The music industry is comprised of driven professionals who are fueled by a love and passion for their work. More often than not, the initial spark of inspiration is ignited by one or more successful precursors and blossoms over time with rigorous practice and determination. For the emerging Chilean sound engineer Josué Catalán, his musical brilliance was firstly motivated by his love for music as a whole, combined with a childhood spent listening to Pink Floyd, U2, and The Beatles. No matter his age, music has always existed as a part of Catalán’s life in a very deep way, and it’s now a craft he’s proved himself to be quite gifted at both mixing and mastering in very significant ways.
Born and raised for the majority of his life in Chile, the start of Catalán’s career as an engineer began in early 2011 during his studies at Duoc UC in Santiago, Chile. In addition to a rigorous course schedule, Catalán was part of a live sound company where he engineered live concerts, recorded his first album from rock/blues band Trio-b in 2012, and soon after achieved his first big success after working with folk band ZOI.
“We produced ZOI’s first album together,” said Esteban Pavez of ZOI. “We recorded the complete band live at the studio and did the overdubs at Josué’s house, where it was mixed and mastered. His sharp ear allows the sound details to be worked with delicacy. Undoubtedly, his work of mixing and mastering is of very good quality and, in my opinion, his hearing and emotional sensitivity allows him to have a better connection with the musician and his music.”
When it comes to the details of his job, Catalán is responsible for taking care of capturing and further processing all of the elements and instruments that compose a song and crafting a final phonographic product from them that can be delivered to the public. Expanding upon this, Catalán explained, “When the artist and the music producer have a song ready, my job is to record it the best way possible, depending on the music genre and the song’s instrumentation. Then I mix the song, a process that consists of putting all of the instruments and vocal takes together in a perfect balance, ultimately creating the experience of listening to a whole band and arrangement in any type of playable format.”
Of course, acquiring the knowledge necessary to create the musical pieces of virtuosity that Catalán has requires dedication, repetitive practice as well as some experimentation, and mentorship. In 2014, he received just the latter upon becoming sound engineer and music producer Barry Sage’s (The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and New Order) assistant at Studio Master. Sage was the very first to introduce Catalán to the world of professional studio and record production. The following year, he had the riveting opportunity to learn firsthand from music producer Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Frank Zappa, Alanis Morissette, and Jason Mraz) at an exclusive master class in Chile.
Aside from learning from some of the most monumental names in the music industry, post Catalán’s 2015 graduation from Duoc UC where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sound Engineering in addition to the award for academic excellence in his studies, he began engineering for a vast variety of them.
While Studio Master was the launching place of Catalán’s professional career, it was only the start of his renowned success. For nearly two years, Catalán worked as the studio chief sound engineer at Studio Factoria where the hit, soul-pop single Son Con Soul was completely mixed and mastered by Josué himself. Son Con Soul was awarded at the 2016 Fox Music USA Awards for best pop ballad and has been aired by some of the biggest radio stations of the country.
The Fox Music USA Awards are held annually and are dedicated to promoting the music of Latin creators worldwide. Both established and emerging artists are eligible in the competition, ultimately providing the possibility of opening new doors for all.
“The Fox Music USA Awards stems from their organization (Fox Music USA) which holds the vision to promote Latin culture and create a community that supports Latin talents worldwide. It started back in 2004 (the awards in 2010), and since there are not a lot of international contests apart from the Grammy’s and Latin Grammy’s, to have worked on a song that was awarded among some of the best exponents in the Latin world is a big credit,” Catalán shared.
When one makes music, not only is winning a highly prestigious award such as a Fox Music USA Award a big credit; receiving recognition via being played by a handful of the most popular radio stations serves as testimony to a musician’s talents, too. The majority of artists create with the hope that their products will one day reach vast audiences, but not all do. Josué Catalán’s work, on the other hand, is one of the exceptions.
Most of the singles and albums Catalán has worked on has reached listeners through cable TV, Spotify, live radio shows, and/or online and FM radio stations, to name a few. When asked what hearing one of the songs he worked on through one of these mediums for the very first time, Catalán reacted by saying, “To me, hearing my work on the radio or television feels like success because the goal is to deliver the experience and the message of the song to the biggest number of people you can. Knowing that my work is being heard gives me a combination of feelings. It makes me feel prideful, but such exposure is also very adrenaline-inducing.”
It is because of these intense emotions that Catalán values his senses of humility and professionalism when it comes to his work. It takes a lot more than just talent to create the overall success of a project, including fighting against one’s own ego in the way that, “You don’t let your own thoughts and emotional attachments interfere with the song and the potential it has,” Catalán explained. Even past colleagues would agree that these are some of Catalán’s strengths, and contribute to what makes him so good at what he does.
Folk/Rock musician Fepe Aguirre, who’s 2015 album Somos De Tierra was recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Catalán, praise the sound engineer’s demeanor, work ethic, and talents enough. “Working together with Josué is knowing that the result has an assured quality. He is open-minded and is clear with his opinions and knows exactly what he is looking for. There are many elements that make up his professionalism: his dedication, constant study, and the way he’s always acknowledging new music. As for his personality, he is very capable of facing great challenges without intimidation, and he has great will and great strength. This has led him to meet great personalities in the music industry and become the engineer he is now.”
These few examples above only touch upon the notable resume of professional experience Catalán has achieved in his career as a sound engineer thus far, and is a testament to how exceptionally far he will go.
Currently, Catalán is working on a couple of singles from Chilean blues artist Jano Letelier, various pop ballads from singer Dani Ilabel that are set to go straight to national television grid, and a pop single from singer Hueso Carrizo.
For more information on Josué Catalán, please visit: www.josuecatalan.com