October 28, 2021  

7 Essential Point Blank Masterclasses: Black History Month 2021

This year, we’re celebrating Black History Month 2021 by spotlighting some of our favourite Point Blank masterclasses, panels and tutorials with black artists. Over the years, Point Blank has been honoured to host the likes of numerous well-respected black producers, DJs, songwriters and managers to discuss all things culture, background, influences and creativity. Tune in to some of our most memorable below.

1. Zion Foster – “POWER”: R&B Vocal and Production Masterclass

We were joined by the London-based R&B sensation, Zion Foster, to explore the magic behind his Afrobeat anthem ‘POWER’ and talk about how he makes his vocals sound so polished and professional from his bedroom studio. During the video, Zion gives us an insight into his bedroom set up – the place he regularly creates the hits you hear on Spotify and Apple Music and YouTube channels such as Link Up TV. He talks about how he sources his instrumentals and how he wanted to incorporate his African roots into ‘POWER’.

2. Perspective: Elisabeth Troy (Clean Bandit, MJ Cole)

We linked up with the UK vocalist, hitmaker and Clean Bandit and MJ Cole collaborator, Elisabeth Troy, to discuss her introduction to music, how to navigate the industry as a young black woman, working in the studio on her hit ‘Crazy Love’ and much more. Elisabeth Troy has graced the UK Top 40 multiple times as well as featured on numerous charting tracks with the likes of Clean Bandit, MJ Cole, B. Traits, Metrik and many more.

3. The FaNaTiX Break Down Their Track w/ Stylo G “Touch Down” ft. Nicki Minaj & Vybz Kartel

The Fanatix are a UK-based production outfit that specialises in dancehall, hip-hop and rap. During their career, the producers have worked with a star-studded lineup of musicians, including David Guetta, Stylo G, Ms Banks, Popcaan, Nicki Minaj, M1llionz and others. During this masterclass, the pair explain how they built the track around the hooky flute melody, why they don’t like to quantize their beats too heavily and the importance of leaving enough space in the track for the vocalist to play with. They drop some essential tips on how adding subtle elements to your beats can make incredible final results, working as a team, their go-to plugins and more.

4. Perspective: DJ Fonti (Heartless Crew)

We were joined by DJ Fonti, a UK garage legend and original member of Heartless Crew, to talk about his cultural background, how he linked up with Bushkin and Mighty Moe, what British black music means to him, how their UK anthem ‘Heartless Theme’ came together and much more. DJ Fonti is best known for his work with Heartless Crew and his trademark Crisp Biscuit mixes. He and the other members of Heartless Crew, who met at school in North London, were influenced heavily by Sound System culture and hip-hop of the era.

5. Perspective: What is a Music Director w/ Kojo Samuel (Stormzy, Jessie J, AJ Tracey)

With an extraordinary musical heritage, Kojo Samuel was raised on music; his mother being legendary soul singer PP Arnold and his father being a bassist for Crosby, Stills & Nash. Kojo spent ten years producing, songwriting and remixing, as well as working on music for both TV and film. After returning to the UK, he toured with iconic UK pop group the Sugababes before becoming their Music Director. Since then, Kojo has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including iconic UK acts such as Stormzy, AJ Tracey, Jess Glynne and Jessie J.

During the video, Kojo details the importance of taking on numerous roles in the industry and how networking and putting yourself out there can help secure yourself a wealth of new opportunities. In addition, he explains how dedication and hard work play a pinnacle part in industry progress – and are usually followed by organic success.

6. Techtorial: How to Use Antares Auto-Tune with Genesis Elijah

For this tutorial, rapper and producer Genesis Elijah shows how you can easily fix and your vocals using Antares Auto-Tune and create a range of popular effects. To demonstrate how autotune works, Genesis Elijah fires up a project he’s been working on and lays down a few raw vocal takes for the track’s hook. He opens up Antares Auto-Tune and the plugin gets to work, showing him which key he’s singing in and where his vocals have slipped out of tune. To ensure his vox stay on key, the London-based rapper simply removes any notes that he doesn’t want his vocals to touch on and cranks down the retune speed to give them that classic autotune sound. Yes, it’s really that simple to get studio-quality autotuned vocals in minutes.

7. Perspective: Linton Bennett (Warren G, All Saints, Boyz II Men, Dido)

We were joined by Point Blank expert lecturer, Linton Bennett aka Stepz, to discuss life in lockdown, reunifying with his beloved studio, how his passion for music first ignited, how he broke into the music industry as a young black artist and everything in between.

Linton Bennett has been deeply connected to the music industry for the duration of his career. He has composed and produced tracks for huge mainstream artists such as Dido, Warren G, All Saints, Boyz II Men, Jamelia and Imogen Heap to name a few. He’s been active in the music industry for 3 decades and signed to the iconic Motown in the US.

Feeling inspired? Load up your DAW and get stuck into some music. Need some help with anything production-based? Check out our online courses which feature exclusive 1-2-1s, masterclasses, production tutorials, career opportunities, feedback sessions and more.

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