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Parnelli NextGen: Arica Rust

Suzi Spangenberg • Online ExclusivesSeptember 2020 • October 2, 2020

Arica Rust

Parnelli NextGen honorees look for live event personal who while haven’t been in the industry more than half their life but who have already made a mark. The “NextGen of the Year” will be revealed at the 20th annual Parnelli Awards in January 2022.

Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Arica Rust had no problems finding live music events to attend while growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spending all her money on records or going to see her favorite Industrial and punk bands, this NextGen nominee graduated high school dreaming of “recording [her] favorite artists and mixing the next platinum album.”

Rust left the Bay for upstate New York where she spent a year studying electronic music at Bard College. After growing weary of “learning from books,” Rust returned to California where she “saved up a bunch of money working a couple crummy jobs” and headed for Europe and some life experience. Several months later, Rust returned and enrolled in City College of San Francisco where earned a certificate in sound recording before matriculating into San Francisco State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast and Electronic Media Arts with a focus on audio production.

The first class in live sound that she took at City College was taught by Dana “Dana Jae” Labrecque, who became her mentor and “who I kind of blame for getting me involved in the whole lifestyle,” Rust laughingly states. Labrecque assisted Rust in obtaining her first pro audio internship with JK Audio.

At the same time, Rust was helping to produce small live music events with a friend who owned Word of Mouth audio. “We did music events all around the Bay Area. You know, pile the speakers into a friend’s car and drive out to a party space way out in the middle of nowhere to set up an event that lasted a whole day or evening.”

When asked about her first pro job, Rust laughed and said “basically every job I’ve gotten except for the last couple of years, I started out as an intern working for free. I tried my best to prove that I was worth as much as they people they were paying, and would then get hired.” Rust worked for Know:Audio, JK Sound, and then Sound on Stage, “which is one of the best companies in the Bay Area for live sound.” Rust worked for Sound on Stage for seven years including five years as FOH engineer for the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands festival held in Golden Gate Park.

It was during her time at Sound on Stage that she discovered her “real passion” was in systems engineering. “I like the science behind it. For me, it feels like the mix engineer is a painter painting this picture for the audience. But in order for the mix engineer to have the same painting for the audience every day, they have to have a blank canvas to work from. My job as a systems engineer is to create that blank canvas for the mix engineer and make sure that everyone in the audience has the same show regardless of how much they paid for their ticket.”

Her first tour was with Ben Howard with Sound on Stage supplying audio. She has since gone freelance with her own company, Wavelength Engineering, LLC. Rust has worked with many artists including Sarah McLachlan, Hillsong United, the K-Pop band Seventeen, and most recently, Il Volo, whose tour was cut short due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Rust states she “has a fondness” for DiGiCo consoles, particularly the SD-7, stating “I’ve always appreciated their digital workflows – you can pretty much do anything that you want on them. You can set up your busses and your layers and really customize the console to do whatever you need it to do, and I’ve always thought their mic pres have a great warm sound to them.”

Rust is constantly working on educating herself. She is a certified operator in Rational Acoustics’ SMAART, is an L-Acoustics certified K System Technician, has earned level 3 certification in Audinate’s Dante, and has J & V series training with d&b audiotechnik. Rust is using the pandemic-enforced downtime to continue to learn saying “with this pandemic right now, I’m out of work like everyone else. We’re all sitting at home and for people who have been on the road and are used to go go go every day, it’s very hard to sit still for days at a time. I’ve been trying to make use of the educational webinars to keep my brain sharp. I watch a webinar every single day. It’s such a great resource for people to have access to knowledge that before you would have had to take time off to go to a training or make that time in your schedule. Now the manufacturers are making the training available at no cost, so now it’s time to ask all those questions that you’ve always wanted to ask. I hope that when we all return, to our jobs, everyone will have stepped up a level in their knowledge as a result.”

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