St Pancras Pianos on Radio 4

I’m really excited to say that after 10 years of creating audio, my first radio documentary aired on BBC Radio 4. The documentary is an half an hour piece on St Pancras’s street pianos in London. It was a pleasure working with Overtone to create this and I’m excited for people to take a listen.

For those wanting to hear it, the link is here.

Programme description:

A lyrical improvisation captures the music and the stories of those who stop to play the street pianos at St Pancras Station in London, exploring the communities the music creates in this transient urban setting.

Around 45 million people pass through the station each year, travelling not only to the North of England or Kent, but also to Paris, Brussels and Lille. Visitors who stop unexpectedly – and regulars who come frequently – play the station’s unusual street pianos with a wide range of musical styles and ability. Their personal stories reinforce ideas about the universal language of music and its ability to cut across class, nationality, creed and colour.

Over the years, top performers from Sir Elton John to Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum to John Legend, have all played here – with Sir Elton signing and donating a piano.

But this programme tells the story of the ordinary people and the tunes they play. It provides intimate access into strangers’ lives and to this London station at both its busiest and its quietest moments.

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Radio, Radio, Radio… When I got the music, I got a place to go

Right, so this year I’ve made a promise to myself that I’m going to blog properly and not just talk about media things, writing things and work things, but proper life things.

I wasn’t quite sure how to start it all off, but I’m basing it on my favourite writer’s blog, Neil Gaiman, and he’s pretty successful, so hopefully this will also be acceptable! I think as well as showcasing what I’m doing it’s also important to showcase the struggle of everyday life, because it’s not all cool people. You don’t just so stuff without struggle! So here we go….

2016 happened, David Bowie died and the world stopped momentarily.

Yeah, it sucked really bad. I loved Bowie, he was a massive inspiration on my new novel, but his memory will always live on.

My friend said: “ David Jones is dead. David Bowie will live on forever.”

So true and awesome! Read my own words on Bowie here: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/RIP-8203-David-Bowie-world-lost-rock-roll-legend/story-28499194-detail/story.html

2016 has been a massive year of loss so far in the celebrity world and in my personal life, which I’ll speak about at a later date. However, it’s also been a January of new beginnings and a lot of radio work!

At the start of the year a lovely retired science teacher called Fred asked me to edit his radio drama. I agreed, then found out it was about old people who killed youths causing problems on their council estates! Madness!

It took me a full on 12 hour day to get it done but it was worth it and the results sounded great.

https://soundcloud.com/fred-barrett-833359561

However, I forgot how many different sound effects there are for things. Seriously, there are like 12 different cup chinking sound effects and don’t even get me started on how many different opening and closing of door sounds you can get.

Behind the mic

Behind the mic

As well as this I got commissioned to present 19 radio shows for the National Careers Service for National Prison Radio. The shows are about helping get prisoners work when they leave prison which is a subject I’m extremely passionate about!

In the studio

In the studio

Those who know me will know that I’ve worked with the PRA before and it’s honestly an honor to be invited back to do more work. I’m currently recording in London once a week with a lovely producer called Adam Fowler, whose work is seriously amazing.

Working hard...

Working hard…

 

I’ve even been asked to speak to a group of documentary students at BCU tomorrow! My old tutor must be mad if he wants me to give them some of my twisted wisdom!

So basically, it’s all go at the moment, but I’m hoping all the work is going to pay off.

I’ll leave you with my picture of me and my best friend dressed up at The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Brum.

Planet - schmanet - Janet

Planet – schmanet – Janet

January wasn’t so bad after all.

Peace out,

Soph x

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New York, New York.

Times Square.

Times Square.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I’d be thumbing a yellow taxi down in New York, but when you buy the ticket, you take the ride.

I didn’t so much buy a ticket, but worked hard for an application to Birmingham City University, which was accepted and led to so many wonderful things; the IBS Awards, being one of them. Armed with my tutor’s knowledge of radio and a recorder, I crafted a documentary series in partnership with the guys in DePaul and was shocked to find an email in my inbox in January telling me that we had been nominated for two awards at IBS.

So last week, Sam Coley, Scratch’s managers, Kris, and I boarded a plane. It was a big deal and, in rock star fashion, I brought my mum along. She got pretty out of control, but calmed down once I told her the drugs and hookers would be there to greet her on the other side.

New York really is a jungle and don’t believe anyone who tells you differently. Everyone is there for a purpose and as we first glanced at the sky scrapers of Manhattan out of the window, I knew what ours’ was.

The hotel Pennsylvania used to be the biggest in the world and its basement used to play host to some of the most brilliant jazz artists in the city. As I stepped down its hall ways and glanced at the view from the eighteenth floor, I imagined them playing long into the night. It was beautiful.

The Derby Telegraph even did a write up on us. 

The conference was full of people from all over America; I met some that we’re from Tennessee, Texas, California, Oregon and many who had travelled more of Europe than me. They were brilliant and bright and had so much to say about their subject. I met producers and presenters on the IBS’s station tours of CBS and Nash, who, despite their years, never tired of their subject. But most importantly, I met the two people that allowed me to gain the content in the first place; Joe and Jess from DePaul. We were the first ever English people to attend the conference, let alone win an award and it made me proud.

We did a panel and spoke about sharing content across countries, which went down brilliant and with our down time we ran around Greenwich and pretended to be Bob Dylan… ok, only I did that. However, we still visited the legendary Café Wha, where he was discovered and legends like Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix played. I saw Central Park and walked around Times Square. It felt very much like being in a film.

Empire state of mind.

Empire state of mind.

