In this Featured Alumni instalment, we catch up with sound designer and ACM alumnus, Simon Loveridge!
Simon graduated from ACM in 2008 with an HND in Bass, and since then has gone on to a successful career as a musician for the videogames industry.
So Simon, tell us a bit about your background!
I’ve been a musician all my life. I started learning piano when I was six, and although I had proper lessons and learned music theory, I spent my time figuring out how to play my favourite video game tunes. Alongside that, my Dad showed me how to read chord charts and started teaching me Elton John and Billy Joel songs on the piano. Looking back, it was really important that I was being classically trained but also learned things that really interested me and were fun to play. I realised that it didn’t matter if it was classical piano, old Nintendo tunes or Billy Joel – music theory was the key to everything, and it applied to every instrument. When I was about 13 I picked up guitar, bass and drums and as I got into heavier and more technical music I got really into bass playing. This, along with wanting to learn stuff that I really enjoyed, ultimately shaped my decision to study bass at ACM.
What motivated you to come to ACM?
A good friend of mine went to ACM and told me how awesome it was to be learning about and playing contemporary music all day. I realised that there wasn’t really anything else I wanted to spend all day doing! I went for an open day and got a great vibe and decided to go for it. I ended up doing Diploma and Higher National Diploma in Bass, and somewhere in my second year decided that I although I loved playing bass, there was so much other music related stuff I wanted to learn.
Tell us about what you’ve been/currently involved with since leaving ACM
Since leaving University I’ve been working in the Video Game industry as a musician. I was Lead MIDI Designer for Guitar Hero Live while working for Freestyle Games/Activision – my job was to take the songs that were going in game and create gameplay for each of them using MIDI. My team and I would zero in on the finest musical details of each performance to make sure the gameplay matched the guitar parts perfectly, and over the course of development we created Guitar and Vocal gameplay for over 500 songs. They were an amazing bunch of guys to work with and I’m really proud of the work we did while working on that game. Our contribution on developing Guitar Hero Live came to an end when Freestyle Games were taken on by Ubisoft towards the end of last year, so I’m now an Audio Designer for Ubisoft Leamington. I can’t really talk about what projects I’m working on at the moment, but it’s great to part of such a massive video game publisher that do so many different styles and genres of huge hitting games.
How did your course prepare you for life in the music industry?
Alongside the day job, I play bass in a wedding band, so all the performance and stylistic stuff I learned at ACM is still paying off! My mind is always cast back to the advice and guidance my tutors gave me, and the experience I had with playing in bands at ACM, and I feel like thanks to that I approach all aspects of being in a band with a solid foundation of knowledge I picked up there. I’ve also written music and created sound effects for some independent video games, and I’ve recently re-launched my YouTube channel. I take classic video game tunes that I’ve grown up with and love, and do heavy metal covers of them! It’s great fun and it keeps my production skills up as I’m always trying to get a better sound when recording/mixing/mastering.
What are your aspirations for the future?
In terms of what I want to do in the future, being a Sound Designer for a video game company has always been a dream job, so I’m going to continue doing it to the best of my ability. I’m also going to push my YouTube channel as hard as I can and see if I can create a decent following. If that ever turns into the kind of thing that I can actually earn a living from, then it really would be a dream come true! For now at least, it’s great fun and keeps me on my toes in terms of writing/arranging, recording, mixing, video production, and general organisation in bringing it all together.
Do you have any advice for those looking to get in to industry?
My advice for anyone wanting to get into the video game/music industry (or really any industry for that matter) is threefold:
Firstly: Keep at it
If you want to be the right person for the job when a bunch of other talented people apply, you need to be on top of your game. To be at that standard you really have to live and breathe the service you’re offering. Want to be good at recording and mixing? Do loads of recording and mixing, and do it every day! If you want to be a session bass player, practice every day! You’re going to want to show people you’re working with that you are without a doubt the right person for the job, and if you do it so much that it’s a part of who you are then people will see that.
Secondly: Be a nice person
If you’re going for a job or a gig or collaborating with someone, chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time with them. People interviewing know this, and if you come across as someone who is difficult to get on with, or brash, or just generally not nice, you could be the best player ever and they’ll choose someone else.
Thirdly: Don’t let stress get to you
One of the most valuable things I learned after leaving University is that getting a job in the music/game industry is hard, and the chances of you walking out of graduation into the perfect job that you’ve always happened is pretty slim. If you close the door on doing something else to pay the bills in the meantime, then you’re going to have a bad time. I left Uni and got a job working in IT Support close to where I was living. It didn’t pay great, and wasn’t anything to do with music, but the people were awesome and it meant that I could pay the bills and (more importantly) buy the gear I needed to become a better recording musician. I admit I was in the right place at the right time when I got the job working on Guitar Hero, but I would have been in a worse place if I didn’t have a job doing something in the meantime. The guys who hired me appreciated this and was undoubtedly something that helped my case when they were considering who to take on.
What was the best part about studying at ACM for you?
For me, the best part of studying at the ACM was meeting like-minded musicians. I went from being at a school with a handful of people who played guitar and piano, to being surrounded by incredible musicians all day every day. The expertise of the tutors meant that the tuition you got was from a great place, and the general atmosphere around the place meant that I had so much fun while I was there. I look back on ACM with great fondness, and if you’re an aspiring contemporary musician then it’s definitely the place to be.
If you’d like to check out more of Simon’s work, head over to his YouTube channel!
If you’d like to be a student at ACM and kickstart your career in the music industry like Simon, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.