1. Take a minute to introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Tommy Tench and I’m a Producer and DJ operating out of my studio in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. I specialize in sampling and making beats, and I’m a huge fan of Turntablism, which I practice daily. My YouTube channel, which I started posting videos to a few months ago documenting the process of beatmaking, currently has 1300 subscribers and shows no signs of slowing down. I have numerous few projects lined up for 2013, working with artists (most of which I am supposed to keep quiet!) as well a super limited run of vinyl pressings with some producer friends of mine. I am also former student and current employee at Dubspot, a music production and DJ school, where I oversee the Tech Department.
2. How did you transition from being a Dubspot student to an employee?
I started taking classes one summer, and spent as much time as I could there. I got to know everyone pretty well, and one day they needed help setting up a private event because a few people were sick and couldn’t make it. They kept asking for help over the next few weeks, and I approached them to make it a permanent position in the Tech Department. I worked for about a year and a half as a regular Tech, until this past august when I was put in charge of the entire department.
During this time, I was able to learn and listen to everyone around me and really soak up tons of information. Everyone there is so talented and knowledgeable, its crazy really. The whole place breathes music, and can cater to everyones’ specific tastes. It really helped me be where I am today. It’s incredibly important, no matter how good you are, to keep your mouth shut and listen sometimes. I do a lot of that.
Alkota: A lot of “up and coming” beatmakers & producers assume that the the music industry has a single linear path to success where licensing and selling beats is the name of the game. What most of the new jacks don’t know is that the industry is a multi faceted and dynamic beast.
Oh man. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The modern producer has to wear many different hats. He has to not only produce the track, but mix, master and release it himself. He also has to promote the song, coordinate with artists, get studio time, and in a lot of cases, coordinate the legal side of it with contractual agreements and licensing stipulations. Gone are the days where you show up at a label with beats and they write you checks on the spot. Now, if you’re one of these elite producers, these things may not apply as much. But I see that changing rapidly.
But having to do all these extra things are what makes it fun and interesting. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to learn and try to be the best producer out there, then go ahead and make your $5 beats off your pirated version of FL Studio. Just remember that theres a glass ceiling with that style, and you’ll never reach your full potential. No disrespect to anyone who pirated FL Studio and sells $5 beats, just try to do something different on top of what everyone else is doing. I mean, I bought a DSLR to record my videos, now I understand photography really well. White balance, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, focal length, etc. I also understand lighting and video editing. I then promote it online as much as possible. I understand SoundCloud really well to the point where I have videos on how to share to all your groups in one click using html scripts. You really get to learn a lot of things inadvertently through this process. Is it harder? Yes. But you don’t gain as much if aren’t trying to figure everything out all the time. I mean honestly, the whole beat making process is really just a puzzle you have to put together. This part here, this part there and so on. The other things are basically the same, just a different puzzle!
3. Can you talk about your role in the industry from the standpoint of an educator?
I get to meet all these big named artists through Dubspot, and there are two kinds of people. The ones that are always learning and trying to get better, and the ones that have what me and my friends call “Old Man Skills.” Now the Old Man Skills have nothing to do with being old. I know 22 year old kids with OMS. Its the refusal to try anything new, which is essentially the unwillingness to keep learning and elevating your craft. These people literally get stuck in time. I firmly believe that if something works, stick with it by all means, but who’s to say that theres not something you could do differently to make it that much better? This is especially true in Turntablism. Guys that are legends in the game but for some reason stopped learning new scratches, new juggles, etc. I would rather choose to not use something, (like a particular trick or technique or even new software) then to discard it without at least testing it out myself. I think it all boils down to being humble and willing to learn, while still thinking you’re the best out there. Its a fine line between the two, but if you really do become the best remember this: The best producers are also the best at learning.