Steve Ryan

Tell us about your production journey so far – how long have you been producing? What drew you to it in the first place?

I was always into music when I was younger, I played the keyboard up until the age 14 but then discovered football, beer and women which became a rather big distraction! I started getting involved in production when I realised that being a DJ alone would not be enough for me. I started DJ’ing but only on a small scale and not doing any actual gigs, it was more of a hobby. I quickly realised I really enjoyed it I decided to try and make more of it. I soon realised the best way to support DJ’ing is by producing and this is when I discovered Ableton. I spent about 2 months messing around with it and then realised it needed professional tuition. After searching I found some online courses and some YouTube videos which got me started but I soon realised that also wasn’t enough. I was always a fan of Toolroom so when I found the online production course, I was extremely excited to start.

What made you decide to enrol on the Production Certificate programme?

I wanted to learn how to use Ableton properly, but I also wanted to learn to make music I loved. I found many courses that covered all genres and this really wasn’t for me. I always wanted to make Tech House, so the Toolroom course was a no brainer. I have now found through the course that is also very easy to explore other genres, as the course actually gives a real rounded knowledge of production in Ableton as well as Tech House specific points.

How easy/difficult was the enrolment process?

Enrolment was a piece of cake, and the response times were incredible. I had a lot of questions that were all answered straight away and when I needed a bit of flexibility, they were able to accommodate this.

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

This was a great first step, I had in my head that I wanted to be a lot like Solardo and Mark Knight in my production style, but soon realised that there was a lot more potential by exploring other artists. Ben and Pete also made me realise very quickly that they are very different artists, so I needed to pick one! This gave me a real direction to my production

What other modules really stood out to you throughout the 12 weeks?

The marketing session with Miles towards the end of the course was a real added bonus, it can be a very scary world marketing especially in this day and age. I have noticed the difference in my class mates’ social channels and it really is a huge change! The one-to-one live session with Pete and Ben was also great, we ended up talking about the industry which felt like having a chat with friends. They gave me a real good idea on where I needed to focus as an artist.

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 work is intense, but so worth it. You really do get out what you put in, I noticed this as some weeks I missed a lot of studio time and the track would suffer. It soon got back on track as the structure of constant feedback is great. It can be difficult to stick to the schedule, but you have to stick with it and ensure you take in the feedback as the process works!

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

The A&R feedback was a great help. Having Ben and Pete listening to the track every week for 12 weeks it gave a fresh outlook on it which was great. Small things that are easily missed were picked up on and the other members of the course got a chance to have an input too.

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

I’m really happy with my track, it is a totally different sound to what I thought I would end up with, but it really works! I had a vocal idea I had been trying to include in other tracks for a long time and it worked with this one which was an extra bonus.

What do you think was unique or different about the Production Certificate compared to other programmes/schools out there?

I think the personal touch really differentiates from other courses, with the 1-1 and personal feedback it really does make a difference. You do feel like you get to know Ben and Pete, I don’t think you could get this anywhere else with an online based course. It really is the Toolroom Family and you become part of it!

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

Before the course I thought I could open a laptop and create a Beatport top 10 in a week or so, it seems really easy. This is definitely not the case. I now have a far deeper understanding of production especially with Ableton and it has already helped me get a clear direction on where my production is going. My peers have also commented that the quality of tracks I send to them now for feedback is also on a different level. My mates are happy to as they no longer need to pretend to like my music!

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

Absolutely, we are a real close group already and have a few events planned this year. I have met a few people at various Toolroom events and I’m sure we will all meet up more and more.

How would you rate your tutors – Ben Remember and Pete Griffiths?

Both are outstanding tutors, Ben’s knowledge of production is amazing at times, and Pete’s enthusiasm for music also helped to encourage everyone to shine.

Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?

I would 100% recommend the course to any other producers, no matter what stage of your production you will greatly benefit. The networking and connections you make with others also really does help with what can be a really lonely industry at times!

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

I think the Academy is such a vital part of Toolroom, and also the music industry as a whole. Anything that encourages more producers to get involved is clearly a worthwhile initiative!

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Learn how to make cutting-edge House and Tech House with our 3 month online Production Certificate taught by Ben Remember & Jon Kong.

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