Hyperbits Masterclass Student Spotlight
"There's great value in knowing how the rising tide will lift all ships"
— Tom Rogers
We continue our Hyperbits Masterclass student spotlight series by introducing Tom Rogers.
Tom is an American producer who worked with us during one of the Masterclass's earliest iterations. As much has changed in the Hyperbits Masterclass in that time as has for Tom (which is to say A LOT).
Since graduating from the Hyperbits Masterclass, Tom the support he has gained from some of the biggest names in the industry; including Armin van Buuren and Blasterjaxx, is only the start. Blending his careers in both audio engineering and digital marketing, Tom founded his own sample distribution company, named Akashic Rift, which has risen to the ranks of one of the top contenders in the space.
Tom opens up about where he got his first big break, the power of building a community behind you, and the best ways you can recreate the success that he's found.
Everything started when Tom's 'Train To Nowhere' got support from the living legend – Armin Van Buuren
Tell us where your sound is at now, and what you are trying to achieve with your music.
My sound is an individualized combination of all of my favorite things. There are 2000's nu-metal guitars, psytrance bass drops – even dreamy IDM or modular breakdowns. Think if Seven Lions, Slipknot, and Porter Robinson had a baby. That's the wave I'm on these days.
What was the biggest A-HA! moment for you in music, and how did it change your approach to production?
I hit a massive writer's block after winning "Future Favorite" on A State of Trance. Armin van Buuren did the world premiere of my track "Train to Nowhere" with platinum singer-songwriter Mickey Shiloh. I got excited! 19 year old me would be beaming - this would have been the entire goal. Yet, I found myself constantly trying to write new, less inspired versions of "Train to Nowhere" to get on ASOT again. It destroyed the process for me.
One day I finally admitted to myself "this isn't even making Tom Rogers music - this is making Armin van Buuren music." And I wouldn't be at the top of that game ever, because that's not who I am. So I had to sit there and think of what I loved most about art?
There are so many greats in this industry - Deadmau5, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Seven Lions... and none of them sound like each other. They all have their own sonic identity. Once I internalized that, that's where the most significant changes happened.
Talk about a few aspects of production that you have always struggled with, both when starting out and still to this day.
The sound selection was my biggest challenge early on - I couldn't "hear" the difference between a bad drum sample and a good one. And this leaks into your mixing, the dancefloor response, and the ability of your vocalists to become inspired. Starting with quality sounds is a must.
The next is layering and general production quality - there are tools of the trade to create that heightened, festival energy you need to work a crowd.
How much did the Hyperbits Masterclass help you overcome these issues?
I saw a significant leap while taking the Masterclass, but it didn't all come together until a few years after. I had signed my first record within months, as many of Serik's students do, and it did well! #4 on Beatport Trance, with a debut by the legendary Sean Tyas. Still, I knew there was room for improvement...
Applying the concepts, over multiple tracks, and dedicating myself to finishing projects start to finish is what made the biggest difference. And as many times as the Hyperbits Masterclass will stress the importance of this, it's up to *you* to sit there and commit. You are your own greatest obstacle.
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment in music and how much does this accomplishment mean to you?
I recently debuted the "Castle of False Light" (my EP title) Visual Experience at BETA Nightclub in Denver, Colorado. It incorporates my own manga comic, which I designed the characters for and created alongside a talented team of artists. The primary insignia is a pentagram, co-created with Daniel Jung, mostly known for his design work on the Seven Lions and Ophelia brands.
We went through many different concept iterations to arrive at this unique symbol, which combines the alchemic symbols for fire and gold, as well as a particular sigil from Solomon's Goetia.
Tell me a bit about what you do for work. Does the knowledge gained through the Masterclass get applied in your career work too?
It all feeds into each other! My work through college to this day has been primarily in digital marketing. I've helped other artists get tours (shout-outs from Marshmello on their covers of his work) and I've worked for agencies.
