An Interview with Jasmine (JDmL) Battle
Stories Through Sound is a blog featuring interviews by industry professionals across the audio and post production fields. This week, we're interviewing Jasmine Battle.
Jasmine Battle is a live sound engineer and producer based out of North Carolina, and has been a musician for over 20 years. Her instruments include keys, organ, bass, and voice. Jasmine graduated from NCCU as a music business major, and received her audio certification from Living Arts College. She is a senior engineer with CPE Music Group LLC, managing local artists and working live sound in downtown clubs and Houses of Worship. In addition to managing CPE Music Group, Jasmine currently produces under the name JDmL, and works as a sound engineer for Sonic Pie Productions.
How did you first become interested in audio as a career path?
I was involved in the performing arts world at a very early age; at 3 I was in ballet, gymnastics, and I sang in the choir as a kid growing up in New Jersey. My parents would drag me to church, and it was there I met my first love, the organ, and then the piano. Drawn to performance, I loved understanding how the different instruments talked to each other as I was learning keys. I stepped in my first recording studio at 16, and fell in love all over again! However, it wasn't until I got out of college and started gigging that I realized there was a need for more live sound audio engineers. As a keyboardist and vocalist, I could never really hear myself on stage. So I went back to school and got my certification to start working concerts and festivals. I've been there ever since. However, with COVID, I went right back into the studio heavy, thankfully!
What interested you the most about live sound?
I love the production side; I love the stage. I love the feeling you get when you're changing batteries before the artist gets on stage and you look up and there are thousands of people looking back at you. I mix front of house, but mixing monitors is definitely my passion. Being able to work closely with the artists, discovering new gear, and learning something new each and every time I mix, it's wonderful! Also, mixing for the stage makes me so much better and faster mixing and mastering in the studio.
Who is your biggest influence in audio engineering?
OH man, that's a tough one! My favorite studio engineer is Marcella Ariaca (Britney Spears, Duran Duran, K. Michelle, Timbaland). A few years back, I attended an Audio Engineer Society convention, where I met a panel of all female engineers from different areas and backgrounds. Most recently, this year, I got to meet her [Ariaca] at Elon U at the Leading Women In Audio conference, where they set up classroom style mixing sessions. Best day ever! It made me feel like, hey, maybe I can do this and actually be successful at it. My favorite live sound engineer is Amanda Davis (Janelle Monae, Tegan and Sara, Ella Mae, Chloe x Halle) . I got to chat with her while working at the Ritz a few years back, and she's been so gracious to stay connected. She connected me with SoundGirls, a great platform for connecting with other female engineers, and where you can ask questions, if you're ever in a pickle. She's saved my butt on many occasions especially with figuring out WAVES and its complicated grids and servers.
What is the biggest challenge in managing a production company like CPE Music Group? How would you say you go about overcoming that challenge?
My biggest challenge, lately, has been handling the workload! Thankfully, we've grown considerably this year. Lots of projects, artists, pre recordings, gear rentals, etc. I'm actually in the process of training and hiring engineers for my company to make room and to prepare for our upcoming expansion- and they all happen to be female! There are many great sound techs, but we need ENGINEERS. People that understand the "feel" of the mix and what to do to achieve that feel, not just the gear and how it works. Both are important, though. Once we get more awesome individuals on the team, we will be able to better battle that beast.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to start their own business in live sound/production?
When you are first starting out, be open to learn what you don't know. Heck, even be open to relearn something you think you already know! You may find a better way. Be humble, but don't be afraid to show your skill set level. Treat your clients well and make a good first impression. Be organized! Whether it's emails or invoices. Get a mentor! Resources are important. Find someone who is already successful at what you are trying to do and learn from them. If the formula is already there, you can save a lot of time and stress just by not being afraid to ask for help. And by all means, take the leap of faith when opportunities come to you.
Any other advice/comments for the industry?
Most importantly, believe in yourself and what you do. Be confident. I can't tell you how many times I've held myself back in the past just from lack of confidence in myself. Lastly, have FUN!!!! Don't forget to enjoy what you do.
You can keep up with Jasmine on her instagram: @jay_dee_emm_ell
For mixing/engineering/producing inquires: email@example.com
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