The taxi driver in the car we spoke to said that New Yorkers were always busy to go nowhere, but part of me doesn’t think that’s correct. I think they’re dream chasers, always trying to catch up with their desires, and what better place to run, than amongst the sky scrapers.

Here’s my entry below,

Stay tuned for more crazy journey’s.

Soph x

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Ending University and Beginning Life in the Real World: My crazy move to London, aka how not to do it.

Ok, so I understand that I have not blogged for a while, or written, or done anything outside of university as a matter of fact, seeing as I’ve been finishing my third year at Birmingham City. And it was hard, but then again, that is why it was called a degree and I learnt a lot about media.

However, as it became May, I knew my time was almost up in the second city. Was I sad? When I had time to be, yes! But I was also excited as I’d be starting at the Prison Radio Association in London. I didn’t really think about the logistics of this at the time. I’d tried calling a few housing places at the start of May but you have to move in pretty snappy in the big smoke, so I’d had no luck.

One day my friend Anna invited me to a punk gig in Manchester, it was amazing, but what was even more awesome about that day was that I met a beautiful woman from Brixton called Jenaveve. What even were the chances?! She was living exactly where I was moving to and she was vegan (double bonus points). I travelled to meet her the following weekend and she said I could stay on her floor when I first moved down. Thank god.

Things began to get real a week before our, exhibition at university, which (lucky me) I was chairwoman for the radio room. So that was an extra stress! I blitz my room, put my life into boxes, whilst still trying to finish my degree and find a place to live. It was a horrible week. I finished uni on the Thursday night, the last night of my exhibition and was due to start my new job on the Monday. 4 days to find a house.

Before I knew it, I kissed my boyfriend goodbye, said goodbye to my friends and jumped onto a train with a backpack and a suitcase containing my whole life.  I felt like I was in a film; I still didn’t have a place and time was running out. Thankfully, I had two viewings on Saturday so I was crossing all my fingers. I met Jen on Friday night and we went to the pub to drink with her friend Andy who runs a socialist stall on Saturdays in the town centre. I liked him a lot!

On the Saturday I awoke know that I had to find somewhere to live. I walked to the first viewing and the people were wonderful, but there was also six other people viewing the property. Sadly, I walked back up Brixton Hill, sure that I wouldn’t get the house. My next viewing was at the opposite end of the town, it took me a while to get there and the sun burnt me, but the journey was worth it. Because at that house waited the wonderful Jack and as she showed me the single room, I knew it was perfect.

Then she said those brilliant words, “You can move in if you like?”

“Tomorrow?” I asked.

“That’s fine.”

That was when I almost broke down in tears because of the sheer joy I felt. I almost wanted to shout ‘Victory!’ – that may have been a bit too overdramatic!

The rest of the day was filed with embarrassing moments such as me going to the cinema and falling asleep then venturing round Brixton with Andy who thought it’d be an awesome idea to get drunk, air guitar and sing Queen to a full London bus.  Still think he’s great.

Finally Sunday came and I dragged my case through Brixton to my new house. It took me half an hour but it was worth it! I started work the following day.

And my job, is awesome.

So that’s how not to do it kids. I do not recommend moving like that at all! It is chancing a lot of things, but in this case it was so worth it!

Blogs about writing and the new book coming soon!

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Roller Derby: Life on Wheels

So, it’s taken me a little while to upload this, but I’m glad I finally have!

Mixcloud Mixes Object

This is a documentary created about Roller Derby, during a group project in university. It follows the Central City Roller Girls team in Birmingham, as they explain how to play the game, male involvement, what Derby means to them and even how to get onto Team GB.

During this project, it was my job to do the initial edit and organise and conduct the interviews. Paul then added the music to the piece later.

It took a serious amount of time to edit, but I really enjoyed the process and interviewing the team. I’m seriously considering doing more freelance documentary work in the future. Whilst doing this documentary, I feel that I found my audio style.

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Alternation – (17/06/13)

Recently, me and my co-host have revamped our radio show – this is the result.

Join us as we play new tracks from Black Sabbath, Stone Temple Pilots and an awesome band from Download called Broken.
There’s also an interview with Mudhoney, Download reviews and so much more.

It’s all happening here…

Mixcloud Mixes Object

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Bearded Theory

So recently, I attended Bearded Theory festival which was ace!

I’ve been every year and the festival just keeps getting bigger and better!

Here’s a short documentary of the weekend:

Mixcloud Mixes Object

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DIY Punk Documentary

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So whilst most people spent their holidays going back to their families or spending time relaxing. I decided to through myself into the DIY punk scene, touring with the band ‘Addictive Philosophy’ for two weeks.  In this time, I slept on floors, saw fights, reattached van doors and traveled over 2000 miles around the UK and Ireland. Why did I do all this? In order to make my first documentary.

I’ve always wanted to make a proper documentary about a music scene and believe that now is my chance. These past few weeks I’ve interviewed distro owners, promoters, DIY radio presenters,  bands and of course, all sorts of punks. I’m hoping I’ll be able to use the audio collected to make something worth listening to and something that’ll make an impact on the underground music scene.

I think the trouble with a lot of radio presenters and music journalists is they spend so much time in offices they forget what’s actually out there in the local music scene. Before I broke up for Easter I felt that my passion, especially within music, was becoming corrupted by deadlines, playlists and PR agencies. So it was great to get back to the grass root approach, in which bands were putting on their own gigs outside the restraints of media.

I’m aiming to spend the next few weeks trailing through and arranging audio to get about an hour’s worth of documentary footage. I know that this is a huge challenge as I’ve never made anything like this before, but am prepared to put in the effort in order to tell a good story.

I cannot wait for the end result!

The Band on Stage

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