From The Village to Hans Zimmer’s studio: Music Production and Engineering students take on L.A.

For their senior trip, students visited iconic studios and met with industry-leading professionals. Program director Marc Lacuesta and student Caroline Chardoul shared highlights from their experience.

A group of students and instructors smile while riding a bus.

Music Production & Engineering students and instructors ride the bus to Los Angeles International Airport.

Being a Music Production & Engineering major at Interlochen Arts Academy comes with plenty of valuable experiences: chances to work on professional equipment, record live music, and take recording seminars. For 2024 seniors of the program, real-world relevance reached new levels with a weeklong trip to Los Angeles, California, headed up by Director of Music Production & Engineering Marc Lacuesta and fellow instructor Josh Hoisington.

In building the trip’s itinerary, Lacuesta and Hoisington relied on their own rich networks of friends and former colleagues—many of whom studied at Interlochen and are now working on some of the industry’s biggest projects. The group toured studios, met with industry professionals, and visited famous sites like the TCL Chinese Theatre.

“Considering the fact that we took our students to iconic studios and connected them with people who have worked on huge projects in the industry, this trip was comparable to, if not better than, many trips that college students studying similar subjects might take,” said Lacuesta.

Trip highlights

Highlights included a tour of University of Southern California, which hosts a highly competitive music production program. While there, students had the chance to talk with Jeanine Cowen, Chair of USC’s Screen Scoring program. The group also toured Royer Labs, where world-renowned ribbon microphones are produced; EastWest Studios, where icons like Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones have recorded their work; and The Village, another historic studio which features a room specially built for Fleetwood Mac.

Students were able to learn from Evren Göknar (IAA 82-83), who owns EGMastering, worked at Capital Records for 25 years, and is the author of Major Label Mastering. They also met session musicians like violinist and fiddler Lily Honigberg (IAC 08-09, IAA 10-13) and multi-instrumentalist Eric Rigler, who played penny whistle for “My Heart Will Go On” in Titanic.

For senior Caroline Chardoul, the highlight of the tour was visiting Hans Zimmer’s personal studio, where he created the music for Dune and countless other well-known films.

“There were massive modular synthesizers on the walls,” Chardoul remembers. “And he had an amazing setup in the middle of the room with basically a Batman chair. There were instruments piled high around every wall. It was very eccentric, but there was a crackle of creative energy in the air. You just knew some cool stuff had happened in there.” 

Two female students pose humorously in front of a large RV.

MP & E seniors Ally Waddell (left) and Caroline Chardoul (right) pose in front of the RV used in the show Breaking Bad.

I felt like my world opened up a lot more. The whole time we were on the trip, I kept getting emotional, in a good way, that I was lucky enough to be there.

Caroline Chardoul

Fun and fresh perspectives

Chardoul also appreciated the chance to talk to female professionals about their experiences in the music production industry, like Jett Galindo of Bakery Mastering.

“Jett told us about different organizations that support girls and women going into the music production industry,” says Chardoul. “She said that it's really important to come together and form a strong community because women are sometimes marginalized individuals in this field. The least we can do is to support one another and build each other up in that way.”

Although the trip was mainly focused on helping the students develop as future professionals in the industry, there was also plenty of time for the seniors to relax and bond with each other—which, for this group, meant seeing who could eat the spiciest sandwich from Dave’s Hot Chicken.

“Being in the same Airbnb, getting to have all these cool experiences together, and exploring this really dynamic city really brought us all closer together,” says Chardoul.

When asked how the trip impacted her, Chardoul finds herself grateful for the broadened perspectives she found.

“I felt like my world opened up a lot more,” said Chardoul. “The whole time we were on the trip, I kept getting emotional, in a good way, that I was lucky enough to be there. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude towards Interlochen, not only for accepting me into their community, but also providing us all with such a cool experience.”

Learn more about Music Production & Engineering at Interlochen Arts Academy.