We’d like to introduce you to DonTaé Hodge, your Recordical Engineer. He is a master at recording both on-location and in-studio sessions, with an ear impressively attuned to the nuances of sound. DonTaé received his Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts from Full Sail University. Based in Atlanta and originally from the British Virgin Islands, DonTaé’s first love is music. Please welcome to the stage… the morale-improver, the life-lover, the inspiration-inciter: Mr. DonTaé Hodge.
You have a knack for making quality recordings happen regardless of the situation. What’s one of the most common problems you see unfold during sessions? How do you troubleshoot that issue in those moments?
The most common issues usually unfold in the field because there are so many variables. The biggest one I can think of is interference with wireless mics. The variables are forever changing depending on your location, so the most important thing is always to prepare as best as you can. Check for trouble frequencies, available bands in the area, etc. I know that things WILL go wrong, but staying calm and trusting your knowledge is key.
During your time as an adjunct professor at SAE Institute North America, where you taught a class on Live Sound & Lighting, you got the students involved by touching the gear and seeing how it reacts. What did you learn from your students?
My time at SAE was a joy! The most important lesson I learned from them was more of a general effect on me. They were so curious and wanted to have so much fun and just experiment. Becoming a “professional,” I feel like I had lost some of that, and that was the very essence that got me to this point. Being with them brought some of that fire back.
Throughout your career as an audio engineer, you’ve worked on recordings that involved significant public figures like Iggy Azalea, Kris Jenner, Kevin Hart, and Diane von Furstenberg. Who is your dream person to record?
As cliche as this answer may be, Barack Obama is high on that list. Whenever he does anything with audio, I’m always like, “Uh, I wish I recorded that!” I just want to learn and absorb as much as I can. I really respect him and his mind.
What inspires you about the audio industry?
What inspires me about the podcast industry is all the potential. Potential for improvement. Potential to change the world. Potential to build something. Potential to live your dreams by first serving others and helping them live out theirs. My goal has always been to be the change I want to see in this industry. I step into every day with that on my mind and make sure my actions line up.
Pretend you’re recording everyday sounds from the British Virgin Islands, where you’re from originally. What do we hear?
It sounds like waves crashing against rocks, the sizzle you hear as the tide hits the sand and begins to soak back into it. The sounds of pelicans singing off-key but yet so musically. And the SPLASH as they dive in to catch their lunch. Boats in the harbor racing, dolphins whistling to get your attention and to put on a show. Bob Marley playing lightly in the background. Is that ice we hear being thrown into a blender? The crunch as the blender starts up and grinds, then the sound of a friendly Virgin Islands accent offering up a piña colada. Ahhhh, so refreshing. Then it sounds like crickets, mosquitos talking in your ears, telling you a lullaby. The sound of sea breeze hitting mango trees and putting you to sleep.
If you could listen to only one podcast or album for the next year, what would it be?
So my favorite podcast is New Rory & Mal, produced by More Sauce and Stitcher. I could easily listen to only that podcast for a year straight without complaining. It feels like a random conversation being had with good friends and is an excellent escape from the “seriousness” of life.
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