Over the last few years, I've promoted the full gamut of what high-income verticals marketers love to work with (auto, construction, e-commerce, real estate, etc). The Visual Experience is a marriage of all of my art forms, which includes my marketing.
NO JOKE, OUR ALUMNI ARE CRUSHING IT
AND IF YOU WANT SIMILAR RESULTS, LET'S HOP ON A CALL SO WE CAN
✌️ Provide IN-DEPTH analysis of your current production approach
✌️ Spot KEY problems that are holding you back from your goals
✌️ Create a CUSTOM PLAN for you to make music as good as this alumni's
Do you do anything to creatively recharge when not working on music? What are your favorite non-music activities?
Well, first and foremost: GOOD FOOD. Cannot understate the value of a good meal, especially on the road, with quality people. This can serve as a short-term solution to most stress - even when there's little time for many choices to be made.
I take a lot of walks in nature - parks, botanical gardens, anywhere with a lot of nature where I can get lost. Something about separating and reconnecting to nature resets the mind. I try to do it at least once a day.
How much do you think community matters to the music you're making? What kind of people and circles do you surround yourself with?
It's significant - but when you're making the music, it's mostly you - alone, in a room full of machines. Collaborations help and revitalize you when you've been creating alone for too long. They're very useful in that way. At the same time, the creation process is in itself a solitary activity. Even if we're in the same room as I'm making something, you don't have access to my mind.
Sometimes I don't even have full access to why I make the music I am making or what I'm bringing forth in a piece. There are raw feelings, there's conscious thought, there are impulses based on what else happened that week. Sometimes I know why and sometimes I realize later - and sometimes no one will ever know why I've created what I did. That's part of the beauty of art.
We'd love to all wax poetic about having a design written in our heads, but part of the magnificence of art is that it is so free-flowing and all-encompassing. You can get lost and drag parts of the universe back from across the veil you weren't expecting to - and there is tremendous value in that.
As art becomes more accessible, and access to like-minded artists becomes more common as well, you'll find more groups aligning with a higher purpose.
Most of my contemporaries either run their own artist collectives or are a member of mine. The private Akashic Rift artist collective is about 20 artists across multiple disciplines. We have lighting and pyrotechnicians, video editors, sound pack designers, producers, DJs, burlesque performers, and many more.
What makes you most excited about music as you look to the future?
These styles of collectives and collaborations I'm talking about - I think this is the future.
We're going back to something like rave crews, or small factions of rebel artists (think Andy Warhol's "The Factory"). There's going to be a wave of incredibly unique yet refined art as the world reopens from this pandemic.
Artists are going to have to be more. The days of being a "baby" or "junior" [insert label owner's name here] are over. You have to bring something truly unique to the table to have any longevity in this industry.
It's a great challenge. But it's also an incredible upside if you're willing to seize the opportunity.
"I came into the Hyperbits Masterclass at a perfect point in my journey. I was decent, had a bit of small success behind me, and just needed mentor-like guidance...
...Serik was able to give me that and show me things that would take my music to the next level."
Tom is a testament to what it takes to succeed in the modern music industry. Gone are the days where you could get by only on your production chops. Tom is community-focused, market savvy, forward-thinking, and all-around amazing human...
Oh ya, and he's also an insanely talented producer.
But this is exactly what the Hyperbits Masterclass is designed to facilitiate; a top to bottom, comprehensive, and holistic approach to music production that crosses every T and dots every I. For producers like Tom, there simply wasn't any other option and as he worked with our team, results were soon to follow.
We want to shout out to Tom for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. Check out more of his phenomenal productions and keep up with his live events, music releases, sample companies, and more just check out his socials below:
If you'd like to learn more about the program that helped Tom Rogers perfect his sound and garner support from Armin van Buuren, Blasterjaxx, and more, check out The Hyperbits Masterclass.
We help music producers conquer advanced music production with a proven framework and supportive community that helps thousands of producers achieve professional results every year.
You can also scope out 20+ epic Hyperbits Masterclass alumni to see what's possible after taking our flagship program.