Daychia Sledge, Audio Engineer, R. O. C. U. (Part 2)
By Liam Klenk
Daychia Sledge is a successful audio engineer. She has experience as a recording engineer in the studio, as a live sound engineer, and as a sound engineer for television. As part of an interview series with members of Roadies Of Color United (R. O. C. U.), this story in three parts focuses on Daychia. She tells us about her life and how amazing circumstances, great timing, hard work, grit, focus, and determination aided her in making her dreams come true. This is Part 2 of 3.
A couple days after talking to Admiral in the light and sound booth at the Apollo, on Saturday morning, I finished work as usual at 8am.
My mom came by and picked me up from work to drive me home. But I said, “Actually Mom, I would love it if you could drive me to the Apollo. Let’s take the long way home.”
Where I worked was downtown Manhattan, on 46th Street. The Apollo is all the way in Harlem, on 125th Street.
My mom said, “Ok, let’s get some breakfast, stay in Harlem for a while, and then you go to the Apollo for your appointment at 1pm.”
Mike Jenkins was there and said, “Alright, we’ll start you off interning.” And just like that, this became my first weekend as part of the Apollo sound crew.
Mike offered that I could work the entire week with them, preparing for “Showtime at the Apollo.” I was so excited about being given this opportunity.
Straight after, I went back to my job at Sam Goodies. And I said, “Hey listen, I have an opportunity at the Apollo theatre. I can work with them for a week.”
And my boss was like, “Well, that’s good for you, but you can’t have it all.”
So, I said, “But I am a part-time worker. I should be able to get off when I need to.”
She answered, “I wanted to make you a manager. I need you to be present.”
I said, “I don’t wanna be a manager.”
But she remained adamant and didn’t want to give me the time off.
I was really upset and stewed about it for the whole day.
I went into the back of the shop where we had the Jazz music section. The Jazz music department was always kind of mellow and chill. I went back there to gather my thoughts and called my mom.
“Mom, I have this opportunity to intern this whole week at the Apollo. I have a chance to be there. And this lady here says I need to stay here.”
My mom said, “Ok, well, let’s think about this. You are nineteen years old. You still live at home. And you don’t have a lot of bills to pay. If there is ever a time when I would tell you to quit something – the time is now. Especially if you quit for the right reasons.”
So, I went out front, took my apron off, and said, “Either you let me take this week off or I need to resign.”
She thought I was bluffing. But I wasn’t. In the end, I walked out the door and never went back.
I worked that week as an intern at the Apollo. Got to know the team. And got to understand things better than ever before. From then on, for a year, I interned at the Apollo every Wednesday night.
I was in school, learning recording. Through being at the Apollo, however, I also learned the similarities and differences of working as a studio and a live audio engineer. I became both types of engineer without being aware of it.
I had a notebook that was about as big as three encyclopaedias put together. It was filled with my notes from engineering school.
The guys at the Apollo used to say, “She’s gonna be somebody someday. Look at her studying!” I was comparing my notes with what I saw happening live. I asked many questions. That’s how I got through school. Because, I had real engineers around me and real-live places to try everything first-hand.
Insert points, for example, really bothered me. I couldn’t figure them out for a long time. Just couldn’t grasp the concept.
I kept asking the engineers, “Show me the cable.” One of them showed it to me close-up, walked me through it, and said, “Look, this is what’s in your book.”
I was loving my life at the time. Gathering all sorts information. I was so busy learning stuff that I almost forgot that I initially went to school to make my own music.