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How to start and sustain a career in music production: interview with Bicep

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Written by Natasha Moore - as part of Youth Music Next Gen.

‘Bicep’, not simply the muscle bodybuilders love to flex at the beach, but moreover, the moniker of one of electronic music’s most influential and recognisable duos. The name materialised from their original blog - ‘Feel My Bicep’ that paid homage to their unwavering appreciation of many music genres. But whilst their blog may have given the artists their name, it was their attitudes that garnered them musical success - which in their own words was not overnight! 

Describing themselves as ‘nostalgic, emotive and hands-on’, it’s no coincidence that they’re ambassadors for Youth Music. They’re passionate about music and share Youth Music’s belief in the life-changing power of music-making. And they play an important role in sharing their experience and knowledge of the music industry with the organisations and young people supported by Youth Music.

two people in white tshirts with green trees behind them
Electronic duo Bicep - credit Ben Price.

Bicep will be judging a new competition from Youth Music and Charanga, to discover the top three electronic dance music tracks produced on Charanga’s online learning and music production platform by the young people and organisations Youth Music supports.

I sat down with the duo - Andy and Matt - and together they shared more about their career, and their advice for young musicians starting out in producing music.

What advice would you give your younger selves if you were trying to break into the industry again?

Perseverance is really important. Success often doesn't come fast, take small continuous steps. It can be a slow burn at first.

Don’t rush, just be patient. Learn an instrument and some music theory. Without it you can get it right the odd time, but if you don't know why you're getting it right then it's very hard to replicate and grow.

What are your thoughts on the Charanga/Youth Music partnership?

It’s a really logical partnership, the collaboration combines talent and opportunity. It gives young people who work with Youth Music a chance to develop through the platform that Charanga is offering.

Their software presents structure and a tailored way of learning in a way which other services may not. Furthermore, Charanga offers a greater selection of ‘genre-spanning’ resources, providing you with material you may not find generally searching online. Which is incredibly beneficial, as you can find inspiration for your own music outside of what's familiar to you.

As the judges of the upcoming Youth Music and Charanga competition - what are the three key elements of a competition winning track to you? 

Emotional connection - music needs to make us feel something.

Originality and innovation - be authentic and true to your music. If you take inspiration from others then be innovative, not a copycat. 

A clear narrative in the track - what do you want to achieve with the track. Where do you place it, in a club, going for a run? If you have too many directions for your track, it can be so easy to get lost.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to forge a successful career producing music?

Start small with a few little pieces of equipment which you can pick up cheaply second hand. It was three years of DJing before we could afford to buy any synths. Slowly build things up over time. 

Develop a wide range of skills by researching the industry yourself. From publishing and design, to production and performance, incrementally develop your skillset broadly. Even with management, you still need to understand what is being suggested. Empower yourself with some knowledge in every part of the music industry.

Keep music core to what you do. And learn music theory!

Any guidance on how to sustain a career in the music industry?

Longevity relies heavily on your ability to implement structure. Our studio times rarely deviate except when touring. 9am - 5pm is our norm, we really try and avoid taking work home with us in the evening. 

The real crux of it all is to simply be authentic. Taking inspiration from someone is one thing, but embracing your mistakes and trusting your own ear may be what truly sets you apart and solidifies your signature style of sound. The individual you are trying to replicate will always do ‘them’ better so look inward and share your own voice.

If you take pride in producing music then now is the time to flex your music-making muscles with Bicep (terrible pun). Create the musical content that the industry is missing, but more importantly create the musical content that stays true to yourself!