Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? And what drew you to it in the first place?
Prior to the Production Certificate course, I’d been producing for around a year. I’ve been writing in bands for years and playing music since I was very young, but going down the route of music production was something that I’d always been drawn to. When the worldwide Covid lockdown hit it thought this was a prime opportunity to hone in my skills and work on something I’d always wanted to do.
Before the course started I was in my 4th and final year of university studying Commercial Music. I knew for my degree project that I wanted to create something that had all my previous influences combined, so I created a piece of work that chronologically travelled through my musical journey so far, from blues, to metal, and then electronic music. After starting this, I knew production was something I had to pursue. As time went on over lockdown, I fell deeper into the world of house music and couldn’t stop writing it, I was properly obsessed with it! Already loving artists like Eli Brown, Siwell and KC Lights, I came across the Toolroom Production Certificate course and knew I had to jump at the chance take part and start moving on with my journey as an artist.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
I’ve always had an extremely diverse taste in music, and with there being so many sub-genres of house, let alone electronic music, I always struggled to pinpoint exactly where I wanted to head as an artist. At the end of week 1, I already had my mind made up. I couldn’t believe that I’d spent all this time having no idea where to head musically, and within one class the guys had me pinpoint it.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
Every week had some sort of lightbulb moment, personally week 3, the week of basslines was one of the best of me. Ben showed us so many different methods for creating basslines that I had no idea you could do. The methods are methodical, yet still so creative and intuitive, you feel like a proper artist when you’re writing with these methods.
The one to one A&R was great too. You wait for this moment from the week 1 and it’s brilliant sitting down and chatting to BK and Pete for a bit, their wealth of knowledge on the industry and production is unbelievable.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
The A&R Feedback is very valuable throughout the course. We all know that getting feedback is important, but receiving ideas from BK and Pete pushes your track so much further, it’s really interesting to see how A&R’s hear your track and what they look out for too.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
There are days you can’t stand your track and want to start again, and there are days where you absolutely love the track. Apart from the fact I could barely listen to the track by the end of the course I was pretty happy with it! The guys really helped me get very close to my desired sound.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
Something that felt unique was that it feels like the guys are breaking down that barrier between label and artist. The personal weekly feedback I think is a massive pro to the course.
You also get a great insight into this sector of the industry, and I found out so much that I didn’t even find out on my university degree! One of the things I loved about the course was when we would go down a rabbit hole of nerdy gear chat within the seminars, you don’t get that anywhere else haha!
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
Something I was never too picky on prior to this course was my sound selection. I would tend to use a nice sounding clap, kick, hat etc, but wouldn’t be thinking about how these sounds all need to work in unison to carry the vibe of your track. Simply nailing sound selection boosted by production massively. With that on top of the methods on arrangement and mixing, I feel like I’ve jumped years ahead of where I’d be if I was working by myself.
Has your ability on Logic improved since you’ve taken the course?
My workflow has improved dramatically, not only that, but my sessions are so much tidier too. BK shows you so many different tips and tricks that get you flying on Logic, from quicker ways of automating, to easier access of your samples. I can end up writing a full track in less than a day now.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
Totally. Right from the get-go we all followed each other on our socials which was great, you could see everyone was from such a diverse range of backgrounds, all with completely different levels of experience in the industry. I’m really looking forward to seeing where all their musical journeys take them!
How would you rate your tutors?
They’re both absolute whizzes in their field and it shows throughout the whole course. Not only that but Ben and Pete are both such genuine guys. The pair work so well together, with BK having years of production knowledge which helps you hone in on your technical ability, whilst Pete’s got that special ear for a hook and knows exactly what labels are looking for. They really want to get the best out of you and your track across the 12 weeks.
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
It’s hard to pick one moment really. The final week is pretty special though. Sitting down with not only Pete and BK, but George the Head of Music at Toolroom, as well as the rest of your class is brilliant yet nerve wracking! All your hard work over the 12 weeks is finally put on display. At this point you’ve heard your track so much, so you don’t know if it’s good or bad, but when the class loved the track, as well as George, it was a massive boost for me. Even with the weekly feedback and positivity from BK and Pete I still had doubts that I was heading in the right direction, but I was buzzing for days after it!
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
Absolutely, I already have! I think if anyone is wanting to take their house music to another level and connect with more likeminded people, it’s a no brainer.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
The experience was incredible. Toolroom Academy not only gets you thinking creatively as a producer, but how to present yourself as an artist. The knowledge the guys give you is invaluable, and I cannot thank them enough.