BACKSTAGE ACCESS: Insight into the lives of real music industry professionals
WEEK 1 FOCUS OF INDUSTRY: Production (sound technician/audio engineer)
This week BACKSTAGE ACCESS will feature an industry professional who works in the world of production within the music industry. Production can consist of many different roles, such as a production or stage manager, but this individual is specifically representing the role of an event audio engineer.
Eddie Hernandez shared with us some details of his role as the owner of Groove Merchant Northwest. Keep reading to discover how he ended up in this profession, what a typical day of working a show looks like for him and some bits of wisdom he extended for those interested in pursuing the production realm.
Featured Professional: Eddie Hernandez, Groove Merchant NW
Eddie Hernandez has been the owner and operator of Groove Merchant Northwest for 14 years. Groove Merchant Northwest is a production company working in the entertainment industry. Its services offer backline, audio engineering, light services and stage management for a variety of events. Hernandez has worked with a plethora of artists, such as SOL, Allen Stone and Charles Bradley. His company has allowed him to work at venues like the George Amphitheater, Capitol Hill Block Party and the Water Front Blues Festival.
Eddie Hernandez’s “accidental” path to owner of Groove Merchant NW:
Hernandez got started in the entertainment industry fresh out of high school.
“The first band I remember seeing was Led Zeppelin and the seed was planted,” Hernandez stated.
He began to play music in a band and ended up doing their sound as well. Hernandez said that this was a casual occupation for him for many years.
“I never really started this as [meant to be] my profession,” Hernandez said. He explained that he fell into the role of a sound technician, because no one else was able to do it. Once Hernandez discovered that he really liked this job, he got himself some technical training.
In March of 2001, Hernandez started Groove Merchant Northwest. “I never looked back,” Hernandez said.
“I went to every show I could, carried gear, made repairs and did whatever I could to learn as much as possible about the Industry,” Hernandez said. “I still learn something at every show I work.”
Eddie’s perspective: What is it like to be a sound engineer?
Hernandez said that depending on the event, he arrives hours or even days before the sound check of an event to assure that everything is ready to go.
During a sound check, Hernandez explained that it is the artist’s job to tell him what their needs are and for him to fulfill those audio needs.
Mixing the actual show requires Hernandez to consider many factors, such as music genre, venue and its size, weather and what kind of sound system he is dealing with.
“Knowing what I’m trying to achieve to represent the music being played is a huge part of the way I mix a show,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez explained that his favorite part of his job is when the show is actually happening and seeing the excitement of all the people.
Words of Wisdom from Eddie:
“The best advice I can give is to not take it [things in this industry] so personal,” Hernandez said. “There are so many things that are out of your control.”
Hernandez considers himself to be a multi craft person, but he extended this piece of advice if you’re going to specialize in one craft, whether it be sound, light or stage management: “Make sure you learn your craft. You know it well; you practice it everywhere.”