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Conversations with Joe Begalla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Begalla. 

Hi Joe, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I’m a music producer, mix engineer, songwriter, and a musical hypebeast. 

I grew up in a small town in Central Florida called DeLand and it was this weirdly vibrant artistic community. There were incredible local guitar luthiers, wacky synthesizer nerds, and even the lead singer of the B-52’s, Fred Schneider. It was this oasis in the middle of a cultural desert, but more importantly, it was a true community. I always felt loved and respected by everyone, no matter what age, gender, race, or creed. When I was 10, I had gotten a guitar for Christmas and the second I saw it, I had absolutely no doubt that making music was the thing I was meant to do with my life. I have spent every day after that trying to perfect my craft. The people in my town were gracious enough to give me a stage. I was playing guitar in Jazz bands, Folk bands, Church services, doing session work for local Rappers and R&B artists, making music for kickstarters and political campaigns, playing solo shows, hosting massive jam sessions that are nights of legend in Central Florida, and so much more! My experiences there truly shaped how I wanted the rest of my life to be. 

When I was 18, I was lucky enough to be accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston. I had this pipe dream of being a dope jazz guitarist, but I was quickly played out of the room by so many other incredible musicians. I knew going into my second year of school that I had to adapt, so I took a semester abroad in Valencia Spain, which completely changed everything for me. I took a Recording and Mixing class and I soon fell in love with being in the studio and collaborating with others. When I came back to Boston, I took a class taught by Erin Barra, who I credit with being the person who has most positively influenced my professional life. She always pushed me, tore my songs and mixes to shreds (politely), told me the truth when it hurt to hear it sometimes, but I really grew from working with her and I learned to write and produce music with real intention. I started to put myself out there way more. I was playing guitar and keys in three bands, producing music for up-and-coming artists, playing solo electronic shows, and teaching High School kids how to use Ableton Live. It was incredible! And then the Pandemic hit. 

I had just graduated school and just as the world opened up to me, everything closed. I moved back home, the bands I was in all broke up, and my artist friends all lost their ability to compensate me for my work on their music. 

I was in a very regressive place until my girlfriend and I got jobs in Los Angeles and moved out here. I would not recommend moving during a pandemic, but it was amazing to feel like we were moving forward in our lives again. 

Work is amazing for me right now. I’m involved with this amazing company called Mixland where we make really good, not too expensive tools for professional musicians at every stage of their careers! We just launched our debut Plugin in November and we have another coming out at the end of January. It’s really amazing to hear that not only my friends and peers are enjoying the products, but people I look up to in the music industry as well. 

And I am so immensely grateful for all of my clients and collaborators without whom, my life would be impossible. I am so honored for their trust in me to work with their art, it’s something I don’t take for granted in the slightest. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I got majorly screwed over by the pandemic. I had just graduated college and was immediately thrust into a non-existent workforce. All of my clients couldn’t afford to pay me. I had to get super creative to stay afloat financially. 

There were numerous things that came my way at that time that could have been life-changing, and when they all fell through, it was really hard on my psyche. Was I really good enough to do this? Or is the world just completely messed up? 

I had to just push through until something did go my way, and eventually, it did! I’m now getting consistent work for the first time since before the pandemic and I haven’t ever been happier! I’m super addicted to being busy, so it feels really good to feel that way again. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m on a mission to be the best musical collaborator ever! 

I love all parts of the music-making process, whether it be writing the song, producing the song, or mixing the song. I am in it for the long haul. Because of my various roles, I am always looking for ways I can blur the lines between them. Like when I write a lyric with the word “echo,” there should be an echo, right? I am grateful for my perspective as a songwriter because it’s made me a better producer and mixer with voice and sound that I believe to be unique. 

Good things take time, and I’m not afraid to take a long time until something is perfect. That’s why I never charge for revisions either. If you’re gonna spend the money on me, we’re not done until you’re happy! 

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I’d be nothing without my two greatest musical mentors. 

When I was a lost soul in college, unsure if I was good enough to stay or to accomplish what I wanted to in life, a songwriting class I took taught by Erin Barra completely validated my musical experience and spoke to me in ways that other teachers hadn’t. She was the one who pushed me to blend my songwriting and my production together in ways that I didn’t think I’d ever be capable of. She always told me what I needed to hear to get to the next level as a musician. I owe so much to her. 

In 2021, I was going through a really rough time. I had many life-changing opportunities that almost happened, a trend in this city. It was really tough emotionally and financially. But right before things got catastrophically bad, I met my current mentor, Jesse Ray Ernster. We had an immediate collaborative connection on not just music, but business, which led me to my current position working at Mixland. Jesse is incredibly inspiring because he is someone who is very successful but isn’t concerned with the vanity of success. We have a mutual understanding that we just want to do really good work and live our lives. I’ve heard of horror stories about mix assistants getting bullied by their bosses and the relationship Jesse and I have could not be farther from that. He saw me as a collaborator and validated my thoughts from day 1, and for that 

I will always be grateful. 

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Image Credits
Ben Absent

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