Zhenya

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 a about a year now. I was DJing in Portland with my partner under The Dust Bunnies and I started to crave more. I felt creative and I didn’t really know what I was searching for until I was on instagram one day and saw the Toolroom academy production programme ad pop up.

I’ve always been curious about music production but never pursued it because I felt intimidated. I didn’t grow up playing any instruments or know any music theory so I would automatically shut myself down. After seeing the ad from Toolroom, a record label I love and highly respect, I felt intrigued and and sent through an email asking if the programme would be good for beginners.

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

After a few back and forth emails with Miles Shackleton, Brand Director at Toolroom. I gained some confidence and was ready to work as hard as I possibly could to chase my passion.

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

Absolutely. I feel this was one of the most crucial parts of the course. Analyzing tracks and identifying keys elements allowed me to develop my individual artistic style and spoke to all my sound choices going forward. I would describe my sound as more underground Toolroom Trax and Techno vibes. I find myself drawn to the darker driving beats.

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

Tough question because I really loved all the modules. If I had to choose the top three, I’d say building drums, full arrangement and label submission and group A&R. The toolroom team also threw in a surprise marketing session with Miles to help us build our image as artists. I learned a ton!

How did you find the weekly assignment work? Did you find them challenging? Did the structure help? Was it an intense amount of work?

For me, the course got a bit tougher as it went on but mainly because I kept running out of time. I wanted to try out all creative possibilities using the techniques taught in class. Being new to Ableton didn’t help much in that area either. HA! However, the structure of the course was on point and the feedback videos allowed us to find focus. Pete and Ben also really believed in us all which I think helped boost everyones confidence.

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

The A&R feedback was such a vital part of the course for me. I was always a bit nervous and a ton excited to watch the videos. The feedback was so crucial because it was the ultimate guide for me. After watching, I learned a ton and also knew what changes I needed apply in order to stay on the right track for creating a solid record.

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

I was very proud of my first track. It gave me the fuel to keep learning and growing as a producer.

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

I think the course is very unique because it’s not just another online class. It’s actually quite personal and intimate. The tutors really want to get to know each and everyone of their students and help guide them to achieving their specific goals. Also, you get to connect with other students from all over the world and by the end you’ve built a super supportive family that you get to keep in touch with.

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

I had zero production ability when I started the course. Now, I feel I’ve gained specific knowledge that I can build on to make music I love and successfully get signed to my target labels.

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

Absolutely, I struggled a bit in the beginning. A new program takes a minute to wrap your head around but if you keep at it, it will click. I was hesitant to experiment with a lot of features in the beginning because I didn’t want to press the wrong button and set my self back but by the end of course I gained a lot of confidence and now days I experiment as much as I can!

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

Oh yes! My classmates and I have two instagram chats going right now. One is with everyone from the Production Certificate programme and the other includes the crew from the Creativity Unlocked programme that I am currently enrolled in. We all check in often and help each other troubleshoot and also send music/projects for feedback. Shout out to my TA004 & TA008 Families!

How would you rate your tutors?

On a scale from 1-10? 100000000000000! Pete Griffiths, Ben Remember and Dean Ramirez are all legends. They are extremely knowledgeable, straightforward and super kind. Oh and very funny! What else could you ask for?

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

For me, I believe it was when I got a feedback video after creating my first drum groove. Ben and Pete kept saying they were really impressed and it gave me that blissful feeling you get when you know your in the right place at the right time.

Would you recommend the Production Certificate to other producers?

Absolutely, I believe this program can improve anyone’s game. The tutors provide excellent guidance and teach an abundance of techniques and unique tricks. It’s definitely a course for producers on the path to success.

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

When people ask me about the Academy, my reply is always “ I wish this course would NEVER end”. It’s always the highlight of my week. I learn so much and the Toolroom crew equal pure family vibes. I am currently enrolled in the Creativity Unlocked programme and I’m already sad because we are on week 12!

What is next for you in your creative career?

Getting signed by some of my target labels and traveling the world to spread love through music.

Make it happen

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