Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we'll be meeting some people behind the local music scene who aren't musicians, but more behind-the-scenes folk.
Last week, with 25-year-old Michelle Pelissero, we found ourselves celebrating the "accomplishment of youth" factor in Local Music 'Mericans. To further that, allow us to present Katie Karch, a 24-year-old live sound engineer.
Karch has been mixing live music professionally since 2008. Counting her early days of working in theater, she's already worked roughly over 300 shows. Impressive stuff for sure.
But more impressive is just how long she's been at it. Karch was just an 11-year-old sprout when she started helping a best friend's brother carry and set up equipment for his Christian metal band. She saw the sound mixing console, fell in love and things have never been the same since. At that same age, she was sneaking out of the house to see Bowling For Soup in concert.
These days, when not out and about at live local shows, Karch recently mixed a small stage at Bonnaroo and served as a front-of-house sound engineer at the Heritage Bluegrass Festival, among other events.
After the jump, we get to the bottom of her desire to make a living in the music world.
Was there a live-sound mentor in the beginning that you learned from? Who gave you your first break with this type of work?
Well, I was on my own in the very beginning, but I interned at The Loft and Palladium Ballroom for Theron Rodriguez. He taught me a lot about club shows and festivals.
Do you have a running count of how many shows you have worked on in your life? I know it's well into the hundreds at this point.
I lost count my junior year of high school at around 250 shows. I got involved in production when I was nine, understudying and then acting in a small children's show. We played all over DFW, and it was a great way to get on stage for the first time. Since then, I've worked with community theater, junior high and high school theater, college theater and professional theater. When I was about 20, I left the theater and decided to do music instead, and started mixing live music in 2008. My favorite shows to mix are definitely festivals. The Deep Ellum Arts Festival in 2009 was a big deal for me. Then, when I did it again in 2010, it turned into this great way to get paid to play around with all the friends I made the year before. Last summer, I mixed a small stage at Bonnaroo, which is the biggest festival I've ever done (and so much fun). More recently, I did the Heritage Bluegrass Festival with local production company Crossroads Audio.
Who are some local bands that you love?
I became a fan of Sidekick Mafia a couple years ago. I had just gotten back to Dallas from Phoenix, where I had been studying recording and live production at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. I was trying to figure out what kind of business opportunities were in the clubs, and I kind of stumbled into this amazing rock show. Suddenly, I got connected to a wonderful group of musicians, which include acoustic rockers Allan Von, Local Shay, and D. Anson Brody. I also love Spoonfed Tribe and punk band Responsible Johnny. There's a million more. Dallas has a really rich and colorful music scene and I love being part of it.
You're about to go on tour with another artist for a month. Who is it, and what will you be doing?
The band is a rock outfit from Oklaloma called Heresy Theory. The tour will be clubs and mid-size venues across the Southwest and West Coast, with a small break in Vegas. I'll be running front of house and monitors.
Is there a goal you hope to hit as a sound engineer and a live concert tech?
Lots of money. [Laughs.] Really, I'll probably end up owning my own PA and production company in the next 10 years. I love to travel, so a tour across Europe and Japan is definitely on the list of things to do. One of my goals will always be to mix and record music I love.
Who have been the most difficult artists to work with? Any stories of backstage drama, etc., that you've witnessed?
Honestly, I find the most difficult artists to work with are the new ones, because you really have to take them by the hand. On more than one occasion I've asked an artist, "What do you want in your monitor?" And they've said, "Huh? I don't know, I've never had a monitor." I like to do artist development, but not during a 10-minute set change! Beyond that, you won't be getting backstage drama from me. At least not in print. [Laughs.]