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 just over 10 years ago and have continued on and off since then. I was drawn into music production just for a bit of fun at the beginning. It wasn’t something I took that seriously initially, I just enjoyed making bootlegs and messing around with sounds which then developed into where I’m at today.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
This has probably been my biggest challenge throughout the entire course. Until I started my academic pursuits with Toolroom Academy I didn’t really think of myself as an artist at all, I just loved producing and playing tracks – so not much thought had gone into it. When I really sat down and tried to position myself it was difficult because being a bit older (I’m 37), I had so many musical inspirations over the years that its really hard to position myself within an individual sound. The 1st week with Pete & Ben, we really dug deep into my life, where I grew up, what my professional life has been, when I started DJ’ing and what I used to play. We then analysed what I love about certain elements of tracks, what vibes I like etc. It was really quite incredible; whilst they’re trying to understand me – I starting to understand myself in regards to musical taste and ultimately, the direction I wanted to take.
How bespoke was the course for you? Was it tailored towards your needs?
It was bespoke in every sense of the word. Even Pete comments about how different this course was for him during our A&R sessions, just because of the journey I have taken from week 1. Every step of the way the interest is on you as an artist, your direction, your placement in the industry and how to make yourself unique regarding sound.
What modules really stood out to you throughout the 20 weeks?
Can I write all of it for this bit? Week 1 was incredible as it helped me to understand myself as an artist – it’s something that I have been continually working on since and will continue to do so throughout my career as an artist. The advice in that week alone is invaluable. I can’t really pinpoint an individual lesson as the entire Masterclass has been amazing and I’ve learnt so much throughout the process. If I had to pick another standout part it would be Hooks, working with vocals and how to find those little gems. Lastly, A&R sessions with Pete – I absolutely loved them.
How did you find the A&R Feedback throughout the course? Was it as detailed and granular as you imagined?
I can’t say enough good things about Pete. The man is an absolute hero. The sessions are great fun and you really get to know each other on a friendship level. Pete’s attention to detail is unreal and his experience as A&R is invaluable to a student of the game. It is very in-depth, pushing you further to understand the importance of sound choice, decision making and creating the best tracks you possibly can to get signed by your target labels.
How happy were you with the track(s) you made throughout the duration of the course?
I’m really happy with the tracks I made throughout the course. You feel extremely inspired to make more the more you learn because you want to put all the new skills into practice.
What do you think was unique or different about the Masterclass compared to other programmes/schools out there?
I’ve only ever studied with Toolroom Academy. I started off with the Production Certificate and then progressed onto the Masterclass after that. Before studying with Toolroom Academy I did approach various other vendors, but I felt that Toolroom Academy was the best option out there and I’m extremely happy with the choice I made.
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
Its light and day. I now feel confident as a producer to make the music I love to the professional standards it needs to be to get signed. I rarely have that writer’s block moment because I know where to look for inspiration and understand what elements my track needs to make it complete.
Has your ability on Logic/Ableton improved since you’ve taken the course?
Yes, the Masterclass is intense, so everything becomes muscle memory as you’re working around the software so much.
How would you rate your tutors?
I mean how can you rate Ben Keen and Pete Griffiths? They’re both legends in their own rights. They’re both great people and I hold them both in high regard. They’re straight talking and critical in the perfect way, which is what I asked for at the beginning and it’s exactly what I got. It was quite daunting at the start of the masterclass because you know these guys’ backgrounds, but there’s no ego or anything like that – they genuinely invest in you and genuinely invest in your success. They’ve both become friends. The first person I facetimed when I was told by Pete that one of my tracks was being signed by Toolroom, was BK – so that kinda says it all. Although I spent most of my time with BK and Hi Pass Pete, there’s also the team working behind the scenes that have been amazing as well.
What was the single best experience you had on the programme?
Having one of my tracks signed by Toolroom.
On a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend this course to other producers?
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
I don’t really see Toolroom Academy as just an education source for music producers. I would say that Toolroom Academy is definitely the undisputed champ with its interactive courses compared to the rest of the market from what I’ve seen. I mean just look at the credentials of the guys that are teaching the students – but for me it’s so much more than that. I know that it sounds cliche, but the Toolroom Family is real. Pete and the rest of the team are really passionate about the development and growth of all the students and it’s a place for producers at all levels to come together, learn, network and achieve success. I’ve made lifelong friends whilst studying at Toolroom Academy and it’s something that I love being a part of.