Jul 06, 2016
Mark Knight On FaderPro & Toolroom Academy
We caught up with Mark Knight to discuss the partnership between Toolroom Academy and FaderPro. You can read more about FaderPro in last week's interview with Steven Lee (Lee Cabrera). Learn what drew Mark to the team as well as what it was like for him when he was starting out as an aspiring producer. Enjoy a special live set from Mark to celebrate!
What are the primary goals of Toolroom Academy?
From the outset, what we wanted to achieve with the Toolroom Academy was to create educational courses that were specifically about the musical sound Toolroom is known for. So if a producer was out there and wanted to learn about how to write a tech house record, then they could come to us and find out exactly how. There are a million courses out there that teach music theory, but none that taught people the tips and tricks to make the music we love. So we wanted to fill that space. Secondly, we wanted to offer courses taught by REAL artists. Producers who have seen major success in their careers – which is why we are using the artists on our roster. They know all about the intricacies of music production and engineering, but also come from a position of knowing what it takes to make it as a professional, which ultimately is what people want to know. And third, after several years of running Toolroom and growing the brand, we've learned quite a lot – and it feels like the right time to offer up some of this knowledge to those who want to learn about production and the dance music business.
How did you get introduced to FaderPro?
We first heard about the FaderPro vision via a mutual contact – Lloyd Star, the former Beatport president – but we've known Steven Lee (Lee Cabrera) for many years. When we realised it was Steven who was running the company that made it all the easier to join forces, because he's also coming at it from the perspective of a successful artist. As soon as we first spoke, it became apparent we shared a vision for the educational side of dance music – that it should and could be both more entertaining and more practically useful.
What is the relationship between Toolroom Academy and FaderPro?
Our relationship is strong, Toolroom and Faderpro both have a passion for changing dance music education and offering a service that isn't currently there. I think the guys at FaderPro respect the power of the Toolroom brand and the artists on our roster; and in return we have a respect for the platform they've created and the levels of customer service they stand for. Put those two together and you have a powerful combination. So it's no surprise to us that the FaderPro & Toolroom Academy courses have started so strongly.
What do you think makes Toolroom Academy/FaderPro courses different from other tutorials you can find online? How do these courses help aspiring producers?
Our courses are different from other tutorials because they are so specific. As opposed to very general 'how to write a bassline' or 'how to use Logic,' they focus on writing house, tech house and techno. Also the calibre of producers who are teaching for us are (in my opinion) on a higher level than a lot of other educational programmes. If Harry Romero is teaching you how to write a track, you're going to listen. After all, this is a guy who wrote "Tania" and "Night At The Black" – legendary, anthemic house records. By learning from some of the masters, aspiring producers are going to get so much more from our courses.
What was it like making the 'Writing An Anthem' course? What were some of the challenges in putting everything together?
Creating our 'Writing an Anthem' course was a lot of fun. "Downpipe" is the record I'm proudest of writing, so to go over it all again really reminded me of a special time in the studio alongside Dean (D.Ramirez). The main challenge was actually finding the project files; we wrote the record back in 2009 so it took some time to locate them! But what struck me when filming the course was how long we took in getting the record absolutely perfect. That's something I think people can take from the course – producing isn't a race, and I think a lot of budding producers today finish and send us their tracks way too quickly, before they've really perfected their track.
How did you get into producing music and what was it like for you when you were just starting out and learning?
When I started out producing, I was very lucky in the sense that I learned from Joey Negro (Dave Lee). Sharing a studio with him was a great 'apprenticeship.' I'm someone who learns by doing, I've never been someone who enjoys the theoretical approach to learning. This is why our courses appeal to me; they aren't some dry manual on music production, and they are also entertaining as well as informative.
How do you balance your time between DJing around the world, producing, responsibilities with Toolroom and Toolroom Academy, and everything else in your life?
Balancing my time is my number one challenge. As you mentioned, I wear a number of different hats each and every week – producer, record label owner, DJ, father, and husband! It can be tough at times and I work very long hours, but I also know how privileged I am to be in this position.
Do you have a most memorable show that you ever attended (that made you want to be a DJ/producer for a living)?
Not so much one memorable show, but there was a period when I regularly went to a party at the Loft in Camden for Paul Trouble Anderson's night. I used to go religiously every Wednesday. The music policy was from disco to soulful house, and it was such a discerning crowd who were totally into the music. As a former soul boy transitioning to house music, these parties really gave me the bug for the scene and the music. Seeing the likes of Trouble, Tony Humphries and Louie Vega showed me what DJing could be. From that point on I was driven to do the same thing.
short link 1001.tl/j42hx2