Student Success April 2018: Wendy Bevan, Sara Simms, 1-800-Disco & Caspar Leopard

Welcome back to another edition of Point Blank Student Success. This month we’ve got a bumper edition, catching up with four students and alumni to talk about some of the exciting things they’ve been up to. We compile these every month showcasing students that have studied with us for any length of time and at any of our locations:  LondonLos AngelesIbizaMumbai and Online.

Wendy Bevan (!K7, Unknown Pleasures) – Music Production (LA)

Wendy Bevan is a musician and producer who creates haunting atmospheric pieces and skewed gothic pop songs. Her latest track, ‘Falling’ was premiered by XLR8R.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I was introduced to Point Blank whilst researching courses online, I then realised that some of my friends had also studied here, and highly recommended it. So, I decided to sign up for some courses and try it out myself. I love learning new skills and Point Blank have so many top courses to choose from.

How much previous experience with making music had you had when you studied with us?

I have made music for many years and most recently released my debut album Rose and Thorn, on Kwaidan/ !K7 records, and had a couple of EP’s come out too. Rose and Thorn bought together dark pulsing electronic synths, minimalist post-punk basslines and featured live strings from the Balanescu Quartet.

Are there any things you’ve learned with us that really stick in the memory?

The main thing that I’ve learnt is that there’s an amazing community of artists out there who are supportive of one another. Point Blank encourages a very nurturing environment within the community both online and at school. It’s important to remember you are not alone and no matter what stage of your career there are always great new things to learn.

So you’ve obviously had a few releases now, how did you go about getting your first tracks signed?

I’d worked on a variety of different projects prior to having my first tracks signed as a solo artist. My debut album Rose and Thorn came out at the end of 2016 on French label Kwaidan and !K7. It was produced by Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague) who also runs Kwaidan. Marc is someone I had collaborated with for quite sometime before we released this record and it felt like a natural progression in our already established working relationship.

You’ve just dropped ‘Falling’ which was premiered on XLR8R – can you talk me through the track a little? Anything that’s interesting conceptually or technically about how it was made.

‘Falling’ was written earlier this year while I was in Joshua Tree, CA and recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Robert Harder.

Like a lot of my songs, the lyrics are a theatricalisation of a series of real encounters. It is quite a sad song but juxtaposed by the track which is pretty upbeat and the direct delivery of the vocal its uplifting rather than melancholic. I really love this song, it means a lot to me to have it out there in the world. The EP is [out] June 1st, and it will be released on Unknown Pleasures, with a remix of Falling by Hante and an extra bonus track entitled Wild Swan, produced by Bruno Coviello (formerly Light Asylum).

We’re hoping this is the start of a new album cycle for you – is that the case? If so, any details you can share?

Yes, it certainly is but I cant share any details just at this moment, all top secret!! #watchthisspace

Follow Wendy on Twitter and Instagram.

Caspar Leopard (The Happy Genius, No. 1 Baltic Place) – Music Production and Sound Engineering Diploma

Caspar Leopard is a London-based composer, producer and filmmaker. In January he won a Lift Off Global Network award for his film score of ‘The Happy Genius’. In February he launched his own label with his debut release ‘The Restoration EP’.

Firstly, can you tell me about the award you won in January?

The Lift-Off Global Network has an annual awards ceremony which selects works for each category from the 11 film festivals internationally that they organise.
I was very happy to be awarded ‘Best Score’ at the 2018 awards for my score for ‘The Happy Genius’ – a film written and directed by Hannah Mckibbin. I’ve only been composing for the film for a few years and this was actually the first film score I wrote.

I understand you and your brother run a studio together – what can you tell me about the kind of projects that have been going on recently?

Orlando and I set up the studio about 6 years ago (www.No1BalticPlace.com) – it started as a rehearsal space for our bands and a small recording studio setup. Over the years it’s grown into a bigger operation as we’ve slowly collected more gear and put in a proper console. We now run the studio commercially – recent artists include: Liam Gallagher, Jessie Ware, Rolling Stones, Bjork, James Bay and Florence & The Machine.

How did you come to find Point Blank?

I was at university in Bristol DJing at a lot of techno nights and spending my free time trying to learn music production. I decided to find a production course I could do in my summer holiday’s to speed up the learning process – Point blank was a great intro into the world of electronic production.

What was the biggest thing you took from your studies?

That studying was a great starting point but that it takes a lot of time and effort to make a mark in the music world. While the instructors at Point Blank can teach you the basic theory and point you in the right direction, it’s up to you to put in the hours to make a career out of it.

Any projects on the go that you would like people to know about?

