In the Studio with Hip-Hop Artist and Alum Randy Marx
Alumni Interview with Music Producer, Recording Engineer and Vocalist, Randy Marx
If you aren’t familiar with the name Randy Marx, just give it a couple of years before you hear his name in mainstream hip-hop. Randy Marx graduated in 2017 with his degree in Music Production and has built a recording career here in his hometown of Los Angeles. As an artist, Randy exudes a coolness that makes you want to pay attention to what he’s creating. You can easily tell that everything he creates is done with heart and a deep passion for music. Those same qualities emerge in his latest single, Weight of the World, which explores the healing and growth process that comes with working in a cut-throat industry. We caught up with Randy at The Los Angeles Recording School, a division of The L.A. Film School, in our SSL Duality studio. In our interview, we explored the many facets of music, representation, and one of Randy’s soon-to-be-released projects that is hush-hush at the moment. Keep reading to learn more about our alum, Randy Marx.
Tell us about your first big project out of school…
I had been purchasing equipment here and there piecing together a pretty decent setup while I was attending The L.A. Film School. Eventually, I invested in my own recording studio with a business partner. It was literally one of the hardest tasks I have ever performed. My logic at the time was “build a studio, deck it out and clients will come running to give me their business.” Boy, was I so wrong!
In the beginning, there was a lot to figure out, I had cycled through a handful of engineers that I thought would be great for the studio; I must’ve gone through at least 7-8 engineers all while trying to pay the bills and rent, etc. Nobody worked out; it was unfortunate and I felt foolish. I felt like it was a mistake, and I might have been in way over my head at one point. I had regret and one day I decided to step up as an engineer and operate the studio myself. I learned via trial and error, asked countless questions, and always bothered my friends at all hours of the day and night, but everybody was more than supportive. I often screwed up sessions but then I began to develop a really nice workflow. I am an artist, and I reminded myself of how I would prefer to be treated when I attend a studio. I want an engineer attentive to my needs, I want to be understood when I request something and I want to feel comfortable at all times. I was able to accommodate for all of that.
Randy talks about developing a flavor and style
Unbeknownst to me, I was also developing a flavor and a style. Before I knew it, I was busy every single day, I had to put my personal artistic career aside and live in the moment. I was getting faster day by day, I was flying through sessions one after another and I loved every single moment of it. That’s when “Cloud 9 Studios” came to fruition. I built that name and reputation from the ground up myself. I was proud to own and operate the studio, and I didn’t care if anybody else worked there because I knew the vision and the reputation I wanted to have.
Picking up the pieces and staying the course
Then one day it all came to a crashing end, the building owner announced that they had listed the building we were in for sale and we had to leave at a certain date, this honestly almost broke my spirit, I had a thriving business that looked super promising and it was all seemingly taken from me. I had to pack up all the equipment and as much as I could and place everything in storage because I knew moving to another place wasn’t going to be an easy task, I had to consider locations, types of neighborhoods I would be around, if it was safe, if it was affordable and also if I was allowed to create music wherever I’d move to whenever I needed to. It was stressful. I digressed at that point and continued to work at home in my garage on my own craft and started freelancing as an engineer here and there to pay the bills. 2021 was a very special and rough year all at the same time.
How did you first get inspired to work in music and want to start your own studio?
I was tired of asking friends for favors and knowing I had some recording knowledge, wanted to give it a try for myself. I was also tired of having to afford beats when I knew I had it in me to create my own. I gave it a try but immediately knew that I shouldn’t be spending too much time on music production, I had rent and bills to pay, I learned to leverage my situation and barter studio time for beats, etc.
How has your experience as a Latin American changed your perspective on working in the entertainment industry?
I have always strongly felt that I have an advantage as a Latin American artist because I had an opportunity to be different and create my own lane with music in a commercial aspect. I also love being able to create music the way that I want to. I view it as an advantage to capitalize and represent the right way!
How would you like to see the recording industry evolve and become more inclusive?
I’d love for more light to be shed upon the Latin community in entertainment. I often feel that this industry can be very discouraging as an independent entrepreneur because it has a lot to do with figuring out what wasn’t taught to us as young kids. Growing up we were never really properly educated on money management, investments and the importance of chasing your dreams and staying motivated and dedicated to them. It’s a bit disheartening to know that a lot of Latin Americans are brought up with the mindset that all there is to life is school and work and many don’t even get the opportunities to further their education. I myself have had a lot of figuring out to do along the way; it’s very unmotivating when you feel like it’s you against the world.
It’s also unfortunate to see a lot of people instill that fear and discouragement in their own culture; it’s always talked about but never really publicized; the whole “crabs in a bucket” methodology. Sadly, even people from our own culture see a person attempting to do better with their lives and make it to the next level and automatically they’ll hate on them rather than support them. This is, in my opinion, why many of our Latin brothers and sisters end up crashing and burning; there’s no real support system! As soon as you see somebody growing or doing better than you, the narrative usually changes rapidly, “oh they think they’re better than everybody else. They come from the same place and can’t accept a normal life.” Artists and creators are often looked at as boujee, arrogant, cocky and selfish.
I would love to see more Latinos not just behind the scenes, but in front of the cameras, on the stages, and in front of the microphones. I take so much pride in being Latino and representing my culture in a respectful manner. I’ve always felt strongly about particular Latin artists who have come up before me. They will always have my respect. However, I feel that our culture has been stereotyped for a long time and nobody has responsibly spoken up or attempted to make a change and show the world that there is talent here and we can compete on a commercial level; not everything has to be viewed from a street level or a pro-Latino perspective, there is amazing talent out there! Our culture is brilliant, there are some amazing artists who deserve to accomplish their life goals.
