Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? What drew you to it in the first place?
I’ve been DJing for longer than I’ve been producing as I’d always been a bit overwhelmed by production but I wanted to bring my own style to my DJ sets and I knew one of the best ways to do this was by producing my own tracks.
My production journey properly began in 2019, before this I’d had some studio sessions in the Noughties with engineers when I was a hard house DJ, working with the likes of Ben Stevens and Josh Butler (back then he was known as Mr Mister).
In 2019 I produced some collabs with established artists; this way of working really helped me get to grips with production and I was able to pick up some really useful hints and tips along the way. From then I went on to write my own tracks and got stuck in with learning how to use Ableton.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
Definitely. Pete and Ben set us a challenge to find a few tracks that were similar to the style we wanted to produce, this exercise really made me think about where I wanted to go artistically. I have a lot of musical influences so week 1 of the course really helped me focus on one sound.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
Each module was unique so they all stood out for different reasons, but for me it has to be the mixing module. Ben is so passionate about what he does and it really shone through when showing the class how to mixdown a track. We even learnt how to master our tracks to a standard that would help us stand out when sending them to record labels, which has been an absolute game changer for me.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
Absolutely invaluable; the A&R feedback is what makes the Toolroom Academy courses stand out. Each week I received feedback from Pete and or Ben on my track. I looked forward to receiving this every Friday and was excited to put their advice into practice each weekend, it really helped me focus and help me get the most out of the course.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
At the time I was really happy, I’d spent 3 solid months working on it and I felt a huge sense of achievement at the end of the course. Pushing myself really paid off, as I ended up with a track with an original bassline and piano hook.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
The hands on and tailored approach from the tutors at the Toolroom Academy is what makes the course stand out. You can’t put a price on receiving personal A&R feedback from people who work for the label you want to release music on.. It’s pretty special really. Add to this the continued support, learning and A&R feedback you get access to via the Alumni group after you graduate and there’s really nothing else that comes close to the Production Certificate.
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
Like night and day!
Studying with the Toolroom Academy was the turning point for me in my production journey, it helped fill in missing gaps in my knowledge and set me up with a structured way of working. As a result the quality of the music I’m producing has vastly improved and the speed in which I’m finishing tracks has greatly increased.
Did you manage to connect and build relationships with other students on the course?
Yes. The support from my fellow students whilst studying with Toolroom was another thing that made the course special. From advice on sourcing vocals to music theory, each person had their own strengths so we were able to help each other out and grow together. The alumni group on facebook has enabled me to continue to connect with students from other toolroom courses, there’s a real sense of community.
How would you rate your tutors?
10!! Ben and Pete were amazing!! Helpful, professional and friendly.. The banter on the course meant there was never a dull moment!
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
Finally cracking the bluesy piano melody! It gave me many sleepless nights but the sense of achievement I felt from doing it myself was well worth it.
On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this course to other producers?
10 out of 10! I’d 100% recommend the course.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
The Toolroom Academy offers up and coming/newbie producers a lifeline into the industry. The focussed learning, help, support and guidance delivered by their tutors is completely unique and it’s what makes the course stand out. For me the Toolroom Academy is much more than learning; the sense of community and belonging you feel as a student is what makes it really special.