This past weekend, Tal Vaisman and fellow Ascot Royals band members opened for The Tea Party at the Horseshoe Tavern, in celebration of the venue’s 70th birthday. Tal graduated from the Audio Production & Engineering Program in 2011 and this show is just the latest development in an already extensive list of musical accomplishments.
Tal met two of the other Ascot Royals members, Jimmy Chauveau and Sam Stark, at Metalworks Institute back in 2010; according to Tal, “We instantly clicked, and the rest is history.” They’ve since recorded a full album entitled ‘Don’t Let it Stop You’ and a 7 song EP. In 2014 they signed a publishing & development deal with Slaight Music, then in 2015 they signed a distribution deal with Sony Canada, booking with S.L Feldman, and management with Public Artz (Casey Marshall, Neil Sanderson). More recently, Ascot Royals received a CASBY award for Best New Band.
Ascot Royals have toured the country multiple times. Most recently, Tal and his bandmates finished a cross-Canada tour with Big Wreck. Two other Metalworks Institute alumni joined them during the tour; front-of-house tech Chris Creglia and stage-tech Erik Kolomayz – both graduates of the Professional Sound – Audio Specialist Program.
In addition to playing with the Ascot Royals, Tal has maintained a demanding schedule freelancing and building his skills as an engineer, producer, and session guitarist. He’s written and produced music for TV, including Family Channel shows ‘Lost & Found’ and ‘The Next Step’, as well as ‘Orphan Black’, and his music has been used in commercials for Fiat, Mazda, Shoppers Drug Mart, and others.
We asked Tal, ‘Do you have any words of wisdom for current students or your fellow graduates?’ This is what he had to say:
Stay informed and diversify.
Know as much as you can about your craft, both artistically [and] technically, as well as the business end.
If you’re in a band, don’t be the ignorant “I’m not a business guy” type, that’s how you end up getting pushed into corners. When it came to contracts time, throughout our negotiations with all of our team and the lawyers, I was one of the only ones in the band able to follow along with the legal agenda as I went through the contracts and agreements course in MWI. Students – don’t sleep on that course, please, internalize it and keep it in a file for future reference, it saved us from a lot of unwanted grief. Also, talk to friends in the industry, get their opinion about your path as a musician / engineer / producer. Don’t be afraid to share your experience with trusted colleagues, it will give you, and them, a good perspective of this crazy world we all try to live in.
If being a producer is your dream, that’s great. it doesn’t mean you should neglect any other potential money-making industry skills you may have. If you are good with the technical side, fixing / modding gear for people is an option. Being a tech on tours might not be your first choice but it would get you going and would make you a face known in that world.
Good with Pro Tools? Go edit drums / bass / vocals etc for a bigger engineer, build up your resume in records and learn from your predecessors.
Are you a songwriter? Go write with other people and learn how they work, expand your horizons and thus become a better writer [and] composer. Also, don’t sleep on writing for TV & film, that world has a lot of money to be made in it and it will help you become a better writer too.
You mix? Send your mix to friends who also do and ask for honest opinions. I have a few very good friends who also happen to be MWI grads who I bounce mixes off of all the time and they do the same with me. Were able to sometimes detect things that the other won’t. There is no shame in doing a lot of things you didn’t exactly dream of while you are slowly gaining more credibility in the industry and getting closer to your goals. If you’re in it for real, you’ll see past your current situation. Be open and work harder than anyone you know at anything you do. The modern musician makes a living by being involved in anything available, and that’s the case for most of my friends in the business.
Tal Vaisman’s story-so-far is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when you bring knowledge, creativity, and hard-work together. Ascot Royals are currently looking into releasing new music in early 2018 as well as announcing tour dates – check out their website and socials to stay informed!