We had the good fortune of connecting with RJ Cardenas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi RJ, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is huge in my opinion and it’s definitely played a major part in my career. When I graduated High School, I jumped into taking classes and going to school for architecture at Riverside Community College. As I was doing that I was also making my own music on my free time. As much as I enjoyed both architecture and creating music, I let the thoughts of “Music isn’t steady income, you need a ‘real job’ or plan b just incase it doesn’t work out”, get in my head, so I continued taking classes. 3 years go by and I get my first full time job doing drafting work (at this time I was enrolled at a trade school). About 3 months into my new job and 1 semester away from getting my degree, the trade school I was attending closed down. I was a bit devastated being majority of those college credits wouldn’t transfer to a new college, but the security of my full time job alleviated some stress. This was around early October of 2016. Shortly after, I came across an ad of the Audio Engineering program at Musicians Institute (MI). I took a tour within that same week and decided I was going to enroll. I needed up leaving my full time job and moved to Los Angeles to attend MI. Did a 6 month program and finished in summer of 2017. A year later finally decided to try an internship at a Fever Recording Studio, with the recommendation of a close friend from MI named Vince. I was real fortunate to get this internship because from there on, the path of my career started falling into place. From intern to runner, assistant engineer and now Engineer, I’ve come to realize this is what I really love to do more than anything, create, record and mix great music.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a recording and mix engineer and it definitely was and still is challenging in many ways. It’s all part of the process though. I’ve been fortunate to work and be a part of many great sessions with plenty of different talented artists, producers and musicians in this early stage of my career. From Jaafar Jackson, The Isley Brothers, Cordae (The Lost Boy – Album), Wale, PARTYNEXTDOOR, J. Cole, Alina Baraz, Terrace Martin, Punch, Trippie Redd, Giveon and more. So far I’ve learned, in this industry you never really know what’s coming next, so the best thing to do is keep working, stay focused and ready.
I’m constantly learning, experimenting with different techniques and always aiming to do better than any of my previous work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m honestly working majority of the time. This is LA though! Theres a lot you can do in LA, from going to the beach, to a nice rooftop restaurant / bar in downtown or going to a basketball or baseball game. Definitely would recommend a few of my favorite food spots though. Currently: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Castaway and of course Eastside Deli. If you’re visiting LA for the first time, Eastside Deli is a must. It’s been a favorite since I was a kid. Thats about all I can recommend at the moment.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Theres plenty to thank from family to friends and everyone who has been supportive. And it definitely is good to have mentors and friends to turn to who also work in the same industry. I’ve gotten great advice and encouragement from plenty, but two who I can always quickly turn to would be Nate Fox and David “Prep” Hughes.
Instagram: @RJCardenas https://www.instagram.com/rjcardenas/