Former Pawhuskan making impact on music industry

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
Former Pawhuskan making impact on music industry

Quentin Gilkey was barely 6 years old when he gave his first piano recital at the historic Constantine Theater. The son of John and Sharon Gilkey, Quentin was a new piano student of Barbara Strahm. Although there were a number of other students performing that day, I’ll never forget this precious little boy up on that big stage and how much confidence he exhibited. He was also one of the few males enrolled in piano lessons.

Quentin is now an Audio Engineer for Dr. Dre at Aftermath Entertainment in Los Angeles, Calif. I had an opportunity to visit with him during a recent visit to his folks. I asked Quentin how it felt to be up on stage in front of so many people. He said, “It was frightening and a humbling experience.”

His love for music overcame his fear and he ended up taking piano lessons for the next 10 years. Here is his journey.

Following graduation from PHS in 2004, Quentin enrolled in Pittsburg State University with a two-year band scholarship. He graduated in 2008 with a dual degree in Music and Business Administration.

Quentin’s passion for recording emerged when he and his friends began jamming in his Pittsburg apartment. He taught himself to run computer programs and what hardware was needed to record their music. Following a lead from one of his professors, Quentin applied for and was accepted at the Conservatory of Recording Arts in Phoenix where he honed his skills as an engineer.

While in Phoenix, he heard about an internship at Ocean Recording, a rock studio in Burbank, California. “After I applied for internship, I discovered the company would not hire me until I moved out there and met with them,” said Quentin. “I took a gamble and it paid off. I received a tremendous amount of knowledge even though it was a nonpaying job. After four months, my money was running out. The studio helped me get a gig at Paramount Recording doing basically the same thing but it was a paid gig. I was still at the bottom of the ladder – cleaning, running errands and picking up food for everyone.

“I spent the next four years at Paramount, eventually becoming one of their engineers. On days I wasn’t working, I helped at Aftermath Entertainment with rapper Dr. Dre. Being able to sit in the seat next to my childhood hero was a dream come true. I pretty much made myself indispensable to him, believing this would set me on the right path. In September, Dr. Dre offered me a full-time position as one of his audio engineers.

“In the music business, one has to pay his dues and start at the bottom. This exposure allows the recording studios to know how well an intern can handle the pressures of the business. I had a lot of fun, learned a lot and met some great people.

“As an Audio Engineer, I’m the person recording an artist’s vocals, processing the music so you can hear it on the radio. Even though I’m not playing a piano, I use my earlier training and music theory daily.”

Quentin knew from high school he wanted to go into music as a career and had the full support of his parents. During his first two years of college, he continued his love of music by performing with a jazz combo for weddings and banquets and worked in a campus music lab. When he realized he wanted to become a recording artist, he began using his time differently.

During his tenure at Paramount, Quentin recorded the music for Cody Chestnut and the movie, ‘Twelve Years a Slave.’ This full-blown music production is currently out on CD. “So many opportunities have come from being inside those doors,” said Quentin. “It’s a humbling experience. I can’t believe I’ve come this far.”

As our interview drew to an end, I asked Quentin these questions.

What do you think of Hollywood and the entertainment industry?

“It’s changing. It’s good. They are making moves to change things to make it easier for artists to make their own way, such as U-tube. You still benefit from knowing insiders.”

Was it a cultural shock for you to go from Oklahoma to California?

“I was young and ready to try to something. I wasn’t used to the traffic or so many people but I learned to adapt.”

What are your goals?

“My goals are to continue on with my music and see where my current gig takes me. Someday, I see myself running a business. Music will be the foundation of it all. I want to be the person who helps others fulfill their dreams – maybe by becoming a manager.”

Were you involved in music through the church?

“Church is where my music started. I don’t remember singing very much. (Laughing), I don’t know if anyone wants to hear me sing. Most importantly, I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my family.”

Do you have any advice for other young people who would like to enter the entertainment industry?

“Knowing the right people helps. I am absolutely happy to help anyone anytime with what I have learned so far. One really needs to be patient, humble and hungry. You have to really know what you are going for because along the way, you’ll face roadblocks and detractions. It’s important to rely on your gut instincts to help you pick the right route when those crossroads appear. The bottom line is to follow your heart.”