Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley

Creativity Unlocked

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 initially got into producing back in early 2000, however it was more so sitting with an engineer and coming up with ideas and sounds to create a track. I never actually sent music to labels then but used the tracks in my sets.

Several years later I then started to produce myself as I felt the scene was moving more towards producing to get noticed rather than sending tapes/CD’s to promoters.

I first started using Cubase in 2007 and a friend of mine gave me some initial lessons and also in music theory. In 2010 I made the jump to Ableton due to its power, use of speed and workflow, especially around cutting and chopping up samples which I love doing and I still use Ableton today.

Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyze your sound in any way?

Absolutely! There’s so much good music out there and across so many genres, as the years have gone on there’s more new genres being created.

Week 1 for me looking back was fundamentally the most important week as it really helps you define your sound as an artist.

What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 16 weeks?

Across every week there was something that popped out that was really cool, however the melodics section for me stood out. Not being able to play an instrument does not hold you back as the module really shows you music theory and the understanding of harmonys too. You also learn how to write original riffs and stabs across various genres, adding catchy riffs and hooks too.

The A&R feedback weeks were also golden too. Having feedback from Pete and D.Ramirez was brilliant, giving you guidance and constructive feedback throughout.

How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?

The A&R Feedback is super valuable throughout the course. Receiving feedback is important, but receiving this from D.Ramirez and Pete was great and keeps you in lane too. They were very open to any questions you had along the way, and delivered feedback in a very clear and simple way to help you improve.

At the final stage of the course you receive live feedback from another Toolroom member which was invaluable.

Compared to what I have learnt now around my sound design, music theory and also the sound quality of my music it’s even more cleaner and stronger now.

How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3/4 months?

I was very happy. As I mentioned that week 1 was so important I initially went off piste, however the weeks after this was all good. I definitely found my sound and style.

What do you think was unique or different about Creativity Unlocked compared to other programmes/schools out there?

The tutors and mentors I feel are people that have lived and breathed the clubbing scene for many years and understand this. Whereas other schools out there are musical teachers from outside the clubbing environment. Not only is the course around using the DAW but you also learn about the industry and what’s important as an artist too.

How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?

At first I was unsure whether to take the course or not as I have been fairly successful in making and signing music to some great labels such as Steve Bug’s label and also Nick Warren’s label. Compared to what I have learnt now around my sound design, music theory and also the sound quality of my music it’s even more cleaner and stronger now.

Has your ability on Ableton improved since you’ve taken the course?

Absolutely! My projects are more organized now, knowledge of various plugins is far greater now. There’s been some really nice gems to make your music sparkle too.

Did you manage to connect and build relationships with other students on the course?

Oh yes! The group I was with, along with Pete and D.Ramirez, there was never a dull moment each week. Having fun and not being so formal really helped build relationships on the course and helped creativity.. I’m still in contact with many now, everyone was so friendly with the ongoing Alumni group. It definitely has that family vibe.

How would you rate your tutors?

Brilliant! Both Pete and D.Ramirez were great and in their own fields of work. They worked so well together, with D.Ramirez having years of producing knowledge to Pete’s knowledge of the industry and his ear of knowing what works or not from a track.

The knowledge received was invaluable and can’t thank you guys enough!

What was the single best experience you had on the programme?

Throughout the whole programme it has been brilliant, however the final week being the Live A&R week and hearing everyone else’s tracks the standard of them was great. Also hearing your final feedback from the other class members and also George it was such a great feeling and boost of confidence knowing they loved the track.

On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this course to other producers?

I would definitely recommend this to anyone. I know initially I was a bit unsure, however it just shows you that even though you can have music signed already, there’s always room to improve and learn.

As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?

The experience was brilliant! Toolroom has such a real family vibe about it, no ego’s and more so it’s not only about making a professional sounding track, but how to present yourself as an artist too. The knowledge received was invaluable and can’t thank you guys enough!

Creativity Unlocked
Forget your traditional Sound Design or Music Composition courses. This 16 week programme will end your reliance on samples, teach you advanced creative techniques to make your tracks stand apart from the crowd, and appeal to label A&Rs.
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