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Currently studying ACM’s Tour Production & Management course (2012/13), Mat Burr has been on a journey of musical exploration and recently found himself on tour with Bastille. ACM caught up with Mat to talk about how he arrived to study at ACM and his subsequent experiences.
A bit about your background – previous music industry experience and why you want to work in this industry?
Right from an early age I’ve been interested in the complexity and creation of music. Throughout school I was always inspired to produce music – having played piano for a number of years – but it wasn’t until I started college that I decided to explore music production. It was the music production course at A-level that really sparked my interest in live music and touring. The perfectionist in me always wanted to know more, understand more, and constantly improve on my recordings. The deciding moment for me to pursue a career in live music was when I was asked by college to produce the battle of the bands and talent show competitions during charity week. Even though I had to ‘mix’ the shows on a 16 channel Behringer mixer with no outboard gear – I loved it. Being in control of the show for 250 people who are cheering and enjoying themselves was a really good feeling. It made me realize that i didn’t want to be a performer in the limelight, I wanted to be the guy behind the artist making them look good and having an overwhelming sense of achievement for doing so.
What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
The current politics around University education for our generation is pretty disheartening so taking the decision not to go to uni was massive and one that my parents partially didn’t agree with. My initial plan was to look for work in the retail industry to get basic experience and skills and see where life took me from there. By this point I had looked over hundreds of courses for Music Production but they were all very studio based. I couldn’t find a course which tailored specifically to the live music industry and what I wanted to do. However that all changed one day when I was reading ‘Music Tech’ magazine and saw an advert for ACM. I visited the website and found a course that was unlike anything else I had seen. The Tour Production & Management course had a strong emphasis on practical, live music, opportunity based education which appealed to me greatly. My dad and I booked an appointment for the Open Day and was really impressed with the facilities at ACM as well as the area surrounding it. Before I knew it I was filling in an application form and hoping for an offer!
What’s been the best part about studying at ACM?
Nearing the end of the course, I can confidently say that choosing to study at ACM was the best choice for me. Aside from touring with Bastille on a sellout tour, the brilliant lectures from active professionals in the industry working with bands such as The Kinks, Jamie n Commons, Taio cruz, Placebo, James Morrison, The Australian Pink Floyd, Little Mix, Take That and many many more; the casual yet informative style of the lectures, amazing insight into the world of touring and life on the road – The single best part about studying at ACM is the people I have met and friends i have made whilst staying in Guildford. I live with four other guys from various other courses at ACM and we have the best time exploring our knowledge of sound and recording our new EP! We go to gigs together, bounce ideas off each other and just generally love the music based environment that we live in. I can teach them about live techniques and equipment and they teach me everything from contemporary studio production to drumming polyrhythms to artist development and songwriting.
What are your plans for once you graduate from ACM?
Once I finish ACM, I plan to stay in contact with all the friends i’ve made, as well as the contacts from my lecturers, CATO music, various bands and the Business and Artist Development Team (BDC) at ACM. I’m going to look for work with the qualification I will obtain and look into becoming a self-employed sound engineer!
Who have you been working with?
Initially the BDC set me up with regular volunteering opportunities at a local venue called The Star (Guildford) where I would get active experience at putting on acoustic nights for local promoters.
Subsequently an opportunity arose to go on a two week tour with Bastille. At the time I hadn’t heard of them but when I was chosen from the applicants to go I was very excited. Little did I know that whilst we was on tour they would have a Number 2 single with ‘Pompeii’ beating One Direction and coming just 2,000 copies behind Justin Timberlake’s first single release (‘Mirrors’) in seven years, as well as a number 1 album (‘Bad Blood’). I’m incredibly grateful to Bastille, CATO and ACM for the amazing opportunity they gave me.
I have also worked with my housemates bands ‘Marauder’, ‘Tides of Change’ and ‘Let the Games Begin’ at small venues doing shows. In the near future I hope to be working at ‘The Great Escape’ festival thanks to the BDC.
Thanks to ACM and their affiliates, I feel I have achieved more in 8 months here than I could have at any other University.
What’s been your proudest moment/career highlights so far?
This definitely has to be touring with Bastille! Being on the bus with them, applying my acquired knowledge of sound engineering and backline teching, getting to know the band, putting on shows every night for thousands of adoring fans, meeting people such as a lighting director who worked for the olympics, learning sound engineering from the same guy who had worked with Scouting For Girls, meeting the old tour manager of Hadouken! and so SO much more. Another highlight of the tour was when I got to do monitors at two venues for the support bands ‘The Ramona Flowers’ and ‘MSMR’ . I will never forget the rush from stepping out on stage in front of 1500 people and performing line checks whilst being cheered, these are memories that I will never forget! Going on this tour has given me even more motivation to replicate this success again in my own professional career in the near future.
Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
Take every opportunity you can! Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you don’t understand, just ask – no one will mind!
And finally just be nice. Working cooperatively with colleagues and musicians makes life so much easier in what, at times, can be a hectic, pressurized working environment.
ACM would like to thanks Mat Burr for taking time out to update us on his recent projects and we wish him well for the remainder of the Tour Production & Management course as well as any future projects.