Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? What drew you to it in the first place?
I started producing shortly after I began DJing in 2007. Back then, before I’d saved up for Logic, I learned the very basics of building tracks with loops and MIDI on GarageBand. It took close to 10 years, a number of courses (and a lot of practice and patience) for my tracks to not sound like ringtones, but as a producer I never wanted to cut corners – there was never going to be a quick, easy route to become the self-sufficient artist I’d dreamed of becoming. Music production appeals to me because I’m a typical creative but with an analytical mind that enjoys the technical aspects of making music via a computer. Over the years I’ve studied production in Madrid (with legend, David Penn and his label Urbana) as well as in London where I got my diploma in Sound Engineering and Music Production last year at Point Blank Music School. I’m sure I will continue taking music production courses well into the future as there is always more to learn!
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
I think the discussion on artist identity (which was also continued later on in the Marketing module) is what actually led me to develop a brand new project devoted to my tech house and underground productions. As someone who enjoys playing and making a number of different genres, I realised that having too broad a sound might (in the longterm) be harmful and confusing from a brand point of view. Since forming a new alias I definitely feel I’ve established a more defined musical identity.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
It seemed like every week I’d say “oh no, wait…THIS was my favourite week so far..” But I’d say my favourite classes were the ones on hooks and on marketing. The final A&R session, getting to hear what everyone had made was a highlight too!
How did you find the weekly assignment work? Did you find them challenging? Did the structure help? Was it an intense amount of work?
As terrible as I am with deadlines, I found the weekly assignments crucial in digesting and solidifying each week’s relevant module. New tricks and techniques learnt in the session would then be put to use in our personal projects, making it an active learning experience. The personal challenge for me was the juggle of assignments, DJ gigs and looking after a young baby! It was tough but by no means impossible!
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
Receiving a weekly A&R feedback video was possibly the most valuable part of the course – as somebody who makes music in an isolated environment with only my own ears to rely on, having the guidance and input of two industry heavyweights like Pete and Jon was priceless.
They were able to offer their own perspectives on the potential of my track and help me make the right decisions musically. As well as being extremely supportive and encouraging, they were also able to be honest when ideas I’d developed weren’t so good. Constructive criticism is so important!
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
It goes without saying that I’m over the moon that Toolroom have signed my track and it’ll forever remind me of an unforgettable 3 months. Though the final edit still shares the same message of my initial idea, the techniques we picked up week on week over the course elevated it to a level way beyond what I’d ever have been capable of achieving before – and for that I’m proud (and above all grateful to Toolroom!)
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
This was the first online course I’d ever taken – I’d always presumed that learning online would be an impersonal, ‘conveyer-belt’ experience involving lots of prerecorded videos and independent reading, but with the Toolroom Academy Production Certificate this absolutely was not the case at all. Instead, there are live, interactive group sessions, practical assignments, zero textbooks, and what really sets it apart: the fact the course has been developed by a top record label (not a school) and is led by successful, knowledgable, active artists in the industry (not your typical classroom teachers).
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
I now have the confidence and knowledge to make the music I want to make. My new habits mean I am finally able to turn an abandoned 16 bar loop into a finished track. I’ve picked up some tricks that I’ll now use forever including using a reference track to make decent and appropriate sound choices, and using a limiter throughout the production process which has been an absolute game-changer.
Has your ability on Logic improved since you’ve taken the course?
My workflow has improved massively – having a methodical, more structured approach to producing has made me far more efficient with my time in the studio.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
It was nice to have a group dialogue online to chat about the course and get to know each other. Ours was a fun and supportive crew 🙂
How would you rate your tutors – Jon Kong and Pete Griffiths?
Fantastic people and just great at what they do – couldn’t ask for more!
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
I think that would have to be receiving an email saying that Toolroom wanted to sign my track! What a feeling!
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
Absolutely – whether new to production or more advanced; if house/tech house is your thing, the Production Certificate is your course.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
I felt what can only be described as a ‘post-holiday blues’ emptiness once the course finished! Toolroom Academy is the place to go to accelerate your production career, learn from and connect with industry pros, meet like minds and open new doors. I’ve got my eye on the Creativity Unlocked course next!