Gloria Kaba talks inspirations, internships and working with Q-Tip
Here at BIMM Institute London, we were extremely lucky to host a virtual Masterclass with Gloria Kaba: the sound engineer, producer, mixer and writer; who primarily operates under the moniker Redsoul.
Gloria’s work spans multiple genres and artists including Madonna, Beyoncé, Phil Ramone, Kanye West, Salaam Remi, Aretha Franklin and Frank Ocean. Her most recent projects include work on A Tribe Called Quest’s final album We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service and Solange’s breakthrough release, A Seat At The Table. For this, Gloria worked closely with legendary hip-hop artist and producer Q-Tip.
She began her career in 2006 as an intern at Battery Studios, and later as an assistant engineer at MSR Studios. While there, she spent six years working with a host of engineers and producers, expanding her knowledge of the industry tenfold.
Gloria now focuses mainly on producing and mixing, most recently working with acts like Ms Lauryn Hill, LOONY, Amber Mark and Molly Burch, whilst writing with rising stars KAINA, Ness Heads and Ondine. Gloria has also started her own NYC-based writing camp for aspiring producers and songwriters, perhaps appropriately named Locked-In.
As lockdown rules still apply throughout the country, Gloria joined us in a virtual seminar where she was interviewed by Music Production Lecturer, Aram Zarikian, who led an amazing, well-researched interview with her. They were joined on Zoom by 94 eager students, all wanting to gain insight from the incredibly talented Gloria Kaba. She addressed many topics and answered a plethora of student questions.
Our Masterclass interview with Gloria Kaba
Gloria Kaba, who is Ghanaian-American, started talking about her early influences and how she made a start in music:
“My family is from Ghana, as a child, I would dig into my mum’s record collection. There was a range of things in there. She had a lot of Ghanaian music, but what I probably latched onto the most was Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, all that Motown and Soul from the 70s, and so on. That definitely influenced me when I was growing up. I’d say as well, 90s RnB and hip hop really influenced me.
“I’m the only one in my family that had an affinity with music. My family are mainly healthcare professionals and academics. It was a gamble, but I was determined, and it definitely paid off. I got my work ethic from my mum, that’s for sure.”
Without a doubt, these influences are prevalent in Gloria’s production style. Aram delved into the key moments from Gloria’s success in the industry:
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in music, but I knew early on that internships were important. I wanted to take advantage of them whilst I was still in school and studying.”
“I interned at an independent record label and quickly realised that the business side of things wasn’t for me. Then, I got an internship at a studio, and as soon as I was in those rooms surrounded by the equipment and people, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That was a key moment in realising what I wanted to do.
“Networking really never stops. I’m still networking now.”
“A classmate of mine, Noah Goldstein, became Kanye West’s recording engineer, and he introduced me to Q-Tip, who was looking for an engineer. That connection happened in school. But one thing led to another. I became a freelance engineer and am still at that point now, making a living and having a lot of fun! Networking really never stops. I’m still networking now.”
That’s some brilliant advice there from Gloria. She continued to talk about her production process and how she produces for herself and not for others, which is quite a powerful statement. “You have to be adaptable,” said Gloria. She explained how she would completely change her process from artist to artist: “If the artist is a night person, I become a night person,” she continued. “You have to get into the head of the artist; start trying to predict what they’re going to want”.
Gloria gave a tutorial on some of her mixing processes and techniques using one of her latest projects from Toronto based artist, LOONY.
Answering student questions
Gloria had a chance to answer a few student questions. BIMM student Angelo asked:
How have you created a reputation as a freelancer?
“It’s really just about working and creating. I must have a sound that people are attracted to. It’s just about working hard and creating a portfolio that you can share with people.
“Make sure you find what you like and feel comfortable with it. The people will come.”
“I’m still discovering my sound at the moment, but I’d say that my drums are punchy. I go for width and warmth and quite a contemporary sound too. It’s about experimenting – make sure you find what you like and feel comfortable with it. The people will come.”