There is no magic formula to achieving your dream career, especially in the creative industries. However, our talented alumni offer us a glimpse of what life is like post-SAE, and offers guidance on how to be a true creative professional.
Taz Mattar is an SAE Glasgow Audio graduate with a career journey that is sure to inspire many other budding creatives. Now Head of Production and Studio Services at the UK’s largest independent production music publisher, Cavendish Music, he has truly worked his way to the top to be where he is today. From doing night reception work at a London recording studio, to eventually being able to put his audio skills to use as an Assistant Engineer and then an in-house Engineer, Taz exemplifies how perseverance, determination and patience are key to success.
His mixes have been used on worldwide advertising campaigns, Netflix dramas and documentaries. He also continues to compose his own music for TV and advertising, and has had music placements for BBC, SKY, BT Sport, Netflix. Having engineered with the likes of artists and bands such as Sia, Mark Ronson, Coldplay, the Petshop Boys and Seal, Taz is a prime example of someone who has put in years of hard work and truly reaped the rewards.
So where did it all begin?
Taz’s passion for audio is long-standing, beginning when he was just 8 years old. “I believe I said from an early age that the only desk I ever wanted to work behind was a mixing desk,” he explains. During his summer holidays, he helped out as a runner at Orchard FM, an independent radio station in Somerset where his mother worked. This eventually lead to him securing his first official work experience aged 15 at Presshouse Studios in Devon, which was owned by Martin Barre, guitarist for Jethro Tull.
From then, Taz’s pursuit of a career in audio eventually lead him to the other side of the UK - Glasgow to be precise.
Commenting on his move, he said:
“I wanted to move as far away from my hometown as possible to explore the world a bit more and find my feet. I was actually enrolled on an audio engineering course at Stow College (now Glasgow School of Art) but left that course once I found out about SAE; it sounded a much better course and fit for me. SAE’s reputation was worldwide and I’d heard great things about it through word of mouth.”
Graduating from SAE in 2001, Taz describes his experience as “life-changing”. When asked how the Audio degree helped him, he said:
“It gave me a thorough understanding of both theory and practical knowledge and prepared me for real world scenarios. It also gave me the confidence to be able to work under pressure and cope with any project.”
After completing his studies, Taz set his sights on London and made yet another big move in order to kick start his career. With all the large-scale recording facilities based in the city at the time, he was determined to land himself a job in a studio and get his foot securely in the door in order to work his way up.
“I managed to get a job at a small recording studio in Brixton and although this was a great stepping stone, it didn’t have the in-house training I was yearning for that only comes from working at a commercial recording studio,” he tells us.
Taz wrote letters to nearly every studio in London in order to obtain a job that would give him the training he desired. Over a year passed by and faced with countless rejections, Taz finally caught a break when a connection he made that worked at Sarm West Studios told him there was a job opening.
“The job wasn’t as glamorous as I was expecting, my job description was called ‘Night Reception’, entailing two weeks of working nights (6pm – 9am following day) and then two weeks of day shifts answering phones, making tea, replacing light bulbs - to name a few things! I didn’t get to see the inside of a studio until about 9 months later when I got a lucky break and got my first assisting gig.”
Taz’s patience certainly paid off, but the long hours didn’t stop once he became an Assistant Engineer. At times, he would be working 17 hours days and 7 days a week for months on end, but the fast-paced hectic nature of the job gave him invaluable experience.
Commenting on his time at Sarm West Studios, he said: “I loved it and it gave me a chance to learn how to engineer in a real-world environment on high-pressured sessions and work with numerous famous artists, bands and producers (Trevor Horn, Danton Supple, Sia, Mark Ronson, Oasis, Megadeth, Coldplay).”
Due to the changeable nature of the industry and the resulting closure of many big commercial studios, Taz was at Sarm West for five years before he was unfortunately made redundant.
Explaining the condition of the industry further, he said: “I moved over to Townhouse Studios in west London and worked for producer Al Stone but again, after a year, the studio was closed down and made into flats!”
On the hunt for greater job security, Taz managed to get a job at Cavendish Music as an in-house engineer and has since worked on a wide range of exciting projects.
“This was a very different job and I started mixing and mastering albums for TV, film and advertising rather than commercial projects,” he tells us. “We release about 50 albums a year of bespoke music for broadcast, TV and film and I love the uniquely diverse range of genres I get to mix; one day I’m mixing a classical album with a 60 piece orchestra, the next a pop, dance or jazz album.”
Now Head of Production and Studio Services, Taz oversees the running of the in-house production team and manages all studio servies, producing albums for all in-house labels. His success is largely due to his sheer tenacity and willingness to be patient and work his way through the ranks; a real lesson to those eager to follow in his footsteps.
“Follow your heart, be patient and don't give up!