Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flashback-Meeting Richard Factor

While ushering at Carnegie Hall I started interviewing for a job in a recording studio . At that time there were dozens of facilities in Manhattan.  One of my first interviews was at Richard Factors "Sound Exchange" on 54th street.

As a founder of Eventide Clockworks, Richard Factor is one of the founding fathers of modern recording, with the likes of Bill Putnam and George Massenburg.  Eventide designed and built some of the first commercially available digital audio equipment, which included the 1745 DDL , and the first Harmonizer, the  H910.
This is an amazing accomplishment, considering in 1971 they were the only company doing this type of work . (Aside from a few prototype units being built by Lexicon and sold through Gotham Audio) They designed their own processors as well as audio analog to digital, and digital to analog converters.

Mr. Factor would later guide Eventide into avionics, designing the first affordable moving map displays.
He is also the founder of The SETI League, which privatized a NASA project (which was dropped due to budget cuts in 1993) to use Radio Astronomy to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  (Jodie Foster was a Radio Astronomer in the movie Contact.)
Factor is currently working on the PriUPS project, which enables owners of the Toyota Prius to use their hybrid vehicle as a battery backup and emergency generator for their home. You can check out Richard's blog here.
He's an interesting man, I wish I knew him. My only meeting with him was this brief job interview at Sound Exchange.

I walked into his office during a lunch break at Carnegie Hall with my friend Chris.
The ground floor of the building was a small factory where the digital delays were built, the recording studio was on the second floor.  Richard came out of the shop to interview me. "You always show up for a job interview with a friend?"
At that moment he was called away to the phone.  I was left standing there. Embarrassed, I asked Chris to leave.  Richard returned and asked what happened to my friend.  Now I felt twice as foolish.  He sat me down.
“Listen, you are going to go on a lot of job interviews and these people are going to act like they're your friend.  They'll tell you they will try to help you out. They're not really your friends, but I am because I'm going to tell you the truth.  You won't make much money, and you won't have any social life.  So don't get a job in a studio.”
I was dumbstruck and didn't know what to say.  And that pretty much ended the interview. In hindsight, he was clever.  If I had said at that moment, those things weren't important to me, that I still wanted to become a recording engineer, I now wonder if the interview would have continued.

Was he right?  In general, yes.
Did I have a social life?  No, not a very good one for the first 10 years or so, but some of that was me, I wasn't as good with people as I was with electronics.  Did I make money?  Yes, I did pretty good, better than most actually, but I didn't get rich.

Maybe I should start all job interviews at the studio with, "When you go on interviews people will act like they're your friend, .................. "

© 2009 Bradshaw Leigh

1 comment:

  1. Nice experience shared. Its not less than an interview. Great way of posting such good and informative stuff.