Interview with Ken Candelas, SAE Institute New York Instructor

Ken Candelas

Across our campuses, we have so many talented faculty who are experts at what they do. Recently, we sat down with Ken Candelas, an Instructor at our SAE Institute New York campus. Learn more about his background, advice for students, and what he loves most about working in audio. 

What courses are you currently instructing? 

I am currently teaching AT-101: Intro to Audio and AT-104: Advanced Audio/Post-Production.

Do you do other work outside of SAE Institute? 

In addition to being an Interim Professor at our New York campus, I work freelance with corporate companies like ABC Good Morning America. I also serve as a monitor engineer for a touring act called The Cringe, led by the husband of Rachel Ray, John Cusimano.

Where did you study? 

I got my high school diploma in Fine Arts at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, my Associates of Applied Science in Music Production at Queensborough Community College, and my Bachelors of Fine Arts (with a focus in audio technology) at City College of New York.

How did you decide on Audio as a career path? 

I was actually debating on what I was looking to do in life when I was applying for college. I felt pretty determined to transition from art to music, and so I applied to Berklee College. Unable to afford the tuition, I looked toward a more local institution. I went into QCC and decided that instead of pursuing performance I would also learn the technical skills in audio. I am grateful for that decision every day.

What do you love most about your job?

The ability to know how to get what I want in a technical manner. There’s so much power in being a knowledgeable independent artist. This attitude is infectious with my students. They are passionate about becoming well-versed for their own personal development. Showing them that indie artists can also make a living in the new music industry in more ways than one is incredibly important.

Tell us a bit more about your experience outside of education? 

My first audio gig was a recording of an orchestra with my own professor. I learned a ton by putting myself out there and getting the job done. If you truly enjoy it, you will be noticed. It’s a long, hard road (I’ve been in the industry for ten years now!) but it has brought so much abundance.

What challenges have you faced in the industry? 

In this industry, you have to believe in yourself. If you let others tell you what they think of you and you internalize that, you’ll ultimately be doing yourself a disservice. Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher price (within reason to your experience).

Why SAE? What do you love most about teaching here? 

SAE has some of the most engaged students ever! They made a choice to come here, and I am glad to oblige to their needs and wants. This is a place I can truly nurture their growth.

Which speed bumps have you hit in your career? What would you change if you could?

Some advice I can offer from my experience is, don’t take a job just because you think it will advance your career. Also, avoid working with people who demean your value, and never do things for free. Never take an insult and stay quiet because whoever said it is an award-winning artist or engineer. Be proud of what you bring to the table and know your worth.

Which are the most important skills you think students should have to be prepared for work after graduation? 

Learning to listen. Don’t cut off the sentence of someone who’s trying to give you information. Don’t assume. Listen and be a sponge (with thick skin!). It’s always the details that trip you up.

What motto do you live by? Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

“Follow your north.” – my father, Hector Candelas

“Not everything sounds good… write that down.” – Randy Merrill

“The cheapest EQ on Pro Tools is better than your Massenburg.” – Vlado Meller

Anything we missed? Something you’d like to share about yourself or your experience? 

Being an artist is what made me interested in audio. Don’t forget your roots! You can find my music, Homerik, in a genre called “cinematic metal” here: