I’m happy to get to introduce you to Jett Galindo, mastering engineer and vinyl cutter at the Bakery Mastering in LA. I had connected with her for the blog and then we also recently had the pleasure of working together on a project she cut and we are pressing.
When she’s not in the studio she says her and her boyfriend are huge homebodies who both enjoy video games. She’s currently obsessed with Red Dead Redemption 2
“…and being my completionist self, I expect I’ll be playing it until the end of the year, perhaps longer.”
Besides video games, she enjoys the rest of her time cooking, catching up on some favorite subreddits, RSS feeds, TV shows “…forever obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race. Action-packed, I know. Lol!”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I’ve always loved music. Lived and breathed it growing up thanks to my parents who are musicians in their own right–they’ve been training and managing pop/rock bands in the Philippines since I was born in the 80s.
I feel that I’m my most authentic self working in music. My parents insisted I get a “real” college degree and then I could do whatever I wanted after that. As a result, I have a college degree in Psychology but then went straight to working in a commercial recording facility in the Philippines to prepare myself for formal audio engineering studies in Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA).
After graduating, I interned in Avatar Studios in New York (now known as Power Station). After my 3-month internship, I got hired as the full-time recording engineer of Producer Jerry Barnes (Nile Rodgers, Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack) whose production room was also located inside Avatar. I thought I was meant to stay in New York, until I got shortlisted for a position to be Doug Sax’s right-hand man (woman) at The Mastering Lab (Ojai, CA). When I got chosen for the job, I packed my bags and flew to the west coast to work with Doug and the rest of The Mastering Lab team. From there, the rest is history.
What is a day in the life like?
It doesn’t get dull at work. People tend to imagine mastering engineers to be sitting in the studio all day listening to music (which is pretty cool, mind you). But there’s a lot of hustle and bustle on any given day. I could be mastering a 5-track jazz EP in the morning, setting up vinyl test cuts later in the afternoon, then ending the day with an attended EDM single-track mastering session.
In between hectic days, I might focus more time on writing and doing admin/maintenance work–update the website, build more lacquer master packing boxes, make sure we’re stocked on inventory, etc. It also helps that our small team of 4 enjoy a good camaraderie with each other so brainstorming comes naturally when needed.
We also get the occasional workout running to the Sony lot mailing room to make sure we make it for that day’s FedEx delivery cut off. So yeah, there’s a lot that could happen on a regular day at the Bakery.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
There’s been a lot of great memorable albums I’ve had the honor of being part of–having all three members of Green Day hang out at the studio during the mastering session of Revolution Radio was amazing. Eric would be mastering in the main room while I assembled every finished track in the vinyl room so I could cut 7” lacquer refs for the band to take home. Thanks to Eric’s electrical engineer background, our cutting lathe has been modified in such a way that it talks to the computer and back, making it easy for clients to “cut” their own records. There’s actually a video of Bille Joe Armstrong cutting a 7” reference here.
Another unforgettable moment was being involved in the vinyl cutting of Pink Floyd’s final studio album Endless River back in 2014. It was my 2nd year at the Mastering Lab working under Doug Sax and I had the best seat in the house watching a master at work.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Vinyl mastering takes patience. There’s a lot of moving parts and extraneous factors that could affect every stage of the vinyl production process (from the lacquers and cutting styli all the way to the plating and choice of pressing plant). So thoughtfulness in every part of the process is key. Our studio once dealt with 3 defective styli one after another, so that was stressful. But all you can do is to keep calm and do what you can to make sure the lacquer masters are cut with zero compromise on quality.
Another challenge is the fact that vinyl is still seen as a mystery / unicorn by many independent artists and clients who are interested in releasing on the format. It’s our responsibility as people involved in the vinyl manufacturing process to educate these artists and make sure that they’re making informed decisions on their vinyl release every step of the way. It may be a challenge but it’s always so fulfilling when indie artists successfully get their records pressed.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
The reality is, vinyl cutting and mastering is one of those career paths that’s typically not taught in an academic setting. It is something you learn through apprenticeship with a skilled master who has learned the ropes themselves from another expert of their time. With the growing resurgence of vinyl not showing any signs of slowing down, more and more vinyl cutting facilities are starting to come back to life. So do your research on these various existing facilities and seek out potential internships and apprenticeships.
At the same time, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to exploring various career paths because the more you dig deeper into these fields, you’d be surprised by how many niche career paths there are that’s beyond vinyl cutting. I myself didn’t grow up wanting to be a mastering engineer and vinyl cutter one day, but my path led me to this career and I’m humbled and grateful for it. So keep an open mind, you deserve to explore and consider every possible career path that’s ahead of you.
And don’t underestimate the power of the internet in educating yourself with the various intricacies and career paths in the music industry. I highly recommend checking out Soundgirls for their vast resources no matter where you are in the world. Besides the many informative articles on their website, they conduct regular events and panels, and post regular job & shadowing opportunities in audio.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I have a limited vinyl collection that’s mostly comprised of records I’ve cut from my years at The Mastering Lab and then at The Bakery. Truth be told, my ears are on a constant vigilant listening mode at work and during my commute that when I get home, the quiet is a welcome change and a much-needed time for resting the ears.
That doesn’t undermine my love for the format. The vinyl resurgence happened for a reason and I’m all for it. I recently wrote an article for iZotope about the vinyl format and where it fits in today’s music scene (read here). Its comeback was certainly not a fluke. There’s something about the entire ritual of experiencing music in the vinyl format that complements and elevates people’s love for music from the streaming environment to a more personal, tangible level.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I’m stoked that the Making Vinyl Conference is now on its 3rd year. It not only cements the vinyl formats place in today’s music industry, but it also helps encourage innovation with the format while utilizing today’s technology. I’m excited with all the potential possibilities–HD vinyl, 3D printed vinyl records, etc. I know we have to take all these innovations with a smart sense of trepidation. But it always helps to be welcoming of the advantages in technology rather than shun away from them.
Anything else you want to share or are really into right now?
Not to be biased, but I’m excited about the many possibilities brought by the video game music genre. It’s the same emotional journey as your standard movie soundtracks, but it just goes on a deeper immersive level because of the interactive gaming aspect of it. Plus there are endless possibilities with the genre–you could have fun, experimental electronic music from Celeste (composed by award-winning Lena Raine) or it could be folk, Americana bluegrass with some tinge of D’Angelo from Red Dead Redemption II.
I’ve been working intently with a growing record label that focuses solely in licensing and releasing video game soundtracks (Materia Collective). I’ve seen how supportive the video game community with supporting can be with every music release. So I have no doubt on the success and longevity of this genre.
The Bakery: @BakeryMastering
The Bakery: @bakerymastering
The Bakery: @Bakery Mastering
Also going to plug this again for her here: