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#16: Getting What You Give: Inside The Career Of Veteran Audio Professional Meegan Holmes

“I have opportunities to help people grow technically, to show them they can do more, to help both the people I work with and the people I refer for work to achieve their goals and see their future clearly. That’s one of my greatest joys and more my goal than anything else." - Meegan Holmes
Meegan Holmes behind the console in the Eighth Day Sound warehouse. (Photo by Tony Luna Talamantes)

Before we begin our conversation, Meegan Holmes takes a moment to herd her Labrador, Murphy, into her office at Eighth Day Sound in Los Angeles. Being able to bring Murphy to work is a perk, she says: “That’s the good fortune of running the warehouse. I made that a rule. Actually, when I went for my interview in Cleveland with Eighth Day a few years ago, Tom Arko (Eighth Day’s owner), had his dog in the office. So it was like, ‘you know what? This is the kind of company I want to work for.”

The kind of company she wants to work for – and the kind of company she likes to keep – have factored into her career from the time she began working in audio in the 1990s. It’s also impacted her approach to any job; an approach that’s always been defined by perseverance, the willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure every gig is a success, and a desire to lift others up in doing so.

During her 25-plus year career in audio, Holmes has taken on a variety of roles, from stagehand to system technician, to monitor and front of house mixer. Her current position, as Eighth Day’s global sales manager, is the culmination of what she’s always wanted to accomplish professionally and personally: “If I were to say what my career goals are, more than anything else they’d be to continue to help others achieve their goals and to use whatever position I’m in to do that.”

That effort is tied to Holmes’ experiences both prior to and during her career. “I’m the product of some amazing mentoring,” she explains. “There were so many people who were incredibly valuable and helped me not only to be a better professional, but a better human.” That mentoring, she notes, began with a high school music teacher who was instrumental in helping her determine a path forward.

Shifting Gears

Born and raised in Connecticut, Holmes started out as a musician; playing saxophone from age nine, attending a performing arts high school, and then studying Sound Design and Composition at the California Institute of The Arts. There she trained as a composer, classical and jazz saxophonist and vocalist, but ultimately decided music wasn’t a viable career path.

“I had the harsh reality check that I wasn’t going to make money doing music and was going to have to shift my thinking,” she says, consequently transitioning to the CalArts Technical Theater program, which allowed her to combine a passion for music and a lifelong fascination with technology by studying sound design and audio engineering.

With her beloved friend Murphy. (Photo by Emely Ortiz)

That fascination continues to fuel her work: “Talking to engineers and technicians about equipment, helping them navigate their choices of what they might take on tour, or use for a particular event, that keeps my mind stimulated. I’ll never get bored of it, ever.”

Given her mother and father’s work in visual arts and music, respectively, it’s no surprise Holmes gravitated to performing arts. As a teen she volunteered at a Summer Stock Theater in Connecticut where she was first introduced to production technology and live mixing. But it was her high school music teacher who originally suggested CalArts. Granted, her decision to move to California was also based on the climate on the coast: “I went to a prep school on the border of New York and Vermont where there’s snow on the ground seven or eight months a year and I just had enough of being cold.”

Before graduating in 1993, Holmes worked as a stagehand through LA Stagecall, where she met crew members from Delicate Production. Impressed by her work ethic, Delicate gave Holmes her first touring gig in 1997, as stage tech on the Lollapalooza tour. “I’d done weekend warrior stuff before, but that’s when I really dedicated myself full time to audio,” she notes.

Soon after, she began mixing FOH and monitors for acts like Tenacious D, The Melvins, and a band she recalls particularly fondly, Soul Coughing: “I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to have clients I appreciate as artists and as good people, which those guys certainly were; so talented and different from anything going on at the time.” She went on to serve as monitor/system tech on larger tours with artists including Natalie Merchant, Tool and Queens Of The Stone Age, but eventually stepped away from the road to work as project manager with Delicate.

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