Los Angeles native, guitarist, producer and engineer Rachel White waded into the waveform waters by way of GarageBand, dove deeper with Logic and surfaced, ultimately, to record her own music. When a co-worker at a smoothie shop offered her $100 to engineer five songs, she realized that the profession held potential as a cash-creating career. She’s since worked with bands including Weezer, 5 Seconds of Summer and Panic! at the Disco. Indeed, on Panic!’s 2022 Viva Las Vengeance she contributed backing vocals to a number of tracks and was a member of the touring band. “It’s a lot of word-of-mouth,” White says of landing gigs. “I’ll do production for a friend and they’ll then recommend me to others.”
It’s evident to anyone who takes even a cursory glance at the proportion of men versus women in audio that there’s a profound imbalance. Fortunately for White, she’s been spared many of the barriers and inequalities that often accompany such disparities. “I’ve been lucky to work with women who’ve helped to funnel me into the industry,” she observes. “Sometimes there are dudes who are like ‘Oh, that’s cute. She thinks she engineers,’ but for the most part, everyone’s been super respectful. I’m grateful that I’ve made it to where I am because a lot of these opportunities for women didn’t exist back in the day.”
There are any number of challenges faced by producers and engineers and usually they’re as varied as the individuals themselves. But for White, the biggest she’s faced has been self-doubt. “One of the hardest things to do while you’re working is to trust yourself,” she asserts. “Sometimes you ask yourself, ‘Does what I’m doing sound good?’ Learning how to be less critical in the creation stage is important. You have to accept that the things that have brought you into the room will continue to propel you.”
The selection of a software tool or piece of gear is nearly an art in itself. White’s go-to plugin is Avid's Tel-Ray Variable Delay. “It’s based on the Oil Can Delay [invented by Ray Lubow in the '60s],” she says. “That’s a fun effect for delay and chorus-like stuff. My favorite mic is the workhorse [Neumann U] 87. You can put that on anything and it’ll sound incredible.”
Currently, White is engineering for a number of pop and rock artists. Throughout her career she’s recorded at several studios, but among her favorites is Highland Park’s 64 Sound, where she interned as she was coming up. In recent years she’s labored alongside producer Jake Sinclair (Pink, Avril Lavigne, Gavin DeGraw), but a few months ago she struck out on her own. She now logs countless hours at her own studio, which she refers to lightheartedly as her “playground.” It was completed towards the end of 2022.
Contact: Instagram @rachwhiiite