Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) instructor, Kevin Bowe, playfully jokes around with the students in his audio production capstone course as they sit in the Mastermix studio at the IPR campus, located in downtown Minneapolis. On this particular day, they are working with the local indie rock and folk band Communist Daughter as they record their newest album. The atmosphere may be casual, but it is professional. With the studio’s state of the art equipment, Communist Daughter effortlessly lays down a track while the students learn the ins and outs of the production process from Bowe, who has years of experience in the music industry.
It is obvious the students enjoy the class and Bowe as an instructor. Even amid technical difficulties, Bowe uses it as a teaching moment, telling the students how to deal with issues that may arise in a future producing career.
“We have to keep the band comfortable. It’s our job to make sure everything runs smoothly, and if it doesn’t, just keep assuring them and telling them it’s alright. We’ll get it figured out,” Bowe advises the students.
Communist Daughter is definitely comfortable. Bowe and lead singer Johnny Solomon have a close relationship, and Solomon says he trusts Bowe to mix his music because he knows what kind of sound he likes.
Bowe’s class is very hands-on, already giving this small group of five or six students a chance to work with a national touring band and apply their skills to help produce an album. They each take turns at the computer and sound board, communicating with the band members on the other side of the window to set the rhythm, tune the instruments and mix the tracks.
“I love working with this group of kids,” Bowe says. “They know what they’re doing. They’ve already been in school for a year and half, so it’s more like we’re all working together rather than me just teaching them.”
This particular day of class is special because a film crew from public television station TPT arrives after lunch. They are filming shots for the station’s series MN Original, a show that celebrates Minnesota’s creative community. They are working on a segment featuring Bowe and his involvement in the local music scene.
The episode documents Bowe’s interaction with the students, the band and his work in general. Bowe not only guides and offers insight to his students every day, but he writes, produces and performs music himself.
“My hope is that I can use my experience to teach these students what I know so that they are prepared for a career in the field,” Bowe says. “Of course, I hope they have a little fun along the way, too.”
Watch Bowe’s episode of MN Original.