Erin Tonkon is a true twenty first century producer at the intersection of the legacy of rock & roll and the future of modern music.
Erin believes that technology should expand musical possibility, not degenerate musicianship and skill. As an engineer and producer, Erin Tonkon helps artists to find their strengths in the studio by drawing upon her experience with some of rock music's legends. She creates sounds that have all the visceral rawness of classic rock, only with a twist-- expertise and immersion in new technology. Erin’s vast experience includes working as assistant to legendary rock producer Tony Visconti. In her time thus far with Visconti, she has worked with such artists as David Bowie, Kristeen Young, Esperanza Spalding, Daphne Guinness and The Foo Fighters. She continues to work for Visconti as she launches her own production company, Tonkon Productions, based in New York City.
Q What was your favorite part about attending Recorded Music?
I had extremely high expectations for Recorded Music. I expected everything they tell you it would be with endless opportunities and celebrities dropping by all the time. My expectations were met and far exceeded. That’s not something that happens every day. The professors care so much about us. These are big deal music industry professionals who are as intelligent and talented as they are cool. We all have our specialties but I am graduating from this program knowing a ton about production and engineering and a lot about business and songwriting and music history as well. Being at ReMu feels like being a part of the coolest family on the planet. I’ll remember one of Bob Powers’ Laws of Productions and it will totally get me through a tough situation in the studio. Or I’ll be haunted by one of those endless Golden Ears drills in Jim Anderson’s Audio Ear Training class and get the exact delay timing I was looking for. Thanks to Dan Charnas, I can have really intelligent and interesting conversations about the history of music and impress people much older and more experienced than I. I can write up my own contracts because Lauren Davis taught me how, and critically analyze every new music start up thanks to Errol Kolosine’s Entrepreneurship class. We have fun and we learn a lot. I’m going to miss it.
Q How did Recorded Music prepare you for success?
I’ve been blessed to be able to work professionally in the music industry while I’m in school and seen over the past few years just how well ReMu has prepared me. I feel like to be successful in the music industry you have to know more than your specialty because that’s what will set you apart from the millions of other people trying to be music producers. Everything we learn is practical and relevant. I never questioned “why” we had to know anything we were taught. The professors also share their personal experience in a way that teaches us not only to be professionals, but to be good and fair human beings able to handle anything thrown at us. Furthermore, in a very literal sense, ReMu gave me the success I’ve had so far. Because I worked hard and absorbed the curriculum, Nick Sansano was able to connect me with my boss and mentor, Tony Visconti. Working for him has really launched my career and I would never have been connected with him or prepared to work in high-pressure situations if it wasn’t for the curriculum and connections offered at ReMu.
Q What are you currently doing professionally?
I am currently continuing to work for Tony Visconti on various exciting projects. In addition, I am in the midst of launching my own production company, Tonkon Productions. I will continue to work for Visconti and freelance in New York City. I hope to really immerse myself further in the music scene here. If you think you’re the next Iggy Pop—call me. Let’s make something happen.
Q What words of wisdom can you share?
There is a direct correlation between how much you put into this program and how much you get out of it. REMU puts everything at your fingertips. You can seize the opportunities or let them pass you by. Work hard, make connections, and say yes. Ask questions, accept constructive criticism, but be true to yourself and find your niche. It all seems very glamorous from the outside, and a lot of it is. But what people don’t see are the late nights and early mornings putting extra time in at the studio, the lack of sleep, the weekends where you can’t hang out with your friends because you have projects to do and (if you’re lucky) a demanding job in the music industry on top of it. For me—it’s all worth it because I’m extremely passionate about what I do and I choose to put my career first. But, some people just aren’t willing to sacrifice, and that’s ok. Just know that if that’s the case, you probably won’t get too far. Know what you want. I’m pretty sure the common thread amongst any successful person in the music industry is they were willing to work a little harder and they never gave up. There is so much support--professionally, creatively, and emotionally--in this department. Accept it. Treasure it.