From LCoM to the National Film & Television School

Hollie April Buhagiar is a 22 year-old Gibraltarian singer-songwriter and moving image composer. Since gaining a first class BA (Hons) degree in Music Production from Leeds College of Music, Hollie has gone on to study for a Masters in Composition for Film & Television, from the National Film & Television School. During her years as an undergraduate Hollie represented LCoM at numerous showcases with major music industry brands including Sony, Island Records and Steinway.

Hollie has performed across the UK festival circuit and has shared arenas with the likes of Emeli Sandé, Level 42, Texas, Jools Holland, Lawson and Olly Murs to name a few. 
Currently working in both the film and music industries, she took some time out to discuss her journey from LCoM and about her latest developments.

What was your earliest musical experience?
That’s quite hard to recall actually, I’ve had a relationship with music for as long as I can remember. When I was around 6 I remember begging my parents for piano lessons, so that was my first official introduction. However, I’d been singing along to films/music and irritating those around me for quite some time before that.
Who or what encouraged you to study music?
Luckily my parents were very open to the idea of me studying music, I suppose, growing up with a mother who is an artist contributed quite a lot. I had a passion for creation from an early age and she definitely supported this. As for what, I think it for me it was always going to be music, in school I enjoyed a plethora of subjects but music was always my constant.
What made you aspire to a career in music?
I’m not sure that there was a specific person or musical idol that I had growing up funnily enough, I just loved music and experimentation with instruments and that, combined with my ambition and stubbornness, I think has been what has really driven me to not only attempt a career in music, but to really power through and endure the difficulties throughout the years.
Who’s your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration musically, is always going to be Jeff Buckley. I remember listening to him and everything just clicked into place for me – he’s influenced my writing and singing style so much. If ever I’m in need of inspiration I turn to ‘Grace’.
Was there anything in particular that made you choose Leeds College of Music?

LCoM just looked like a really great place, and the idea of being entirely surrounded by like-minded people for three years was what really sold it to me… The SSL desk also helped convince me!
What attracted you to the course?
Choosing Music Production for me felt quite logical. I entered LCoM as a songwriter and had stumbled into production through wanting to record my works so that people could hear them in more than just a live context. What really attracted me to this particular course were the elements of composition that it featured, I felt that it would be a great space to hone not only my production skills but also my writing skills in the process too. In the end this worked out magnificently, if I hadn’t done this course I would never have tried my hand at composing for film, which aside from my band, is what I am focusing on at the moment.
What was your favourite thing about being a musician in Leeds?
The city was just a brilliant place to be and I still hold very fond memories of living there. Perhaps simply living in a building that consisted entirely of musicians in first year was one of the best parts of it, it was so beautifully creative 24/7.
How would you describe the challenges and joys of living / studying / being a musician in Leeds?
Well, moving to Leeds from Gibraltar was most certainly a culture shock but it was well worth it! I think for me it was mostly the transition from Gibraltar to Leeds. I had been to the UK many times before but only as a tourist, so living in the UK felt very different to any past experiences that I’d had.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I think most of them aren’t alive anymore sadly! If there were no rules it would always be Jeff Buckley, though I would love so much to collaborate with Hiatus Kaiyote or Patti Smith. They are all just absolutely superb human beings.
Where would you most like to perform or record?
Glastonbury and/or Abbey Road would be pretty decent.
What has your journey been like since leaving LCoM?
My journey has been a little rocky, and I did expect that. I’m so very happy with where I am, my band is up and running in London, and I’m currently studying a Masters in Composing for Film & Television at the National Film & Television School. It is early days but I’m very excited to see what the future holds for me musically!
How has your study at LCoM aided your career so far?

LCoM basically gave me the foundation of knowledge and the time required to develop myself in order to ready myself for the industry. It gave me confidence in myself as a musical entity and is ultimately what got me into the course that I am on today.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Quite possibly getting on to my Masters, it sounds quite dull I know, haha, but it’s hopefully going to be a great stepping-stone for every aspect of my musical career. You’ve got to appreciate the little successes along the way in this industry in order to survive I think.
Where would you like to be in five years?
In five years, ideally I’d like to be in London surviving off my craft and creativity. If something more were to come of it that would be amazing, but survival via a purely musical lifestyle is the goal.

If you had one piece of advice for a prospective student, what would it be?

If you choose to study, those three years can be absolutely incredible, but it is entirely up to you to make it so. If you fully invest in your time and in yourself it can be a life-changing experience. 

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“LCoM just looked like a really great place, and the idea of being entirely surrounded by like-minded people for three years was what really sold it to me…”

Hollie April

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