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Student Success December 2018: Grace Savage, PollyAnna & Ms. Mohammed

Welcome back to another edition of Point Blank Student Success. This month we spoke to professional beatboxer, singer and looping artist Grace Savage about combining her skills and refining her sound, Netherlands-native PollyAnna about how she hooked up with Spinnin’ Records and Ms. Mohammed about channelling her ancestry into her music. We compile these every month showcasing students that have studied with us for any length of time at any of our locations: London, Los Angeles, Ibiza, Mumbai, and Online. Read on below to learn about these musician’s previous experiences at Point Blank and the exciting projects they have in the pipeline.

Grace Savage (BBC Radio 1 / SBTV) – Intro to Music Production

Grace Savage is a multitalented singer, beatboxer and producer who’s been tipped by the likes of BBC Radio 1, SBTV and more. She’s an avid performer who is rapidly mastering the art of on-stage live looping as she is continually booked for gigs and festivals alike. She’s released a number of successful hits over the last few years and now eagerly plans her debut record.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I applied for the introduction to production course through the “Transmission Fund” via the charity Help Musicians UK. I knew I wanted to do an introductory course and asked around which was the best course and a few people recommended point blank.

How did the school help in building the foundations of your music career?

I did the course this year and already have a fairly established music career so I wouldn’t say the course helped build the foundation of my career, however, I would say it has helped build foundations of a new stage in my career – one where I take more control of my musical ideas and the production side of my tracks instead of relying on other producers all the time. To me, being an artist should be an ongoing process of learning and development and point blank has been a key part in pushing me forward to the next level.

What was your experience with music before you studied with us?

I am a professional beatboxer, singer and looping artist and have spent the past couple years establishing myself as an electronic pop artist, moving slowly away from the “solo beatboxer” identity that most people probably know/knew me as. I have never trained in anything musical and everything I do has been self-taught. I have learnt on the job, from other musicians or from the internet. I have released two EP’s and won 4 x UK Beatboxing championship titles but I would say I’m still very much learning every day. Logic Pro was something I had messed around with but never had a deep understanding of or confidence with.

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

Because I have no formal training, it can sometimes be a bit of an insecurity for me – that I’m not “musical” enough but I remember the tutor saying that it is not necessary to be musically trained when creating tracks in a production sense – if you have a good ear and “feel” the music, that is all you need. That really gave me an extra boost of confidence.

How would you describe what you do and how close do you feel to how you want to sound?

I would describe myself as an electronic pop, live looping, beatboxing artist. On the recorded side of things, I’m pretty close to how I want to sound – It’s a fine balance to sound left-field, interesting and make peoples head nod but also create catchy songs with meaningful lyrics that make people feel things – we are constantly refining that in the studio and looking for that sweet spot.

What’s your live setup like when performing at the number of festivals and shows you play at?

I perform solo with an RC505 loop station, an AKAI MPX16 sampler and a mini ironing board to keep it all together! I don’t use any software and there are no laptops on stage – I may develop this in the future so I can fill out my sound more but I enjoy the challenge of only using hardware and having to be solid on stage. I also perform with a full band (when the gig pays properly!) and concentrate more on the singing and performance than the button pressing, which is fun because I feel a bit freer and can jam out a bit more. I also have two electronic duo setups with each member of my band – one with a guitarist and one with a DJ so I have plenty of options to offer promoters when booking me for a gig.

How is your debut album coming along?

Looking more like it’s gonna be a debut EP and a couple of singles. I don’t think I’m ready for an album yet. I still have a lot of building and growing to do so maybe an album in 2020! But the EP writing is going well, we have about 10 demos so far and some of them are sounding proper lush.

What’s in the pipeline?

I’m now working with a management team and booking agent, applying for funding and looking forward to releasing new music Spring 2019 hopefully followed by a packed festival season. Just hoping I can stay making music and performing as a full-time artist for as long as I can get away with!

