Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? What drew you to it in the first place?
Initially I DJ’d back in the 90s at college and for a few years after at various bars/clubs and mostly house parties, nothing too big. I then moved to the US in 2001 and although the decks came with me I kind of lost touch with the scene. It wasn’t till someone introduced me to Ableton in 2009 that my interest was sparked again. All the things one could only do in a big studio were now affordable and could be done on a laptop. I signed up for a course in LA to learn Ableton and Logic and the journey started there. It wasn’t until 2016 though that I finished a track and thought…hey, that is actually pretty good and found a label to release it. This was followed soon after by another release that made it into the top 10 of the tech house chart on Traxsource…since then I have been working on really defining my sound and it led me to the Toolroom Academy Tech house course as I really felt like the Toolroom sound was close to what I was working towards.
What made you decide to enrol on the Production Certificate programme?
I had hit a bit of a creative block and I am a huge fan of Toolroom. I saw the advert for the academy certificate and once the format of the course was described to me it seemed like a perfect fit. Weekly A&R feedback from Toolroom’s own Pete Griffiths and production tips and tricks from an experienced and successful producer like Ben Remember who I felt showed a real aptitude for teaching in his FaderPro video. It really was a no brainer for me.
How easy/difficult was the enrolment process?
Enrollment was extremely easy. I just submitted my details on the website and I was contacted within 24 hours.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
Absolutely. It really made me think about how to approach each track I make in relation to the artist/project that I am developing.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
For me the Mixdown and the Remix modules really helped me. The MIxdown module has really helped me get my tracks sounding way fatter and the Remix module presented a process flow that kept things really simple and really helped me get an idea down quickly.
How did you find the weekly assignment work? Did you find them challenging? Did the structure help? Was it an intense amount of work?
Some weeks were more challenging than others but ultimately, they were set up to enforce a process flow and for that I am really grateful. The turnaround time was fast but definitely enough and it was sometimes a surprise at how much one could achieve within a short period of time when the structure and goals are clearly laid out.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
Having A&R feedback throughout the course was crazy…it was great at the time as you were able to make constructive changes at every step but it has been even more valuable since the course has finished I have been able to take that feedback and replay it at every step of my process pushing myself to make smarter decisions.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
I was really happy with it. I played it out the weekend after the course finished and it really held up against other tracks in my set. I also participated in the optional remix competition, and I’m pleased to say I won, which means my remix of Ben Remember’s ‘Lost in the Woods’ is coming out on Toolroom this year.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
I think the whole package was what made it stand out for me…the course was focused on each student ending up with a track they would be proud of (and I believe they succeeded) by providing honest and constructive feedback to improve both technical detail but also providing creative ideas to help move the idea forward as well as putting them in context from an A&R perspective (basically everything you wish you could find out whilst working on a tune). This happened every week. And then if that wasn’t enough the structure from start to finish really instilled a workflow process that could be repeated in every project thereafter. I can’t imagine working differently any time soon.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
🙂 We had a facebook group set up by Pete after week one and most of us are now connected directly. We still interact quite often even well after the course has finished and I am sure that our paths will continue to cross. The vibe across the group was refreshing and I definitely feel like I have made a bunch of new friends that I hope to meet in person when the opportunity arises.
How would you rate your tutors – Ben Remember and Pete Griffiths?
They were ok! Just kidding! Excellent – Ben Remember is a fantastic producer and has a natural affinity for teaching what he loves to do. I can only imagine it to be quite difficult to talk for a number of hours while working when the ‘class’ is not in the room to interact with. Even with this challenge Ben was able to keep things really interesting and full of useful well laid out content. Pete was the Ying to Bens Yang and provided input and additional content while Ben was deep in the process. Having both working together was what made this such a successful course. Also Pete’s A&R viewpoint always brought a slightly different angle to the table at every step of the way. It was also very clear that these two were really enjoying the process and that energy fed back into the group. We all enjoyed the weekly sessions and were sad for it to end. Luckily for Ben and Pete they get to do it again and I hope each class gets as much out of it as I/we did.
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
I initially heard of Toolroom Academy when checking out tutorial videos on FaderPro.com and it was always something I thought labels should be doing and was really glad Toolroom was able take the idea further and put a really good platform together for aspiring producers of all ages and skill levels to be a part of. It is a win win all around. There have been a number of success stories already and I have no doubt there will be many more.