Professional Sound - April 2018 - Page 18

PROFILE Cameron McLellan By Andrew King A few years back, Cameron McLellan did a favour for a friend and mixed a show for a then-unknown artist named Daniel Caesar. Since that performance – liter- ally his first in front of an audience – Caesar’s stock has soared on the international level, making him one of this country’s hottest musical exports at a time when so many eyes and ears around the world are focused on Canada. As for McLellan, he’s just putting in the work and enjoying the ride. Born and raised in the National Capital Region, McLellan, like many of his peers, wandered into audio while playing in a band. “You get into music, and then start getting into the technical side of things when you want to figure out how things work,” he says of what’s since become a successful career split between several arms of the industry. One of his first recording projects was tracking demos for Ottawa-based rock outfit The Fully Down, who went on to sign with California imprint Fearless Records. From that point, slowly but surely, he built up his Pro Tools skill set and overall studio acumen. Next, a friend who played in a progressive metal band called Today I Caught the Plague asked McLellan and now-frequent col- laborator Anthony Calabretta to produce their debut LP. That album, Lore, earned plenty of accolades for the band, which has since changed its name to The Kindred and signed with Sumerian Records. On the live side, McLellan’s first tour at FOH was with now-defunct electronic metalcore outfit Abandon All Ships. After that, he hit the road with the likes of Down with Webster, Stereos, These Kids Wear Crowns, and Protest the Hero. Over the years, he’s developed a close working relationship with the Protest camp. In 2013, McLellan co-wrote, produced, and engi- neered the band’s fourth studio album, Volition, which earned him a Juno Award and made him a sought-after commodity in metal circles. When bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi left the group in 2014, McLellan lent the band his low-end prowess as an unofficial member. In addition to performing with them for a few years, he also produced their 2015 EP Pacific Myth and is now back to FOH for their live dates with bassist Eric Gonsalves reporting for duty onstage. Now, McLellan enjoys a successful career in audio thanks to his diverse and ever-growing resume. “I have a few solid things going on at the moment,” he shares. “I’m currently a freelance A1 for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, doing broadcast audio for the [NBA G League’s] Raptors 905 and [AHL’s Toronto] Marlies.” He’s also doing session work as a bassist, writing, performing, and recording parts he’s assigned and sending them to clients around the world. “The big thing keeping me busy at the moment, though, is tour managing and mixing FOH for Daniel Caesar,” McLellan says. “He seems to only be getting bigger, and I’m more than happy to be along for the ride.” Of course, building a sustainable career as an audio freelancer is no small feat, and McLellan admits he’s been tempted to change course. “Finding consistent work when you don’t have the connections or know-how to keep it that way is a big challenge,” he shares. “The number of times I’ve almost quit audio to get into something more consistent like management or accounting or something similar is nuts. Audio work always seemed to come through at the last minute, though, and now I have almost no time to do anything but that – which is obviously ideal.” He would’ve had a hard time making a clean exit. After all, it’s the company he gets to keep working in the industry – especially in Canada – that keeps him enthusiastic about his career. “It’s such a tight-knit group of techs working with each other, the rapport we all have with one another is great. Very consistent emotionally and professionally, as it’s spread too thin up here to burn any bridges.” Among his professional highlights thus far are the partnerships he’s developed with the likes of Protest the Hero and Daniel Caesar. “I’ve been Daniel’s only FOH since day one, literally, and it’s been a treat to see how his career has exploded,” he says. “And I’ve been touring with Protest the Hero for over 10 years and will always head back out on the road with them given the chance and time.” McLellan is excited to see what’s to come for Caesar. “It seems like the sky is the limit at the moment,” he says, and he’s certainly not the only one who thinks so. “Our schedule for 2018 is nuts and only getting crazier. Somehow, in between all of that, I have to find time to track 12 songs for the new Protest the Hero album. Wish me luck with that one,” he says with a chuckle. Considering the way his career has progressed to date, though, he probably won’t need it. Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Professional Sound. 18 PROFESSIONAL SOUND