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RAC Spotlight: Daniela Pardo Quintana

Rapid-fire questions

Age: 28

Birthplace: Bogota, Colombia

Favourite genre: Salsa for sure

Number of instruments played: Only 1 unfortunately…

Favourite thing about Colombia: Its musical richness

Time worked at RAC: Since May 2022 (6 months)

Zodiac sign: Gemini

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

Daniela: I have been working in audio engineering for 10 years now. I started my undergrad in 2012 and I finished it in 2017. I then worked on my masters degree here in Montreal at McGill University from 2019 until 2022. 

How did I start? That’s a question that always makes me laugh because it was kind of an accident. I have been playing piano since I was 7, so I wanted to study piano performance only. But my parents did not want me to study that, they wanted me to study any form of engineering or even medicine instead!! So I found that Javeriana University (where I studied in Colombia) had a program that offered studying music alongside various other concentrations, one of those being audio engineering. 

So, to make my parents happy, I studied audio engineering and music, and then I applied to study piano performance as well – so no more discussions with my family.

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

Daniela: For now, since I feel that I’m still at the beginning of my career, I am open to everything. I’ve worked on projects that I love and some others that I don’t enjoy much, but I believe it’s important to know a bit about everything and then life and circumstances will lead you to the specific field that you’ll really like.

I have recorded albums where I was the audio engineer, others where I was the producer. I have performed as a pianist playing chamber music, and have worked with an orchestra also. I am currently teaching, which is something that I feel very passionate about. I have done live sound gigs here in Montreal and now I’m interested in finding more opportunities in the video games industry. As I said, I am an open book.

Daniela worked as the mixing and mastering engineer on this track

RAC: What is your favorite memory at RAC?

Daniela: I don’t have a specific favorite memory at RAC, but I certainly have some memorable moments!

The first one was when I met all of my coworkers. They are so kind to me and I feel very comfortable in the work environment, which is something that’s important to me.

Another is when my students ask me deep questions about audio – or life in general – after class. To me, teaching is not only about having knowledge related to a particular field, it’s also providing inspiration and a safe space for others, so that when they talk to you, they always feel at peace with your words and presence. 

I have found that my students like to discuss several topics with me and I believe that’s key in a teacher-student dynamic. The fact that they want to learn because you encourage them is fantastic!

Photo taken from AES’ interview with Daniela after she won gold in the Student Recording Competition

RAC: You work a lot with the Audio Engineering Society. What got you interested in working with them? How would you say AES has helped you in your career? What are some of the benefits of joining the society?

Daniela: Yes, I am the chair of the AES SDA, which is the Student Delegate Assembly that represents all audio students around the world.

In 2017, I decided to join the AES because I was interested in participating in the student recording competitions, which give you the opportunity to submit any recordings you’ve completed while still a student. If you get selected as a finalist, three professionals evaluate your work and, based on its quality, you receive feedback and are awarded prizes from the AES like plug-ins, monitors, microphones, and more. 

I wanted to participate in those competitions because I wanted to meet more professionals and get the chance for them to listen to my work.

RAC: You’re also a very accomplished pianist! How long have you been playing piano? Any favourite pieces that you like to play?

Daniela: As I mentioned, I have been playing since I was 7 years old. Of course, my parents did not expect me to still keep playing today! But crazy things happen all the time. 

I have a bunch of favourite pieces and I could not pick only one, but I would say that piano pieces from the Romantic period are the ones that I enjoy the most.

RAC: What’s a memorable experience you’ve had working as an audio engineer?

Daniela: This profession has given me a lot of amazing experiences. I would say that winning several recording competitions when I was a student from 2017 to 2021 has been something very big for me, my family, my schools (Javeriana and McGill), and also my mentors. 

I remember every single detail about every prize I won, each recording I did, how I presented my work to the jury, what the jury said about it; beautiful moments that I will always keep in my mind.

RAC: Are you currently working on any new projects? Can you share some details?

Daniela: At the moment I am taking some time off from working in the studio with artists. I’ve done some live sound gigs during summer but I think after 13 years of studying without stopping, it’s healthy for me to take a little break from audio engineering and then come back next year!

RAC: Would you rather design your own microphone series or own your dream studio?

Daniela: I would love to have my own studio where I can produce, edit, record, and mix many genres with different artists. The magic about living in Montreal is finding different cultures all combined in one place – that means more interesting projects for us to work with!