In Conversation With: Nomine
To his mother, he is known as Andrew. The old school junglists among you may know him as his pirate radio owner and DJ past life moniker Outrage. The bank manager will call him Mr Ferguson – the well-respected lecturer and Founder and CEO of music education platform Education & Bass. Whatever name you know him as the talent, determination, passion, understanding and love for music remains constant.
How are you doing? How are you holding up during these uncertain times?
I just feel blessed to be able to do what we do and educate online, whilst being able to support others. That’s been a great thing to focus my energy on, rather than worrying myself. It’s enabled me to channel more time into making music and has enabled me to spend more time with my family. Of course it has been tough too, but really just trying to keep things positive.
I’ve also adapted to working out at home more. A lot of what this has done has been showing us what is actually possible with limitations. There’s been a lot of adapting and it’s been an eye-opener.
I’ve read previous interviews where you’ve mentioned struggling with anxiety. I also battle with this and recently during this lockdown I’ve begun to take a natural supplement called Lion’s Mane to aid it, what have you been doing to keep your mental help in order during the pandemic?
The last couple of weeks have been tough, that’s mainly due to the pressure of taking on too much, rather than the situation itself. For me, in a weird way, the fact that we have become so restricted has alleviated anxiety for me, although I do still have some very bad days. I was always going out on trains, planes, in crowds and having meetings (I always get anxious before face to face meetings and events, like most people I guess), which of course I do love and certainly not complaining about, as is a part of what I do, I am blessed, but with this can come chronic anxiety, which can get very overwhelming. In some ways I’ve strangely suffered less recently, due to not having to deal with the day-to-day hustle and grind of being out and about.
You would expect maybe the opposite, but a big positive for me is still being able to work. If I could not put food on the table for my family I would be struggling. It’s not all about money but I have responsibilities to fulfil and financial struggle can be a huge contributing factor towards mental health. I’m blessed to be able to still run my business.
For readers who might not be aware of Education & Bass, can you explain what you guys do and the premise behind it?
Education & Bass is Music Production and Business Education for all: Online, live workshops & international tours. Artist development, success & opportunities. We support the teaching and learning of Music Technology in youth organisations, schools, colleges and universities all over the world and also run events to inspire the next generation of music makers. We started off as an event; a multi-genre DJing event where before the club night we would inspire and share education to the audience through seminars, masterclasses and music feedback sessions. We’re still very much about that and want to give people real opportunities to get involved with the industry. We have recently launched the EBRSL Graded Syllabus, which is an accredited course in partnership with RSL Awards that gives those who don’t have an academic background the opportunity to gain qualifications. This is something close to my heart as I returned back to education many years after leaving with nothing to do a Masters in Advanced Music Technology and a Teaching Degree. I thought and believed that I was stupid at school (was actually told that) so achieving what I have, coming from a poor disadvantaged background, motivates me to help inspire others to do the same and to help them believe that they CAN, even when the odds may be against them!.
Education & Bass is a fantastic project which is widely supported throughout the industry, how do you feel about knowing the UK government has practically branded the industry you specialise in as unviable?
In my opinion, the music industry will bounce back harder and bigger than ever. Although that doesn’t help right now, there will be many casualties, there already are and it is heartbreaking. I think it’ll be the biggest and best it has ever been when the pandemic is over and we come together to rebuild, but it will not be easy. The music industry has always been a massive revenue contribution to the world economy, with many opportunities for people from all walks of life. Music is the international language that we all understand that brings us together.
What’s devastating is the government aren’t prepared to support the bigger picture here in the UK. It’s a piss-take that they’re not prepared to support the arts right now and it’s very sad. There are so many people involved with the industry, graphic designers, filmmakers, marketers, web designer, events etc. It’s not just about people who make or play the music, there is a whole ecosystem that does a lot of positive things for billions of people around the world.
It’s fucked that the government have never really have cared though, we’ve always been the underdogs since Thatcher and the illegal raves, when they tried to shut us down. I just hope we can come together to rebuild. It’s going to be a rough path, but we can and will do it!
Have you got any words of encouragement for fresh talent who may be nervous about exploring the music industry as a career during a time where we’ve basically shut down?
I think it’s a great time to learn new things. There are new skills that can be learnt, which could help get a foot into the industry, even if it isn’t exactly what you want to do in music. It is an in to the industry, which is important. If you learn web design you could end up developing for a record label or if you learn sales and marketing, that can help your brand, market and sell yourself as an artist. All of which are skills that are transferable!
Regardless of Covid or lockdown, always follow your dreams, but I don’t agree with massive celebrities and influencers that say you shouldn’t have a plan B. I can’t give false hope, but I do believe that a lot is possible when you commit, never stop learning and take “failure” on the chin. There is no such thing as failure, it is a part of learning and growing, embrace failure, never fear it!
We have links to opportunities here at Education & Bass, but we can’t promise you the world, you need a plan B. The same skills you learn as a producer, DJ or someone involved with the music industry are transferrable in other worlds. But like I said, always follow your dreams and find ways to constantly educate yourself and develop new skills in ways that work for you, if you’re not academic. Always seek new life experiences, they are what make us. The world is wide open to new talent, we just need to carve out our own path and be prepared for a non-linear journey, but most of all ENJOY the ride while it is happening because nothing else exists.
I’d seen online that Education & Bass were offering free music production lessons for kids during this homeschooling season. What an amazing community-driven idea, did you have many kids take up the offer? How’s the initiative going?
It’s actually something we were doing way before Covid. We’ve been doing it for nearly two years now, with college and university students. Anyone studying at college and university can gain access to the site’s resources for free. I come from a background of teaching at college and university level, and I understand how hard it is to find good resources. I always had a mission to support students with good quality content. Knowing how hard it is, I wanted to use my industry and teaching experience to support those who may not be academic but wanted to learn. At first, there wasn’t a massive uptake by the schools, but the need for that extra enrichment and online learning has highlighted it as a positive and it is now being received very well. It’s something we will continue to support the teaching and learning of Music Technology, we need to wave and want the next generation to know that we’re there to support.
Let’s talk about your new release. I’m really feeling the moody vibes. Tell us about the creative process, what came first the track or the vocal?
The release is a concept idea presented to me by good friend Derek Holder. We formed Kaom Productions and developed Derek’s idea into a reality. Derek has done a lot of animated work in the past, but had this idea of a Grime track fused with Jungle, DnB roots that is supported by a fully animated superhero music video. The concept is loosely based on the Robin Hood style of taking from the corrupt rich and giving to the poor. Derek is an absolute legend and amazing person, who I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with. Digital and myself wrote the track and I hit up my old friend MC 9er (Macabre Unit) who delivered the storytelling vocal goods.
You’ve got some pretty sick remixes that go along with the single. You and Nurve have an ongoing musical relationship, but how did The Boylan & Slimzee release come about? Did you approach them?
The remixes are SICK by some absolute dons. The release is an amalgamation of grime, drum & bass and dubstep. Slimzee and Boylan have both been on the label a couple of times and never disappoint. Slimzee was already a part of the animation in the music video before the remixes package, so it made sense he was included for those. Nurve has been a long-time collaborator who smashes it and I have a great relationship with Digital, who brought on board D.K. who he met at University while doing his Masters Degree. They funked things up on their nice remix.