We heard you are working on opening a recording studio with another alumnus (J. Gonzalez). Can you share more about that process and how it’s coming along?
Our studio project is many years in the making. We’ve been discussing these plans off and on for the last few years and the timing never seemed to be right. I have built strong business relationships along the journey, and J and I have dramatically improved in our skill sets too. The network of talented individuals continues to grow daily, and we are now in touch with artists and producers we only used to hear about from other people or read about. I‘m excited about my partnership because not only is it going to financially leverage me to succeed astoundingly, but it’s going to improve my skills and my music too. There are many accomplishments that are going to come about while having our studio compound. The building will consist of three 24-Hour recording studios and two private recording studios. (J’s studio and my own personal studio space). Although our business model is very similar to other lockout facilities, we plan on doing something way different from our competitors! The studio is located in Los Angeles county, it will be a more private upscale and invite-only type of vibe. The construction, permits, etc. are estimated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022 and we hope to be up and running by then too. 2023 is going to be a huge year for us! We plan to populate the studio with all of our recording plaque achievements and be an example to many artists in the industry.
What is your favorite thing about doing the work that you do every day?
I love to create music that my competitors can’t duplicate. My methods are often simple but very precise and complex. I’ve truly designed my own style and have given hip-hop my own signature. I love when I create art and other people not only appreciate it for what it’s worth, but those that dig deeper are able to view a piece of my soul in everything I do, my passion for art and music is driven by this. I thrive on this; it is very validating and motivates me to do better. I put countless amounts of hours into my music, and I believe it really shows and speaks for itself. I am so open-minded to multiple genres; I continue to educate myself daily in music and art. I truly appreciate other fine art and give credit where it’s due. I also love to engineer for other artists because I am constantly learning and becoming a better artist all while working with other artists. I am a student of the game and also a master of my game and my work ethic is unmatched when it comes to art.
We are so excited about your mystery project coming in 2023! We know you can’t disclose much, but is there anything exciting we can look forward to?
I was fortunate and blessed to land the main theme song and character select screen music on the new upcoming video game Street Fighter 6. I worked with a small team; ROCCO 808, GRP and KOYO. The opportunity came out of left field, and I can’t attribute it to anything else but God showing me that there were rewards for being stubborn and not giving up.
The experience was nothing like I had ever been through. I was a little nervous at first because I really wanted to land the song and not be overlooked for the opportunity. I had just gotten into freestyling a lot of my music work because I felt more comfortable instead of taking a lot of time to write out my lyrics. So, I gave it a shot and got a callback, and then another callback, and then another one. Before I knew it, we had completed a full song that we started in GRP’s studio in the valley, to a much larger facility in Santa Monica and it was so dope, I was so proud of our work; mind you I was strictly instructed not to speak about our creation and to keep it to myself, and then the pandemic happened and it seemed as if the opportunity just diminished into thin air!
Making the main theme song and character select screen music for Street Fighter 6
Approximately 6-8 months passed by and I received a random text message from KOYO, I was informed that the team loved my contributions to the project and they were interested in having me perform another music piece for the game. Due to the pandemic, I was able to create music at home all while communicating back and forth with KOYO all while receiving feedback for my efforts along the way. Another month or so passed and I got invited to the big studio again to complete my second contribution to the title. I was quite confident in my second contribution and it turned out that the team loved what I did too.
Fast-forward to 2022, we started getting small updates about our creations and we were invited to collaborate on a music video filmed at IRKO’s private studio for what we were told that we had landed the main theme song for Street Fighter and they wanted us to feature in a video for the game. IRKO is such a talented engineer and producer, he has many large credits, ranging from DONDA for Kanye West to Jay-Z (Kingdom Come) and the list goes on; come to find out that IRKO was the designated mixing and mastering engineer for the project, it was so cool being able to work with such a talented individual who’s done so much in the music industry and now collaborated with us!
And then the Street Fighter 6 trailer was released and I heard my vocals at the very beginning of the video, oh man, I felt like I won the lottery, I honestly felt like I made it and achieved all of my goals as an artist at that point. It was a surreal feeling, I still think back at that moment and it’s just a proud reminder that all my hard work was paying off in a grand way! Suddenly, all my years of dedication and continuing to push forward had paid off. I was starting to do what I had initially set out to do, succeed in music.
What advice would you give to students who are currently in the Music Production program?
I am thankful for my time at The Los Angeles Film School because I met so many great people there, staff included. It just opened up my mind and rolodex in the music industry. I understand that education is what you make of it but it’s also very crucial to network and be social amongst your peers. You never know which one of your classmates or professors is going to go on and do bigger things in life. My advice is to meet everybody. The school is a unique environment with other like-minded individuals, everybody is struggling; everybody is trying to make it, but the beauty in the struggle is making it together. I’ll admit that more than halfway through my curriculum at LAFS, I had a desire to change my degree plan to audio engineering. At that time the new audio production program was barely beginning and I really wanted to change over but honestly, I decided to stick it out and complete my program. I graduated at the top of my class and I am very proud of that achievement. Nonetheless, I cannot stress it enough–get to know your peers, talk to your professors, and find out what you can do to succeed. By the time you graduate from LAFS, there’s really no excuse not to know everybody in that school. Be fearless and smart, be open to different styles and genres, educate yourself and stay passionate. Stay motivated and be great. This is a step in the right direction for your future, live in the moment and appreciate it for what it’s worth, and show the world what you got!
Thank you, Randy Marx! Follow Randy on Social