Born in Las Vegas and raised in central Utah, Joseph Hanks has brought to Wasatch Academy his passion for digital audio and industry expertise in creating and producing music in a wide range of digital genres.
While most know Hanks within the electronic music industry under the name DJUNYA, Hanks has made a significant impact within the industry as a performer, record label assistant, and event stage manager. Having studied audio engineering and hardware sound in Oregon and Washington State in the late 1990s, Hanks found his artistic identity and quickly built relationships with elite musicians, professors, and event producers from Los Angeles to the United Kingdom.
Hanks has released several of his own tracks under different monikers and continues to create, curate, and design audio for conceptual design firms in San Francisco for all types of multimedia outlets. His mastery in digital sound has put him to work within state-of-the-art music labs as an advisor/assistant for students at a few of the Bay Area’s most prestigious audio colleges such as SAE & Expressions in San Francisco and Emeryville.
From a young age, Hanks knew he had a passion for music, “I grew up studying drums for jazz and pep bands and later learned about the roots of hand percussion from a West African drum griot in Eugene, Oregon. My interest in analog sounds was peaked very early because of the otherworldly sounds you could create with them,” states Hanks. “As soon as personal computers were powerful enough to have a home studio, I was already diving deep into hardware and software for sound engineering.”
Although Hanks is not entirely new to being a teacher/mentor in the classroom, this is his first year teaching high
school students as the audio/video specialist and digital audio teacher in the Center for Evolving Technologies at Wasatch Academy. “My goal is to develop the digital audio program and provide as many of the available tools and current techniques to the students as I can. I know we have so much talent coming through Wasatch Academy and my goal is to help get it recognized,” said Hanks.
Hanks knows firsthand the power of music and emphasizes, “I think it provides an amazing outlet for creativity and empowerment. Learning about music or the physics of audio can be a fun and inspiring mental reset from other academic pressures. I hope students take away the confidence and diligence to pursue and explore the visions they aspire to create.”
Many students that have entered Hanks classroom this year have emerged with a new found voice in their talents. Inspired by Hanks, digital audio student Rokiatou Diop states, “A few years ago I never would’ve imagined myself performing, songwriting, producing, or recording. Mr. Hanks really made all of this possible for me and turned me into a much better artist and person in every way. He is truly a talented and artistic soul and I am so thankful for him.”
Being in the classroom has come with challenges as Hanks has had to learn how to navigate the many distractions and the need for instant gratification that comes with today’s learners. Hanks states, “I want to encourage the use of current technology while also fostering within students the appreciation of the entire process. Good art and music take time and dedication to the craft.”
However, the diversity and challenges within the classroom have ignited Hanks in many ways. He has found inspiration and enlightening experiences that have broadened his personal approach to music and the educational nature of teaching digital audio. “Truthfully, I get inspired by many different types of people and the ancient cultures of our planet. I find our human history and the evolution of instruments and music to be really fascinating. I love the diversity that is at Wasatch Academy and what comes with it,” said Hanks
Hanks looks forward to being invested and involved within the Wasatch Academy community and the opportunities and support he has experienced thus far. “I would just like to thank the Wasatch community as a whole. I have really enjoyed getting to know and work with the students, faculty, and staff.”