This Alumni instalment features multi-instrumentalist, producer, session player, and Keyboard graduate Adam Rust.
Guest interview by an ACM Music Business student.
Adam graduated from ACM in 2014, having completed the Higher Diploma in Drums followed by the Keyboards Degree. Since then, he’s been busy working with a number of artists including Elyar Fox, JP Cooper and fellow alumni Ebony Day. I caught up with Adam to find out more about his time at ACM and what he took away from it after graduating.
Hey Adam! Why don’t we start with a bit on your background. What got you into music?
I grew up as the youngest in a musical family. I picked up the drums, piano and guitar playing in church from the age of 10, started a couple of bands at 13/14 and was very involved in music at school. My older brother was an extremely gifted composer from a young age and a big influence on me musically. The combination of these meant at 16 I wanted to try and pursue music as a career.
What was it that attracted you to ACM?
A family friend called Will, who was a few years older than me, came out the other side of ACM with some serious skills and a busy schedule. After talking to him, looking around the facilities and meeting a few tutors I felt it was the right place to be.
So whilst being at ACM, what did you do outside of your course?
Initially I came to ACM to study drums, but outside of lessons people were asking me to jump on keys as there was a big shortage compared to other instruments. I rolled with it and put myself out there into almost anything I could find time for and learnt the keyboard properly whilst on the job. After finishing the Higher Diploma drum course I applied to move to the keyboard degree and was accepted. As a result of this I got more into arranging and directing music. I spent as much time as possible engaging with other musicians I identified with outside of class, and began to create and MD projects. The relationships and connections I made definitely built the foundations of a career.
What do you currently do within the industry and who have you worked with since leaving ACM?
Since leaving ACM I’ve been working in different capacities as an MD, instrumentalist, producer and writer. Over the last 2 years I’ve been with an artist called JP Cooper. He’s a phenomenal singer who has come into some real international success this year, so playing keys with him has become a more or less full time job in 2017. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of other talented and diverse artists since graduating. Performing with Lenka and Omar was great, as was working with Harley Sylvester (of Rizzle Kicks) on his new musical ventures. I’ve also worked closely with Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice stars Wayne Woodward, Nick Howard and J Marie Cooper, and had the chance to direct and produce music for Elyar Fox, Daniel J, Sasy Mankan, Ebony Day, Rachelle Ann Go, Connie Talbot amongst others! I also direct the live music for Ultimate Artists – an artist development programme founded by Joshua Alamu, who I met when he was tutoring me at ACM! It’s nice to have developed some relationships like that.
Great! How did ACM prepare you for the wider industry?
It helped me understand what will be expected of me in the professional world. There was no better way for me to get a taste of how the industry works than to immerse myself in a place like ACM. There are also some great tutors there who shared moments of wisdom that have stuck with me since.
Can you tell us about some of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
Some of the most defining moments were with my good friend Ebony Day whilst we studied here. I spent a lot of time during my degree touring with her. We got to support some great people like The Vamps, Boyce Avenue and Tinie Tempah. As a fresh-faced, inexperienced 20/21-year-old guitarist, this was quite the experience for me… a real time of growth. I’m grateful to have had diversity in my (very short) career. Some other highlights have been breaking the world record for teaching the world’s biggest drum lesson, featuring on The Voice of Holland, BBC Persia, Billboard Live in New York and in the Radio 1 Live Lounge, giving a guest lecture at New York University and most recently getting a Blue Peter badge for performing on the show! However, getting the chance to open up for Stevie Wonder at Hyde Park with the JP Cooper team last year tops the list. I would think that is as good as it will get in my lifetime!
That’s amazing! So what are you hoping to do in the future?
To continue developing and make strides forward. I hope to spend more of my time in the coming years studio-based and write a lot of music!
To finish off, what are your top 3 tips for others hoping to get into the music industry?
I would say the most important thing is to be a good person and let your skillset back that up. If you show up to a session prepared, on time, do what’s required and are genuine and kind to people they won’t need to look elsewhere. Obviously being able to play to a great standard is a no brainer, but without being easy to work with it will be irrelevant. Definitely dream big dreams, but don’t expect things to appear quickly or just like you imagine. I spent my teenage years dreaming of being a touring rock drummer and producer. I’ve been able to realise some of the things I set out to do, but only by seizing the opportunities that came around even if it wasn’t doing what I always thought I would. Networking is important, but I would say not to overthink it. I think people often see it as getting in with people who are already experiencing some success. But if you go to a place like ACM and form meaningful friendships, you never know who will go on to become successful and what skills of yours could be useful to them in the future. Nearly all of the work I do now is as a result of relationships made at ACM!
If you’d like to be a student at ACM to kickstart your career in the music industry like Adam, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.