2018 is an exciting year as I’ve got quite a few projects coming out this year which have been in production for a while now. As well as the EP, I’m composing a few more film scores and I’ve just finished making a surreal dark fairy tale short film I’ve co-written and co-directed called ‘The Blood Bride’ which will be hitting the film festivals later in the year.

Follow Caspar on Twitter and SoundCloud.

Craig White (1-800-Disco, Disco Express) – Complete DJ & More

Craig White is a DJ who plays Disco, House and Electro and runs The Disco Express in Shoreditch, London, which celebrated its first year back in February.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I started taking DJing a bit more seriously moving from the bedroom to DJing out and I knew I needed to add more skills to my repertoire. Point Blank was perfect.

How much previous experience with making music had you had before you studied with us?

Before studying with you I had no previous experience in making music. The courses at Point Blank are great as they cater for people like me starting out with making music with no real knowledge of how tracks are put together.

Are there any things you’ve learned with us that really stick in the memory?

I think learning music theory was one of the biggest things. I’d never considering mixing in key before until i started at point blank. Also having access to all of the top of the range pioneer gear was a massive help in learning all of the functions of the CDJ’s and DJM’s and the tricks you can do with them.

The party you run, Disco Express, has recently celebrated its first birthday. Can you tell me about what the night is about? How did you get started?

Tom Lily, a friend of mine who DJ’s under the name Bustin Loose, had the idea for the night just over a year ago. It’s based on a love of Disco music and takes a lot of inspiration from David Mancuso’s loft parties in New York back in the 70’s. Tom brought me in as a resident and I play every month. It’s really growing: the birthday was incredible, we had Eli Escobar over from New York.

How is your own music making going?

I’ve just finished the Maschine course at Point Blank which has enabled me to jam out ideas really easily so i’m looking forward to continuing with that. I recently just moved to Berlin to work on music production full time and really focus everything I have into making some good music. I’m doing the online sound design as we speak and have just acquired a new synth so watch this space!

Is there anything coming up in the future that you are particularly excited by?

Other than my monthly residency at The Disco Express. I’ve got a couple of big roof top parties on at the South Place hotel (APWU) and then Dalston roof park (Pop on over) which will be a great way to kick off the summer! I’m also playing Bermondsey social club for the first time which looks like a sick venue.

Follow Craig on Facebook and SoundCloud

Sara Simms (Simmetry Sounds, Mixed In Key) – Introduction to Music Production (Logic)

Sara is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ who also handles PR for the software company Mixed in Key.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I discovered Point Blank a few years ago when I was searching for an online music production school to attend. At that time, Point Blank offered a Minimal Techno online course that really appealed to me.

How much previous experience in music had you had when you studied with us?

As a child, I studied piano and music theory with my Mum. When I was a teenager, I transitioned into playing the guitar and studied rock and later jazz. I had a brief stint in the Jazz Guitar program at Humber College in Toronto, but I found myself spending more time
on the decks than on the guitar. I ended up dropping out of college to pursue DJing on a full-time basis. I learned the art of turntablism from DJ mentors and have a degree in Audio Engineering from the Harris Institute of the Arts.

Are there any things you learned with us that really stick in the memory?

I learned a lot at Point Blank about creating bass lines for techno and programming drums. I also remember my teacher at Point Blank taught me how to parallel compress the drums so they sound huge.

Tell me about getting a Management position with Mixed In Key. How did that come about?

I’ve been a fan Mixed of Key for over a decade. I immediately loved the concept of the software; I come from a musical background and harmonic mixing made a lot of sense to me.

What else have you been up to? Any recent performances you’ve really enjoyed?

I’m always DJing and producing; a few recent performance highlights include playing at ADE on
SpinZinn’s live broadcast at the Allen and Heath booth and playing on Detroit’s 313.FM. I’ve been playing in Toronto’s techno scene and this year played at a Box of Kittens event, at Toronto’s longest running electronic event Architextures, at Nightshift on live broadcasts at CTRL Room and Invisible City Records. I also write Traktor articles for the Native Instruments blog and for DJ gear/equipment reviews and production tips for Ask.Audio.

What’s in the pipeline? Anything you’re particularly excited by?

I’m excited to release two upcoming tracks with Desiire, a Toronto based R&B/soul singer. He’s a great artist and is also my stylist. It’s exciting that our relationship is developing in new ways and we’re working on music together. Our first track, ‘Fading’, is quite Disclosure influenced and is musically different than anything either of us has released. Look for it out on my label Simmetry Sounds later this year.

Follow Sara on Instagram and SoundCloud

Successes such as these are not uncommon among our students and alumni, and the common denominator is Point Blank. We can teach you how to DJ like the best of them at any of our schools. If you’d like to learn how to produce, then we can build your skills from the ground up. Our most comprehensive course, our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering is accredited by Middlesex University, as is our online alternative. For more information contact us via our contact page.

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