Student Profile - Wardrobe Quintet

The Wardrobe Quintet are a jazztronica band, who formed just after starting study at Leeds College of Music in September 2016. Hailing from Norway, the members are first and second year Jazz students, Casper Bjelland, Ola Lauvas, Benjamin Rekstad, Jostein Braaten and Anders Waltersdorph Hjemmen.

The band recently completed a short tour of Norway in support of LCoM international schools’ promotion, which took in Trondheim, Hamar, Oslo and Stavanger. The tour also marked the launch of their latest EP, Flight, which was playlisted by NPS Music and Radio Revolt Norway. Not a bad show for their inaugural year together as a band!

We spoke to Casper, Jostein and Benjamin about their experience of Leeds College of Music, and what made them choose to swap Norway for Leeds in their pursuit of studying music…

Q: What made you choose to study at Leeds College of Music?

Casper: I was really into progressive music which included English bands such as Genesis, so I really wanted to understand some of their influences. I really wanted to travel too. Studying here at Leeds College of Music has helped me develop contacts; locally I’ve met venue managers and studio engineers, and within the college itself you’ve got producers, managers and musicians. The people you meet here will be your colleagues in the future. Plus if I do a UK tour in five years’ time I can just call up friends and I’ll have somewhere to stay!

Jostein: I was thinking about going to the USA, but my all-time favourite band is The Beatles so I’ve always been drawn to the UK. I had heard a lot of good stuff about the underground music scene here in Leeds too.

Q: How did you feel moving over to Leeds from Norway? Were there any challenges you had to overcome?

Casper: When you decide to study abroad, you have to move to another country and speak another language every day - all because you want to get better at your instrument. It becomes a lot more serious than living in your hometown attending your local university. When you’re paying so much money each year, the responsibility really hits home and you think “I can’t just lie in bed all day watching Netflix, I have to do something and progress!” You get really inspired and motivated when you study abroad.

Q: How does the teaching style at Leeds College of Music compare to where you have studied before?

Casper: What I like about studying here is that the relationship you’ve got with your tutors is much more relaxed. You can easily have a class and then straight afterwards sit down in the café with your tutor and just chat, and you can speak to them like an equal. This doesn’t mean that we don’t respect our teachers – we have a huge amount of respect for them – it’s just a different dynamic.

Jostein: Back in Norway It feels more formal. Here it is more like having a mentor, where you’re friends with your tutor. I can go and ask my tutors a question end up talking to them about music for hours!

Q: How have you found the one-to-one tuition at Leeds College of Music?

Jostein: The obvious thing is that you get more attention and you can really work on whatever you want to learn in a more focussed way. It’s much more in-depth.

Casper: I’m really grateful for having Stuart McCallum as a guitar teacher - I really like his playing and I just know if I watched any footage of me playing guitar before I came to Leeds, it would be so different than now. I just feel like I’ve evolved so much as a musician whilst studying here.

Q: How have you found the conservatoire experience?

Casper: I really appreciate the style of teaching here because you feel more adult and independent, instead of people setting goals for you. You get given a lot of information – which you can use to guide your studies. You can just use your time on something you really want to do and something you feel could progress you as a musician.

Q: What do you think of the facilities at LCoM?

Jostein: You can go into the studio and work alongside a great production student to make an album which sounds 100% professional. You can do that for three whole years – students should definitely make the most of the facilities!

Casper: The facilities team are really helpful too – even at 3am they’re still there smiling. Plus I love the Café bar, and The Venue here too is amazing – which we played at the Gala Concert.

Q: What are the best things about living in Leeds?

Ben: It’s great. It’s a big city but it’s not London and not too big - it’s easy to walk around the city centre. England has always been a big thing for me because of football too!

Casper: I love the city. It’s a lot warmer here than in Norway!

Jostein: The music scene is amazing in Leeds. Of course one of our favourite venues has to be The Wardrobe, as we named our band after it!

Q: Do you have any advice to anyone who is thinking about coming to LCoM?

Come over and check it out! If there are any Norwegian students who are wondering whether they want to study at Leeds College of Music, they are always welcome to come and crash on our couch whilst they look around. Just add us on Facebook or send us a message and we can arrange something.

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