RAC Student Review: Patrice Lavoie

I was on tour with Prince recently and I had the opportunity to be part of the team that was giving a concert at the White House for President Obama. I met the president and his wife. Very impressive, at least for me as a Canadian! Lol. It was a memorable experience. Prince is an excellent musician that I respect.

1. What is your background?

I've play guitar since I was 11 years old. I've always been interested by music. I've had several bands in the past. During theses years, I developed an interest in sound and recording. I had heard about RAC by one of my friends and I enrolled at RAC back in 1995.

2. What kind of work or music projects did you start out with at the beginning of your career ?

During the first few years after I graduated from RAC, I was playing in a couple of bands, I had many contracts for front of house mixing for my own band and for my friends. I also did several live recording projects and demos during that time. Nothing really big, but enough for me to gain experience. That was between 1995 and 1998. Around that time I started working for Solotech. At the beginning, I worked in the warehouse. That's how it worked back then, they train you on the equipment before they send you to work on concerts. I got familiar with all sorts of cables and connectors, monitors (loud speakers), different consoles, effects. I learned a lot about electricity and electronics. I made all sorts of cables. I even participated in the design and the assembling of monitors. After a while, I started doing concerts for them, and 2 to 3 years later, I went on a European tour for the first time.

3. Is there a recording session experience or live gig that was particularly memorable?

I was on tour with Prince recently (RIP), and I had the opportunity to be part of the team that was giving a concert at the White House for President Obama. I met the president and his wife. Very impressive, at least for me as a Canadian! Lol. It was a memorable experience. Prince was such an amazing musician and performer, he was awesome. 

4. Describe your current job and how it came about?

My interest for the studio and audio became more of a personal matter than professional. The time I spent in the studio and the times I mix are less frequent and I only do them for personal projects. My job has a more technical aspect than artistic, I would say. With time, I got trained in sound system design and calibration for events. I was trained by companies such as Meyer Sound, L'Acoustics, IBL, D&B, Smaart, Sim, etc. I have also been trained as a project manager at l'ÉTS, and did a program in Autocad 3D and a some other things.

5. What is your role at Solotech?

My job is Audio Project Manager. I am responsible for the relationship with clients, sound design, building a team to complete a project on site ... these are parts of my daily tasks. Solotech is an equipment rental company for audio, lighting video and rigging. Solotech offers technical services to its clients as well as design if required, for projects such as TV programs, festivals, internationals tours, galas and special international events, etc.

6. How do you see the music scene today?

It's an industry that's full of opportunities and many career avenues. You have to be ready to work hard without keeping count of your time.

7. How have things changed in the last few years?

I'd say that the big difference, since I started in 1998, is in the arrival of digital media. Digital consoles have been around for a while in recording studios, but in live sound digital consoles took over a bit later, and there was inferior audio quality to analog consoles. However, digital boards offered some new and powerful features. They were smaller and more practical compared to the good old big analog consoles. Over the years things have changed fast, and technology has become more accessible, giving us a better sound quality and many more tools to work with. I would say also that loud speaker manufacturers are producing very high quality products and the competition is fierce. The new PA systems are very high performance and deliver audio quality that is better than ever. The catch is that today's systems require a computer on the front end to be functional, which means the sound techs have possess more networking knowledge.

8. What are your personal goals and ambitions?

I like my present situation and I see myself carrying on for a few more years. I also enjoy audio system design and research and testing it out at the touring level. I like to make things progress and find ways to make tasks easier. Recently I started training other people, which I love to do. I like to share the knowledge I have acquired. People did it for me, so I like to give back. 

9. Do you have any suggestions for people interested in starting a career in audio or music?

Go for it. Keep at it. Don't give up! It's not an easy industry, but there is room for passionate people. Remember, a good attitude is essential. It takes years to build a reputation and only a few minutes to ruin it!

10. How was your experience at Recording Arts?

I loved my experience. I still use the things I've learned, every single day! The program content is very relevant with no redundancy. A lot of hands-on practical learning experiences. The class size is small and it allowed everyone to experiment. When I studied it was still the analog era, and I am glad I was able to be familiar and learn from both worlds.

11. Did anything particularly influential happen during your time at RAC?

Going to RAC has reinforced and confirmed that I really wanted to have a career in the music industry. 

12. What opinion of the recording biz would you share with our readers?

It's an industry that changes. It's in constant evolution. I think that you need to be able to grow with it, adapt, stay informed about the new technologies and be capable of using them fast.

12. Is there a recording session experience or live gig that was particularly memorable?

I was on tour with Prince recently and I had the opportunity to be part of the team that was giving a concert at the White House for President Obama. I met the president and his wife. Very impressive, at least for me as a Canadian! Lol. It was a memorable experience. Prince is an excellent musician that I respect.

13. Is there a person or group that has really impacted you or your work?

I would say Denis Savage and François "Franky" Desjardins . You may know Denis as Celine Dion's soundman and owner of Piccolo studios. He is, in my opinion, one of the best in the industry. He has a great attitude, he's really nice and a real professional. Denis is proof that success shouldn't go to one's head. Franky is one of the best audio system designers in the live sound industry, known not only in Canada but internationally. He's an example of rigor, perfectionism and innovation. Denis and Franky form one of the best teams. They are two people that I tremendously respect. I am more than grateful to them for giving me the opportunity for my debut, and my first, in an international tour in 2001. I learned a lot and it's always a pleasure to be able to work with them. Still now, I have the opportunity to be around them. These are extremely enriching experiences.