Launching and building a career usually requires a great deal of patience and persistence.
As Jaramiah Rios and Jason "JayBull" Patterson began their journey, they found that the right education had already stacked a few cards in their favor. Both are graduates of the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS), which places them in the company of alumni who have earned every award from Gold and Platinum Record certifications to Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, and Emmys.
Today, the two are employed at The Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas. Alongside acclaimed industry veteran Zoe Thrall as director of studio operations, they are engineering for some of the brightest stars in the music industry. This state-of-the-art recording facility nestled in the Palms Casino Resort opened as a first-of-its-kind studio in Las Vegas in late 2005. Attracting artists on the level of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, and The Killers, The Studio at the Palms already boasts four GRAMMY Awards, 12 Platinum Records, and 30 million copies sold.
After graduating from CRAS, Rios began an intensive search for a paid internship at a live sound company. Like many recent grads, he was willing to gamble that his performance as an intern would pay off with an offer of a permanent position from a desirable employer. However, Rios hit the jackpot before the game even started. "One day on a whim I came across the position for a production assistant at the Studio at the Palms," he said. "I went for it and got the job!"
Rios has been an engineer at the Studio at the Palms for five years now, working with hit-makers such as Paula Abdul, Blake Shelton, Chaka Khan, Wale, PnB Rock, and many others. He is currently ordering his first Gold Record certification plaque for Summer Walker’s album Over It.
Patterson’s gateway to the Studio at the Palms opened 12 years ago. He currently has a RIAA certified Gold and Platinum Record plaque for the Beyoncé 4 album, a Gold Record plaque for Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z in “Devil is a Lie,” and a Latin GRAMMY for J Balvin's Vibras. The short list of his additional credits includes such top recording artists as Celine Dion, Dionne Warwick, Marie Osmond, Boyz II Men, Britney Spears, and Jay-Z.
Describing his unique and somewhat creative path to The Studio at the Palms, Patterson goes back to the winter of 2007 when the MTV Awards were being held in his hometown of Las Vegas. "Palms Casino Resort hosted the event and it was the first time I found out that a recording studio of that caliber was even here," he said. "The very next day I went to my CRAS internship coordinator and told her that my top choice was the Studio at the Palms." When Patterson found out that the Studio does not accept interns, he began formulating a plan that might better his chances of landing his dream job.
“I went right to work to figure out who did the hiring," Patterson said. "I was standing in the elevator lobby of the Studio one day when I met Zoe Thrall. We talked for a moment and then I set up a studio tour. On that day I came fully prepared with my book of accomplishments, CRAS transcripts, and all of the certifications I earned while at CRAS. My opportunity had arrived and my plan was playing out to pure perfection. An informal interview was happening right then, right there. As we completed the tour and were walking out, I asked Zoe to consider me for an interview if a position ever opened up—and the rest is history.”
Thrall’s own bio reads like a laundry list of remarkable achievements throughout her career, working with legendary musicians in epochal studios, helping them create some of the most popular and iconic music ever recorded. In addition to working at the Power Station in New York City where she assisted on many albums including Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Aerosmith’s Rock in a Hard Place, she is a seasoned musician in her own right. At Power Station she met producer/musician/actor Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band, Sopranos) and eventually joined his band, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, as oboist/keyboardist. She performed on five albums and traveled with the band on four world tours, including opening for U2 on The Joshua Tree Tour and Peter Gabriel on the So Tour.
Thrall returned to Power Station as vice president of studio operations in 1992 and facilitated ownership transition when the complex was renamed Avatar Studios under the Avatar Entertainment Corporation. The Hit Factory, one of the largest and most successful music recording studios in the world, made her president and general manager in 2001. In April 2005 Thrall was announced as the director of studio operations for The Studio at the Palms.
On an industry leadership level, Thrall is a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and has twice chaired the AES Convention in New York City. She is also a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMYs) and sits on the advisory board of the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Academy.
In light of Thrall's professional accomplishments and depth of industry experience, her observations carry a great deal of weight. During the interview with Patterson, she was impressed with his genuine interest in and passion for the process of recording. “He had a good general background, primarily due to his education at CRAS, in Pro Tools, signal flow, and exposure to microphones and outboard equipment,” she said. “Jason has really grown as an engineer and as a person in the time he has been here. He is frequently requested for sessions and he is very good with the clients. I can count on him to be here any time, day or night, and he is truly committed to his craft.”
Thrall noted that Rios' strong academic performance at CRAS also worked in his favor during employment consideration. “But grades and interests are not everything,” she said. “Jaramiah has what I refer to as a great ‘bedside manner.’ In other words, he is very friendly with clients and he really cares about their needs and comfort. I can always tell when he was the last one in a studio because the room is immaculate and perfectly put together. That’s what you want to see in a dedicated, committed employee. I wish I had 10 of him.”
Both Patterson and Rios agree with Thrall in giving credit to the right education as the foundation of their careers. “Before CRAS, I was an aspiring beat maker,” explained Patterson. “I first heard about CRAS through an engineer who introduced me to Pro Tools, and that's what sparked my interest. Years later, I decided to attend CRAS and I was all in after touring the school. I must say it was everything I hoped it would be and more. They gave me all the audio I could handle and then some! After graduating from CRAS, I felt confident in my ability to speak the language of audio terms and perform the basics of signal flow and proper mic techniques.”
Working as a security guard prior to enrolling in CRAS, Patterson had the opportunity to meet Paul McCartney at The Beatles LOVE™ Cirque Du Soleil show. “The day I met Sir Paul McCartney, music forever changed for me,” Patterson said. “He showed me what being humble and appreciative to the art really was. Being able to converse with Sir Paul and the late Sir George Martin and his son Giles Martin was a game changer. I spoke with Giles and told him I wanted to go to CRAS to study audio engineering. He said I should just go to London and let him train me. He took out a pen and jotted his number down and handed it to me and said to contact him if I changed my mind. That was the day I chose CRAS and never looked back.”
Rios learned about CRAS from a friend who had graduated from the Conservatory and was doing live sound in Las Vegas. It was a now or never situation, since Rios had just learned that his wife was pregnant with their first child. “I started looking into CRAS and instantly knew that's what I wanted to do," he said. "Once I got there, I discovered that live sound really wasn’t for me and instead wanted to get into the studio world or post production. CRAS was incredible! I never knew there were so many jobs in audio—I went there thinking it was just live sound or studio. The instructors are very realistic and overall solid people who held my attention and I still stay in contact with them. Being able to work with people I grew up listening to or seeing on TV has been amazing. I never would have had the opportunity to get to this point without the right education.”
Rios fully understands that lasting professional success is never just a lucky windfall. Rewarding careers are the result of preparation, commitment, and hard work along with the right support from a number of people and resources. “A huge thank you to my wife Leanna for dealing with my crazy schedules and making sure that our two daughters are always taken care of," Rios said. "I couldn’t do it without her. Thanks also go to my mom for helping me get through school, my manager Zoe for giving me the opportunity, and to every artist I’ve worked with who has helped me grow as an engineer.”
Patterson added, “I would love to give a shout out to Zoe Thrall as my director, mother, and friend for taking the biggest chance on me. I hope to continue to make her proud of that decision. I also want to give a shout out to CRAS for equipping me with the knowledge and tools that make me feel invincible at this audio work, my family for allowing me to dive head first into this industry and being understanding of the time it takes to be great, and last but not least to my Studio at the Palms family past and present. We just keep finding a way to do great things together.”