AUDIO ENGINEER WINS FIRST GRAMMY AWARD WORKING WITH RECORDING ARTIST H.E.R.
AUDIO ENGINEER WINS FIRST GRAMMY AWARD WORKING WITH RECORDING ARTIST H.E.R.
Ayanna Depas, also known as, Yanni Apple Seedz, is a Grammy award winning recording engineer based out of New York. Ever since she was a toddler, she had a prodigious passion for music. It was not until the age of 19, when she realized her unyielding love for the sonic arts. In the Fall of 2010, Yanni attended the — now closed — Institute of Audio Research. After graduating with a perfect Grade Point Average, Yanni knew the best way to continue her education was through hands on experience. She began to intern at prestigious recording facilities like Quad Studios in New York City, all the while tutoring the Institute of Audio Research to earn some extra cash. It was not until the year 2012, when she found a home at Oz Studios in New York City, owned by the Legendary, R&B guru, JeffRobinson (CEO of MBK Entertainment – Manager of R&B mega star Alicia Keys). There she earned credits on projects with artist like A$AP Ferg, Brandy, Dave East, H.E.R., Mary J. Blige, and SWV to name a few. From recording and mixing the music of others, to creating her own musical productions, Yanni loves all that the creation of music has to offer. “There’s nothing like creating a colorful portrait, on a musical canvas, with the manipulation of sound.” she states. This female engineer is your golden ticket to success and she, like many other female engineers and producers are taking the industry by storm — as they should be. She even released her very own themed based loop kit, named after the city of Gotham’s adversaries called Rotten Apples Vol.1 that is available for download right now on her online store. She sequenced and composed all the material. We had the honor to speak with her about her personal journey and professional accomplishments.
- Mary Swanson
FEMALE ENGINEERS ARE TAKING OVER MIXES IN THE INDUSTRY
NIE: Congratulations on your latest Grammy award. Tell us what you felt once you won the award?
Ayanna Depas: I felt a mixture of emotions when we won the award. Initially, I think I was in awe. Like I couldn’t believe it, it felt so surreal. Then I felt excited for everyone involved and was grateful to be a part of the project. We all put so much time and work into the creation process so it was nice to have it recognized and be received so well.
NIE: What was your experiences like working with Grammy award-winning recording artist H.E.R.?
Ayanna Depas: Working with H.E.R. is like a breath of fresh air. She’s hands down one of the most humble and talented artist that I’ve ever worked with. She really makes what she does look so easy and her work ethic is unmatched.
NIE: What were the recording sessions like with her and how was a typical day in the studio? And what special techniques did you use to get the right mix?
Ayanna Depas: The sessions are very organic, there’s nothing forced. Just a bunch of talented and creative musicians, in a studio, doing what they do best and feeding off each other. You never really know what to expect but know it’s going to be dope based on the vibes and energy of the room. I love being in an environment like that. In terms of mixing the project, that wasn’t my role. My mentor Miki Tsutsumi was the main recording and mixing engineer on the project. I’m grateful that he shared his platform and allowed me to not only assist but record as well. I’m also grateful that H.E.R. trusted me enough to step up when Miki couldn’t be there.
NIE: Has audio engineering always been your passion and, if so, what about the profession do you enjoy the most?
Ayanna Depas: Audio engineering was not my first love but it definitely has been a passion of mine for a long time. I love that engineers have the ability to make an artist’s vision come to life. We have the power to mold the soundtrack to the lives of the consumer/listener and enhance the feelings that people experience everyday through sound. Through the process, we also get to express ourselves and how the record makes us feel.
NIE: Who are working with and are there any artist you dream of working with?
Ayanna Depas: We’re currently in the process of working on H.E.R.’s debut album. I’m also working on some new music with recording artist, Tiara Thomas, that I’m excited about. Additionally, I’m working with the following independent artists: Brentell Jackson, RicK the Writer, J. Dollaz, Leek, and recording artist/producer/songwriter Crystal Caines. They all have cool and interesting sounds that I think people will enjoy. Outside of recording, I put on an annual contest/beat battle called “Clash of the Beatmakers” where 16 music producers go head to head in front of industry judges for a chance to win a $1000 cash prize. The readers can find full details at www.clashofthebeatmakers.com (#shamelessplug lol). As far as my dream artist to work with, I’m not sure. I love working with anyone who has talent and is great at their craft. I find it inspiring and I feed off that type of energy. I’m excited to see what the future holds for the music industry.
NIE: Any secret tips you could give in making a Grammy-award winning album?
Ayanna Depas: I’m still a baby in the music industry and have a long way to go, but in my opinion, I don’t think there’s a particular formula to creating a Grammy award-winning project. It takes a team of people to create a project. From writers, producers, engineers, A&R’s, etc. I’m not sure if chasing accolades is the right way to go about it. Based on the project I was involved with and others that I’ve seen win this year, authenticity appears to be a key element.
