Will Darling is a producer and blogger at EDMtips, specialising in providing production advice for Electronic Dance Music. However, Will's in-depth articles cover a whole range of topics, from mindset to music theory, so be sure to check out the site!
Who is Will Darling and what is EDMtips?
For any LearnMusicTech readers who may not have heard about you or EDMtips before, could you provide a bit of background?
Sure! Well, I’ve been producing dance music and DJing for the past 20 years, and EDMtips is the crystallisation of all I’ve learnt (and continue to learn). I started it to help other producers avoid some of the mistakes I made when I was starting out, and to reduce the time it takes to get that ‘pro’ sound.
How long have you been producing music?
Technically about 24 years, but the first few were mucking about on an old Amiga computer so I don’t really count them!
Who or what are your biggest influences (music, art, business or otherwise)?
Oh, without a doubt I got into dance music from hearing “Out of Space” by The Prodigy playing in my big brother’s room. I also used to pinch his mix CD by John Digweed, so he’s another massive influence. Stuart Price, too...he’s a genius.
In terms of current producers, Calvin Harris is a master of his craft (although I prefer a lot of his earlier work) and his career has been phenomenal. Eric Prydz and Axwell, Disclosure….there’s just so much good music around!
Who are you listening to right now?
I’m listening to a lot of Eric Prydz again at the moment.
Can you describe your biggest production breakthrough (no matter how simple!)?
Learning to listen. I mean…really listen.
When I started accepting nothing less than the sound I was after, my production took a leap. It was a case of not stopping ’til I found out how to make a sound.
If you could give one piece of advice to improve a mix, what would it be?
Well, it depends on the mix, of course, but generally, less is more. If you’re having to add elements to bolster an idea, it probably isn’t a strong enough idea. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, though, when you have to brutally cull your own ideas!
Do you have any tips or advice that other people may find surprising, controversial or that perhaps contradict general convention?
Spending time getting good at making music gets you good at just that - making music.
If you want people to hear it you need to get good at marketing, too (or find help with it)….good music is only one part of it. No-one ever made a living from anything without marketing themselves.
What’s the one part of your setup that you couldn’t be without?
My Macbook Pro; everything happens on that.
What are your three favourite plugins (stock or third party)?
Lennar Digital’s Sylenth 1, Fab Filter Pro Q, and Sonnox Oxford Limiter.
Are there any free tools that you would recommend?
Audacity is useful for editing audio, and Xfer do a few cool free plugins (some used by Deadmau5).
What do you do to stay inspired and motivated?
This is a big question - THE question - and the answers are different on different days.
I’d say the main three are: visualising what I’m working towards and reminding myself why, reading self-development books and exercising regularly.
What is the biggest challenge that you have faced so far in your career (music, business or otherwise)?
Finding the time to get good, whilst earning money AND maintaining relationships and health.
Also, realising that one success doesn’t open the floodgates to easy street!
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievements would be: DJing in the Ministry of Sound, and working with some legends of house music (Ron Carroll, Katherine Ellis, Joey Negro). Having a couple of tracks in the buzz chart for the WMC in Miami was pretty cool, too!
Business & Marketing
Do you have any advice for artists and producers for getting their music out there, and building a fanbase?
I’ve worked mostly behind the scenes as a producer/ghost-writer, so I’m not really a pro at building artist profiles. I guarantee it’s the same as building a reputation in anything, though; get involved, serve, be consistent and always be improving.
Do you have any specific tips or recommended resources for promotion and marketing?
I used Soundcloud and had 20,000 listeners, but they closed my account as I posted a remix on there (even though I had permission from the artist!). That was a brutal lesson.
Build your own email list of fans rather than relying on a third party platform!
What are your thoughts on making a living from music?
It’s tough, but possible, and you only see the glamour on the TV and magazines, not all the hard, hard work it takes.
You have to love it, and think outside the box.
I can only speak from my experience, and I’ve almost always earned money from both music and my other passion - graphic design.
When I was producing full time, though (five days a week, eight hours a day), I started to lose my passion after a year. I then went back to doing it part time and I’m enjoying it so much more again.
I’ve also learned I don’t really enjoy touring and staying in hotels, but you don’t know unless you try!
What resource/method/philosophy has had the biggest impact on your workflow?
A really old-school audio book called The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale.
Are there any resources that you recommend?
Absolutely…I’m reading all the time, but here is what popped up in my head as important:
- Future Music Magazine (production magazine)
- EDMProd.com (great production website)
- SeamlessR has some great sound design tutorials on his YouTube channel
- EDMtips.com - I can’t be TOO modest; my website has some good stuff on it 🙂
- The One Thing by Gary Keller (book)
- The Landmark Forum (self-development course)
I’ve yet to find an online production course I really like, which is what I’m setting out to rectify with EDMtips.com.
Can you tell us more about your latest product?
I’ve been running the EDMtips blog for about 5 months now, and I’m just putting the finishing touches on my first product. It helps people finish their music quickly and to a high quality, rather than suffer the frustration of having hundreds of ideas stuck on the hard drive.
It’s not out yet, but will be in the next few weeks….if anyone would like early access, they can drop me an email at email@example.com.
What are your main goals for the future?
My main goal for this year is to keep building EDMtips. Aside from that, I’m looking to release a couple of tracks on Anjuna Beats, too 🙂
Where can people find you?
If anyone wants to find out more about me and what I do they can head over to www.edmtips.com.
I’d also like to share this quote by Ira Glass as it’s a goody:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me: All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Find out more
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