When I found out that there was a newly-founded school for electronic music in Cologne, I just had to register for their very first electronic music producer course. I am now among the first alumni of the Electronic Music School and looking forward to my first releases now.
“The idea came to me one night when I couldn’t sleep. I had been teaching courses on Ableton Live before, but I just had this idea of a room full of audio equipment and students learning to work with that, like in a normal music school.” (Björn Torwellen)
While there is certainly no shortage of electronic music producers, one can notice a lack of quality in many productions. This is one of the reasons why the school was founded.
“Producing music has become dramatically easier and cheaper than it used to be. However, a lot of music isn’t well-produced, either on the technical or on the creative side. Apart from that, there are so many creative tools and techniques to choose from that a lot of people simply end up being confused. We want to serve as a guide in this confusion and show people what they really need and give them a good foundation for their creativity. For example, at the beginning of the first producer course, one student asked me what equipment or software he had to buy to become a good producer. When he told me what equipment he had at home, I just told him that he already had everything he needed.” (Björn Torwellen)
While the school has been getting very positive feedback so far, there are also a lot of challenges involved in running it. One of them is a lack of examples to learn from. With its aim to combine elements from music theory, audio engineering and electronic music culture, it’s hard to find something that is similar to this approach.
“There are classical music schools out there, and there are courses for people who want to be professional audio engineers. Both is interesting, but that’s not what we want. When Björn called me and told me about what he wanted to, I immediately agreed to join because I felt that this was exactly the kind of combination that wasn’t there already.” (Jeyênne)
“We had to make assumptions on how to teach this, and we are changing things all the time when we feel something can be improved. For example, we learned that plain software courses for Cubase or Ableton Live are not enough. It’s not enough to just teach people how to use a certain software and there are already courses where you can learn that. We are aiming for a more holistic approach and try to teach things that you really need to produce good music. I also assumed that people would want to work with our equipment (synthesizers, mixers, MIDI controllers, …), but most people are happy to bring their laptop along and work on that.” (Björn Torwellen)
The school has just been around for a couple of months now, but it’s already growing. Apart from courses and workshops on various topics (producing, mastering, marketing, circuit bending, sound synthesis, …), Björn and Jeyênne are preparing to teach in other cities as well. Vianna, Munich, Linz and Dortmund are just some of the cities they will visit in the near future.
“We are also working on a book and several DVDs right now. We first thought that this would hurt our business, but now we actually think that this will strengthen us. Everything we teach can already be learned through books or the internet, but it’s just different to learn from a person than from a book or a computer. I think the book and the DVDs will help us to reach even more people and make our name well-known. I also hope that we will be able to build a community around the school. I hope we can stay in touch with our alumni and I’d be happy to see some activity coming from the people that we taught.” (Björn Torwellen)
“We are also preparing courses for kids and we hope to be able to reach out to other music communities. When you think of electronic music, you often only think about House and Techno, and that’s what most of current students are actually interested in. To me, it doesn’t stop here. A lot of HipHop, Pop or even Gothic/Industrial music is mostly electronic music and we would love to teach people how to do that, too.” (Jeyênne)
Here’s some music so you can see that those two guys actually know what they are talking about:
Björn Torwellen – Dekadent Disco
“We Shit Bits” , a DJ Set by Björn Torwellen
XPQ 21 – Rockin’ Silver Knight
XPQ 21 – Hey You