Message for grads: Follow your dreams | Kitsap Week

From left, Mike Herrera and his intern Bradly Miranda at Herrera
From left, Mike Herrera and his intern Bradly Miranda at Herrera's studio in Kitsap. Miranda has followed his dream to become a music producer.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Around Kitsap, graduating seniors are donning robes and mortarboards in their high school colors and are making the transition into their next phase of life.

Bradly Miranda, a 2009 South Kitsap High School grad,  has a message for the new graduates: follow your heart and dreams. You'll still have to work hard, but it will be much more enjoyable.

During a recent telephone interview, 20-year-old Miranda took a break from recording at The Art Institute of Seattle to explain how he followed his gut instinct in pursuing a non-traditional career path. He’s now on track for an occupation that he once only  dreamed about.

"When I was in high school, I never would have imagined I would be in a studio," he said. "Now it's a daily routine."

When Miranda graduated from high school, he did what everyone expected him to do: He packed up and attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

But for Miranda, it wasn't a good fit. He was miserable studying mechanical engineering because his heart wasn't in it. Miranda really wanted to focus on music production. He grew up playing instruments and recording music and he knew that was his passion.

He dropped out of Central Washington after the first quarter, moved home to Port Orchard and enrolled in the Art Institute of Seattle's Audio Production Program.

"My life completely turned 180 degrees," he said.

Miranda knew he was on the right track when walking home from the ferry one day, he spied Mike Herrera inside an ice cream shop. Herrera is the front man for the punk-rock band MxPx and happened to be one of Miranda’s idols.

“There he is buying ice cream,” Miranda recalled. He went into the shop to meet his future mentor. “I knew my school required an internship, so the first thing I asked him was if I could intern at his studio.”

Herrera agreed and by doing so, opened up a world of music and connections to Miranda.

“In this business, it’s all about who you know,” he said.

Miranda soon began interning at Herrera’s studio in South Kitsap. Like many internships, Miranda started out with menial labor: vacuuming and cleaning. But as he proved himself, Miranda was given more responsibilities and currently is in charge of editing an album that was recently recorded at the studio.

When Miranda first made the decision to drop out of Central Washington, his parents were far from thrilled.

“My parents were terrified. There was a point where they didn’t really support me,” he said. But now they see their son pursuing a career he loves and have accepted his change of plans.

As a music producer, Miranda gives advice to bands on what sounds good and what needs to be tweaked. A producer guides musicians on microphone placement, how to get the best sound from instruments and vocal tips. Producers act as a motivator to help the band yield the best sound.

When asked where he would like to be 10 years from now, Miranda said he hopes to be a well-demanded producer, traveling the country to music hot spots such as New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

He graduates from the Art Institute in December and wants to continue recording local bands. He said he won’t start off making millions of dollars like the producers for Top 40 artists, but he should be able to cover his loan payments.

Since moving back to Port Orchard, Miranda’s life has been busy and full of music. He puts in lots of long hours at Herrera’s studio and at school, but it hardly feels like work to him.

“I knew people from high school who said, ‘I’ll just get a job at the shipyard,’ but that wasn’t what they really wanted to do,” Miranda said. “Do something you want to do. Your life will be so much happier.”

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