Hybrasil’s Elevator Program is a forward-thinking music production platform that operates on a community-driven model, providing students with the opportunity to learn about electronic music production while being a part of their online community, as well as the opportunity to release on the program’s in-house label.
Will Kinsella, also known as Hybrasil, has developed a successful method for imparting the knowledge necessary to produce high-grade dance music. Students enrolled in Elevator Program are able to explore the world of electronic music using an aesthetic and practical perspective thanks to Will’s science-based approach to music production. The two main pillars behind the course’s success are originality and functionality, and these foundations allow students to discover their unique voice within electronic music.
The pace at which electronic music is being released is increasing by the day, and with this abundance of readily-available music comes the often-found lack of quality control, greed, and banality. We’re gorging on fast-food style dance music on a daily basis and this lack of awareness and traceability within these frittered releases leads to a mundane acceptance of mediocrity and lack of creativity. This begs the question, can everyone make dance music?
Will Kinsella believes that once given the right tools and knowledge to understand the art and science behind electronic music production, everyone can make high-quality and original dance music. The ethos and values steeped in Elevator Program are engulfed in the dedication and recognition of the craft of making dance music. The community-based platform gives students of Elevator Program a safe space to share, learn and analyse the pursuit of music creation in an online artistic refuge for those who simply want to better their music.
From humble beginnings to the present time Elevator Program boasts a network that spans from Berlin to London, New York, Amsterdam, Dublin, and more. The courses’ in-house style recruitment network offers students attainable goals from releasing with their label, to joining the team as community officers, social media mangers, and more. This community-based approach gives students an accessible goal to work towards while working in the course, which inherently drives success.
Will remembers a time when he was desperately trying to build up the contacts and network just to bag a release when he was in the infancy stages of his career, the frustrations this brought on him, and how it can affect creativity.
“Getting started as a releasing artist is tough when it comes to connecting with labels, getting A&R feedback and getting signed. Elevator Program offers a one stop shop, where artists can learn how to make music to an industry standard in terms of production quality and to get their music out there through an in-house label.”
The history of Elevator Program is a deep-rooted story that starts with Will Kinsella’s love for repetitive rhythms, and it’s impossible to tell this story without recounting these pinnacle moments. Will’s lifelong dedication to dance music is something that has consumed him since he first discovered the cavernous world of techno. It was obvious to him at an early age that he wanted to pursue electronic music as a career, and nothing was going to stop him. “For me electronic music is more than a vocation, it’s an obsession.”
Will’s passion for electronic music at an early stage seems totally in line with how he views and feels about the music to this day, it seems like the ethos and love for electronic music and Elevator Program were born over 15 years ago. “I fell in love with the culture around DJing and electronic music. Vinyl, turntables, playing three decks, turntablism, I was really in love with the craft and the performance of electronic music.”
His journey continued through record collecting, pirate radio, running events, and delving deep into the art of making music. His fascination with the deep sea that is in electronic music grew with time and his exponential lust for learning led him to craft electronic music production. Soon after deciding to take the leap into electronic music production, he made the fearless decision to quit his job and study music production full-time. From here Will studied Sound & Music Technology in Temple Bar, clutching onto every bit of information he could absorb and committing himself to round-the-clock learning. This is where he first cut his teeth both at producing music and also teaching.
“I quit my job and jumped into Sound & Music Technology full-time. I studied there for two years and I was then asked to stay on as an in-house sound engineer at Temple Lane Studios and as a lecturer in Sound Training College. That was the first time I channelled what I was learning in the studio into a learning program for artists.”
Will’s first experience teaching electronic music came quite early in his production journey and this is a testament to his work ethic and hard graft to sustained learning, a trait that is very much engrained in him to this day and filters through to the very core of Elevator Program. His fresh-faced approach to teaching electronic music meant that he could relate to the students’ queries and qualms naturally and was then able to curate a curriculum that was catered to people at different levels, with the end goal of making a track.
“From day one it came down to putting myself in the student’s shoes through breaking down the creative process and guiding people through that process. You need to know the basics, from programming drums, to creating basslines, sequencing your ideas and mixing your tracks. If you learn the basics from the ground up you can write music. From there if you keep writing, pushing, and evolving, your sound and skills will grow.”
