Ken Haughton has been in the music business – one way or another – for all of his adult life and he has been lucky enough to have learnt his craft from some of the most respected figures in the industry. He’s also had commercial success and critical acclaim; his band Sack toured Europe and North America supporting Morrissey and once played a festival at the top billing ahead of Happy Mondays. He played with The Floors and Giant and released singles on EMI. And if that isn’t glam enough – he’s had a song used as a Hollywood sound-track!
At Pulse, Ken is in charge of the B.A. in Music Production, probably the most practical of the music courses Dublin has to offer. At this stage Ken has 75 students taking the course and with end-of-year assessments in hand, June was probably the worst time to catch an interview with him – yet he chats enthusiastically about his life in the industry, the material he is currently recording and the academic role he holds at Pulse College.
Many students want to learn about music production because they have a passion for music, they have a natural talent and/or they’re attracted to the excitement of it all. But what you learn from Ken is that it takes more than talent to establish your career – you need to be flexible and to have a commitment to life-long learning.
How did you get started in the Music business?
Well when I was a kid I played guitar and naturally got involved in a number of bands. But after school I didn’t really consider music courses in Dublin – I went straight into Bolton St and spent a few years studying engineering. But I was involved in bands throughout those years and ultimately left to become a musician and I did my music grades through Guild Hall London – I was lucky enough to study with Bill Brady, the renowned jazz guitarist.
Was there a big break that helped build your career?
One of the first bands was called Giant we released some singles on EMI and that was obviously significant. But a few years on I joined a band called Sack and we were received well by the critics, one of our singles was featured as “single of the week” in NME and we released 3 albums and toured North America and Europe.
At what point did you decide to teach and why Pulse?
When things quietened down with Sack, I decided to do a Masters in Music Technology at Trinity and I studied Electro-Acoustic and Electronic Music composition under Donnacha Dennehy, who was very inspirational. I also had some experience of doing post production studio work so I decided to do the Pro Tools course at Pulse. It was about then that the college decided to start the B.A. in Music Production course and so I got involved in teaching the course at the very outset.
Why Choose the B.A. Degree in Music Production at Pulse?
I believe the Curriculum of this course is very current in terms giving students the skills that the music business is looking for. It’s hugely practical and we have great equipment here at Pulse. Students have to secure their own clients and produce music as part of their course work; this could be producing a sound track for a film, music for an ad., producing music for radio broadcast etc. By the time students finish the degree they will have real world experience and that’s invaluable. It’s a good balance between theory and practice.
And they get the benefit of all the experience and expertise of of the tutors who are all industry practising Music Producers and Sound Engineers!
What advice would you give students who want to get into music production?
The first thing I’d say is that it’s not likely to be a straight-forward route to success but make sure you steep yourself in the industry and be open to learning throughout your career – that’s critical. And of course remember no matter how much talent you have; there’s a lot of hard work required to make a success in music production – but of course if you’re passionate about music – you’ll love the course!