to always improve, and always give 110%.
What do you think are the requisites for someone entering this field?
Priority one: Ears. I suggest proficiency in performance ear training, audio ear training; develop killer pitch and timbre recognition, etc. To make a long story short, let's just say that a lot of really good musicians are, or are becoming, really good synthesists/sound designers/engineers/etc., and visa versa. This has pretty much become the norm, in the industry. So learn everything you can, and learn it well, and when you're done, learn more. And apply it, of course!
And don't forget: network, network, NETWORK!!! The more connections you make, and the more people you meet in school or on the gig, the more likely you will find the job in the career of your choosing.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job and/or career?
Keeping up with rapid advances in technology, and ever-changing market.
What are some of the skills that you are called upon to use daily in your work?
Everything. My ears, my musical background, an ability to troubleshoot, the ability to remain objective without mediocrity or being wishy-washy, and an ability to make informed, logical decisions and choices, based on what I know. This ties in with the requisites question: you are as good as what you know, and what you can do.
Knowing the ranges, workings, and aural signatures and characteristics of analog, electronic, and synthesized musical instruments - knowing how they function in any given musical genre. Being familiar with as many musical genres, even those that you do not listen to regularly, is extremely important, whether creating your own music as a performing artist/group, as a jingle writer, for TV or radio; whether you are a producer, engineer, or sound designer. It's all-important - it's all a part of the continuing trend towards melding the musician and technologist into one entity.
How did your education at Berklee prepare you for what you are doing today?
Berklee allowed me the ability to tailor my education to what I wanted to accomplish. There was always a class to take or someone to go to for whatever I needed to know and learn. The Berklee Electronic Production and Design program and staff are the reason why I had such a smooth transition from the role of student, though you never actually stop being one, to that of soundware engineer.
What are the current trends in the field of Electronic Production and Design that will most likely shape your future and the future of this industry?
Definitely the all-encompassing and all-inclusive computer platform, rapid advances in software, hardware, processor speed, and transmission and storage media.