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 joined the Toolroom Academy course in January 2020 and finished it that April. I had been in the music industry a while as a Presenter and DJ and had done pretty well at getting gigs but felt as though I had hit a glass ceiling. I knew that the next step would be to learn to make tunes but I had never had the time or space to fully focus on it. I went to see the Toolroom crew at BMC and spoke to them about the Academy Course. I knew it would be a commitment but it was something I really wanted to do. So in the January, I blocked out some time and threw myself in to it. I have never looked back.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in anyway?
At the time I was very much still in the bass music world with SISTER and had a radio show in that space. I felt really torn as I loved house music and when I played longer sets it was always my go to. I spent a lot of time researching and understanding the different markets and where I wanted to be. I also had a brilliant conversation with Miles Shackleton who gave me some really honest feedback. I decided to step away from the bass music world and focus on learning to make house music. This has to have been one of the most important conversations of my career.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
When I started the course I was completely new to Ableton so every module that took you in to detail about how the programme worked was massively helpful. From how to work with audio and MIDI right through to how to mix and use different pluggin’s. The whole course is so detailed and thought out, everything is covered.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
The A&R feedback was priceless. Ben Remember and Pete Griffiths are both wizards. They hear things that you hadn’t thought of and all of their advice is honest, constructive and helps to take your music to the next level. This part was completely invaluable and something you just don’t get from watching YouTube tutorials.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
It’s so crazy because the track I worked on ended up being ‘Generation X’ that was released on the Toolroom ‘Leaders of the New School’ album at the beginning of 2021. By the end of the course, from hearing it so often, I had totally fallen out of love with it. Pete and Ben encouraged me to stick with it. At the time I was using a Mr V. sample that I had found online but when we spoke to his team about clearance, Mr V. ended up jumping on the track and it took it to a whole new level.
Carly has since had tracks signed to the likes of : Toolroom Records, Nervous Records, Love & Other
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
This was the first time that I had ever done an online course in this format and was massively impressed with the simplicity to log on and be part of the class. You felt like you were learning together with others from around the world. Everything was broken down and explained in depth always making sure that everyone on the course was up to speed and understood each module.
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
When I started the course, I had only ever played around at making beats on Logic. In three months, I went to fully understanding how to create a solid house track on Ableton and going on to release my first track on the label.
Has your ability on Logic/Ableton improved since you’ve taken the course?
Coming in as a complete beginner at the start of the course, I now feel really confident in understanding and working with Ableton day to day. I collaborate with other producers and featured artists and hold my own in the studio. If you would have told me at the beginning of the course that would be the case, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s completely changed the course of my career and I am so grateful.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
Working with Producers from all over the world was incredible. We were all from different backgrounds and had varying levels of experience. We were studying as the pandemic hit so our group felt a real connection at a time of extreme isolation. It was so powerful listening to what people were experiencing and watching how they channelled that in to their music. I ended up collaborating with Mai Mai after the course finished and we released a track on Alex Preston’s Basement Sound label called ’Together For The Love’.
How would you rate your tutors?
There is no one in the industry like Pete Griffiths and Ben Remember. They are not only full of next level knowledge and advice but they genuinely care about you and the music that you are creating. They are both amazing teachers and bring different elements to the course. Ben focuses on the technical and music production side and Pete comes with a solid A&R ear and priceless industry experience. They really are world class at what they do.
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
Releasing ‘Generation X’ with Mr V. was a stand out moment for me. It did way better than I ever imagined and featured in New Music Friday on Spotify and was played by Annie Mac, Danny Howard and Jaguar on Radio 1. If I hadn’t studied the course, worked hard and taken the leap, I would never be in that position. It’s helped to elevate me in the industry and get on stronger line ups too. I feel so excited about the next few months and the new releases that I have coming. All of this would never have been possible if I didn’t join Toolroom Academy.
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
Absolutely! I have not stopped telling people about it and hope that my story has inspired other producers to get involved. You learn so much and even people on the course that already had experience came away with so much.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
Toolroom Academy has completely changed my career path. It made me realise that anything is possible if you work hard and face the things that scare you. I can now call myself a Music Producer and I am forever thankful for the incredible Toolroom team for giving me the guidance to turn my dreams in to reality.