Harmonizing Dreams: The Journey of an Audio Grad and Her Latest Masterpiece
Finding Inspiration Everywhere
In the world of music, every note carries a story, and every beat is a chapter waiting to be heard. Today, we’re thrilled to spotlight an extraordinary talent whose journey through the realms of audio engineering and production has culminated in a mesmerizing new creation. Meet Audio Engineering & Production Graduate Ailee Guerra Areizaga.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the compelling narrative behind Ailee’s musical evolution, tracing the footsteps from classroom studios to professional soundscapes. We caught up with Ailee recently and asked her to give us a glimpse into her creative process in creating her latest song “Written in the Earth”.
Who is Ailee?
Tell us a bit about yourself. (Where are you from? How did you discover a love of audio/music? How did you discover the CAT Audio program and how did it help prepare you for your career?)
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to make music. I started pursuing it as a career in my early teens by playing in a rock band with my friends from school. Back in those days, I was convinced that we were going to get discovered by a big producer and become the next Beatles. The idea of producing my own music didn’t cross my mind until I moved to Canada. (Ailee is originally from Mexico) While buying a keyboard at a music store, the person at the register mentioned that I could use it as an interface to record music on my computer. I was very intrigued by that comment and when I got home, I read the entire manual to figure out how to do that. My mind was blown. After that, I sought to learn as much as I could from the internet and decided that I wanted to go to school for music production. Around the same time, I was volunteering with a live sound engineer to learn from him, and one of the other volunteers mentioned he was studying audio engineering at the Centre for Arts and Technology. During my time at CAT, one of my instructors saw a lot of potential in me and introduced me to the possibilities of live performance with Ableton, setting me on the path I’m on today.
The Path to Greatness
What have you been up to since graduating from CAT?
Since graduating, I have done freelance work as a recording and mixing engineer for a handful of local musicians and worked remotely with clients. I worked as a mixing consultant in the 2019 album “The Crowneater,” by Montreal-based artist “Alder & Ash.” I’ve also done commissioned soundtracks and voice-over work. During the pandemic, I started a YouTube channel where I talk about music and production, create tutorials, answer questions from my audience, and do live performances using Ableton Live. In 2022, I released my debut single “Goddess of the Dawn.” Since then, I’ve been featured on a few local media outlets along with some underground music sites, like Canadian Beats, Chill Rose Radio, KelownaNow, and Women of Noise, to name a few. I was also recently featured in “The Art of Pressing Play,” a documentary series directed by Fatiha Rezwan which explores the underground electronic music scene in Calgary.
The Creative Process Revealed
What is your process like for creating a new song?
My song creation process has two phases: the creative and the administrative. The creative part of the process varies depending on the project and can take anywhere from a few months to years. The administrative aspect covers the business side of making music, such as registering the song with relevant rights organizations, delivering it to distributors, planning and executing PR and marketing campaigns, creating content around the release, merchandising, etc. This phase can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months from planning to execution.
The creative inception of “Written in the Earth” stemmed from a culmination of emotions as I began to comprehend what misogyny was and the magnitude of its effect on our culture and by extension, on our lives. I was heavily inspired by songs like “Teardrop” by Massive Attack, and “Vessel” by Zola Jesus, being drawn by their ethereal, otherworldly sound. I spent some time deconstructing my reference songs, learning from them, and playing around with chord progression ideas, then a melody started emerging naturally. Once I had a foundation that I liked, I started to write the lyrics. The song itself was written within a couple days, but the journey to completion and release presented many challenges. I transcribed the song and made countless demos, to arrange the vocal harmonies and string sections. At this point, I decided to find a co-producer to help me bring my vision to life. I reached out to Alex DeGroot, who is known for his work with Zola Jesus, and to my delight, he was interested in producing this song with me. Another key element that enhanced the production were the emotive performances of Martin Krátký on the cello and Chloe Davidson on the violin, recorded at CAT’s Studio B by Eliseo Santillán, who is a recent graduate from CAT, and me. The song was mastered by engineer and CAT instructor Chris Holmes, with whom I previously worked on my 2022 release “Goddess of the Dawn.” I shot the artwork with my very talented and trusted team, my friend and photographer Shoaib Shabir and makeup artist Hafsa Adeel.
Written in the Earth
Tell us about the new track you are releasing!
“Written in the Earth” is a dark, ethereal, art-pop song that I co-produced with Alex DeGroot (Zola Jesus, Emily Jane White). I usually describe this track as “a simple song about a complicated subject.” The lyrics are written from the perspective of an entity that embodies the collective essence of women and nature across time, drawing a parallel between the exploitation and commodification of nature and that of women’s bodies. The song is a rallying cry for self-acceptance, urging us to embrace the imperfect elements within us that mirror the beauty found in the natural world. I want to encourage people to embrace and embody that inherent beauty and reclaim their definitions of womanhood and self-worth.
When does the Written in the Earth launch?
November 3rd, 2023.
The Future Looks Good
What does the future of your career in audio look like?
My ultimate goal is to be a prolific artist, I am working on finishing a lot of new material right now. I’m also seriously pursuing getting my songs featured in films, television, and games, and of course, performing live!
Make sure to check out Ailee’s new song on her Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube channel or website. Congratulations Ailee! And if you’re interested in chasing your own audio dreams, make sure to check out program details for our Audio Engineering & Production program.