Will’s journey within education snowballed from here as he continued to pursue his career in music education. While some teachers have seen their educational vocations as a hindrance to the creative and artistic goals, Will found things to be quite the opposite. Delving deep into production rabbit holes in order to be as knowledgeable as possible on certain subjects he found himself really pushing his own abilities to the next level. Crash courses in Ableton and mixing classes became Will’s first stab at teaching away from The Sound Training College. We spoke about how these early endeavours in education set the tone and the foundation for what would become Elevator Program:
“It was really focused on getting results and breaking down the art and science of music production into digestible parts so the artists could improve either their workflow, creative process and write tracks in an efficient way. That was really the foundation blocks of what became of Elevator Program.”
It’s clear that Elevator Program really is an extension of Will himself and his devotion to learning, challenging himself and taking risks. The course is taught how Will would have liked to have been taught in his production infancy, the advice comes from the mistakes and lessons he learned throughout the years and his love for sharing knowledge is poured into the programme through every last detail.
“I built Elevator Program as something that I would hand to my younger self, before quitting my job and studying Music Technology full time. I took that leap but not everyone can take that risk. The roots of Elevator Program is looking back to that person who was making that key life decision. I wanted to develop a platform that was purely focused on electronic music production, the creative process and music technology. Where Ableton is an instrument of creativity and not a technological obstacle. This is where the art meets the science of music production.”
Will often refers to his musical ecosystem between Elevator Program and his work under Hybrasil as a feedback loop, giving this impression of his musical life both as an artist and teacher as some sort of electrical circuit that is repeatedly nourishing both functions through his work in each respected vocation. The word feedback loop seems utterly appropriate for describing his balance between his life as an artist and teacher. The word reflects his obsession with music production and gives the impression his life is somehow dictated by a tape delay evoking a call and response as if life imitates music.
“Teaching and music production have been totally intertwined for me. Through teaching I was forced to push my technical knowledge to the limit, which fed back into my creative process, creating a feedback loop that would influence my music and live performances.”
Elevator Program runs against stiff competition in the world of electronic music production courses. Free videos on YouTube and masterclasses with high-profile producers have become popular choices for producers looking to further their knowledge and gain an edge in their production process. While these masterclasses are of great benefit and serve a specific purpose, they are teaching producers to sound like someone else, which is far from Will’s goal when teaching.
“We’re helping people break the endless masterclass cycle, where you’ve watched 500 YouTube video, and its fragmented information. You know, disorganised information is chaos and I want to structure things out in a linear way that gives people a framework where they can develop their skills, find their voice and express themselves as an artist. So the art being the creative process and how you’re approaching writing tracks, and the science being the technology behind it.”
Elevator Program functions beyond its veneer as a simple course to learn about music production. The programme essentially works as a living and breathing home for students across the globe to network, converse, gain feedback, and oftentimes, friendship. Will describes Elevator Program as an ecosystem and mentions how it’s taken on a life of its own in some aspects. As students rise through the ranks, gaining recognition through the label and their own musical journeys, the platform hosts a cocktail of students from different levels, backgrounds, and sounds offering a carousel of knowledge in a judgement-free forum. “There’s an ecosystem where people can go learn, you can access it for free and we’re doing some free webinars. We’re building an element of community spirit here.”
Past pupil Yasmin Gardezi echoes the importance of having a trusted network of people when seeking clarity and feedback. “I think it is extremely essential to have a community of like-minded people come together for inspiration and support. It definitely helps to answer more specific questions too and gather different opinions and methods from producers of all backgrounds. I think it is important for all producers to find one or two forums they respect and feel comfortable in to progress in their production journeys and create networks.”
Yasmin now holds the position of Social Media Manager for the platform. Yasmin’s social media presence and knowledge of marketing were already at an exemplary level while taking the course and coupled with the fact that she was already receiving notable success as a DJ, it was obvious her social media knowledge would be of benefit to the course. This fluid level of recruitment from within brings healthy work relationships with people who understand the goals and ethos of the company.
“I started working for Elevator Program as Head of Social Media in May 2020, after graduating from the Artist Development Program myself. I manage and create content for the Elevator Program Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok accounts. I think being a past student and enrolling in all the courses Elevator Program has to offer has really shaped my understanding of the school and Elevator Program’s values. This makes my job managing the socials much easier and I really enjoy being part of the team.”
The courses’ in-house label has already seen four releases from Hybasil, Murademura, and Reosc who have supplied two offerings on the imprint. The label stays in line with the community spirit of Elevator Program and only hosts music from past attendees and affiliates of the course. Will doesn’t care about sticking to a certain sound or building an identity or even making money, he purely wants to use this platform to release music from students. It’s simple really, if the music is good enough, Elevator Program will release it.
