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Stand For Something: Meet Melanie

SSR started as a recording studio in Manchester in 1980; with influential bands such as The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and many more passing through its doors. In 1984, after a prompt from the late great Tony Wilson, the company moved into education and became the UK’s first dedicated sound engineering school. Now over 30 years on, SSR has grown into an international college, delivering a range of courses from weekend tasters to Honours Degrees in Music Production, Sound Engineering, 3D Film Production and Games Development.
They have campuses in Manchester, London and Jakarta (with more on the horizon) and each one houses state of the art facilities. With the help of industry active tutors, SSR has built a reputation for first class training and has seen its graduates achieve phenomenal success.
Earlier this year, Dr. Martens set up the #STANDFORSOMETHING Scholarship with SSR to give individuals the chance to win a full course at either the Manchester or London campuses resulting in industry recognised diploma in Music Production & Sound Engineering. The first two successful applicants joined in September, now they’ve had time to get into the swing of things Dr. Martens caught up with Melanie at the London campus to see how its going.
file://localhost/Users/Jess/Library/Group%20Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/msoclip1/01/clip_image002.png Applications are now open for next year are now open, click here to apply.
What made you want to apply for the Dr. Martens #StandForSomething Scholarship at SSR London?
I had been thinking about studying a technical course for a while but I hadn’t pursued it seriously because every course I found was either unaffordably expensive and/or taught during the day. It was actually a lucky coincidence that I found out about the #StandForSomething Scholarship – I was idly browsing classified synth ads on Gumtree and came across an ad of a student at SSR who was offering to record bands for free to build up his/her portfolio. Wondering why I’d never heard of SSR before, I looked them up on Facebook and they had literally just made a post about the scholarship. That’s where it all started!
What have you learned so far?
In just 2 months I’ve learned loads. We started off with a bit of audio theory but quickly moved on to microphone recording techniques and signal flow of analogue mixing desks – that basically means how an acoustic sound we hear is converted to electricity and captured in recording, and the path it takes along the way. I’ve been in the studio every weekend since the course started. It’s a great privilege to have regular access to a fully-equipped workspace (at home I have to set everything out on the ironing board each time) and it’s also been really cool that I’ve been able to get hands-on so quickly.
What projects are you most looking forward to in the next few months?
I’m just about to perform my first ever live set which was specially commissioned for the chamber ensemble Project Instrumental’s latest concert series. I’ve produced about 40 minutes of new music which has sampled recordings of the ensemble and it explores the idea of a modern-day passacaglia (a structure based on cyclical, repeating motifs). That collaboration has gone really well and there’s lots of talk of doing further things next year, such as composing a work for strings and laptop. They’re a fantastic group of players and to have access to them is a real treat!
In the coming months at SSR I’ll be mixing a song I recorded this term, which is basically the crux of what I want to be learning on the course. I’ve been working with the singer Boe Huntress for this which has been a pleasure. Recording is actually quite addictive too and I’m definitely intending to get lots of people in to the studios over the coming months.
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What do you plan to do with your new found qualifications after you graduate?
I wanted to do an engineering course because I want to be a better artist and that will always be my first priority. Already I’ve noticed though that I’ve become a lot more confident with loads of technical aspects – it probably sounds really geeky but it’s so empowering to really understand the difference between various cables and how and when to use them, for example! Overall there’s lots of things I’d feel confident to do now which I wouldn’t have felt I could before I started the course. I’m working for a large music publisher currently and I’ve been able to take on a couple of exciting recording projects recently, which feels like a big step. The idea of becoming a freelancer is beginning to feel like a viable option too.
What 3 songs are you listening to right now?
The Persuader – Snodroppar (Tardis Records) – a beautifully deep track on a label run by possibly my favourite DJ ever, Eli Verveine
Stephen Lopkin – Farewell G41 (Nautilus Rising records) – a fabulously uplifting and punchy track with a nostalgic tinge
Tissu – Unmanned Vehicle (Mörk Records) – this track has been out for a while now but I’m still playing it all the time. I find it super satisfying to listen to!
Tell us about your favourite pair of DMs:
Probably the pair I have now, which are the Mark Wigan Kaboom 1461s, these shoes get so many compliments when I wear them out.
And finally, what do you stand for?
Inclusion, diversity and sharing.

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