PollyAnna (Spinnin’ Records / Armada) – Music Production Diploma (Online)

Netherlands-born PollyAnna is an international singer-songwriter and producer who’s worked with the likes of Spinnin’ Records, Armada, Martin Garrix’s STMPD and Nicky Romero’s Protocol. As a performing artist, she’s graced the stage at a number of renowned European festivals including Pinkpop, The Great Escape, Paaspop and Parkpop with her tracks racking up millions of plays on Spotify alone.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I found out about Point Blank online. I wanted to educate myself on music production but was looking for something more elaborate than just YouTube tutorials. I thought it was important to learn everything in the right order and I wanted some supervision as well as someone who would listen to my production with me and give me feedback.

How did the school help in building your music career?

The people I look up to in the music scene are all very multi-talented so most of the time they are great songwriters and good producers. I am a songwriter and vocalist and have always been very dependant on producers for my sound. I feel like learning production at this level has been a game changer for me.

What was your experience with music before you studied with us?

I did some basic productions and had my artist career going as a singer and songwriter.

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

Too many to mention. For me especially learning how to mix was very important.

How would you describe what you do and how close do you feel to how you want to sound?

I use my production skills for many different things. In my day to day work, I use it, especially for vocal production – I do a lot of vocals and songwriting in the dance scene. Other than that, I’m working on my next solo album. I want to produce that one myself. It will be finished in the second half of 2019.

I noticed you’ve had releases on Spinnin’ Records. How did you hook up with the label?

As a featuring artist, I met many other musicians signed to Spinnin’ Records. I work directly with them but I occasionally collaborate through their publisher, Music All Stars.

What’s your live setup like when performing at the number of festivals and shows you play at?

I perform on stage with a live producer, keyboardist and myself on vocals and guitar.

What’s in the pipeline?

I recently released my newest single, ‘Starchild’, with Ummet Ozcan and so far the feedback has been very promising. Other than this I have a few big songs slated for release on Spinnin’ and Armada over the coming months.

Ms. Mohammed (BBC 6 Music) – Music Production & Sound Engineering Diploma

Dana Jade AKA Ms. Mohammed has spent the last few years not only learning about music but learning about herself. The Trinidadian artist has a passion for singing and songwriting and uses these creative skills as an outlet to channel her rich cultural background. She’s now a fully adept producer who can finally translate the ideas she holds inside her head into the real world. She’s truly embraced her musical path and has since received support from the likes of BBC 6 Music, Iggy Pop, Gideon Coe and more. Read on below to learn more about Ms. Mohammed.

Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?

I actually discovered Point Blank online while searching for music production courses. I was still living in my flat back in Trinidad at the time and I’d never even set foot in old London Town.

What was your experience with music before you studied with us?

I had been in bands, played the guitar and written songs but my knowledge and love of the production side of things, and especially gear, did not flourish until the course and beyond. Now I’m all about sound manipulation as well as the songwriting.

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

There was one lesson on ‘Groove’ that’s been an enduring memory – It was very informative and enjoyable. When writing music I tend to start with drums so creating a groove is a very important process in bringing my ideas to life, so thank you for shaping my knowledge of that!

How would you describe what you do and how close do you feel to how you want to sound?

I call it “alternative fusion”. What other kind of music could a girl from Trinidad with South Asian ancestry, living in London make? There are several influences from my culture and I’m lucky to have such a vibrant colour palette to draw from. I don’t compromise much now that I can produce myself so there are no disagreements in the studio about the final product. I’m always trying to match the sound in my head. It’s hard to explain but it’s almost 3D in here and when it comes closest, that’s when I know the track is done.

What’s in the pipeline?

I’m getting back to the studio ASAP to record a new EP. Writing love songs to myself, friends & family. There aren’t enough songs about self-love & non-romantic relationships! It’s strange when you think about it. The state of the world is also high on the lyrical agenda. Sound wise, I’m exploring my Indian ancestry & heritage as well as my Caribbean identity. That’s definitely coming out in the fusion of sounds. Then… world domination of course!

Successes such as these are common among our students and alumni. 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 with our range of degree programmes, including the latest addition, the BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice. All of our degree programmes are quality assured by Middlesex University, including our online BA (Hons) course. For more information, you can contact us here.

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