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Life & Work with Jon Sosa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jon Sosa.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Grew up in Visalia, CA – a small farm city 30 minutes south of Fresno. Middle class family, 2nd generation from Mexico on my mother’s side and I believe 3rd on my father’s. My family was really into music when I was growing up, every genre from every generation depending on which room of the house you were in. At an early age, I connected with the blues, which, oddly enough, was common amongst a lot of guitarists in a lot of the local scene when I started playing out. I would practice for about an hour before I left to school and then 3 to 4 hours after I got home oftentimes by myself, but once I met other musicians my age I was always going out the door with my guitar. Played a lot in the local scene and then started touring around California with a band when I was 18 till I was about 20.

Super fun times, but a lot for a young kid to take in especially when your from a small city playing and used to playing in small ponds. In parallel to my love for music, I gravitated toward technology early on and started taking things apart and loving to learn how things work. As a guitarist, you get introduced to quite a bit of technology and you can sort of choose to take it or leave it. I saw technology as a new dimension in playing music and naturally pulled it in and even started studying guitar technology and signal processing. When I was about 16, I used to build light systems using chopped power strips and switches to give my band the capabilities of running lights in order to enhance the sensory experience for our listeners (you can only get so loud you know?). At about 21, I took a break from being a serious musician and went to community college to study electrical engineering. I remember not knowing what I wanted to do and I told the counselor that I liked electronics and they told me I should study electrical engineering like it was going to be a walk in the park. I thought it sounded cool so I did it.

As a very passion-driven person, college is incredibly difficult. There is endless rabbit holes that always lead to the feeling of Whats the point of this? I struggled a lot in what I didn’t care about and did decently well in the things I enjoyed. After searching for student opportunities, I got lucky to spend some time as a student observer at Nasa JPL for a couple of days and this allowed me to have a recognizable name on my student resume which I used to get additional opportunities in a summer internship at a dream music technology company in Minneapolis. The pay wasn’t great, but the opportunity was too great to let up, so I rented a storage closet in a warehouse that I turned into a bedroom for eight weeks. Luckily it was summertime and the place had some sort of A/C so after getting passed the bugs and the train that came by every night at 2:30 am it was a solution. I learned a lot that summer and after another couple of years of schooling and a full student internship at NASA Ames Research Center working on air filtration systems for the ISS, I graduated from SJSU with my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. This took me to large tech in the Bay Area and quickly led to my dismay in the idea of big tech.

After only a couple of years of a full-time career in a very prosperous industry, I was burnt out, disappointed, and a bit fatter than I’ve ever been. I went back to find comfort in the only thing that made sense to me and that was music. While doing the best I could while still at my tech job (I’m not a slacker, so please don’t get that impression here), I started trying to find night gigs in recording studios and I started buying gear of my own and recording artists and putting out music again. I realized the music production industry had both music and tech working together in harmony so I started slowly pursuing it. I started a little project called SilverCat Sound Labs that produced “Live In Studio” content for. visiting and local artists. I formed an Audio/Visual crew that lugged all of our gear into a daily rented practice space in Oakland and shot two bands in a day sometimes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for about 10 hours a day. I realized I was new in the scene and so I thought it could be a good way to introduce myself and give back to the community. After a couple of good years, and finally partnering with a recording studio, and even having some TV air time, I decided to start fresh and move down south to Long Beach to work full time with artists and start my own Audio Mixing Company. In January of 2020, we arrived and I setup shops in a large second room, and I got to work.

Of course, things changed with the onset of Covid, but I didn’t let this stop me and I invested all my time and efforts into the online world. With the advent of home/diy recordings, social media, and things like Zoom for communication I’ve been able to find artists from all over the world who I connect with and work with. I oftentimes find myself coaching newer, younger bands on things like band relationships and even things like isolation during lockdown. I’ve found an industry where I can be more than just a cog in a system, I can be a friend, a partner in life and it’s absolutely one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever done. Also, I get to make awesome music and still play with lots of gizmos and gadgets! It’s great and I look forward to every day. I can’t wait till I can network more locally as well, as it’s a music mecha around here in Southern California, but I’ve been blessed with my online music family as well. Anyway, I’m a husband and a cat dude and I like working on music with cool people. Thats the story.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I’ve learned that the lack of exposure to business ownership caused me to have a lot of anxiety about my work early on. When I was growing up, it was about finding the most stable job you possibly could and put any real hopes of work through passion on a back burner. Regaining my social skills after spending a lot of time watching every word I say in a more corporate structure was difficult. As a business owner, it seems to be required that your personality breathes through your companies branding and attitude. Your personality is often the reason why you get the gig. It took some work to get my confidence back here, not sure it’s 100% back yet. Covid has been tough, of course. With music being such a social industry, my ability to network in a new area got stifled heavily. Now I rely heavily on trying to build relationships with artists and producers that I think I can truly vibe with through online resources, which naturally has a bit of a sales feel to it, which I really don’t like.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am the owner of Summation Mix an online audio mixing service. I have always specialized in indie rock mixing and love the work, but over the last year, artists and producers of other genres, like HipHop, R&B, and Electronic have been reaching out to connect and work with me as well. I may not be an expert in these non-rock genres yet, but I am getting better at them every project. I am personally proud of the relationships I have with the artists that I work with, while some may just stop in and ask for their mixes, others will hang out on a zoom call and talk music and life. Both are fine as long as they are happy with the service I provide. What sets me apart from others is my organization and systems. It’s not uncommon in the industry to set soft dates for the things and sorta play things by ear, and this just isn’t my style. I like my clients to know what’s going on with their project and to have the trust in me that I’ll follow through on my promises if they follow through with theirs.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
Ooooooooooo uhhhhh. I would say when my dad got me and my brothers a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, it was incredible. I can’t imagine that was tough for him to do either, with four growing boys to feed, but yea that was a great memory. We spent hours playing together me and my brothers and my dad. I was the youngest, so naturally I was the last to get a controller.

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