Student Intern Finds Harmony Between Academic, Job Skills
This is the fourth in a series about student internships at Asbury University. Follow these links to read about journalism major Leslie Ferrell '14, political science major Bethany Wallace '15 and Equine and Business major Libby Vandervennet '14.
Josh Jones ’14 wants to be a producer.
The feeling started last semester, when he landed an internship in Nashville, Tenn. Working with two of the top producers in Christian music, Brent Milligan and Pete Kipley, Jones honed his professional and technical skills, experienced first-hand what it means to be part of a community of Christians in the recording industry, and along the way, developed a new passion for production.
Jones applied for the internship with the help of Media Communication professor Barry Blair. A founding member of the contemporary Christian band Audio Adrenaline, Blair was acquainted with Milligan and Kipley, and helped Jones make connections.
“Brent and Pete are really top dogs in the Christian music industry,” Jones said. “Brent is producing Steven Curtis Chapman’s new stuff, and plays bass for him, and Pete is producing Phil Wickham’s new thing. I learned a lot from them.”
Jones split his time between Milligan’s and Kipley’s studios, because Milligan was on tour with Chapman during October and the first week of November. An average day for Jones began at 9:30 a.m., heading in to work at one of the producers’ home studios.
“The artists would come to their houses to record stuff,” Jones said. “We’d get everything set up for the artists to come in, and then we would record vocals or whatever instrument we were recording that day. It usually took a whole day for bass, or for singing it would take three days.”
At one point during the internship, Milligan took Jones to Louisiana for an intense week of recording.
“That was so awesome,” Jones said. “This church hired Brent to produce a worship album, and we put in over 100 hours that week. We’d go in at 8 in the morning and stay there until 3 the next morning. It was crazy hours, but a lot of fun.
“I got to run the sessions, the big boards in there, and Brent would be sitting in the back trying to brainstorm things. I was just the person who was able to move faders and hit lights so that they could work on the creative stuff and not have to worry about, ‘go over to the board and push flag.’”
As demanding as his internship was, Jones says his classes — especially audio classes with Blair — prepared him very well.
“I would have been sunk if I hadn’t taken Prof. Blair’s Digital Audio Editing the semester before,” Jones said. “I can’t even express how much that saved me. The first day of the internship, Brent asked me, ‘How comfortable are you with ProTools?’ Right on the spot, I was editing something. In college, you’re led into something that leads up to the final project, but this was like a final project, just thrown at me. It was terrifying, but apparently I did a pretty good job, because he kept giving me stuff to do.”
In addition to developing his technical skills, working in the Christian music industry helped Jones think through what it means to live and work as a Christian in highly competitive and often secular environment.
“When you do anything as a Christian, you want to do it to the best of your ability, to the glory of God,” he said. “But at the same time, non-Christians want to do their best too. I think the difference is why you do it. We want to glorify God.”
In the tight-knit community of the production studios, Jones saw Christian artists and producers supporting each other spiritually as well as musically.
“It was cool, hearing Brent and Pete talk with artists about things that they were going through, and encouraging each other,” he said. “I was able to see someone in the Christian music industry who was living out their faith and helping someone else.”
Jones’ experiences in Nashville, especially the diverse interests of the job, sparked an interest in production that he hadn’t recognized before.
“I didn’t even know I wanted to do producing,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do music, but watching these guys, they have so many hats they put on. One minute they’re counseling the artist, another minute they’re a coach, another minute they’re a friend, someone who can critique the song without attacking it. I love doing that kind of stuff with my friends, so watching these producers and they way they would interact with the artists, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
While he would love to end up in the production industry, Jones says that he wants to remain open to God’s leading.
“I would love to be a producer,” he said. “I would love it so much. But man, if I get into the industry and three years in God calls me to do something else, I’ll do it. I’ll be appreciative of this time, but whatever doors open I’ll go through. It would just be really, really cool if that was producing.”
--by Joel Sams '15