February 25, 2021
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

Lopez is a CSUDH alumnus who studied music and now works as a sound engineer. Photo courtesy of José Lopez.

By Nova Blanco-Rico, Art Director and Staff Writer

For a year after college, California State University, Dominguez Hills’ alumnus, José Lopez, was following his passion for audio recording. But then the pandemic hit and like many others, his dream was put on hold.
Now to be financially stable, Lopez had to take a desk job in public service, far different than his passion for music.

“You can’t change your chase, so the best thing to do is adjust for now, because this [pandemic] won’t last forever,” Lopez said.

This isn’t the first time that Lopez struggled in pursuit of his dream.
At first, Lopez majored in nutrition with the plan to help others care about health as much as he did. But he felt a deeper connection with music, breakdancing, doing graffiti, attending hip-hop cultural events and DJing at clubs on the side.

Lopez wasn’t sure about changing his major because making a career in music wasn’t a traditional job for him.

“The entertainment industry requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice, you don’t get into it for the money,” Lopez said.

In 2013, Lopez was on his way home when suddenly his car spun out of control as he entered an on-ramp to the freeway and hit a semi-truck. Although his car was totaled, he left the incident unscathed.

“The car accident was life-changing and I decided that I was going to live the rest of my life on my own terms,” Lopez said.“I wanted to do something that made me happy.”

He then changed his major to digital media arts and after a year at Chaffey College, he transferred to CSUDH. At first, he wanted to only make music for himself, but after entering a studio and seeing people work, Lopez found a deeper love for music in audio recording where he could collaborate with artists in a studio, blending ideas and making music together.

At CSUDH, Lopez joined the Digital Media Arts Club and later became a student assistant for Professor Cesar Mejia, who teaches digital media arts at CSUDH. He was offered the position by Mejia when he showed himself to be dependable. As a student assistant, Lopez helped the professor with setting up equipment in class and offering his students tutoring.

“He’s one of those students who just stands out, he was vocal and always asking questions,” Mejia said. “I learn so much from students, so when there are students like José, you can dive deeper into the subjects.”

Lopez also makes music on the side with his artist name, T3rm_, that he publishes on Spotify. He said that it is important to increase your portfolio outside of class to improve your skills further.

Opportunities and hope were blooming in Lopez, but nothing would have prepared him for March 2020 when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Not soon after, in-person restrictions were applied, leaving people like Lopez to lose opportunities and chances in his field.

“I had some prospecting positions that were hopefully going to open up, but because of COVID, they didn’t happen,” Lopez said. “I was kind of upset because there goes that opportunity now.”

Lopez still manages to receive freelance work from people he has worked with in the past and new clients recommended to him. The pandemic restrictions would make his freelance work challenging.

Collaboration and interaction are important when it comes to music, so Lopez struggled with communicating with the artists at times. To remedy the issue, Lopez uses software that allows him to stream his work to his client in order to get real-time critiques.

Lopez’s advice to current students is to study the greats and try to keep on learning during the pandemic.

“It’s important to put yourself out there no matter what and gain trust, because sometimes [trust] is more important than somebody who’s super talented, but flaky,” Lopez said. “People are not going to work with someone who they don’t trust to get the job done.”

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