Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? And what drew you to it in the first place?
I’ve been producing house music for about 2-3 years now, however I’ve been working on music my whole life! It started when my parents bought me my very first Casio keyboard when I was a kid. Since then, I’ve taught myself how to play the keyboard, drums and even beatbox! My first foray into music production started on garageband on my sister’s old macbook she gave me back in college. After that, I started finding my love for production by making mashups of Bollywood and western songs. I learned a lot about beat matching, pitch shifting and what sounds go well together during this time. Shortly after this, I also picked up my first set of turntables and realised that I can speed up, pitch it and play my favourite music over a house track and it instantly sounds great and is perfect for the dance floor. Since then, I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate my favourite elements from western and eastern music into house music to create a unique sound. Well, I guess I stumbled upon Toolroom Academy and now it’s history in the making I guess!
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
Having a background in marketing, I believed that I had everything locked down as far as my artist identity goes, but this session helped me understand the importance of and start the process of working on my sonic identity since it goes hand in hand with my visual identity. As I start getting more gig opportunities at shows with things opening up around the world, many people will start to hear my tracks well before they ever see the cover art or discover me online so this was an important step I needed to take.
I started collecting a few drum and synth samples and created my main folder in logic when creating a new song. As I gather a solid set of sounds I create and find, I’m able to work on building a sonic identity over time.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
The module about automation and fx was game changing for me. It’s relatively easy to place a few loops and midi together, but this module taught me how to make subtle changes to my ideas to grab the listeners attention, keep it for the entirety of the track and make it flow along from section to section properly.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
The A&R feedback was really helpful and I’d compare it to grading my exams in school, with feedback on everything I did wrong and what I can do to improve. It also held me accountable to attend class (which was not the case in college, haha).
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
The track had transformed quite a bit as I progressed through the course and the finished product (which was very different from what I started) was something I am very proud of. However, the feedback on that track helped me learn new techniques & ideas that I used to fix up some of my older ideas. One of which was recently released on DIM MAK + some of the other refined ideas are forthcoming on other labels as well in the near future.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
This was the first live course I’ve taken. I’ve tried youtube tutorials, paid courses on other platforms and it was all the same. A pre-recorded set of videos with minimal help from the “teacher”. After those, I took a few live lessons from WESTEND where I learned the basics of arrangement and focused on the basics of turning an 8 bar loop into a full track. However, this was in Ableton unfortunately. We all know Logic Pro is the best DAW right? Haha, all in good fun.
Anyway, whatever DAW you use, whether it’s Ableton or Logic, this course will help you and here are 3 reasons this course was unique among a sea of courses:
Live Tutoring: We had Ben and Pete live on every call looking at chat, answering questions. I’m sure if you compare the recorded modules from different graduating classes, they’ll all be catered to the students’ questions in that course. Not a single generic video.
Global Community: This was the first time I was in a class with other producers from other countries who had similar goals as me. We were able to chat outside the class as well, network and support each other. I’ve made some great friendships during this course.
Ongoing Support: After graduation, we are granted access to the alumni facebook group where the alumni from all graduating classes can share releases, support each other and attend the exclusive sessions for A&R submission, feedback, artist development and more! This really shows that Toolroom is set out to create a lifelong learning experience for all their students beyonust the course.
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
When I started the course, I was always buying up the latest plugins and wasting money on extra bells and whistles that could easily be done with the core Logic plugins and features. Apart from the course helping me understand Logic Pro better, it also gave me the right mindset to have when looking into 3rd party plugins and sample packs. Is this something I really need? Or can I just accomplish this within Logic and save $300.
Has your ability on Logic improved since you’ve taken the course?
Yes, I would say that before the course, I knew how to use approx. 40% of the features on Logic properly which resulted in me hacking my way to get a certain sound or not getting it at all. Now, I know how to translate that bassline, or drum pattern or fx onto paper by using the right tools within the DAW.
Did you manage to connect and build relationships with other students on the course?
Yes, I keep in touch with multiple graduates from my class and previous ones. It’s nice to find a community of other producers who are also on the same path, and even better that everyone is supportive of each other’s releases and social posts even outside the core community hub on facebook.
How would you rate your tutors?
Both Pete and Ben have been really nice tutors to work with. The small class size was great since they were able to get to all our questions in time on the live session. If they had a page on https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ I would give them a 11/10.
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
The best experience for me was listening to all of the tracks everyone submitted at the end of the course. We all had access to the same sample packs and live lessons, but something about the way we all put out unique twist on it was just immaculate.
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
I’ve already been raving on about how great it is in previous interviews and even to my producer/DJ friends in Chicago! If you have a lot of creative ideas and were frustrated like me that you couldn’t translate that into a song, this course is for you. Now, I know how to use the tools within logic pro to translate my creative ideas into real music!
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
I had a fun time, met other like minded producers on a similar journey and (for once) enjoyed working on homework, haha. Lastly, I love that even after the course is completed, the Toolroom team continues to provide value by adding all the alumni into a private facebook group to network and also offering us exclusive A&R sessions with the label. It’s truly a lifelong community you’ve created here. And remember, it’s a wonderful day to make it happen!