We were delighted to recently host an exclusive “in-class” masterclass and Q&A by multi-award winning mastering engineer Mandy Parnell, designed primarily for students on ICMP’s Creative Music Production degree course.
Who is Mandy Parnell?
Now one of the music industry’s most in-demand master engineers, world-renowned Mandy Parnell studied music and music technology through school, college and university and then landed an internship at a mastering studio. She has traversed musical genres, working with an exhaustive list of high profile bands and artists that include Björk, Aphex Twin, Snoop Dogg and the White Stripes. Along the way, she has discovered and developed her own philosophies in analog and digital audio.
Tips for aspiring engineers
ICMP’s Music Production Degree students heard Mandy talk with their Programme Leader Jason O’Bryan on a number of topics from the equipment in her mastering chain to what it takes to make a great assistant. Mandy talked about her favourite outboard gear, playback sources and monitor speakers, and how it is possible to get great results with the right plug-ins. Mandy emphasised however that the most important tool is between the ears. “How you hear and relate to the music is more important that the equipment you use”.
Volume normalisation and the resulting varying poor quality from streaming platforms was discussed along with how mono compatibility and how “going quieter” is increasingly important in the age of digital streaming.
As a leading female in the industry Mandy explained how she felt that letting your work do the talking is more important than endlessly waving the flag for women in industry, which in a way can lead to further damaging separation of the sexes – “we all bleed red and the best way to put it up the boys is by winning more awards than them!”
ICMP's cutting-edge Audient Studio
Good advice from an experienced Master Engineer
During the event, Mandy fielded a host of questions from students, one of which led on to her stressing the importance of choosing a good music production course and how important it was to not to give away your services for free as this devalues the industry. We asked Mandy what she thought was the single most important piece of advice for students wanting to be successful in the industry.
Never give up. Dedicate your life to your art, be prepared to work every waking hour and sacrifice your social life for a few year. Yes - it takes an enormous amount of hard work and dedication to get to the top but the rewards make it well worthwhile. My job has allowed me to travel the world, and to work with some of the best artists on the planet.
ICMP Production degree students have access to a comprehensive range of industry-standard recording and production facilities, including a fantastic new Audient studio equipped the most up to date gear. And for them, having access to masterclasses with experts like Mandy is a really important supplement to their course. Here are a few comments received by students after the event:
“The technical stuff was great but I really found it useful to hear about the importance of studio etiquette and what relationships are actually like in a studio environment.”
“I really enjoyed the session. It was incredibly inspiring. It was great to get an insight into the mind-set and attitude of a professional working at the very highest level.”