“It’s amazing to be able to let the artists be themselves. If the music’s good, we release it, we don’t have an agenda in terms of sound or we don’t have to get sales because the label isn’t driven by money, it’s part of the program. The platform enables us to run a record label that is 100% music and artist-focused where we want to deliver a really nice experience for the artists.”
Elevator Program’s ethos and commitment to growing its community through the process of following proven techniques and learning about the art and culture of electronic music production is something that can be applied to dance music as a whole. If promoters, DJs, producers, and partygoers focussed on building community-driven events with an onus on the culture and traditions of electronic music while still carving out a unique imprint, the music would be in a much better place.
Yasmin Gardezi touches on how important the community aspect is in Elevator Program and how the course caters to students of all levels, giving students the opportunity to learn and grow in a no-judgement style environment.
“Elevator Program is a community and an ecosystem and I think this is what makes it stand out the most for me. It’s been extremely enjoyable being a part of the team and watching the platform grow from an e-learning platform to an ecosystem full of students, graduates, and team members all coming together to share their love for learning electronic music. In the last year, we have expanded into a music label to provide a platform for graduates to release music on. We are more than a music production course and I am so proud to be a part of the team.”
Social media’s impact on society and in turn electronic music culture has changed the face of dance music in recent years. The margins of being a successful DJ and producer are so thin right now, and in many cases just being good at your craft doesn’t cut it. Being a DJ or producer is like being a start-up business in many ways, as artists feel the pressure of marketing through high-quality videos, press shots, consistent music releases, podcasts, interviews, PR, and more. The job of a DJ and producer has exploded into something that can be unmanageable and undesirable for many creatives. Elevator Program offers an alternative to people who have no interest in competing in the social media rat race, a safe haven, with no algorithm and a place simply to discuss music as Will discusses;
“Making music can be an isolating experience. When you go into the studio you’re on your own and it’s you and the machines. Through Elevator Program I am sharing the lessons I’ve learned as an artist and my goal is to make that process easier for others. We want people to enjoy the creative process and to reach their full creative potential.”
“We want to connect people who are on the same journey but maybe at different stages. If you’re live in a remote area and you’re into Detroit techno, where are you going to play? Who are you going to connect with? Elevator offers a campus in the cloud where people can learn, connect and release music, but we are also taking a hybrid/in person approach, which is why we are rebooting the Ableton Bootcamp at Wigwam on April 22nd”
Past student Olympias reflects on when she first joined the course five years ago, as he looks towards his debut release on the label this Friday. “I enrolled in 2018. I loved the course. It’s perfect for anyone starting with Ableton for the first time and wants to finish up with 4 tracks. Nothing was overwhelming which is how you feel when you first open the software.”
Past student and current Community Manager Reosc reminisces on when a career in music was just a thought and a far cry from reality, the course enabled him to find his own sound, and ultimately grow with the team. His love and faith in the course’s ability led him to a role as Community Manager.
“It was always a dream from early on to have a career in music. Signing up for the Elevator Program course was the best decision I have made music-wise, as it gave me a new vision for my music and allowed me to perfect the skills I already had, as well as learn new techniques along the way. Throughout the course my vision was to release a solid piece of music of my own, I was stoked that Will wanted to sign my music after graduating from the course. It’s awesome to know that he was happy with my ability.”
Reosc’s full-circle journey with the course is the first of its kind in the course and serves as proof that the community-driven approach is not only successful but it creates a sustainable team for future attendees.
“I’m currently mentoring students as an Elevator Program instructor, I do 1 to 1 calls with students and help them in the areas that they are struggling with. Graduates of our advanced music production course and artist development subscription are eligible to submit their music for release so I’m also listening to a lot of demos for the label. If I feel they are good enough I will pass them on to Will to check out, If the music requires further work it’s my role to give the A&R feedback on what we have received and then give detailed advice on what course modules that student would need to revisit to improve.”
Elevator Program is clear-cut proof that a community-driven approach to dance music yields raw and authoritative results. Will Kinsella’s approach stems back to his early days as a music producer, and those emotions are still vivid in his mind. Kinsella’s grasp on measurable success and goals fuels innovation, revitalisation, and authenticity. His ethos and approach are influencing new generations of producers, who are fuelled by a flame that burns next to and deep within the realm of independent and dynamic dance music.
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