An Inside Look at Grammys Week

By: Zoe Naylor

Last week, I attended the annual Recording Industry trip to Los Angeles for the Grammys. I thought the awards ceremony would be the most exciting part of the trip, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I spent six days doing my dream job: seeing people in their element, then writing about it.

Over the course of the week, I joined six music industry majors and two professors on their tours of famous Los Angeles studios. The group was composed of three students studying Music Business, one in Commercial Songwriting, one in Audio Production, one graduate student in Recording Arts and Technology and one journalism and French double major.

As the student journalist covering the trip, it was my job to post on social media, take photos and write about the experience.

The MTSU group toured SSI Studios in Los Angeles, where MTSU alumni Daniel Rowland and Matt Guiler work mixing and mastering movie trailers. (Photo: Zoe Naylor)

During each famous music studio tour, I did my best to absorb as much history and information as I could. Our first stop was The Village Studios, where Fleetwood Mac recorded their album “Tusk.” We saw Stevie Nicks’ “twirl room,” the booth she designed specifically so she had space to spin and move around as she recorded vocals.

The studios and accompanying green rooms were cozy and dark. It’s easy to pick up on a homey ambiance when the job of a major studio is to make their artists comfortable so they can make amazing art.

That feeling was clear across both music studios we visited, the second of which was EastWest Studios, home of The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

Students in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment toured EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, home to The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” (Photo: Zoe Naylor)

When we visited, EastWest was hosting clients who were mid-project, so photos were prohibited in a few of the studios we toured. This kept us students present, excited and attentive — a feeling I imagine was akin to what the legendary artists felt as they were recording there.

During these tours, I mostly hung in the back of the group — partially for better photo angles and partially to let the music industry majors have the prime spots to take it all in. I got a slightly different view of the scene than they did, and it allowed me to focus on their reactions to the things they could appreciate more than I.

Our view of the Grammys telecast. (Photo: Zoe Naylor)

The graduate student studying Recording Arts and Technology Kelly Grenvik’s eyes lit up when she saw The Village’s studio dedicated to recording in Dolby Atmos, the technology and recording technique on which she is writing her master’s thesis. The audio production major Dalton Miksa became ecstatic after watching an unreleased trailer at SSI Studios, a company that mixes movie trailers (and boasts two MTSU graduates). His dream job is to work on audio for the big screen. During the Grammys ceremony, I sat next to music business major Lindzey Lopez, whose eyes were glued to the stage as each performer took the stage. She excitedly elbowed my arm when she saw a prop onstage we had seen a few days prior at a backstage tour.

Over the course of our trip, sunny Los Angeles wasn’t so sunny. Daily forecasts stayed in the chilly 50s-60s, and there was a flood watch for the day of the Grammys. Our hair and makeup were undone just by the walk to the entrance of the Arena. Umbrellas shared between strangers provided a makeshift canopy, but their corners dumped heavy raindrops onto us.

While in line, I met an executive of SoundCloud, and we chatted about the state of news journalism, his former job at CNN and why he left it. His daughter is based in Nashville, so he knew Murfreesboro, as did a couple near us from Kentucky who was also attending the Grammys for the first time. There was an air of shared excitement undeterred by the weather.

For me, these moments were the Grammys experience: people laughing at travel mishaps then falling speechless at being in the room where music history was made.

Whenever I got to witness someone’s enthusiasm about their work — listen to them explain what they were passionate about, check that their words weren’t falling on deaf ears, then explain why they were passionate about it — I was in my element as much as the music industry students were.

Undoubtedly, there are pros and cons to letting your own perspective and passions influence the way you experience a moment. Perhaps there was a journalism major more knowledgeable about music who deserved the trip more than I, but I am grateful I got to attend the 66th Annual Grammy Awards. The work that the music industry students and those in the MTSU Recording Industry program put into the trip did not go unnoticed. For the next student who reports on the trip, I hope you learn as much as I did.

Author Zoe Naylor is a senior majoring in Journalism and French.