Few moments are more sacred than the reprieve Saturday night provides from the daily grind of school and work. Its importance is meant to be emphasized, and thus, a feature dedicated to “doing the night right” was born. Saturday Night Sessions are set around energizing mixes meant to get the (socially distanced) party started. New or old, each episode has one cornerstone thing in similarity: they serve as the perfect backdrop for the weekend pregame.
Thomas Gold has had the consistency and in turn longevity in his career that many aspire to achieve. Born Frank Thomas Knebel-Janssen, the German DJ and Producer started releasing music in 2006 under his Thomas Gold alias. Like many producers with a career as long as his, he has experimented with his sound as the years have gone on. Originally known for Progressive House, Knebel-Janssen has produced everything from Big Room House to commercial crossover releases to Tech House under his side project AU-1. His output is as steady now as it has ever been, and he has frequented Nicky Romero’s Protocol Recordings throughout 2020 with no less than six releases put out on the label over 10 months.
As COVID-19 took over the globe and touring halted, Knebel-Janssen wasted no time assessing how to handle the shift in the industry. He took the challenges of the 2020 lockdowns in stride and got comfortable with two uncomfortable concepts: adaptation and flexibility. He spent his energy reshaping his role in the industry instead of ruminating on the loss of touring. He and many artists have acknowledged that there is a long road ahead when it comes to resuming live events in the capacity that artists and fans were used to pre-COVID. What is still unknown is whether there will be a change in consumer habits on the other side of the pandemic, so Knebel-Janssen ruminated on these different factors and pivoted. That is where “xxound” and Ten A Season were born.
Knebel-Janssen has made it his mission to equip up and coming musicians with the right tools and coaching to get to where they want to go. This mission is the foundation and inspiration behind both of his concepts, and it is what his time and energy is now devoted to in addition to producing music. He started with a familiar endeavor in the form of xxound, which is a digital music platform for music producers to get production software tools and coaching. The concept of experts coaching up and comers has become a trend within the electronic music industry. Armin van Buuren and Deadmau5 have taught production MasterClass’s, and many artists including industry heavyweights such as Martin Garrix, NGHTMRE, and SLANDER are bred from production schools like ICON Collective in Los Angeles and Herman Brood Academy in Utrecht. The services provided by xxound are far from unheard of, but the platform blends many different needs for those just starting out. As a result, it is already expanding into new territories.
Teaching did not stop with xxound for Knebel-Janssen. Documenting the journey of aspiring musicians is a show concept that has been executed repeatedly and successfully thanks to shows like American Idol and The X Factor, to name a few. A concept less explored, if at all, is documenting the journey of rising music producers. Ten A Season is a producer’s version of this musical journey, and the series will document 10 producers from around the world as they seek to perfect, and hopefully sign, their first hit track. Each producer will work on one project together with Knebel-Janssen and his team from the beginning (an idea or draft) until the final mastered production. They will do this through filmed weekly online coaching including track feedback, homework, and one on one coaching from Knebel-Janssen. In addition to focusing on the evolution of the track itself, the producers will discuss special topics and be trained on ‘the job’ of being a music producer.
As Knebel-Janssen puts it, “we will give our participants the ‘full picture.’ So we will also coach them on topics such as mastering their social media, how to handle a record deal, and how to manage relationships with labels and agencies.” The season will consist of weekly 25-minute long episodes which will be released on the show’s channels.
Knebel-Janssen is taking the next steps in his career with xxound and Ten A Season, but the show will still go on, metaphorically, for the producer and his own musical output. He shares, “I already have released a good amount of music during 2020, and I have worked on a ton of productions in the past months, so I will be releasing new music constantly in 2021. Some stuff you know me for, but also some rather unexpected things. There are also 2 huge collaborations: one with Quintino, another with Timmy Trumpet that are on their way as well…”
In order to get fans excited for what is to come, Knebel-Janssen has crafted a dynamic one-hour long Saturday Night Session mix that is ‘a bit of a journey through the Thomas Gold universe,’ as the producer puts it. Applications are now open for those looking to apply for Ten A Season, and fans can rest easy knowing that a plethora of Thomas Gold releases are in the pipeline in addition to the producer’s new ventures.
