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 producing for just over five years and I had been DJing for about ten years before that. When you are passionate about a type of music you want to get involved in every aspect of it.
What made you decide to enrol on the Production Certificate programme?
I’d been attending Toolroom Academy events for a couple of years at the Brighton Music Conference. I’d also used things like the label’s mastering service and seen some of the Fader Pro courses online. I was learning a lot from things like that so taking the course just seemed like a natural progression to take my production skills to the next level.
How easy/difficult was the enrolment process?
Enrolling on the course was easy, just a couple of emails and that was it.
Week 1 of the course focuses on artist identity and positioning. Did this make you analyse your sound in any way?
Yes, it helped me to realise a little more where my own style of music sits on the house music spectrum. it was after just a few feedback sessions with the tutors that I really got into the detail of why that was.
What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?
For me the modules where we covered the finer points of mixing a record were really helpful. I had a rough idea of what I was doing before the course, but the module went into great depth and gave me lots of new things to think about such parallel compression.
How did you find the weekly assignment work? Did you find them challenging? Did the structure help? Was it an intense amount of work?
The assignments are great fun, there’s something different to get stuck into each week. They were all challenging even though I had experience with production. The course uses the vehicle of building a track to teach each of the different modules. As the course progresses, you start to see your track come together. The amount of work varies each week, but you can put as much or as little time into it as you have available. Some weeks, I’d put in 4/6 hours over the weekend, sometimes up to 12.
How important was the A&R feedback throughout your journey?
The A&R feedback was one of the most important things for me personally. It highlighted areas of my own artistic style that I hadn’t really paid that much attention to before. For example, I use a lot of basslines that have a real ‘garage-y’ feel but that’s not necessarily the style of baseline that sits nicely with the current tech house sound, I needed someone to point that out to me otherwise I wouldn’t have realised it. Having another pair of ears listen to your music makes a real difference.
How happy were you with the track you made over the course of the 3 months?
I was really happy with my track. We had the Toolroom A&R team give us some feedback at the end of the course and since then I’ve gone away and made the changes and I plan to submit it to the label.
What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?
For the duration of it, you’re constantly communicating with the tutors and getting help and advice on your project, your artistic style and your general progress. It’s not like it’s something you plug into every now and then, you pretty much live it every day for the duration of the course and really get to immerse yourself in it. After your lesson on a Thursday, you then spend the weekend working on your assignment, submit on a Monday, get your feedback on Wednesday and then you’re ready to do it again on Thursday!
How would you compare your production ability/knowledge now, compared to when you started the course?
My ability and knowledge has increased significantly. As someone who had only used Logic Pro before starting the course, I’ve now learnt how to use a completely new DAW, Ableton. it’s also plugged a lot of the gaps in my production and theory knowledge, some of which I didn’t even know were there.
Did you manage to connect and built relationships with other students on the course?
Yes, we started a Facebook group during the course and are planning a get together at the next Toolroom event. We’ve also exchanged music and other production tips since the course finished.
How would you rate your tutors – Ben Remember and Pete Griffiths?
The tutors were brilliant. Ben is a superb producer and, as you get to know him through the course you realise the depth of his knowledge, not only on music production but also on all the other aspects of being an artist. Pete is one of those people who, as a fan of Toolroom Records, I’ve always looked up to. There’s no one out there more current and relevant to the tech house scene and that genuinely comes across in his teaching on the course.
Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?
100% yes, it’s a no brainer.
As a graduate, what are your thoughts on the Toolroom Academy overall?
The Academy genuinely breaks down the barrier between labels and producers. It’s given me genuine insight into the music industry at the highest level and shown me how I can develop my music and myself as an artist in the future.