WIMS Away Experience: Divya Sarathay at RA Audio
One student learns first-hand what it takes to be successful in the music industry
This past winter break, Occidental students participated in the Walk In My Shoes (Away) program, shadowing professionals at 29 sites in 6 states. Hosts provided participants with 2-3 days of career exposure to learn what they do, how they do it, and why. Students got a behind-the-scenes view of a profession and the opportunity to begin building a network within the field.
We’re showcasing a few students’ experiences with WIMS Away over the next few weeks. This week, Divya Sarathy ’16 talks about her experience shadowing Robert Navarro of RA Audio, Inc.
“It’s that song with the saxophone! Hmm… it goes like this,” he said as he hummed the melody to the man on the phone. “Capital Cities ‘Safe and Sound,’” I shouted excitedly. “My research department figured it out, it’s ‘Safe and Sound,’” Robert said as he chuckled to the composer on the phone. For two days, I was given the opportunity to shadow producer/composer Robert Navarro, and witness the work he does for RA Audio, Inc. Navarro, a singer and musician himself, collaborates with several other talented musicians in creating compositions for film, television, video games and music libraries. These music libraries house audio files to be used on advertisements, T.V. shows, and movies. Navarro is also in the process of collecting an assortment of tracks for his very own music library, Noise Refinery, which will be launched at the end of this month. The composer who had called him was seeking direction in creating a tune for a fashion channel. Within minutes, Navarro was able to provide him with multiple examples.
Navarro works out of his own studio, and musicians of various genres come in and out of it to create flawlessly produced music. This high quality production is a result of Navarro’s attention to detail. During my WIMS experience, several musicians sent Navarro samples of their music to be reviewed and critiqued. To say the least, Navarro’s fine-tuned ear is in high-demand in the Los Angeles commercialized music industry.
Having an opportunity to shadow someone in this field provided me with not only the experience of observing all the logistics that go into the job, but also connected me with a professional that could give me personal insight on what it really takes to be successful in the music industry. When asked what kind of individual would be best suited for this career, Navarro answered “[you must be] prolific, versatile, and have a backbone,” because although his job may seem extremely fun, it did not happen in the blink of an eye. He emphasized that it took a lot of hard work to get to where he was, and that was evident from his previous experiences. Navarro knew he wanted to be a musician since the age of fourteen and went on to learn the guitar and bass. He attended a state college, decided he wanted to pursue his passion more seriously by joining the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood for a year. Eventually, Navarro ended up transferring to Occidental College where he studied Music Composition. He chose Oxy because he wanted a well-rounded education to complement his natural music inclinations. Navarro claims, to this day, that his Music Theory final exam was the hardest thing he has ever done! Post-graduation, Navarro received a job offer from APM Music. He declined the offer because it did not fit his criteria of being in Los Angeles—a risky move. One week later, APM Music called Navarro back and offered him the position he desired in L.A.
One thing I have taken away from my WIMS experience is that in order to call myself a musician, it is important for me to work on my own musicianship by either learning about the fundamentals of music through music theory or learning to play an instrument or two. Additionally, I learned how large the music industry truly is; Navarro mentioned that there are lots of opportunities within this growing industry. The quality I admire most in Navarro is his ability to dive deeply into his passions, take necessary risks, and never look back. I strive to apply Navarro’s philosophy of putting in the hard work necessary in order to be prepared for any opportunity that comes my way.
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