Going Pro: From intern to audio engineer
Justin “Sal” Kooy
Issue: September 1, 2014

Going Pro: From intern to audio engineer

After graduating from Berklee College of Music with a degree in music production and engineering, I was dead set on becoming an engineer, recording and mixing records. I loved music, so music was the industry I wanted to have a career in. Problem was, the only studio connection I had was in post production for advertising... I needed to get out there one way or another, so I figured, “Why not give it a shot while I wait for something in music to come along?” So, I started interning at Sound Lounge.

It was a great internship. It wasn’t filled with mundane work, like making deliveries or picking up coffee — I actually got to work in the machine room and, on occasion, sit in on mix sessions! This is when I realized that post production in the advertising industry wouldn't be such a bad career choice. After interning for eight months, I got word that I was going to be hired as an assistant. I was thrilled! My first real job after college and it was in an industry I realized I loved.

It was fantastic being an assistant. I wasn't stuck in a back room, waiting for someone to call and give me a task. Instead, I got to sit in a mixing room every day, working directly with the audio engineer and the clients. Six years passed and, although I looked forward to one day becoming a head mixer myself, I loved my place of employment and the people I worked with, so, I continued to stick it out.

Finally, my time came. Sound Lounge needed someone to mix a TV show and, following a recommendation from the engineer I was assisting, I was the guy they picked. Luckily, there was an open mix suite at the time that I could use, so I moved right in to mix the show. I was nervous at first, but that quickly faded; my years of interning and assisting had prepared me for this. I mixed the whole season — 10 episodes! After the show was over, I was a little confused about my role. Stay in the room? Go back to being an assistant? As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when I was told I should stick around in the room.

Since being made a full-blown audio engineer (without “assistant” in front of it), I have recorded and mixed numerous TV shows, feature-length films and video games, as well as countless TV and radio commercials, and an ongoing nationally-syndicated sports radio show. I have a strong passion for what I do and am a perfectionist. I always make sure that when clients walk out the door, they leave with a mix we are both proud of.

Justin “Sal” Kooy is a Mixer at Sound Lounge in New York City (www.soundlounge.com).