SAE Institute Open Day

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SAE Institute Open Day

Having worked with David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Faith No More, Beastie Boys and more over his 30 plus years in the industry, senior audio lecturer at SAE, Tim Dalton sure knows what he’s talking about. We had a chat about why his workplace is so good, some tips for those looking on joining the industry and why you should head to the SAE open day in Melbourne.

Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

I’m great after a wonderful lazy festive break. Work wise I’m getting ready for the start of term at SAE and our open day on Saturday 30th January. I love open days and meeting potentials students and their parents and talking about all things music/audio related. Outside of SAE I’m writing my third book which is called Stop me If You’ve Heard This One Before and is a collection of stories from my 36 years of working in the music industry. The last week has been very busy because of the death of David Bowie, who I worked with in 2003 on The Heathen Tour as front of house mixer, with lots of press and media request wanting to know my thoughts and recollections of David Bowie.

Are you able to please outline your role at SAE Institute for our readers?

My official title is ‘senior lecturer’ (well I do have over 16 years of international teaching experience). I lecture in all things audio production and I teach some of the critical thinking units too. As a senior academic (I’m 52 years old) I also work with the new members of teaching staff in a mentoring role making sure that we have the highest academic standards. I also undertake a lot of the industry liaison work with the music industry such as guest lectures, field trips and masterclasses. At the end of last trimester I had my old friend and famous record producer Steve Albini come in and speak to the students. I’ve also taken field trips of audio students to see the backstage set up for Robert Plant, Five Seconds of Summer, One Direction, Blur, Public Image Ltd which is John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) band who I’ve also know for over 30 years. I use my extensive contact list to keep SAE connected and relevant to the music production industry and to show off our students to the industry.

And what made you want to work with SAE?

I moved to Australia on 26th January 2013 with my partner Dr Rebecca Koss who I’d met in Liverpool in the UK. I was working as a senior academic at Liverpool John Moores University running their popular music studies degree while Rebecca was at Liverpool University undertaking some post doctoral research (she’s a marine scientist). After three years in the UK Rebecca wanted to return to Melbourne (she’s originally from Brighton) and because I’d always enjoyed Melbourne I thought it would be a great place to live. I first came to Melbourne in 1987 when I was working with US rapper The Beastie Boys and over the last 30 years Ive been a regular visitor with many international bands. My original plan was to live in retirement Bayside and ride my bicycle up and down the Beach Road but that changed when SAE contacted me. After a tour of the campus and a couple of long chats SAE twisted my arm and persuaded me that my time would be better spent working with students so I joined SAE in February 2015. The new Melbourne campus, superb equipment and project based approach to assignments where all contributing factors to me joint SAE. Its definitely the worst paid job I’ve ever had in my life but they seem to appreciate me and treat me reasonably well.

You’ve got over 30 years in the music industry and have worked in numerous roles, how applicable are the skills gained from an SAE course to the industry itself?

SAE is all about making students that are industry ready or have a skill set that is somewhat future proof for the creative industries. I’m a big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness”. The work at SAE is all about achieving those 10,000 hours through creative projects. All the projects are ‘live’ and delivered in industry standard facilities e.g. recording studios, computer software, sound stage, etc. All the staff here are creatives, educators and to some extent academics who care passionately about that they do. Through my industry liaison role I am in a continuous conversation with the local, regional, national and international creative companies that employ our students and I make sure that what we teach is relevant.

What kind of skills/traits do you think someone should require to work in the industry?

I’ve always maintained that highly creative, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial people will never ever be out of work and I stand by that statement. The industry require people that be creatively original with little or no budget e.g. they can offer a mega bang for their buck. This is an industry of ideas and concepts and communicating those ideas and concepts to an audience. The music industry does a clever smoke and mirrors trick where it tries to make itself appear all revolutionary and anti-establishment. In reality the music industry is probably the world’s most compliant, conservative and least revolutionary art form on the planet and one of the most hard working. By studying at SAE students start to realize that the creative products they produce may be music, but ultimately, they will experience a very similar working life to everyone else. They’ll have long hours, with the potential for advancement if they perform well, the potential for dismissal if you don’t, good bosses, bad bosses, troublesome clients, all the standard workplace related experiences. There will definitely be some cool perks, but trust my 36 years of experience, they’ll definitely be earned. Anyone who is hard working, creative, passionate and motivated will fair very well in a music industry career.

What’s the main difference from SAE and other industry educational institutes?

The superb facilities at SAE are outstanding which means students get to work in a professional environment from day one. From the moment they arrive students are totally immersed in a highly creative and stimulating environment. Also the staff at SAE are all amazing and all of them come from a creative industry background with many of them having or are working towards post graduate teaching and researched degrees. It’s just a really cool place to work and study.

Will you be at the open day later this month? What’s the three best things about going to an open day?

Yes I will be at the open day (I’ll be the super loud enthusiastic English guy talking very loudly). The three best things about the open day are 1: the BBA sausages, 2: my DJ set and 3: I normally wear one of my outrageous music industry suites from the ’80/’90s last open day it was a tartanVivienne Westwood number but who knows what it will be this year. I love to talk about my music industry times working with David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Faith No More, Primus, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, etc. Come over and say hello and lets chat.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, do you have any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?

Do what you love and love what you do.

Read the rest of Tim’s industry knowledge on and find out more about SAE at

When & Where: SAE Institute, Melbourne – January 30