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Audio Arts Major Richard Kijko Finds Success in His Hometown

Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, Audio Arts major Richard Kijko has been enamored with the legendary sound and vibrancy of a city that offers some of the best in music, events, and culture. After attending Benjamin Franklin High School and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (where he first became interested in audio), his decision to attend Columbia College Chicago was based on two key factors. As he relates, “I chose Columbia due to the location. I wanted to experience something different from New Orleans. Also, I earned several scholarships.”

With Chicago also having a renowned history in music, Richard has experienced the best of two cities that have served to strengthen his vast knowledge in music and have given him a vantage point to compare and contrast the two cities as he explains. “Chicago really has pockets of sounds in many different parts. I feel like most of the venues in New Orleans are in the quarter or downtown. There are exceptions in New Orleans. The difference is that I have been all over the city of Chicago and heard many different sounds, whereas I feel like New Orleans has a specific niche. We are very proud of our Jazz heritage in this city. When it comes to bigger acts coming through, I do not see too much of a difference.”

This summer Richard returned to his hometown for an extraordinary opportunity as an intern at Esplanade Studios, which came in part due to a recommendation as well as encouragement from a former instructor of his. “Greg Agid is a former teacher of mine and is a mentor to me. He is a great jazz musician and that is what I used to be most associated with. I asked him about good studios to work in, and he recommended Esplanade to me.”

The studio, which opened its doors in 2013, is the largest recording studio in Louisiana, and was once a former church whose architectural design and décor lends itself to a unique sound characteristic that cannot be duplicated. The studio gave Richard the opportunity to work with professionals in honing his craft, in addition to learning new skills. “Esplanade has extremely well-known artists come through (Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, The Revivalists, etc.) The internship allowed me to do things that I had never done before, or even assist with video productions in some capacity, which I never saw myself doing. This was a great opportunity because it is another thing to add to my experiences.”

After spending the summer setting up and breaking down sessions, soundproofing, assisting artists, producers, and engineers, as well as observing sessions, Richard has some immediate next steps mapped out. “I want to really work on my pro tools proficiency and get to a speed high enough for working in a studio full time. I also envision running my own sessions or working with groups of people and truly helping them capture their sound. Finally, I want to keep working on my beats or production skills so I can get them to a point where I feel they are at a professional level.”

In terms of his professional long-term goals, Richard has a realistic sense of what it will take to succeed in the audio industry. “I see myself working at a studio for some time and then hopefully one day opening up my own. Mainly I want to become a high-level producer and engineer for well-known artists. All I know right now is I will work incredibly hard to survive in this industry in whatever way I have to.”

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