How does someone go from graduating from Temple to boasting an “@KanyeWest.com” email address in six short years? Ask Noah Goldstein.
After graduating with a broadcast, telecommunications and mass media master’s degree in 2006 and interning with mentor Phil Nicolo at Studio 4 Recording for two years while in school, Goldstein departed for Iceland to intern at Greenhouse Studios for three months.
Following the internship, he moved back to the U.S., specifically to New York City to move in with his girlfriend — now wife. In the middle of trying to lock down an internship at the famed composer Philip Glass’ studio, fate struck.
“In the middle of the interview, I asked the studio manager if he knew anyone that was hiring with pay, and he mentioned that he might know someone at Electric Lady [Studios],” Goldstein said. “He put me in touch with the studio manager there and I interviewed with him. Within 24 hours, I got the job. When I started, they just threw me in there and I had to learn while I was working.”
The first project that Goldstein worked on was for the legendary Patti Smith. Not long after, his list of credits grew by working on projects with artists as diverse as Ryan Adams and Common, all the while strengthening his studio skill sets. Along with his main title of audio engineer, Goldstein has also taken work in a variety of other studio positions varying from mixing assistant to producer.
It took working on Arcade Fire’s Grammy award-winning “The Suburbs” in 2010 for Goldstein to feel like he had found his passion.
“That was the first record where I remember calling my mom and saying ‘this album is incredible’ and just really loving everything about it,” Goldstein said.
For Goldstein, audio engineering is about trial and error until all parties involved in the production process are satisfied.
“It’s working to find the sound that the artist, the producer and you want it to be. When it comes down to it, it’s twiddling a bunch of knobs and changing a bunch of settings until it sounds good, and then when it sounds good, you stop twiddling,” Goldstein said. “That’s something that a lot of engineers don’t get, and I think that’s the same for a lot of art in general. As an engineer, though, you take orders. You have some creative involvement but usually it’s like ‘do this’ and then you do it until it is done right.”
Whether he is working with Katy Perry, Steve Earle or The Mars Volta, every job requires a varied approach — sometimes at a song by song basis, Goldstein said.
“The mindset for every album is different,” Goldstein said. “That’s the main thing about the studio and music in general is that it’s never the same thing. To be a good artist means you can’t just recycle what you do.”
It was during a weekend at Electric Lady that Goldstein first came into contact with Kanye West.
“I was at the studio, actually just about to leave because I had the entire month of August off and I had told my boss not to call me,” Goldstein said. “I was supposed to go to London for three months to work with Coldplay [on its 2011 album ‘Mylo Xyloto’] but then a few weeks into August, my boss called me asking if I wanted to work with Kanye for a weekend. Two weeks passed and I was still working with him at the studio, and literally a day before I was supposed to go work with Coldplay, Kanye asked me to work for him permanently. I called Coldplay’s producer up and told them that I couldn’t do it and I’ve been working with Kanye ever since.”
Since their fateful meeting, Goldstein has become West’s official engineer, working the boards on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Watch The Throne” and this year’s G.O.O.D. Music ensemble piece “Cruel Summer.” Of all the many varied albums Goldstein has contributed to, he notes “Watch The Throne” as the one he is most proud of.
“[‘Watch The Throne’] was an album I was really proud of because that was my baby from start to finish,” Goldstein said. “I recorded every single note on that record and I produced some of it as well.”
Goldstein described his time at Temple as a “growing up experience” and as the place he “got his s— together.”
“I think all you can really get in school is the basics and fundamentals,” Goldstein said. “I learned less of how to engineer and more of the actual language of engineering. I think it’s like that in any sort of specialized profession.”
Kevin Stairiker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.