NIE: Authenticity is key, I agree. What education did you receive for your profession?
Ayanna Depas: I did go to school for audio engineering but it didn’t start out that way. I had every intention of studying occupational therapy but that changed at orientation. I remember thinking, I really don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, and by time orientation was over I decided not to. At that time, I was majoring in Liberal Arts Math and Science, and finished school with an Associate’s Degree. Before graduating, I took an audio class to see if it was the right fit and I loved it. Thereafter, I was admitted to The Institute of Audio Research (IAR) in NYC. The experience was overwhelming at first because I literally knew nothing about audio lol. However, the program helped me learn the basic knowledge of recording and mixing techniques. At least enough for me to go out and figure things out on my own and understand what other engineers were doing at my internships.
NIE: Where did the desire to be in the industry stem from?
Ayanna Depas: I’ve always had a love for music. I remember growing up wishing I knew how to play an instrument or that I could sing. I thought because I didn’t know how to do any of those things that I could never work in music. It also didn’t help that I was super shy lol. During my college years, my friend and I took on the role of “managing” a rapper by the name of Ac Legend, who also happens to be my cousin lol. We would scrape up what little money we had to book sessions at recording studios. We weren’t too crazy about the sound quality. So eventually, I decided I was going to go to school and learn how to do it professionally. Honestly, before working with him and recording his music, I didn’t know what a recording engineer was.
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NIE: Who inspires ‘Yanni Apple Seedz’ to be the person you are today?
Ayanna Depas: I would have to say my greatest inspiration overall, would be my Grandmother. She was and still is a monumental figure in my life. She is the first person to make me believe in myself and my ability to do and achieve whatever I put my mind to or whatever my heart desired. Growing up and watching her and how she treated others still inspires me to this day. She was a true class act.
NIE: What advice would you give to young girls about the music industry and achieving their dreams?
Ayanna Depas: This music industry can be a tough place at times but you must be resilient. Don’t let anybody break you or make you feel like you can’t do it or you don’t belong. That can be the energy whether you are male or female. In some cases, you’re probably going to have to work 10x harder for the same opportunity as your male counterparts. Be confident in yourself, your skill set, and don’t doubt yourself. And always work to get better and perfect your craft.
NIE: So besides your musical career, what are some of your hobbies? Or something interesting about you.
Ayanna Depas: Honestly, I really don’t have any other hobbies worth mentioning lol. Besides working out and going to the movies, I like to create. Whether it’s coming up with cool effects to enhance a mix or making beats or thinking of funny skits, I find creating to be very therapeutic.
NIE: Anyone you would like to thank?
Ayanna Depas: I would like to thank my family. My Mom, Dad, My sister Jmeekz, My Uncle Milti, my Aunt Rosie, my niece Nevaeh My brother Nyrik. My cousins Ac, Shellz, Chris, Lees, Millz, Cheeky, Fernando, Tasha, Lollie...the whole Seward clan, Kim, Ernest, and the rest of the Supreme household. All of them helped me through my journey and still do. I would like to thank my friends back at home in Rockland County, Spring Valley, NY to be exact (845 Standup). My friend Chesler, not only has he helped me out a lot on this journey but he would be hella salty if I didn’t mention his name specifically lol. My MBK and Oz Studio family. Miki Tsutsumi, Shamel Hughes, Robert “LB” Dorsey for teaching me the trade and helping to advance my audio career, I’m forever grateful. Swagg R’celious, Jeff Robinson, Misha Mayes, Jeanine McLean, Walter Jones, H.E.R., Tiara, Elle, Ant 808, Malik and AJ, Rich, Jeremy Webster, Corey Gwynn, Sly Pro, Kelly Deas, Melissa Lyric, 9to5, Galo Herrera, John Irizarry, Zoo, Fatz Pro, Shawn Lite, Crystal, Amadeus, Jimi, Zilla, Intence, Monty, Kim, Rina, Rick, Lou, Walt, P90, Ms Lana. Abhita over at Gender Amplified and the Creators Suite, Feminine Divine (FDBK), The Party Pack Crew. All my teachers and colleagues at IAR. Everyone who supported the Clash of the Beatmakers brand (from judges, to contestants, media, audiences, etc.). RocRunnaRadio, Qui Talks, Sabrina aka Still I Rise, 3P Photobooth, Rocky Photos, The Krew, My Apollo Theater family, My Quad Studios family...Chase [Michael] Pallante, for not only connecting me with News In Entertainment but extending me a place to stay when I was stuck in the city and couldn’t get home...I will never forget that. I would also like to thank everyone at News In Entertainment as well. I know I’m forgetting people and I apologize for that in advance. I would especially like to thank Apostle Elizabeth Alston, my grandmother, Rosetta Lee and her twin sister, Harrietta Foss...May they rest in peace. And most importantly, I would like to thank God. *drops mic* lol
- Mary Swanson