Musicians behind Oasis and Paul Weller record with students at Leeds Beckett
The 12 students worked with a band made up of former members of Oasis, Paul Weller’s band and Dexy’s Midnight Runners, under the tutelage of renowned David Bowie producer and engineer for the Beatles, Ken Scott.
The seventh annual Gus Dudgeon Foundation (GDF) and JAMES summer course was the second in a row to take place at Leeds Beckett. The final year music technology and production students taking part, were selected by their universities based on their outstanding performance throughout their degree courses. From Monday 10 to Friday 14 July, they took part in five days of recording on both analogue and digital systems.
Working with Leeds Beckett Senior Lecturer, Ken Scott, who is responsible for recordings by a wide range of artists including The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd and Supertramp, the students recorded and produced songs with musicians Matt Deighton (guitar and vocals), Conor Lawrence (drums) and Ben Trigg (bass).
Matt Deighton, who worked with Leeds Beckett students earlier this year as part of an artist in residency programme, is well-known for having temporarily replaced Noel Gallagher as the guitarist for Oasis in 2000. He is also famous for playing with Paul Weller, Mother Earth and Family Silver. Drummer Conor Lawrence currently plays in Republica, and Musician Ben Trigg has played bass for acts including The Killers, Goldie and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
The GDF is a non-profit foundation established to help top audio technology students in British universities gain real-life production experience alongside their studies. The Foundation was created in tribute to the late producer, Gus Dudgeon, who is best-known for his work with Elton John, a patron of the foundation.
Ken Scott said: “I’m proud to be able to pass along knowledge to students via the Gus Dudgeon Foundation. I was lucky enough to work with Gus and have presented some of his work to them in a way only heard by those of us lucky enough to be in the studio at the time of recording. I have also worked with a group of talented musicians to show the 12 students how recordings used to be made, whilst still utilising the best of modern technology, with the hope that this will help them in their future endeavours.
“We were supposed to find the best student of the week to award the prizes and we couldn’t – we had to draw out of a hat. They’re all so good this year and we just can’t pick a best one. The talent that’s there, and the interest that’s there, is great: we couldn’t ask for more. It’s been wonderful working with them all.”
Patrick Haynes, a student from Anglia Ruskin University, commented: “It was a unique opportunity to work with such a talented production team. The highlight of the week for me was recording the string section, because I’ve never had the opportunity to do that before so it really made it unique and brought the compositions to life. The speech that Ken gave on the first day was also one of the most interesting parts of the week - he’s had such a fantastic career.”
Dr Steve Parker, Principal Lecturer in the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett, said: “It’s been another very successful GDF week and I think part of the reason why is that we decided not to use a student band but to use professional musicians. What the students have realised is that level of professionalism expected of them in the industry. At the start of the week the students were quite overawed; however they have really risen to the occasion. They’ve all taken turns at doing things in different roles and we have recorded four tracks and put strings on two tracks. The students have all said the same thing: that they’ve realised that when they get out there they’ll all have to up their game; and they’ve had some real insights into how it works and the communication and planning etc that will be expected of them.
“It was great that we also secured sponsorship from Solid State Logic (SSL), KMR Audio and PMC speakers, and three students won some professional equipment to help launch their production careers.”
Matt Deighton added: “It’s been inspiring for me and all the musicians: all of us have worked in studios and with record labels but being here, with 12 students engineering, it’s been such a two-way thing where I’ve been listening to them as well. Their feedback has been really helpful and interesting - it was nice that they’ve also heard of bands that I like from 20 or 40 years ago! It’s been a unique week and I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve done. I’ve done this for so long and things like this keep it fresh.
“I’m going to mention everyone’s name on the back of the record and it will be released next year for Record Store Day.”
Representing Leeds Beckett was BA (Hons) Music Production and Performance student, John Stainthorp, and - as a last-minute addition when another student could no longer make it - Peter Leach. They joined the students selected by 10 other UK universities who are accredited by JAMES, the body of dedicated audio industry professionals and academics who create and maintain supportive links between education and the media industries.
John said: “The week has been absolutely amazing – it’s hard to put into words the experience that I’ve gained and the knowledge that’s been passed down. Getting to work with the likes of Ben, Conor and Matt, they’re just fantastic musicians. The highlight for me has also been the strings – Ben composed it all and did the score for each song, and he played the cello. We also had a viola and violin player who all played together; and then the violin player played the first part separately and they moved the chairs around the room. That is an amazing technique and I will be using that in the future.”
Dr Parker explained: “John was selected as he has thrown himself into all of the studio-based course modules and grabbed all of the studio time he could, making himself available to anyone who wanted a studio engineer. He has enjoyed developing his understanding of mic choice, mic placement and mixing and decided to make his final year project as much about his engineering and mixing skills as it is about his performance and writing.
“He has produced two fantastic EPs in his final year: one of his own songs and one for another artist. These have been recorded and mixed to a high standard and John has been meticulous about the sounds he wanted and how to get them and fully deserved his place on the GDF week.”
The GDF course was funded by Leeds Beckett’s School of Film, Music and Performing Arts, the GDF, and sponsors SSL, PMC and KMR.
i had such an incredible week, thank you !— Danny (@lost182) July 18, 2017