Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? What drew you to it in the first place?
I have been producing now for about two years learning the ropes of Ableton. I’ve wanted to learn to produce for many years and have been a DJ for 15 years but it’s only now I feel ready creatively to express myself through original music production.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
100%. One of my biggest internal battles is too many influences. I love 80’s pop but also 90’s house and even current commercial dance so refining many directions down to something that makes sense, is true to myself but also mailable to the House/Tech realm was/is a challenge.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
Lead/hooks was the most challenging creatively, but also the most evolutionary for me as an artist. Understanding that ‘less is more’… having 10 ideas is problematic – just have 1-2 really solid ones and enhance them to their full potential within the track/make them work!
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
Critical and if you asked me what makes this course stand out as the best around it is the weekly feedback from the A&R/Toolroom gurus. Although at times brutally honest, it fast-tracks your development from years down to weeks by unlearning bad workflow habits, learning to work faster, and identifying what works and what doesn’t efficiently so you can spend more time on what matters in making your tracks cohesive.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
I am very proud of what I created. I approached the course like a university degree… be a sponge and take onboard as much from the opportunity as possible without the pressure of ‘I must make a track that can get signed’. It was the first original song iv ever made so like anything you have to walk before you run, so whilst im proud of what was the resulting record, I also am self-aware enough to know it is the starting point of a journey and the course is not a shortcut to the destination.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
1-to-1 feedback relevant to your own self-improvement as a producer and incremental development on a strict curriculum. There are so many YouTube tutorials and other courses out there and very much at times can contradict each other. I ultimately did this course to learn the right way in the sense of how the industry leading producers structure their workflow and creative song development. Lastly, having top-level producers who have achieved label success at the highest levels is the unique value proposition, rather than just a YouTuber who is pretty handy with Operator haha.
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
Now coming out of the course I can sum it up by saying I know exactly the elements and steps required to start and finish tracks with a focused step-by-step execution plan. Before the course, I was stuck focusing on the wrong areas, creatively stifled and a slave to my own bad habits picked up over the few years of self-learning. Now im motivated to truly express myself creatively in production where before I didnt have that ability and direction.
Has your ability on Logic/ableton improved since you’ve taken the course?
100%. I use Ableton and whilst I came into the course knowing a little about ableton and its functionality, automation and the tips and tricks of getting the most out of Abletons stock effects and plugins really is powerful and more than anything else – has eliminated the horrible mindset of ‘a good plugin will make the track sound good’.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
This is one area I really find important and is what the industry is built on. Pete and Ben both echoed the importance of establishing relationships and personal connections and im happy to say coming out of the course both with peers from the course but also members of the Toolroom team I have ties with now and keep in touch with. For me, it is not a strategic thing either as I genuinely like meeting new people and connecting with those with similar passions im not trying to have ‘you scratch my back and ill scratch yours’, it is more about meeting cool people and vibing the life were all trying to create for ourselves in this game.
How would you rate your tutors?
Unreal, Pete Griffiths is such a passionate dude who loves the industry, bleeds house music and is an endless well of knowledge when it comes to success, branding, career development and a positive ‘on your side’ attitude. Ben also is such a talented lad who knows the ins and outs of production unlike anyone iv ever listened to. The feedback he gives is honest and doesn’t stroke your ego which us as young producers need – we need that tough love to get the most out of the course but it all comes from a positive place as he genuinely wants us all to succeed. The other Toolroom A&R gurus of Danny and Matt are both really generous with their time and feedback which in any other scenario you just don’t get personal feedback from people at this level to help you improve… really a priceless experience.
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
To be honest, at the very end the feeling of achievement that I completed the course, created and finished an original song I’m proud of, and knowing I put my all into the course and got the most out of it. Like anything, if you put the work into growth and self-development you are richer as a person intrinsically after the fact.
On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this course to other producers?
9/10 I would recommend it. It is not a cheap course but if you have serious label-level producer aspirations it is an investment essential to being the artist you wish to become.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
Incredible experience. Motivating, evolutionary and such a rewarding experience I’m so glad I took the plunge and am now part of the Toolroom family.