Sound engineering is not considered by many as a career option. But does it mean that one cannot pursue it when an ‘international’ and affordable touch is brought to it? Certainly not! Mr Mervin Thomas, the founder of The Audiophile’s School of Sound Engineering (TASE) in an interview with Feba M. Abraham for the #VoLocals campaign by News Aur Chai Media stated how his vision to break the stigma around the career option of Sound Engineering became a reality.
Born and raised in Chennai, Mervin has been part of the music scene for quite some time now. He started off as a live performer and producer, steadily working his way up to becoming an AVID Certified Protools Engineer in music as well as in post-production, within India.
Having worked with Grammy-winning producers (Adam Kagan, Dave Isaac, Carlos Rodgarman and Arturo Solar), recognized Indie bands, artists (Sid Srinivasan, Sanjeev T, Keba Jeremiah, SharanyaGopinath, Christopher Stanley, ShilpaNatarajan, Nathaniel James and AiriMoiri) and Music Directors, he was able to acquire the exposure in Audio Production in a short period.
A few of his notable works include being featured at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show. He also endorses brands like Universal Audio, Vanguard Audio Labs, Izotope, Warm Audio, Oeksounds etc.
Being a highly ambitious person, after his graduation in Engineering, he went abroad to Los Angeles to pursue Audio Engineering at the Musician’s Institute College of Contemporary Music. On completing the course, he decided to return to India, work with the Indian Music Industry and Sound Engineering schools and gather insights on Indian audio engineering.
Mervin was keen on providing affordable, available and acknowledged education to aspiring students. It was when then, when he met his current business partner and a dear friend, Mr Neeraj Kashyap, a Business Development Expert with over decades of experience in the Education sector. Thus, TASE finally took its form in the heart of Chennai.
Speaking about the campus, surrounded by nature, it provides a beautiful atmosphere and perfect ambience for students to receive advanced training and to get in touch the reputed faculty from the music industry.
More practical and less theory is involved. As more of skill-based labour is involved in this field, acquiring industry experience and reliable industry connections is necessary. All these are present at TASE. The students are able to have a real-time experience of how things work, and the limelight is the development of the curriculum in South India to suit the Indian music industry.
As Mervin’s father was a Government Servant and his Mother was a private employee, they were concerned about their only son venturing into entrepreneurship. Now, that the business is taking shape, they are sure that their son had chosen the right path. Upon receiving a tremendous public response, this musical initiative maintained a good reputation right from its very beginning.
Mervin has been teaching the art of playing the keyboard and Contemporary Music Theory for a little over ten years now and has been an incredible mentor to students age ranging from 5 to 70! In TASE, the minimum age for a student to get enrolled is 18. With the coronavirus coming into picture, Mervin started taking up keyboard classes for junior and senior batches. Meanwhile, at TASE, some subjects are taken online at the moment. The school is planning to reopen in September 2020.
Being the founder of one of the most sought after audio engineering schools in Chennai, it is of no doubt that Mervin is a multi-tasker. “There is a Calendar app which acts as my daily planner. Paying attention to details is a must!” said Mervin.
He effectively utilizes 24 hours by allocating his time appropriately to Studio Sessions, Discussions and the Business Development & Marketing. Having worked with Grammy winners, the experience really helped him to be super organized, punctual and disciplined. Being a freelance musician, he is careful to maintain a proper work-life balance. He devotes Saturdays and Sundays for Church activities. “Each day has its own set of challenges,” says Mervin and no one can disagree to it.
He was all smiles when asked about the unforgettable experience since the induction of TASE “There are two! Higher Education’s Review of TASE making it to the Top 10 sound engineering institutes of India in 2019 definitely tops the chart! It was overwhelming and a big achievement with TASE being the only one from Chennai and that too, in the first year of its establishment. The second one will be the ‘Launch Day’ of our School wherein a lot of prominent musicians adorned the occasion with their presence. These are quite memorable.”
“Unity is Strength” when it comes to Mervin’s 5-member team consisting of him, Mr Neeraj Kashyap, An Academic and Administration Coordinator, two interns and a Finance team. It was quite clear from the conversation that this team plays a huge role in the very sustenance of the campus.
Mervin is specific when it comes to the attendance of the students. The students are expected to be dedicated and are encouraged to go to the studio and practice, while parents are required to keep their wards motivated. “It is all about passion and not money,” said Mervin. He takes time to clarify all doubts of the parents, as this is not a road taken by many. “The current parents are very supportive of their wards decision, which makes the School’s objective to provide high-quality education much easier,” says Mervin.
When it comes to the advertising segment, it was mainly ‘word of mouth’ as there are a lot of musicians associated with the school and are referred by many. SEO and Social Media also played a good role in making the people aware about the School and its activities. Two programs currently taught at TASE:-
- Diploma in Audio Engineering and Music Production: It is a one year course which is more career-based;
- Certificate in Music Production: This is an online course conducted in the weekends and can be completed in 3 months and is a fast-paced Music Producer based Program.
In comparison to the old music, Mervin finds the current music to be easily available with the advancement in technology. “Gone are the days when one had to sit down and make music using Tape recorders. Now, it is simplified and if a mistake does arise, it can easily be rectified,” phrased Mervin.
Also, he firmly holds on to the fact that Indian music has not lost its value to the foreigners. Having worked abroad, he mentioned his colleagues and the general crowd there are fascinated with Indian music. ‘Fusion’ is also a broad scope which is being successfully experimented nowadays by various musicians.
As we drew towards the end of the interview, Mervin cheerfully recollected that his journey in this field has been incredible. “It is my very first entrepreneurial venture. I have been blessed with a good Business Partner and an efficient team. We continue to learn from students and faculties. We would love to grow, uplift the brand and keep the courses affordable for the students.”
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