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Instructor Spotlight: Rob Sanzo

Rapid-fire questions

Age: Experienced 

Birthplace: Toronto

Favourite food: Pasta (of course)

Bands that were in constant rotation for you growing up: Beatles, Stones

Favourite musical genres: All

Dream band line-up for a show: Good question, I feel that at this point in my life I’ve seen so many incredible live shows with incredible acts in their prime. I’m talking life defining and life altering stuff here.

Number of tattoos: Ha, none actually yet, but I do have a design on the go…

Years working at RAC: Fall 2009 was my first cohort

RAC: How long have you been working in the audio engineering world? How did you get your start? 

Rob: I’ve been in “the industry” since the early 80’s. As a musician and songwriter, I increasingly became aware of the importance of recording my ideas in order to further develop them. It all started in a rehearsal hall in a punk rock collective space in Ottawa called “No Pigs” ( http://www.nocauseforconcern.com/ ) where the P.A. was connected to a cassette deck. This led to the natural progression to upscaling to an open reel 4 track machine, a small console, mics etc. I was also inspired by having recorded in professional studios at that time, and realized straight away that this would be my path forward.

RAC: Do you have an area that you’re an expert in, or a position that you particularly like (i.e.: audio engineer, mixing engineer, producer, musician, instructor, etc.)?

Rob:  All of the above lol. My trajectory went from a small demo studio in Ottawa to a very popular mid-fi facility in Toronto to a Major Label large format studio on Spadina and Adelaide called “Signal to Noise”. I’ve recorded, produced, mixed several hundred projects. I continue working with artists, while I enjoy teaching at RAC.

Photo of Rob working with The 3tards

RAC: What is your favorite memory at RAC?

Rob: So many really! All the fantastic co-workers, and students over the years. It is always a joy to experience the individual development in students. At first, with some hesitance to fully developed professional and confident individuals a year later.  

RAC: Is there one piece of equipment that you can’t live without? Why?

Rob: I’ve always loved the sound of analog, I gravitate to the sonics of a well tuned tape machine, and still continue to record with one. I include tape with DAW editing, plugins and console mixing in my projects.

Rob working with The 3tards

RAC: We know you have lots of experience producing for alt & punk bands. Which were your favorite to work with? 

Rob: A few projects that stand out would have to include working with Dee Dee Ramone on his solo record called Hop Around. The session included Barbra Ramone, legendary producer Chris Spedding, and Teenage Head’s guitar player Gordie Lewis. Another would be the incredible Montreal metal band Voivod, where I produced their album Phobos.

RAC: Do you have any hobbies or passion projects that you’re currently working on?

Rob: I’m currently working with several artists including Urvah Khan, Neon Bloom, and Ted Axe.

RAC: Do you play any instruments yourself? Are there any you’d like to try and master?

Rob: I mainly play bass guitar. I can find my way around some guitar chords, keys, and can keep OK time on a drum kit.

RAC: Are there any upcoming bands in the T.O. music scene that you’re excited about?

Rob: Yes! See above.

RAC: Favorite class to teach?

Rob: I teach several classes and enjoy them all, and see their profound relevance in our students’ time at RAC. The one I can relate to the most however, would have to be Recording Techniques. Rec Tech is the one course that parallels my real world activities. Recording, editing, mixing, and mastering songs.