An Interview With Patrick Boyd
Stories Through Sound is a blog featuring interviews by industry professionals across the audio and post production fields. This week, we're interviewing Patrick Boyd.
Patrick Boyd is an audio engineer and musician based out of DC. He graduated from Appalachian State University as a music industry studies major, with a concentration in recording and production. Patrick is currently a broadcast recording technician at NPR (National Public Radio), where his responsibilities include editing and mixing segments for air. Before moving to DC, Patrick was a live sound technician at Studio Instrument Rental in Nashville, TN. He also assisted on two video sessions: Stereo Sessions, which came out of the Toy Box Studio in East Nashville, and The Attic Sessions at War Memorial Auditorium.
What is the moment that you decided you wanted to pursue audio as a career path?
I’ve always loved music but I’ve also always loved recording music. I started playing guitar in 7th grade and picked up my first DAW three months later. There’s just always been something so exciting about capturing what I hear in my head. I always thought it was a hobby until just before a college fair in high school. On the ride over, my parents asked me what I’ve been thinking about doing with my life and suggested “something with that recording thing you do”. It had never dawned on me that I could do something like that forever and that was really the moment when I decided that this is the dream, this is what I want to do.
Can you talk a bit about your responsibilities working as a broadcast recording technician for NPR? Any favorite moments you have had working there thus far?
There are four main aspects of our job:
- Support: Anything from cleaning up pieces for air with Izotope RX to troubleshooting problems with our reporters in the field.
- Master Control: Making connections to our member stations and reporters across the nation and maintaining the on-air content.
- Driving: We have an engineer at the board for all of the live syndicated shows that come out of DC (All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition) and their responsibilities are to put the show on the air, including managing any live connections or issues they may encounter. While we sound very calm on-air, the control room can get pretty hectic!
- Special Projects: This can be anything from working on documentation of new processes, editing audio for the video team, or assisting our colleague Josh Rogosin on the Tiny Desk series
There’s countless moments that are favorites and I’ll remember forever. I assisted on the Jenny Lewis TDC and Carly Rae Jepson TDC which were once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I also was at the board for Special Coverage during the Kavanaugh hearing and Impeachment Coverage, both of which were strange and surreal to be so close to history in the making. But some of my favorite moments are just listening to stories that people are super passionate about, like our Summer Roadtrip series with Atlas Obsurca from summer 2018. It’s a beautiful set of long form pieces about different, interesting places across America. The most wonderful thing about working for NPR (and working in live sound for that matter) is capturing a moment in time and being able to preserve it and share it to let it affect or educate others, as it has done for you.
Any tips/advice to share in regards to applying to jobs from your experience of getting your job at NPR?
When you see something cool or interesting that someone is doing, reach out about it! Be curious. Most people are really excited to talk about the work that they are doing and that connection could lead to a job down the road, or just good information that you can use to improve your own audio projects.
You majored in Recording and Production in college. How has your degree impacted or influenced your career?
I really loved my small program at Appalachian State! Besides giving me a good foundation in recording and production and introducing me to many of the products I use every day (looking at you, Izotope RX), it allowed me to learn from my colleagues in the program and taught me the importance of relationships within the audio industry. Coming into college, I thought the audio world was about long, solo, hours in the studio working to be the best, but I have learned so much from the people in the program and have built a group of friends that I still reach out to with questions or to just talk about audio stuff. That program helped me realize that this industry is a family, not a cutthroat journey to get ahead like Hollywood sometimes portrays it.
Any go-to plugins or audio tools that you can’t live without?
Izotope RX Advanced!! The amount of ~black magic~ that you can do with those plugins is insane and it’s been amazing the amount of unwanted sounds or artifacts (like you know, a helicopter) that I can take out while still being able to portray someone’s voice accurately. My colleagues and I at NPR use it day in and day out, all day long. It’s also been instrumental in making remote work possible for NPR, allowing us to clean up Zoom calls and artifacts that arise during the pandemic!
Is there anything that you wish your past self could have known? Any other advice or comments you would like to add for others in the audio industry?
There is always more to learn, even when you’ve established yourself in a job. And that that’s okay! Just because you didn’t know the best workflow or have the best tools to do something the first time doesn’t mean you are an imposter in your position! This feeling of being an imposter is something I struggled with a lot previously in Nashville and at NPR so it’s important to reframe those hard moments as a learning opportunity. As audio engineers in a changing industry, it’s important to take in the change of the world with open minds and never stop learning!
Check out some of Patrick's past and present projects here:
One Square Inch of Silence from All Things Considered’s Summer Roadtrip Series with Atlas Obsurca
Two Sides w/ harpist Katherine Hill (recorded by Chris Resovsky, another ASU alum)
Color Me in with Green EP by Stephen Kent
New Music coming here later this year: https://www.instagram.com/wearesleepovermusic/
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