Check out and share our Tobi Interview. This interview is part of our new Producer & Engineer Q&A Series. In this interview series we feature exciting producers, mixing and mastering engineers from all walks of life. As always: Share & Support!
Please introduce yourself real quick. Tell our audience about your background and how you go into doing what you´re doing right now.
Grew up in the North of England. As a teenager I sang and played guitar / bass in a series of epically awesome / awful bands. Wrote my first song on the guitar, aged 14. A love song, entitled 'Hey Baby, You Make My Willy Explode'. Studied experimental Film + Video at Art College, which is where I learned Sound Recording / Production. My deconstructionist digital video art house horror film 'Happy Day', was not a box office smash I'd hoped for.
Fell into teaching Finance, Legal + Marketing English in the Investment Banks + International Companies based here in Luxembourg (it's every bit as interesting as it sounds). After years of circling the drain, finally fell into a deep depression. Eventually dragged my stubborn a*se to see a Psychiatrist (now 7 years and counting), who diagnosed me with Chronic Anxiety / Depression. With medication came relief from depression, repressed memories + night terrors, picking up the guitar for the first time in 15 years and songs.
Built a basic Home Studio to record all the songs I kept forgetting. Thought it's now or never. Sold my car. Moved out to the sticks. Got an awesome beagle, called 'Enzo'. And concentrated on music full time. I'm very lucky to be a member of two awesome online communities, the Produce like a Pro Academy (run by Warren Huart) and The #MonsterThread (run by Jon and myself). They've really made a huge positive difference to my career and my life. I owe both communities a huge amount.
Please tell our audience what projects have you been working on in the last years?
I'm very proud of the Brazilian / Swedish Folk Hip Hop Track I worked on, featuring Brazilian Rapper Bruno Smokey and Swedish Singer Songwriter Jon Magnusson (who I run The #Monster Thread with). It was a double A-Side Release, I mixed and mastered both versions. American Hip Hop playlist won't touch it, but it's on a bunch of popular playlists in Brazil, which is just mind blowing! Love the idea of people in San Paolo getting down to one of my mixers.
I did a remix of Seattle based Singer Songwriter Daniel Feinberg's beautiful lofi Indie song, 'Want You the Most'. It took a real bizzare turn and ended up this sonic oddity of Cinematic Hitchcockian Strings juxtaposed against a driving sequencer bass and lo fi vocals. I was worried that Daniel would hate it, but he loved it. It's gradually been gaining momentum on Spotify. It's very satisfying to have something so odd, do well.
What are you currently working on? Do you accept clients and and what kind of projects/work fits your profile?
I'm currently working on an Acoustic EP with Jon. As well as mixing and mastering, I'm co-producing this time, which I love doing. Jon sends me audio files and I give him feedback. I see my role very much to support Jon in his vision. A lot of what I do is to act as a sounding board and, in a sense, be Jon's audience.
I just had a remix fall through at the last minute. The artist loved it, but backed out because some of his friends didn't like it. Kinda frustrating, as I still feel it was really beautiful. One of those 'take it on the chin moments'.
I've got a couple of other co-productions in the works. And I've just started remixing an awesome track called, 'The Beautiful Ones', by the mighty Juxta John (who runs Atom Collector Records). I'm super nervous, as I think it could be so special and I don't want to mess it up.
I've been working on my own stuff a little too. With mixing / remixing, I've always just jumped in with both feet. But I have zero confidence, when it comes to my own music. If I was co-producing me as an Artist, I'd drive myself nuts! ..that's probably one of the therapy sessions.
For Co-Producing, mixing and / or mastering people can contact me via my socials or email. The same goes for remixing, plus they can also drop their track in my handy and originally titled, 'Hey Tobi! Remix my Track!' Spotify Playlist.
Are you a superfan of anyone? How did you become a superfan? Do you remember how you become a fan and what turned you into super fan? Have you ever thought about why you´re such a fan?
I am a total superfan of the awesome pop rock band, Little Empire. They have something very few bands have, their music helps you get through your life. And because of that, I honestly believe, if they wanted to, they have a shot a ruling the world. And if they did rule the world, I think it'd be a better world.
Having said that, I'd be just as proud of them if they grew into a fantastic Indie Band, worked on other projects and had some time to have a life. I can't help, but think they'd be happier, healthier people for it. Speaking of other projects, lead singer Lily Lewis just dropped a single called 'Friction' and it's tearing up Spotify - closing in on 50,000 streams - check it out kiddies!
What was the biggest mistake you made when you started making music and what would be the number one tip you could give to a newcomer musician?
Trying to do everything myself. Very few people can (Ghostly Beard is a good example - awesome talent). Most people can't. You need a second pair of ears.
Network. Get out there. Find people you can trust and work with. It's not easy and you will be let down. Three times this last year and counting. But you'll also meant awesome people, who will inspire you and make you better.
How do you get gigs? Can you share any tips?
Don't think about getting work. Think about getting to know people. Build friendships with other Artists / Bands etc. The work will follow.
Do you have good promotion tips for other musicians?
At the risk of repeating myself, don't think about promoting yourself. Get to know people. Network. Support other people whose work you're passionate about. A lot of my networking contacts came about because I was promoting Little Empire.
Do you have insights on how to grow your audience on soundcloud that you want to share with our audience?
Regular, but not too much, sharing on Twitter seems to work for me. Honestly though, I'm more focused on Spotify.
What has been your biggest challenge right now? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Had a sort of breakdown at the beginning of 2017. Couldn't get off the floor of my studio for three hours. Enzo, my beagle, bless him. Lay down next to me and stayed with me to make sure I was alright. Little guy saved my life.
I'd had a growing problem with someone I was producing. It'd been going on for weeks. He behaviour reminded me of someone from my childhood, I'd rather never be reminded off and it tailspun me into a breakdown. Understand why, but still don't understand why it hit me so hard. Friends in the Produce like a Pro Academy were superstars, so supportive. As were Lily, Chet, Jeremy and Dash of Little Empire, which meant so much to me.
I was misdiagnosed with BiPolar and prescribed meds which I had this super rare allergic reaction to. Messed me up very badly and I nearly died - I passed out, my tongue swelled up and I nearly choked on it. It's taken the rest of the year to balance out on my new Anti-Anxiety Meds plus the old Antidepressants. Not an easy year. If it weren't for Enzo, not sure I'd still be here.
How do you personally discover new music?
I run the New Music Monster Playlist for the #MonsterThread, so makes it easy. Limehead Radio is also great for new music!
Once you discovered new music, do you tell others about the new music/artist you discovered? If yes, how exactly?
"I do a lot of networking / promotion, both for the projects I work and also for other Artists / Bands I really like. A big part of what I do for the #MonsterThread is about helping our members music reach a wider audience.
What is your number one tip to improve your music production or songwriting skills?
Be honest. Music is a direct line to our deepest emotions. It sounds simple, but it's really difficult. So many songwriters hide behind cliché. And it's never ever any good.
What is your best tip for those who struggle with finishing their tracks?
Take breaks. Don't get too dragged into the track. You need to keep perspective. A lot of my mixing ideas come, when I'm listening to rough mixes on MP3, while walking my dog. Working with other people will also help. Having a second pair of ears can really help.
We meet again in one year. What has changed?
Hopefully more co-productions and a string of remixes. I may or may not have released my own material. I'd also like to see The #MonsterThread really connecting our members and their music to a much wider audience.