Feast or famine – the life of an artist
"I spent twenty years working in music before coming to Goldsmiths. I was (and still am nominally) a songwriter and an artist, previously signed to Creation Records, and Laws of Motion, I now have my own Label Virago with my music management. For the songwriting I was published by Perfect Song (part of ZTT records).
Some highlights include the day I got my first record back with my name on it, the first time I heard one of my songs on the radio, the first time another artist covered one of my songs, having the opportunity to go and write in America. I've had some great reviews and gigs over the years for various releases, I was described by Q magazine as a ‘major discovery’!
I’ve also got to work with some amazing people, who’ve written and played with the likes of Sia, Annie Lennox, Rhianna, etc. My current record was mixed by Steve Fitzmaurice, who mixed Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour.
The whole experience of being an independent artist has taught me to be self-sufficient and resilient - you have to be able to 'roll with the punches’, as the life of an artist is always one of feast or famine. It has also taught me to be grateful for the moment, and for opportunities to stretch myself and step out of my comfort zone. I have worked with all kinds of extraordinary people, young, old, famous, not famous, rich and poor, the whole gamut.
What that has taught me is people are just people, all the same, but at the same time each person in unique. This has given me the ability to mix and find common ground with pretty much anyone. It has also taught me that everyone has a story to tell, you just have to ask the right questions.
Through some voluntary work I was doing, my interest in psychology was reignited. I have for the past 10 years or more been mentoring people with drug and alcohol problems. I am currently doing some training with my local NHS foundation to help people transitioning from the psychiatric wards into the community. The birth of my son made me to want to refocus my life, so I came to Goldsmiths to retrain."
A trove of transferable skills
"I’m bringing over many transferable skills into my new career. They include an ability to see what needs doing, to ask for help with things I don’t have expertise in, to be organised and bring projects to fruition on time and on budget, and people management skills.
I am used to working with both teams of people and one to one, in many and varied situations and environments. I have learnt to quickly get the measure of a situation, and try and turn it into a positive experience for both the person I am working with and me. It has taught me to believe in the courage of my convictions, but also that others peoples’ opinions and convictions are equally as valid as mine.
Songwriting is a way of trying to make sense of yourself in the world, and as such is an exploration of the human condition and psyche, not unlike psychology. The question ‘Why are we (I) the way we are (I am)? And why do we do the things we do?’ is posed in the writing, albeit looking through the alternate prism of music, rather than science."
Diverse mix of students
"I chose Goldsmiths because I knew it had a large mature student population, and is a diverse and inclusive university. I came through a non-traditional academic route, and there has been support available when needed, which has been invaluable to me.
I love it here. The teaching is excellent and the people are great - both my fellow students and the teachers. The student body is very mixed, and therefore there are a multiplicity of thoughts and ideas and opinions on each subject. We (the students) are a vocal bunch, some might say bolshy, and I like that. There is lots of variety in terms of personalities and interests.
What I like about the teachers is that they bring their enthusiasm and real life experiences both academically and personally into the lectures, making them much more engaging than they might otherwise be. Goldsmiths overall feels like a place of equality and genuine interest in the exchange of ideas, there is a feeling that we are all in it together."
The mark of a good lecturer
"What I love most about my teachers is that they are human! For someone like me coming back into education, with a young family, and a multiplicity of other responsibilities, I feel like the difficulties I sometimes have with the work are understood. That is not to say that I am treated any differently from any of the other students; but I have one particular lecturer in mind, and she herself was a mature student, so understands where I am coming from.
She is extremely approachable, and willing to make the time to explain things I haven’t understood properly, and help where needed. Also her lectures are pitched in such a way that she makes what could be for me a quite difficult subject, digestible and understandable. Personally I think that is the mark of a good lecturer, to take something difficult and explain it in plain English, in a way that is relatively easily understood."
Cross pollination of ideas
"I like that the departments seem to work closely, and there is a cross pollination of ideas between them. It's a buzzy and creative place to be. I am very much looking forward to the music and psychology lectures in third year, which have students from both music and psychology departments."
Advice to new students
"Don’t panic, it’ll be ok - go to lectures, enjoy yourselves and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!"