Go Where the Path Leads You
Jeremy Underwood Grew Up in El Paso, Texas Loving Music and Video Games; Today, He Has an Impressive Resume in the Music, Film Scoring, and Gaming Fields, and is Now the House Audio Engineer at Playstation Studios in Los Angeles
March 20, 2023 – Sometimes your passion finds you.
El Paso, Texas native Jeremy Underwood still felt the pull of his love of music and audio engineering when he was getting close to starting an alternate, completely unrelated career. Little did he know that a casual conversation would ultimately steer him on a new, more fulfilling professional and life path.
“I have always loved music and video games,” said Underwood. “For me, it started early in life, spending any money that I made as a kid to buy music. I also played bass in a couple bands while I was in college, as well as creating digital music at an early age. I always wanted to be involved in music but wasn’t sure how to get started.”
Underwood said that a family friend knew of his love for all things technical and music, and said casually to him one day, “It sounds like you want to be an engineer. There are schools for that.”
That one comment jump started Underwood’s search for a new path in life, and this is how he discovered CRAS, from where he ultimately graduated in 2004.
“Since CRAS is located in Arizona just outside Phoenix and not too far from El Paso, I took a weekend trip out to see the school and learn more about it,” Underwood explained. “Once I walked into the first studio on my tour at the Tempe campus, I knew I wanted to be in this environment for the rest of my life. Not soon after graduation from college, I moved to Arizona to attend CRAS.”
Underwood, like so many others, attended CRAS wanting to be the next Rick Rubin. He landed his mandatory internship at Signet Sound Studios, which did a lot of film scoring and score mixing at the time, as well as VO and ADR for film and TV.
“Sadly, Signet Sound Studios is no longer around, but it was such an amazing studio that I made many contacts and learned so much that has followed me all through my career,” Underwood said, “Even after 20 years in the business when people find that is where my career started, those who knew Signet, always say ‘We are going to be in good hands.’”.
When Underwood was an intern at Signet Sound, they had a part time position open up for him that he gladly jumped on. At the same time, he was also a runner for Image Recording, where Chris Lord-Alge was mixing. Once Signet had a full time runner position open, he moved to the studio full time. Underwood then worked there as a full-time runner and made his way to being an assistant engineer for the next five years.
“Everything is a learning experience…good, bad, tough, easy…it doesn’t matter,” Underwood added. “I got my first paid job in audio because I needed to take a call during my internship and while I did, I wiped down the back patio tables at our studio. I didn’t realize that our studio tech and studio manager were watching from their office. When I got back inside, they both said, ‘No one ever cleans those tables. It says a lot about your work ethic.’ Within a few days from that, they offered me a job. Everything is preparing you for the next gig. Learn as much as you can and do your absolute best at whatever it is you do…even if it is cleaning tables because you never know who is watching.”
That work ethic has paid off for Underwood. And, it’s funny how many times something you loved when you were younger, and had no idea it could ever become a career choice, suddenly presents itself when least expected.
“As I went throughout my career and did a lot more ADR sessions, I had the opportunity to work on a few video game projects, and I really fell in love with the field and the work,” Underwood continued. “I loved video games growing up, and then at this point I loved how fast the tech was moving and getting to work with actors on a daily basis.”
Underwood worked his way up and is now the House Audio Engineer at Playstation Studios in Los Angeles, with responsibilities that include engineering any sessions that are on the Playstation campus, whether that be on one of its two performance capture stages or in its recording studios.
“I also interact with any studios that we will be recording at to make sure that everything is up to our high Playstation audio standards,” Underwood explained. “Sometimes, that requires me to go to these studios in person or get audio samples from them to work on tone. I also support our Dialogue and sound design team with any technical issues that arise on our campus or with any of our development partners.”
Ironically, CRAS did not develop and introduce a curriculum for video game audio engineering until 2013, but CRAS laid the foundation for Underwood to eventually find his niche in that medium after he graduated and worked his way up and through different facets of the recording industry.
“When I went to CRAS, there was no audio for video game program, and audio for video games was such a niche market that I didn’t really think about it,” Underwood said. “However, I still use my CRAS tools to this very day and on a daily basis, even without knowing it. Signal flow was such an important part of the curriculum and I still find myself using some of the processes that I learned at CRAS to solve the issues. Also, so much of the base of my knowledge started at CRAS and so, while I have certainly learned and grown, the base of my audio knowledge came from my time at CRAS. I learned so much in such a short time, not just about the gear and how to use it, but every aspect of being in the studio environment.”
And now, Underwood’s resume is impressive, to say the very least:
- Lalah Hathaway Live – Lalah Hathaway – Engineer (2x GRAMMY wins)
- Chris Cornell – Chris Cornell – Engineer
- Where the Light Is – John Mayer – Assistant Mix Engineer
- High End of Low – Marilyn Manson – Audio Engineer
- Green Eggs and Ham – Assistant Score Mixer
- Whiplash – Assistant Scoring Engineer
- Furious 7 – Assistant Score Mixer
- God of War: Ragnarok – Recording Engineer
- Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart – Recording Engineer
- The Last of Us 2 – Recording Engineer
- Ghost of Tsushima – Recording Engineer
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About The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business.
CRAS structured programs and highly qualified teaching staff provide a professional and supportive atmosphere, which is complemented by its small class sizes allowing for individual instruction and assistance for students in engineering audio recordings. CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in audio recording for more than three decades. The curriculum and equipment are constantly being updated to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. CRAS’ course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge necessary for students’ success in the audio recording industries.
The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.
For more information on the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, please visit www.cras.edu, contact Kirt Hamm, administrator, at 1-800-562-6383, or email to [email protected]