Having started our Studio & Live Music Production course with very little prior experience, 3 years down the line, Tom Ashby has landed himself a permanent position at Wigwam Acoustics – one of the world’s leading live sound companies.
Currently juggling his studies and Wigwam, Tom certainly has his work cut out for his this semester. Busy working between the two, we managed to catch up with him to find out about his new position.
So Tom, before we find out about the position, have you always had an interest in the music industry, especially the engineering side of things?
Yeah, I’ve always been interested in it. I play the drums, but I feel as though unless you’re really lucky and get the break, it’s really difficult. Whereas, with the engineering side of things there’s lots of areas to progress.
Before starting here, did you have any previous experience in live sound?
No, not really. Although I studied Music Technology at college, I didn’t know what Pro Tools was. Since studying here, I’ve worked for a small PA company mixing monitors, and also done a few theatre gigs. I had a fair idea of what I wanted to do, but studying here has made me realise exactly what I want to do and where I want my career to take me.
So tell us, how did the job opportunity come about?
One of my tutors, Stuart Avery, rang me one morning and invited me in for a chat. After finding out what I was interested in, he went on to tell me about the position at Wigwam. Following the conversation, he put me in contact with the HR staff at Wigwam and things just progressed from there. I was called in for an interview, had a tour around the warehouse and attended a few trial shifts. The trial shifts were great as it gave me a chance to see what happens in the warehouse and meet the people on the team.
Forgive the broad question, but what would say has been your biggest achievement while studying here?
Being able to say I work for Wigwam is a massive achievement. I never thought I would be able to say that, let alone whilst still studying here. Since 1st year on my course, my confidence has definitely grown too. When I first started here, I didn’t even know what Pro Tools was. However, the tutors have made me realise I know what I’m talking about and I can do it.
You certainly seem to have made an impression! So, how are you managing to juggle work and study – it must be pretty tiring.
Yeah, it’s tiring because I’m constantly trying to learn new things and adjust to the hours. I’m currently working 4 days at Wigwam and studying here 1 day a week. At the moment, it’s mainly speaker and cable prep, and generally preparing gigs to go out. But, when I finish in a few months it will go to a full-time position and I’ll be working 5 days a week.
Hard work definitely pays off, then. Apart from landing yourself the position at Wigwam, are you working on anything exciting at the minute?
Recently, Stuart put me in contact with The Courteeners’ Producer, Joe Cross. Myself, and a few other students, assisted him while he recorded a band called Satyr Play in Spirit. It was great and was really insightful to see a proper professional session.
Just before you go, if you could give one piece of advice to a 1st year Studio & Live student?
Ask questions and utilise the facilities, definitely. It’s been amazing being able to come in and use the facilities whenever I want. In fact, I almost take it for granted and I know when I graduate I’ll miss the access I have to the studios.
Also, I think it’s important to network. Especially with the work experience module in 2nd year, I would encourage students to email companies and take all the opportunities you can. I started with a small PA company just setting up equipment, from there moved onto bigger productions and now I’m working at Wigwam – it’s crazy really.