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AES Show 2020 Student Recording Competition Silver Winner - Ivan Cheung

AES Show 2020 Student Recording Competition Silver Winner - Ivan Cheung


  1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you study?

I'm from Hong Kong and I study music production & engineering at the Berklee College of Music


  1. What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

My passion for audio started all because my parents bought a Yamaha Clavinova when I was a kid that had 3 crucial functions - a huge library of instrument samples that I could use the keys to perform with, the ability to record multiple layers of such sounds, and then being able to save and play them back. Essentially having the core functionality of a modern DAW, 12-year-old me began to think: "Well, now that this keyboard can record not just me playing a cover of a song on the keys, but I could also record myself finger drumming and doing other wacky crazy synthesizer sounds over it, I could literally re-arrange music or even re-imagine my favorite music with different melodies and instrumentation."


After recording myself playing different instruments together and listening to it being played back, I thought to myself, "Gee, I feel like I can't hear the drums at all because the piano I played is so loud. I wonder if I could adjust the volume of just the drums, instead of turning the whole damn thing down." To my surprise (as I was fiddling around with the Clavi's software settings), I found volume controls for the individual instruments that I had recorded - essentially a basic mixer. And then from that point on, I knew I had dropped into a HUGE rabbit hole.


  1. Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What inspired it? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry?

The story behind the production is that my artist, Lina Cooper (who I had met and befriended through having worked on music with a couple of her friends), really wanted to go for chart-topping modern pop production style - which, prior to this submission, I had never done before. I instantly saw that as an opportunity to really sit down and refine my skills as a producer and engineer, and approached her about producing one of her songs. Luckily, she was in the works of writing a song that really captured her life story as a tragic singer-songwriter with all the hardships she faces in this vast industry. She has this huge and unique imagination [that lets her] really outshine the competition. In a time when pop is quickly being dominated by darker and grittier stories of breakups and problems, I wanted to take that a step further and really craft the auditory experience to be an inspiring, dreamy, and uplifting one, but also one that inspires all types of audiences regardless of their background. Lina & I worked on the track for about a year total, going through tons of revisions, and the last quarter of it was done with my submission partner JM for the mixing process. And yes, this is my first entry in the AES student recording competitions.


  1. What/Who made you join AES?

I went to AES NYC in 2019 to see the physical show, as I knew some of my Berklee friends were also planning on going. Little did I know that I would also see the girl I liked (at the time, who is now amazingly my girlfriend) not only attending, but also participating in the AES student recording competition. By winning gold alongside her partner in the traditional recording sub-category, I became inspired by her boldness and confidence to compete. Thus I figured I'd try my hand at seeing how well I'd do alongside the rest of the world's production / engineering students.


  1. Tell us about your favorite experiences at the 149th AES convention online.

Honestly, it was all about the talks and interviews for me. Gaining insight from the masters, be it production or mixing tips from their experiences, has always been a big plus for me at the two AES conventions I have attended. That level of insight and, especially, the ability to ask questions as well is not something I can find anywhere else to such a consolidated and comprehensive degree.


Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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