Each month, we catch up with Point Blank students and alumni to showcase their successes since studying with us, giving you an insight into how music industry careers are established and nurtured right here at Point Blank. This month we’ve decided to do our student success blog a little differently, as all of the successful students and alumni we approached wrote back with considered and reflective answers to our questions. Read on for full interviews with each of our three success stories compiled for February and don’t forget to check out our London, Los Angeles, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online course pages to begin your own journey in the music industry.
KERFO (Universal) – BA (hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering
John Kerfoot aka KERFO is a second-year student on our two-year BA (hons) degree programme here in London. After entering a remix competition through the school, his winning entry was picked up by Universal and released last year. We caught up with him to see how he’s been going since then.
Could you tell us how you discovered Point Blank?
I discovered Point Blank online. It was a close call between heading to the Royal Academy of Music and following the live performing route full time, or head to Point Blank for a more holistic qualification. Point Blank was the winner because of the huge spectrum of modules that are covered, I felt that it would set me up in the best way for a successful career in the fast-paced modern music industry.
Are there any things you’ve learned with us that really stick in the memory?
Too many really useful things to go through! One thing I do remember is the Music Composition module, for which I had Linton Bennett tutoring me. I remember being amazed at breaking down these massive hit songs and learning the many effective techniques that top songwriters use to take a good song to a hit song. I am eternally grateful to Mr Bennett. He is a truly fantastic teacher & motivator!
Tell us about being signed to Universal.
I won the Anthony Touma remix competition which was an opportunity on the Point Blank opportunities page. The label team loved the remix and wanted to release it. It came out on 15th December and is available to listen to here. A massive thank you to Alex Phountzi, my tutor for the Creative Production & Remixing module for helping me hone my remixing skills and shed light on new & innovative production techniques.
Since then, I have been asked to do a second remix for a Universal artist which will be coming out towards the end of March. The label also asked me to send them some of my ‘Radio Style/Top 40″ songs which was a fantastic opportunity for which I am very grateful! Looking forward, I would like to start working with Universal’s artist roster on their original material.
How has life been with a major label?
It has been really good experience to work with Universal. It’s great to see how such a big label operates efficiently, splitting up its world territories, distribution channels and artist rosters, and how the company markets their artists music differently for each territory. It has also been really useful to learn what is expected of a songwriter/remixer in today’s music industry first hand, such as delivering the finished product on time and to the highest quality that is called for.
You must have plenty of things in the pipeline – anything your particularly excited by?
As well as the upcoming remix, I have just finished composing all of the music and sound FX for a brand new theatre show called Version 2.0 run by Squire Lane Theatrical. The shows have just started and run through until 3rd March at Leicester Square Theatre. It was a really good challenge as I was asked to compose music ranging from a single instrument lullaby for flute & a John Williams-esque piece with cinematic orchestration, right through to pounding house music as well as various robotic sound FX. In particular, the Advanced Composition & Composing for Film & TV modules helped tenfold with this project.
Check out KERFO on Facebook
Heroarky – Electronic Music Production (Online)
Heroarky is a producer from Sydney who last year had his VO/CE Ep featured by xlr8r. Check out the release on bandcamp. Musically he draws the listener into an otherworldly fuzz, with a warm and crackly raison d’etre that won’t let go once it’s taken hold.
Hi Heroarky! Could you begin by telling me how you discovered Point Blank?
I came across one of Pointblank tutorial videos on YouTube while I was learning about Ableton Live. I really liked Pointblank’s deconstructions and master class tutorial videos and wanted to get deeper into production techniques so I decided to take a course last year.
How much previous experience with making music had you had at that point?
I had a few years of experience making music but it was only last year when I officially released my tracks. Before the course, I didn’t really have any formal music education so I had minimal understanding of music theories and sound design.
What were your favourite things you learned from the course?
I benefited a lot from one to one tutorials and getting feedback on my tracks from experienced music producers like Stefano Ritteri and Mike Koglin who are both very knowledgeable and really easy-going. I got some great tips and advice from them, like slicing audio samples into MIDI and then create my own beats. I think my production flow has become much more efficient as they demonstrated how to produce a track from start to finish focusing one or two techniques each week.
Your last release featured on xlr8r, can you tell me a bit about the VO/CE EP? What went into making it?
I guess The VO/CE was my experimentation of using Ableton Live and making music with it not just for fun but more serious production for the first time. I was testing Sampler and some audio effects in Ableton like Auto Pan and RePulser then altered vocal samples in a way I’ve never done before, which led to the production of the first track. I also used a couple of found sounds/field recordings in this EP to make it more interesting and original.
What have you got in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on my second EP which will be released within a few months. It’ll include not only experimental stuff but also techno oriented tracks this time. Also planning to travel more this year and make more music.
Find Heroarky on Soundcloud
Alan Cross (Census Recordings) – Mixing and Production
Alan Cross, FKA Dirt Revolver, is a DJ, producer and head of Census Recordings. the first track from his debut untitled album recently hit number 1 on the Traxsource progressive house chart. Check it out here.
Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?
I studied at PB around 2011 I think: I did the evening mixing and production course with Justin Underhill, then went on to do various online genre courses.
Are there any things you learned with us that really stick in the memory?
The main thing I took from you guys was studying with other students in a classroom situation, and bringing my confidence levels up as a producer, breaking out of my comfort zone. It was good to get hands-on experience and have the chance to ask stupid questions about stuff that I was struggling to really grasp.
Tell me a bit about the untitled release – How did you make the tracks and what were your reference points?
Regarding the album, I took a 2-year break from my regular job in the NHS to move to Sweden with my partner, I built my own sound-proofed studio and basically worked every day developing my mixing and style. I wanted to write a full body of work for once instead of individual tracks, and I found working on 3 or 4 tracks at a time was great as I started to get consistency in style and production. The album itself is a reflection of my more melodic-tech side, but do also write darker stuff. Reference points – Anjuna Deep have been a big influence over the years, but all types of music have influenced me from classical to techno. One thing that someone once taught me was: ‘if it sounds right, use it.’
What else have you been up to?
I started my own label, Census Sound Recordings in 2014 and started releasing music under my own name (Previously Dirt Revolver) and last year I got a promo company involved with the label who have been REALLY helpful. We got a feature on Traxsource when the album was released. I also did a pre release on Bandcamp which generated more money than store sales, so would recommend that approach for any-one out there!
I do a bit of DJ’ing with friends on the label and we have played Gottwood for the past 2 years and are returning this year also. I’m hoping to put on more label parties in UK as I am moving back this summer.
Follow Alan on Soundcloud to keep up with his movements.
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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