Cinnamon Denise is an audio engineer, vocalist, and bassoonist living in Austin, Texas. I met Cinnamon after a mutual acquaintance recommended her as a teacher for the Omni Sound Project. Our first phone call set the tone for all of our conversations: a meeting scheduled to last 15 minutes stretched into hours as we explored our shared interest in engineering, production, feminism, wellness, and of course, music. Months later, Cinnamon is one of my most trusted colleagues and friends, despite the fact that, due to the pandemic, we’ve never actually met in person. I connected with her via Zoom last week to learn more about her current projects.
I know you have a lot of experience with engineering and producing. What areas of audio are you involved in?
My bread and butter is doing vocal editing for voice overs, or any lead or background vocals that go in songs. I think that’s because I'm a vocalist, so I know where to adjust things so that they really shine. I produce and make my own music. I work with other producers on songwriting and record vocal demos for producers. I also edit podcasts and produce podcast intros, working with my musician friends.
When you went into audio, what did you expect to be doing?
My thinking was, “I’m going to be an artist and I’m going to travel the world and sing,” which I’ve done, but you have to figure out ways to sustain yourself while you’re trying to develop your audience. I studied [audio] in school because I wanted to be able to create my own music without having to rely on somebody else, without having to have somebody record me, and have somebody to edit. To eliminate all those extra people and just make it me, not for ego reasons, but because of money reasons. Stuff like that gets expensive really quickly.
When you talk about the different types of engineering you do, are you using one DAW for everything, or do you have different software that you use for each project?
I record in ProTools and produce in Ableton. I go back and forth. For me, producing in Ableton is a lot quicker. Making something that sounds how I envisioned it just happens quicker. When you’re writing, you don’t need all these technical things in your way, keeping you from streamlining the creative process.
The reason why I record, and sometimes mix, in ProTools is because they have this playlist feature. You can easily take mini-takes of things and comp them. It makes for the best sounding final take. It’s really easy to do in ProTools. ProTools has some really amazing recording features that I prefer to Ableton.
What do you see as being the immediate future during the pandemic in the absence of live music? Have you been thinking about how the industry is going to change?
I think it’s a great opportunity for artists to capitalize on the live features of social media platforms and get really good at performing without having an extravagant setup. That takes skill, working with what you’ve got and making it really good. Now’s a good time to make a lot of content as an artist, because people are online and looking for things to do.
That’s been my focus. What can I do to capitalize on this, instead of trolling in the “this sucks” part of it. It’s tricky, but it makes for the creative process to become almost exacerbated, because not only do you have to be creative in the music that you’re making, but you have to be creative in how you’re putting it out now. It’s getting saturated, so you have to figure out how to stand out and be different, but still be authentic.
What do you see for yourself in the future? Are there any new skills you’re looking to learn? I know you’re becoming a yoga teacher.
Yeah, I’m always working on new things. I am learning After Effects now!
My project is to be a musician/yoga teacher who plays lo-fi hip hop, trip hop style music while practicing yoga. On my videos now, I put my music on there. People are responding, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, who’s the artist?” It’s so important for yoga to be accessible to people of all sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds. A big part of the scholarship that I got [to become a yoga teacher] was that I serve the Black community in some way, shape, or form. That can happen in different ways, but it’s important to me for people to see themselves through the things that I’m doing, and for me to seem like a very tangible and accessible person. I want it to seem like, “You know what? If she can do it, I can do it, too.”
You can use yoga as a way to connect people and you can use music, why don’t we just combine the two? That’s my new project, developing myself as an artist who practices yoga.
ABOUT CINNAMON DENISE
Cinnamon Denise is a musician, artist, songwriter, and audio engineer who has taught, performed, and trained in Spain, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Germany, France, South Africa, Switzerland and the U.S. She believes that music should be accessible to all and presented in a non-intimidating way. With a Master's degree in Music Technology Innovation from Berklee College of Music, Cinnamon Denise currently resides in Austin, Texas and is a core faculty member of Omni Sound Project. Connect with Cinnamon Denise : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.
Interview by Lisa Machac
Lisa Machac is a musician and director of the Omni Sound Project, an organization dedicated to being the most accessible point of entry to the music and audio industries. Omni Sound Project strives to provide affordable opportunities for learning to under-represented communities as well as spotlight the talents of female and non-gender conforming audio professionals.
Find out more about Omni Sound Project . Connect : Facebook | Instagram
WANT TO WRITE FOR US?