Community Music: Alumni Case Study - Jack Higgins
Recently, we caught up with Jack Higgins- graduate of The Creative Music Production & Business course and one half of rising drum n bass duo Pola & Bryson, to ask him a few questions about his career and all things Community Music.
Community Music: Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Jack Higgins, I’m based in East London, have been all my life. I’m signed to Shogun Audio as a producer under the name Pola & Bryson along with my buddy Harry Bryson and we DJ as a duo all over the UK and Europe at Drum & Bass shows.
Community Music: What was it that got you interested in music?
I’ve always just enjoyed music, I used to play a variety of instruments in bands as I craved the ability to create music myself. At a young age, I discovered that you can make music all on your own (who knew eh) without having to rely on others that might not share the same passion and creative direction as you. Ever since then, I’ve known this is what I’ve wanted to do, even if it meant working awful part time jobs alongside it, I wanted to spend every minute of my spare time doing this.
Community Music: When did you decide you wanted your involvement with music to be more than just a hobby?
It wasn’t so much a conscious decision, more like something that just happened by chance. Naturally, I wanted people to hear my music, there’s always a sense of ego to being a creative, despite what people will constantly tell you, so I would post my music up on the web on places like Soundcloud and Youtube and all of a sudden a few hundred views would appear. As time progresses, you adapt your sound to be more unique and your quality steps up and those hundreds of views become thousands. Then people want to work with you professionally, they want to try and actually sell your music, those thousands of views/plays suddenly become tens or thousands and then hundreds of thousands. Looking back at it, it’s been a gradual process over the past year where I’ve personally finally caught up to where our music is at the moment and realised that I can just about sustain myself off the music and shows alone. When that became apparent, I guess that’s the point that I realised that this can be more than just a hobby and could allow me to take it full time.
Community Music: How did you hear about us?
I actually heard about Community Music through a friend who had already begun a course there. I was in a rut and was talking to him about how much I regretted not going into further education after college and he suggested taking a course at Community Music. I essentially was looking to gain some knowledge to improve my production, but also to give me time outside of work to really force myself to crack on with making more music (plus the student loan was a definite encouragement).
Left: Jack Higgins (AKA Pola), Right: Harry Bryson
Community Music: Which course did you take?
I took The Creative Music Production & Business Foundation Degree Course. I genuinely felt like it was the best option for me out all of the courses and college/universities I had looked at.
Community Music: What attracted you to our course in particular, over other similar courses out there?
I looked at a few places but for me, Community Music just seemed to offer more ‘real’ knowledge and practise than the alternatives, which seemed to push the idea of a qualification in music through writing pages and pages in the form of dissertations. That’s not what music is about, you won’t learn much taking that route.
Community Music: In what ways did you benefit or are benefiting from doing this course?
General hands on ability. For my production, I had access to software I previously hadn’t used and hardware I still don’t have access to, although, when that time comes, I won’t have to just stare at it and ask the studio engineer to baby sit me. From a business side of it, being surrounded by individuals who have years of experience releasing, licensing, promoting and managing artists and material was hugely beneficial. It’s something that is ever changing and differs from artist to artist greatly. You can’t just be told ‘this is the best option for you as an artist’, you can only go off of your own judgement, or take advice from people who know you and your work well enough, which the staff at Community Music do as they genuinely care about what each and every student is doing creatively.
Pola on the decks
Community Music: What have you been up to since, and do you think Community Music influenced your decision making in what to do next?
Since finishing my course at Community Music, myself and Harry released our debut album, ‘This Time Last Year’ on our very own label, Soulvent Records. We’d planed it for about a year and released it about 3 months after I finished my course. Shortly before releasing the album, we were invited down to Shogun Audio to meet the team and were offered a contract to sign exclusively to the label after our album dropped. Since then we’ve released 2 EP’s on Shogun and remixed work from artists such as Moby, Jonas Blue and Hybrid Minds. All of these decisions were made with the knowledge I’d gained from my course at CM. I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea as to what any of this stuff entailed prior to starting my course but I left confident that I was making the right decisions.
Community Music: What are your long term goals within the music industry?
Next big move for us is our next album. Working with a label on a project like this is already proving to be considerably different to putting it out on your own label. There’s positives and negatives to it, but its all a learning curve for us. We plan on staying with Shogun for at least the next few years as we love working with them and we feel they get our music out to the right audience. After all that though, who knows. It’s a bit too far off to say really.
Community Music: Would you recommend Community Music to others and why?
Absolutely, It feels like a full on team effort when working there. Like all the staff and students are there to look out for your best interests. The fact that a number of the people in my class still work closely with CM, either on other projects or even teaching there, is enough evidence to prove that they’re all about building a proper community around music.
Community Music: Any releases, gigs or other music related news we should know about?
Well 2018 will see us release our next album, no more info on that for now otherwise I’ll probably get in trouble. In regards to shows, we’ll no doubt be playing a hand full of club nights and festivals up and down the country as well as in Europe, and we’ll hopefully be locking in an Australia + New Zealand tour as well towards the end of the year, so fingers crossed for that.
Community Music: And finally, what 3 tips would you give budding musicians, producers or DJs on how to make progress within the music industry?
1. Sounds cheesy, but never give up. Things happen slowly, but they won't happen at all if you don't give it your all as consistently as possible.
2. Never let negativity get you down. As much as we're always told to always stay positive, everyone always has criticism to give each other. Don't let negative comments/criticism on your work get you down, use those comments to your advantage.
3. Be nice. Nobody, whether label, artist, DJ or promoter, wants to work with somebody they don't like. Don't ever give people the opportunity to say no simply because they don't like you. At the same time, don't allow yourself to be mugged off by somebody just because they think they're 'big in the game'!
Community Music: Thanks for your time Jack. We wish you all the best for 2018 and beyond!
If you are interested in applying for The Creative Music Production & Business Course, we are now recruiting for September 2018
Contact us on 0207 377 0621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a site visit and discuss how to apply.