Contact: Erin Flynn
KALAMAZOO, Michigan—Music isn’t just background noise or a hobby for Jacob Wolfe; it’s a passion. At Western Michigan University, he found a path to turn that passion into a career, a path he will embark on as he completes his final semester after landing a gig as a junior sound designer for Yessian Music, a studio world of recording and composition in Detroit.
“I’ll do sound design for commercials, interactive media, maybe video games and stuff like that,” says Wolfe, of Okemos, Michigan, who will be graduating with a degree in media arts technology in the spring of 2022. He received the job offer in early December and will start in January, completing his final credits remotely.
“The last three or four weeks have been pretty crazy, but it’s very nice to know that after I graduate I will already be working and I will have a job that interests me a lot and I hope I will have a lot of fun doing it.”
It’s a reality that Wolfe hadn’t considered when he started college, pursuing a chemistry degree at Northern Michigan University. While he was interested in the topic, it didn’t really spark excitement like the music did.
“I was playing guitar, I was trying to sing a little, I was trying electronic music, I was recording whoever else was playing – whatever I could get my hands on,” he says. . “I spent all my time making music and producing music. I thought, ‘I do this stuff 10 times more than what I do in class, maybe it’s time to look for a program for that.'”
The research led him to Western’s Multimedia Arts Technology program, where the all-encompassing nature stood out from Wolfe in a sea of possibilities.
“It wasn’t like I just wanted to play guitar; I could have done that with a degree in guitar performance or something. I could have just done a two-year audio engineering program . But I wanted to do everything, and this program had an option for that,” he says. “You do everything from playing an instrument to computer programming to audio for video, recording fully analog, fully digital recording; it’s quite complete.”
A symphony of support throughout his time at Western, Wolfe says his instructors were instrumental in preparing him for success in the music industry.
“John Campos from Western Sound Studios was a huge influence, especially early on. I took his introductory audio engineering course – it was one of the first courses I took – and he was very instrumental, telling me to go out and do things all the time, every day working on improving myself,” says Wolfe, who also credits Drs. Christopher Biggs and Carter Rice for helping him develop the audio and computer programming skills he will use for his new job. “It was sort of the culmination of everyone’s knowledge and willingness to teach.”
Wolfe also fleshed out his resume through a number of internships, developing mobile apps at Shure Incorporated in Chicago; working as an assistant sound engineer at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo; working in audio installation at Smart Technologies in Lansing, Michigan; and doing audio coding and programming at Audible Reality, a startup in Boston. He says his internships have been crucial in “deepening learning and how to apply all that knowledge to real-world projects and working with other people on those.”
Wolfe has also worked as sound engineer for Western’s famed Gold Company and Gold Company II jazz ensembles and sound engineer for School of Music recitals. He plans to work with other students on studio projects among his most significant experiences at the University.
“Being in a room and trying to respond to someone else’s creative vision for the project is going to be very, very, very impactful and important to what I’m going to do in this job (at Yessian),” says- he. “Working on group projects is a big priority in the multimedia arts program and one of my favorite things about it.”
For more WMU news, arts and eventsvisit WMU News online.