A Day in the Life of Tom Tukker
by Ilaria Mangiardi and Laura Perez
Working in Music Production
Working in Music Production
What’s a day in the life of a Music Producer? What do they do exactly? Do they wear headphones 24/7? How do they structure their day?
We sat down with Sr. Music Producer Tom Tukker from MassiveMusic Amsterdam to ask him all these questions and more. He worked on projects for Milka and KLM and he’s also the one behind The Sound of UEFA Europa League.
But he’s not just that. Ever since he released his single ‘Rain is Gone’, back in 2017, he has been stealing lots of hearts, including ours. In 2019, he released ‘Back to You’ followed by ‘No Matter How’, released in early 2020. He also found himself travelling all over Europe opening up for internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter Lauren Daigle. Incredible, right? *proud parents*
On top of working at Massive and on his music, he also finds time to give singing lessons to second-year students at Amsterdam University of the Arts’ Music Academy and music production lessons at Amsterdam Electronic Music Academy. Is he bionic? Nobody knows. Is he from another planet? Read through to find out.
So, time to spill the beans. How do you do it all?
I enjoy a variety of things during the day. I would find it boring if I only had to stick to one. The fact that I can jump from one task to the other ensures that I use my intuition and gut feeling a lot, something I have learned to trust over the years.
Do you rely on gut feeling for your music too?
Absolutely. Actually, it’s the only tool I use. Peace of mind and songwriting go together. It’s when I’m calm that I come up with something new and unexpected. If I’m not calm, I’m no longer productive nor creative.
Let’s talk a bit more about productivity and creativity.
I think nowadays we value ourselves only if we’re busy, therefore we think we’re always being useful, which is not true. Einstein (or, at least, I think it was him) once said that, to be a genius ⅓ of the time, you have to be useless ⅔ of the time. I completely agree if you ask me. If I work on my music for two days in a row, I find myself looking around and overthinking without much music happening. I have to make sure I take some time to fully recharge myself.
Do you believe in being alone without being lonely?
100%. I entirely believe in idleness and in the wisdom of silence. A lot of people can’t stand that. Silence can be one of our best companions. It’s as if I immerse myself in that and I process my own thoughts by making music. But I also give room to nothing. You know, doing nothing for a few hours. That’s when, at a given moment and without much thinking about it, a new song comes to visit me.
What about the European tour you recently embarked on?
Now that I look back, I realise that the weirdest thing from the tour was to come back to the ‘stiffness of life’, where everything is structured and it’s set at certain times. We drove around 11.000 km, seeing venue after venue and highway after highway, with fast-food restaurants and gas stations along the way.
When you’re on tour you lose track of time and place, because you are completely focused on the music and the public. In my case, I lost track of time and place in thirteen shows and ten countries.
It’s incredible that I got to play in such big venues. The last date of the tour was at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London. It gives me goosebumps to think that this is where David Bowie ended his tour back in 1997.
What does the stage represent to you?
It’s about the connection I create with the public, regardless of where I am. It’s like a dialogue between two parties with music as a mediator. Seeing people smiling and singing along is incredibly rewarding. It’s the most exciting vicious cycle ever: it gives me back the energy I need to keep on doing what I love the most: music.
The next stage you’ll walk on?
The one at Melkweg Amsterdam on 5th March 2020. You’re all invited.
My daily schedule at a glance
07:20 am – Rise and shine + shower time.
08:30 am – Bike and train combo commute. I daydream and observe people.
09:20 am – MassiveMusic office, let me in. First things first: coffee. A big cup. Sometimes a double one, depending on the energy level that I need.
10:00 am – Splash. That’s the sound of me diving into the production sea. Maybe I work on a demo in the studio, a classical arrangement or an electronic track with a composer or two. Then it’s probably time to take care of some boring admin work. Back to the studio, this time to record a choir or to focus on an electronic production. Every day is different and this timeline exercise is very challenging.
1:20 pm – Ok, this one is easy. Lunch time.
2:00 pm – More work and therefore more coffee.
6:15 pm – On my way back home. Daydreaming part II.
7:56 pm – Dinner time while holding a glass of wine with my left hand. Fancy.
9:29 pm – Chilling at home, watching a talk show, thinking about music.
11:21 pm – Head on the pillow, hoping to fall asleep in no time.
01:34 am – Probably dreaming about my future songs.
PS. If you see a bunch of weirdos waving at him from the audience, it’s us.
Don’t mind us. Mind him.