2020 took us all by surprise, and different people have responded in different ways to the slower pace of life and the lack of touring. How has it been for you?
As you said, it hit us by surprise…in the first weeks, I thought (and I guess many others did as well) that we would just have to wait a bit and then everything would get back to normal. But after a month or so, I realized that the situation due to Covid19 won’t be gone that quick. Of course I kept making and releasing (a lot of) music, but I still felt the need to do more than that – instead of just waiting. So I created and started two new businesses based around music production but with two completely different approaches…
What projects other than producing music have you been involved with and can you tell us about them?
One of my first ‘actions’ was to work on a new business concept which I had been thinking of a while before already, and now was the time to turn it into reality. So I founded ‘xxound’, a digital platform for music producers where you can get production software tools, coaching and general help for your music production. We had a great start, and we are currently expanding into new territories (we are working on a school-like online ‘academy’ concept for music producers).
As xxound was all set up and as it’s running smoothly with my team behind it, I wanted to take the next leap. So I launched TEN A SEASON (TAS) – a completely new concept for a producer ‘bootcamp’ turned into a TV show and – completely free for the participants. We started working on TAS in December and we are actually in the ‘Application Phase’ (where we cast 10 producers worldwide to be part of the show). And we are preparing everything for the actual show (start end of February).
We already got some really cool partners from the music industry on board (radio, festival, media, music production software and labels) who will support us with free coverage, software, interviews with A&R’s and much more.
TAS is something completely new, I have never created and produced a TV/YouTube format and it’s more than exciting to see it all grow!
Is nurturing up and coming talent something you are passionate about?
Absolutely! During my career and after having done a good amount of Masterclasses and tutorials, I can say that coaching and training people in small groups or even one-to-one is one of the best ways to get them to take their next leap. Since I started my label Fanfare Records, I have helped many of the relasing artists to get their demo productions to the final level, and they were always grateful, which made me happy as well. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with motivated producers, so why not make a business out of it? Which – in addition – makes me a bit more independent from shows and traveling!
What can the ten lucky producers expect to learn throughout TEN A SEASON in addition to mastering a song?
Each producer will work on one project together with us. From the beginning (an idea or draft) until the final mastered production. Each producer will receive separate weekly online coaching 1:1 sessions with me, get team feedback, and homework. We will discuss special topics, issues and train them on ‘the job.’
But it is more than that. We will give our participants the ‘full picture.’ So we will also coach them on topics such as ‘mastering your social media’, ‘how to handle a record deal’, and on relationships with labels and agencies etc.
During the 10 weeks of the ‘Season,’ the producer will get a 360 degree training on what it’s like to be a producer within the music industry nowadays. We will bring in people from the industry for group chats and meets, Q&A’s or just for industry-level feedback on the projects.
All of this will be filmed and edited into weekly 25 minute long episodes which will be released on our channels (website, Youtube). These episodes will show the story of the 10 producers with their ups and downs, what happened during the weeks, and some behind-the-scene infos. PLUS, we will make ALL full-length-coaching sessions accessible (for free!) to our viewers.
What is your hope for the first season of TEN A SEASON?
I hope that at the end of Season 1 we will have 10 amazing music productions, 10 happy producers who could make it on their own at the ‘next level,’ and that we will have an audience who learned a lot from the show as well!
There is a good chance that some of the producers will end up getting a record deal for their production as we are working closely with some renowned labels (e.g. talks with A&Rs from Revealed and Protocol).
We are already thinking of Season 2, so this would of course be the next step for me to take. I can’t wait to get the show started, and we already have loads of applications which we will start reviewing in the next few days.
When it comes to your own music, what can we expect from you in 2021?
I already have released a good amount of music during 2020, and I have worked on a ton of productions in the past months, so I will be releasing new music constantly in 2021. Some stuff you know me for, but also some rather unexpected things. There are also 2 huge collaborations: one with Quintino, another with Timmy Trumpet that are on their way as well…”
What kind of a Saturday Night is your Saturday Night Session getting listeners ready for?
You should get ready for a bit of a journey through the Thomas Gold sound universe – starting with some Big Room sound, transitioning into house and then tech house grooves…Enjoy!