Randall Frazier and Elisa Canali’s story is inextricably bound to Denver’s music scene.
It all started four years ago, when Canali was working at the Walnut Room, trying to get her foot in the door of the music industry. She knew she wanted a career in music, but was uncertain about what type of job she wanted. While she was intrigued by the world of sound engineering, she also found it intimidating.
At the Walnut Room, she met Frazier, who headed up the venue’s production team and served as the lead sound engineer. But soon after she arrived, he started working as the talent buyer and head sound engineer at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox.
Once he had established himself as a fixture at Ophelia’s, Frazier offered her an internship in sound engineering.
“I probably interned with him for about a year and a half, just learning, and then finally got the bug and fell into it, basically,” recalls Canali. “And now I’m making a career out of it.”
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Within eighteen months, she was promoted to a permanent job as sound engineer and assistant talent buyer.
Frazier and Canali had good chemistry as co-workers, then as close friends, and finally as romantic partners.
“When we first met, she was just interested in learning sound engineering,” says Frazier. “I started off showing her how to do live sound engineering, so she ended up coming to as many shows as she could with me, and out of that, it was just so much time hanging out together. We got to be really good friends at first; from that, the rest is sort of history, I guess.”
Fast-forward to the present: Frazier and Canali have been dating for over two and a half years, and are set to get married this month.
They have become what Frazier describes as “a package deal” and are poised to work their first television gig together as sound engineers for Colorado Public Television’s Sounds on 29th beginning in 2019. The program brings artists into the station to perform and record.
Frazier has already begun to plan out what he and Canali will do on the job, most of which will require bringing recordings from the station back to their home studio and multi-tracking and mixing, perfecting the sound for broadcast.
He’s looking forward to the change of pace that studio work offers, even if live shows are still his true passion.
“Right now, I’m kind of in the process of gathering equipment for [the station] and rebuilding the gear that we have down there,” explains Frazier. “I guess before, they were just bringing bands in and recording them right there on the spot to a stereo mix. There wasn’t any kind of mixing or any post-production that could be done on that. It’s sort of ‘you get what you get’ with that.
“I’m going to take it a different route here and multi-track everything and take it to my studio and polish it there, [then] send it back to the video crew for the television part of it,” he adds.
During his twenty years in the music industry, Frazier has kept busy recording albums in his own home studio, Helmet Room Recordings; doing sound and production at the Walnut Room; and, most recently, engineering concerts at Ophelia’s and Globe Hall.
Just a few years into her career, Canali has kept up a similar pace, and has even added lighting to her toolbox, which she typically runs at Ophelia’s if Frazier is on sound.
“We get along really well, and she’s really familiar with how I do things, and vice versa,” says Frazier.
“Obviously, we work easily together. I have a lot of respect for female sound engineers, because it’s predominantly a male-dominated world. Anything I can do to help her branch out is definitely a priority for me.”
As like-minded people with aligned career goals, Canali and Frazier have learned how to make sense of their professional and private pairing, a necessary yet sometimes difficult circumstance to navigate.
Part of learning the ins and outs of being together involved lots of working together, lots of live music, and a below-average number of traditional romantic dates, which both parties had no qualms about missing out on.
“We didn’t necessarily go on a lot of dates, but a lot of our dates end up at shows,” says Frazier. “It’s just spending a lot of quality time together and working and communicating together. A lot of my life in general is like that for me, and it’s sort of becoming that way for Elisa as well. We never really stop working, and that’s easy to do when you like your job, when you like what you’re doing.”
The couple will likely have opportunities to advance further into the television world should they choose, and even potentially break into film, which Frazier acknowledges is on his career bucket list.
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They’ll also have an opportunity to showcase their sound chops with an upcoming live-release record label through Ophelia’s, whose offerings will be distributed through major music-streaming services; that project is slated for an early 2019 premiere.
“The premise there is that we’re multi-tracking bands performing there,” says Frazier. “I’m taking the multi-track recordings from Ophelia’s and bringing those back to the studio, polishing them up here, and then we’ll probably start releasing those out into iTunes and all that stuff.”
While Frazier and Canali embark on new adventures in sound engineering in television and live recordings, Ophelia’s will continue to serve as their home base. And the couple has no intention of leaving Denver.
“Right now, with the growing music scene, I feel pretty lucky to have caught the city before it got so big that it was impossible to find a job in the music industry,” says Canali. “Denver was small enough to get myself started without too much competition, and it’s just such a vibrant music scene.”