Analogue, Abbey Road and a Wurlitzer

A catch-up with our Foundation Certificate students

As part of their Specialist Project Module this year, our Foundation Certificate students were accompanied by Production alumnus Ross McCullough to visit legendary Leeds recording studio Greenmount Studios. They went there to learn more about their unique processes and gain some insight into the skill required to record - and be recorded.

An independent, predominantly analogue recording studio, Greenmount is run by Jamie Lockhart, Lee Smith and Rob Slater. The innovative studio uses a hybrid approach between analogue and digital to get the best possible sound - with all the advantages of modern editing and automation possibilities. The studio has credits including The Cribs, Fatboy Slim, Middleman, Mi Mye, Pulled Apart by Horses and Submotion Orchestra amongst others.

Student Harriett Matthews explained the structure of the session, which saw 12 Foundation Certificate students spending the day composing and recording a track.
 
“The studio is really cool, and completely analogue – so they still record straight to tape. Each tape has to be used a few times, and they have a big electromagnet that you manually use to wipe all the material off, to prepare it for re-recording.
 
“On the day, Ross and Jamie had some ideas that we could work into the piece we were working on. We started off improvising and then came up with a structure for the piece. They also had a Wurlitzer in the studio, which we used on the track!”
 
The Foundation Certificate, a bespoke one-year intensive programme, is designed to help students develop as multi-faceted performers, composers or producers. Indsutry-based visits like this one help to illustrate how this knowledge can be applied.  

Student Henry Dobson said: “I take Music Production as my option and I love the fact that Foundation Certificate students have access to the SSL Studio 115, on top of places like Greenmount Studio. I feel like I will leave at the end of this year with enough studio knowledge to confidently perform within a studio internship context.”
 
Saxophonist Harriet continues: “We have group tutorials every Monday. Different musicians and sometimes alumni come in and work with us on something new: everything from jazz drumming to alternative, left-field breathing exercises to help with rhythm.”
 
“Within the Foundation Certificate we can specify our performance pathway which is genre specific – I’m on the jazz pathway, but have to do papers across the board for classical and pop too.”
 
“For one of my modules we have to write an essay about iconic pop albums,” she goes on. “I’m doing Abbey Road, which is the last album The Beatles released. You have to write about the historical context and other impacting factors – for example, they all had different ideas on what kind of album it should be – John Lennon wanted it to be a rock’n’roll album, Paul McCartney wanted it to be a pop album, and in the end they both got their way because the first half of the album is rock’n’roll with the second half as pop. I’m looking forward to analysing the songs in more detail within the essay.”
 
Life outside of the course seems to be pretty busy too – with both students hard at work in their respective bands.
 
“I’m in Leeds' Concert Band, and I’m also in a pop covers band myself – we do stuff from all over, going back to Chuck Berry and up to Amy Winehouse. I’d say we have a pretty eclectic span,” Harriet says. 
 
“I play guitar, drums, bass and vocals and I want to write, arrange, perform and produce my own music”, Henry explains. “Outside of college I’m developing a band for Ufonic Records, playing progressive pop/rock/soul. We've just been signed to a very good manager so I’m very excited about the future of the project!”

 

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The track 

The purpose of the visit was to experience preparing and performing in a recording situation, a completely different environment to what some were used to, and part of what makes experiences like this so valuable. Listen to the track below.

Foundation Certificate



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