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Meet Annie Leeth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Leeth.

Annie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been playing violin since age six. When I was in middle school, I was really interested in technology, specifically editing videos and audio, though I had read articles about the recording arts being a dying professional industry. Temporarily letting go of that dream, I dove more into Classical music, playing in as many student orchestras as possible while also playing along to vocal parts of songs on my iPod and occasionally composing my own music on a looper pedal. I decided to go to the University of Georgia to pursue a music degree and graduated with a Violin Performance and Music Composition degree and a certificate from the Music Business program.

During my time in Music Business, I rediscovered my love for the recording arts and began recording friends and interning at Chase Park Transduction and 1093 Studios in Athens. I specifically was really interested in all of the analog gear that was found at Chase Park because I had previously only read about in books and articles, and had not yet had the opportunity to see it all in action. Since then, I have been lucky enough to gain jobs working at Chase Park as both a session violinist and recording engineer, as well as working at the Georgia Theatre as a live sound engineer. I have been able to learn from several inspirational engineers, composers, and performers, both through the University of Georgia and in my professional career. I have also been lucky enough to be able to continue creating my own music, and have really enjoyed being in such an openminded, creative community. It has been incredibly hectic but I am so happy with where I am and am excited to see where life takes me!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Everything in the arts definitely comes with some struggles! While my family is full of people who love music, very few if any (that I know of) have professional careers in the music industry, which made the decision to pursue music a little daunting to both me and my parents. Being a Violin Performance major, specifically, was something that I had been advised not to do from multiple people. Going from Richmond, Virginia (my home town) to Georgia, was and can still sometimes be a bit of a struggle for me.

I was originally pretty self-conscious in being a woman audio engineer and had a bit of imposter syndrome for a while as I looked around and saw that a vast majority of the people who I was working under were men. That’s not to say anything about my mentors, as they have always treated me with equality and respect. So, I think the biggest struggle was (and still is) gaining more confidence in myself, which I’m sure will also come with time. This past April I got to go to the Woman’s Audio Mission Conference in Nashville for a couple of days, which was such a great experience. I got to meet a huge room full of woman audio engineers and learn from Grammy-winning artists and producers and left feeling that a lot of that imposter syndrome had left my body.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
As a freelance company, I am really open to using my work in any way that is applicable and love new ideas and projects. My three main jobs are that I produce bands (whether that be recording, mixing, mastering, or composing backing tracks), run live sound at venues, and provide live or recorded violin for projects. While those are what I am mainly focusing on, I also play the violin at weddings, teach private lessons in both music composition and violin, and teach music production at the Boys and Girls Club. I am also a solo artist, and have my music up on Spotify, iTunes, etc!

I love being a session violinist because of how different each session can be. Sometimes an artist will provide sheet music, but in my experience, that is not the case. Normally it will either be a chord progression, or something that is learned by ear and then harmonized on the spot. Going back to how I loved learning melodies by ear growing up, this was something I had been training myself for. Some of my favorite recording sessions have been when I have been able to feature on a track that I have been engineering because the number of times I have heard it already makes it really easy and fun to pick up.

I think that one other thing I have become proud of has been my adaptability. Teaching and playing at weddings, specifically, were not things that I had planned on doing often if ever, but any musical job that I have taken, no matter how out of the blue, I have ended up enjoying. As far as recording and producing go, this also includes having to learn about new soundboards, patch bays, and spaces. I’ve grown to love needing to know new things for a job, while also feeling a sense of accomplishment for what I already know and being able to find similarities to past places.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I wish I had trained myself in Logic or ProTools more before coming to college. It was something that I was always interested in, but never really motivated myself to learn until school. I also wish I had gotten into the music scene in Richmond while I was there. Whenever I go back now I see all of these super cool bands that I had never known about while I was in high school, and I think playing in bands was a huge confidence booster for my playing: I would have loved to have had that earlier.

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Image Credit:
AC Carter, Julia Stewart, Luke D’Agostino

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