By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Pasadena Weekly Executive Editor
Rohit Lakshman and Alex Mirzabeigi dream of working in the music industry.
Lakshman of Altadena wants to be a music journalist, while Mirzabeigi, who lives in La Canada, is into electronic music production.
The teens are well on their way. They were chosen for the 17th annual Grammy Camp, along with 79 other students from around the United States. The program includes mentoring by All Time Low, Echosmith and The War and Treaty, who will discuss their career paths and help students prepare for the music industry.
The signature music industry camp for U.S. high school students will be held virtually from Tuesday, July 20, to Saturday, July 24.
“Grammy Camp is a prime example of the Grammy Museum’s mission and education initiatives,” said Michael Sticka, Grammy Museum president.
“While the program will be a virtual experience again this year, it remains one of the most immersive summer camps for high school students interested in a career in music and continues to give young people the opportunity to study with music industry professionals, resulting in a genuine learning experience about life in the music industry.”
The program features seven music career tracks: audio engineering, electronic music production, music business, music journalism, songwriting, vocal performance and instrumental performance. All tracks culminate in virtual media projects, recordings and/or performances.
Mirzabeigi has been into music since he was 2 years old. It sounds a little young, but it’s accurate.
“My dad used to work at Cedars in Pasadena as an anesthesiologist,” Mirzabeigi said.
“He came home on the weekends really, really tired. One day he found out about Remo Drums. There was a morning drum circle every Sunday (with Remo). He thought the noise of the drums would wake him up so he wouldn’t be tired.”
The drum circle had a different effect.
“A few months afterward, one of the employees there came up to my dad after the session and said, ‘Your kid has it. Take him to a drum shop and get him lessons.’ My dad shrugged it off.”
Mirzabeigi subsequently took drum lessons and that led to the study of seven other instruments. Last year, he learned about production, which he’ll study at Grammy Camp.
“I’m hoping to meet fellow musicians or other producers at Grammy Camp,” said the 17-year-old Flintridge Preparatory School student. “I’d like to work with other people and get a better understanding of what it means to be a producer in the industry.”
His first concert was Rush, which he attended with his parents who frequented shows.
“(Rush drummer) Neil Peart is one of my biggest inspirations as a drummer on the rock ‘n’ roll side,” he said. “I used to watch documentaries about Rush, instead of watching cartoons when I was little — for hours on end.”
A Californian School of The Arts student, Lakshman has been obsessed with music journalism since he found out it was an occupation. He absorbs works by music journalists Robert Christgau and Anthony Fantano.
“I didn’t think of listening to music and talking about it as a career, until I started reading those two reviewers,” he said. “Before that, I saw music as that thing my dad puts on in the car when we’re driving places. I didn’t think it could be picked apart and dissected like books are in school.
“I think the hyperfixation on it started my freshman year, almost two years ago now. Since then, I’ve tried to consume as much as I can. I feel like I need to cover the classics before I can actually give my opinion on stuff.”
Lakshman is looking forward to Grammy Camp and experiencing music journalism. He’s a little shy about it, however.
“I have literally zero experience,” he said. “I’m terrified to conduct interviews. I do hours and hours of prep work. Otherwise, you’re not going to be taken seriously. I want to learn the ropes. I talk a big game about all this music I listen to.”
He said he feels music journalism is a “niche field” and is thrilled the Grammys are offering a track just for high school students.
“I hope to meet other kids who were interested in this super nice field,” he said. “I do have friends who are super into music. I’ve yet to meet many people who want to dedicate their lives to this industry.
“There are a lot of people out there who like making music, but not really someone who wants to spend the rest of their life writing about other people making music.”
Applications for Grammy Camp 2022 will be available in August at grammyintheschools.com.