From touring Afghanistan and Iraq in the military to travelling around the world as producer for Bad Boy Chiller Crew; a new era has beckoned for the artist – TACTICS. With a wealth of music experience, accolades and contacts, we caught up with the producer to talk about his journey, music, and plans…
TACTICS Interview | Student Pocket Guide
Hey TACTICS! Thanks for your time. Let’s start from the beginning – I understand you served in the army, and whilst doing so, made music as a hobby. I’ve interviewed a lot of ex-military as well as musicians but nobody that has done both! Are you able to give us an insight into your time in the military, and how you transitioned into music?
Hey, of course. I joined the army as a school leaver and went to study at The Army Foundation College in Harrogate. I always DJ’d and loved music from a young age. I wanted to get into music production to have exclusivity over other people. Whilst in the army I toured Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Obviously with my fond love for the military music was always a hobby, and I used to drive people mad making music in my 12-man room or my 4-man room lol. I was unfortunately injured in Afghanistan which subsequently lead to me being discharged from the military. I then decided to pursue my music career after a brief transition period of just adapting to civilian life. I studied music with Point Blank Music School but kinda already at a level where all I lacked was a bit of confidence and execution in my new path. In the early stages, music doesn’t pay so you have to really be in work mode 24 hours a day. I’ve now been producing for many years (15+). I’ve not reached the heights I want to yet – it’s probably taken me a lot longer than most to get where I am but my journey has been one with loads of other surrounding factors – none the less I’m now happy with where I am in terms of music production.
How did the hook-up with Bad Boy Chiller Crew first come about?
I was friends with Gareth Kelly before Bad Boy Chiller Crew came about. We went to festivals together, on holidays, and we are both very similar in terms of personality and have had a real friendship before BBCC so that kinda is exactly why it’s worked out so well, true friendship. He knew I made music and introduced me to the band. I then formed a strong relationship with the rest of the band members and now work closely with them all and advise them on all the music.
As well as being Bad Boy Chiller Crew’s official producer you have started to release your own music, under your artist’s name TACTICS. What made you decide to go for it yourself?
I would say it isn’t more so going at it myself I would love nothing more than to do the most amazing things with my friends, but when it comes to music I’ve made some really amazing stuff that simply just needs to be out there. I felt as if I needed to show the world some of these songs and as they’re really from myself, my emotions, my upbringing, and really have an attachment to me, it wouldn’t seem right releasing them with anyone else. That’s the reason I don’t produce for others really, because I want to ensure we get the best collectively, but they’re songs that just don’t fit for BBCC. And ultimately, they’re too good to sit on a hard drive unheard.
How are you juggling your time between producing for Bad Boy Chiller Crew and releasing your own tracks?
Very hard and demanding lol but I’m managing it nicely. It’s just about balancing time. I now have management that helps alongside my career path so I’m setting the right foundations going forward. It’s not a case of creativity or anything like that – I’m flowing with ideas constantly, it’s more just a time thing. I often go on family holidays and take my laptop. Probably not the most relaxing holiday but I can’t just lay about doing nothing. I’m a very active person so any downtime is short lived anyway.
How did the Bad Boy Chiller Crew react to the news when you told them about TACTICS?
Tactics has always been there from the start. It’s more so just now in terms of releasing music as an artist and the boys have always heard the music and always supported me in my dream and vision. And as I mentioned previously, some music is just too good to be sitting around and not been shown to the world. As a matter of fact my next 2 songs are with BBCC that shows the world exactly how they want me to succeed. They’re helping me establish myself as an artist as much as I am them, it’s all love with the boys.
How would you describe your sound and who influences TACTICS?
I would describe my sound as energetic with real good melodies and emotion. I love very emotional music. I love a sense of how a song can make you feel. That’s an experience for me. I feel music just as much as I do hear it. A big influence on me I would probably say is Max Martin – he’s a massive hit maker that I’ve studied for years and broke down and analysed his songs and structures. There are obviously the likes of Scott Storch, Dr. Dre, Pharrell and others, but I would say out in front is Max Martin. A dream would be to just watch him one day in a studio. I don’t even have to do anything lol, I’ll just sit and enjoy the experience.
What is the long-term vision for your new artist venture?
I’m not trying to put any pressure on myself – I’m just going to release music for me and what I think is good and hopefully the world will love it as much as I do. I’m always happy so long as I’m making music. I’ve given myself certain life goals. So long as I work hard, there’s no reason I shouldn’t achieve them, but as a new artist I only look short so right now it’s just about establishing myself and my name within the industry.
In the early stages, how are you going about choosing the songs you decide to work on/remix? And as a new artist (but one with so much music industry knowledge), do you feel you are going straight in with “your sound” or is there still an element of experimentation?
There’s always an element of experimentation, yes. There are certain things in my head I think straight away but the process sometime differs. It’s all about experimenting. I think you have to in order to get the best possible outcome. The early stages are just going back to how the original song makes me feel. If it’s a remix; looking at what catches my ears, understanding lyrical content, chord progression, drum patterns, samples. It’s all about analysing and then executing your vision. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, that’s the thing you can’t put pressure on yourself to create magic every time. As well, I know sometimes it’s just not working. That could be down to many factors lol. You could just be tired from the night before – something so simple but you have to just keep going because the next big one is only around the corner.
How important in your opinion are collaborations, and do you have any future collabs in mind, or other specific songs you’d like to work on?
Collaboration is key. I tend to collab more with other producers at the minute – shout out to my pal Scott Lowe. I’ve just done a few with him on BBCC’s new album. But I am going to collab with other artists for my projects in the future. However, I have to establish myself as an artist more so. I hopefully want to build an album in 2024 to really start my career off and showcase my music. And I wouldn’t say there’s specific songs I’d like to work on more, so just people who I’d like to work with.
How have you managed to build your music industry connections, and how important is this for a successful music career?… Do you have any tips… I have heard it’s a small circle of decision-makers!?
It’s been hard to be honest, but I believe you can become undeniable if the fans and music follow you. It’s not about good music nowadays unfortunately. It’s about your numbers, fan base, and following. But I hope that I get that through having good music. You’re not going to be everyones liking, you’re going to make mistakes but ultimately you have to go with your gut instinct and don’t be impulsive. My top tips would be make sure you have a good legal team for contracts and negotiations, and don’t be so quick to get people in place to think it will boost your career. Just make good music, the rest will follow and I must say this again, don’t be impulsive – just think about things and take time.
How would you summarise 2023, and what does 2024 have planned for TACTICS?
I would say 2023 has always been like any other year in this industry. Hard work a lot of back and forths but I’ve learnt to manage that and be persistent. I’ve learnt and I’ve gained more experience. I’m more knowledgeable of the industry and in 2024 I really want to establish myself as a producer and an artist – a bit like how Fred Again has done so. In 2024 I have to definitely drop an album, just mark my so called arrival in a proper way. I want to be a producer / artist that puts out albums, I love the overall project.