Tim Gosden graduated from the BA Music (Production) course in 2012 and since then has been building up a large portfolio of experience in production, performance and session playing. We had a chat with him to discuss skipping sleep, bringing together classical with electronic dance music, and the importance of live production skills.
Q) You seem to have always been quite interested in both classical and modern electronic music – can you tell us a bit about how you got into music in the first place?
A) My dad is a musician – he’s a pianist and an organist – and I grew up playing piano and the French horn, and doing the whole classical thing – the Suffolk Youth Orchestra, all the grades and training.
When I hit high school I also got into doing music with computers. It wasn’t until 16 or 17 that I started to understand how the classical theory I learnt would impact the electronic music I was working on.
Does that classical theory still play a part in your production work today?
The majority of the work I do is straight-up pop, dance and hip-hop, and understanding theory and being able to talk musically is really helpful. Most of the people I work with are not what you would call musicians – they’re artists: singers, rappers, writers and top-liners.
Because I know my theory, everything I do is grounded in that, so I understand why something sounds the way it does. That’s a really useful tool because it makes things repeatable – you can do something again because you understand how it works, whereas if you don’t understand how it works you can never repeat that unless by fluke or by chance.
You did the Music Production pathway at Leeds College of Music – did you still keep up the classical side of things then?
When I was at Leeds College of Music I got really stuck into everything – not just production or classical. I played in the orchestras, I played in a wind quintet, I played drums in a rock band.
For me, music has always been about doing as much as possible; it’s never been about practicing one specific genre. I’m happy to sit and listen to a full on Tchaikovsky symphony the same way I’m happy to sit and listen to a full Britney Spears album. I think it’s really important to be open-minded in that way.
What sort of work are you doing now as a producer and musician?
If I’m honest, I don’t really sleep very much! It's one piece of advice I would give anyone wanting to go into production – there’s so many opportunities, just take them and worry about the sleeping another day.
Part of the time I work in a band for a Christian charity, Crossfya. As part of the band, I do faith-based music workshops – focusing on drumming, DJing and music tech – at schools and youth events all over Europe and the UK. I absolutely love working with my faith and with young people.
On top of that I do stacks of freelance projects – I mixed a country track for Laura Oakes, produced an EP with a hip-hop guy called MellorD, and an album for grime artist, Breaker. I’ve also being doing some stuff with Craig Golding (Production Pathway Leader) – I played French horn for one of his film music projects.
Can you tell us about two projects you’ve loved working on and why?
One would be an album I worked on with band Twelve24 called Tell The Truth. That was a great project – ten tracks of dance-pop. I loved making that record, because I was stuck in from the start with all the writing, all the hooks, and all the themes.
My dissertation I also loved – that was producing a record for a band called Glowhearts, with Dan McDougal. Working on that record was a polar opposite experience from Twelve24 for me, because instead of helping with writing, I was facilitating the band in making the music they wanted to make. It was a really organic project. I had to access a completely different skill set, and approach completely different genres, personalities, and writing styles.
Dan McDougal really inspired and encouraged me when I was at the conservatoire. When I was in my first year, he was a third year and one of the best pop students on the course, and he asked me to record this EP for his band, which was then with Bruno Major. That was the start of a really great relationship for me.
Do you have any tips for graduating Production students?
I think it’s incredibly important for Production students not to dismiss doing live production. What’s going on in live shows at the moment, production-wise, is huge.
Since finishing studying I’ve got massively immersed in what’s been going on in the live sound world, lighting and video – and how all those things work together creatively.
At the end of the day, the reason people make music is for other people to listen to it, and people go to live gigs more than they buy records nowadays – they want to see a show. It’s important to see how that side of listening to music works.
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