York St John students produce album at Abbey Road Studios to raise funds for mental health charity

Music Production students from York St John University have collaborated with professional musicians to produce an album, recorded at Abbey Road, in aid of a mental health charity.

The compilation, called Smoke Rainbows features The Magic Numbers and 80’s icons The Blow Monkeys alongside up and coming acts, including ones from BBC Introducing. It is released on Friday 17 May by the charity Help Musicians UK in aid of their mental health initiative.

Each year third year BA Music Production students take part in a project at the legendary Abbey Road studios in London. The long-standing collaboration provides students with unsurpassed professional learning experience in one of the world’s best recording studios. In 2018 the students were given the unique opportunity to work on an album which would be released during Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, raising funds for Music Minds Matter, an around the clock listening ear support service from Help Musicians UK.

York St John University teamed up with publisher Karousel Music and record label Monks Road to invite 12 artists to record across four days as part of York St John’s annual music production project. The artists include The Magic Numbers, Magic Lantern, Ren Harvieu, Penny Police, Matt Deighton, Pat Dam Smyth, Charlie Wood, The Leisure Society and The Blow Monkeys. The album is an eclectic mix featuring genres from pop to jazz, and indie and folk.

Students worked closely with one artist each and were responsible for guiding them through the production, keeping them informed of the project’s progress leading up to the recording sessions, managing their technical details, looking after the artist on the day and then getting hands-on in the studio assisting the Abbey Road sound engineers and video production team.

The project was the brainchild of Chris Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Music Production at York St John. He said, “Our Music Production degree develops students for a career in the modern music industry. This means the course is filled with real-world projects, real clients, real artists and genuine production experiences. In learning how the people of the industry work it is important that students also understand the realities of freelance creative work and get to feel part of the community they are moving into.”

He added. “This project brings all of that together, partnering our students with high calibre artists and top engineers in a high-pressure production environment with a shared goal to support the mental health of our music industry. Students have also gained an invaluable credit on their CV being able to list themselves as a Production Assistant on a high profile album recorded at Abbey Road.”

Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, offering practical, positive support to emerging, professional and retired musicians.

James Ainscough, CEO of Help Musicians UK added: “This is an album of truly beautiful songs, where the passion and artistry of those involved in creating it shines through. At Help Musicians, we want a world where musicians thrive. Supporting the mental health of musicians via the Music Minds Matter listening ear service is an important part of our work. The proceeds from this album will help us continue to reach more musicians in the years ahead – offering a lifetime of support, when it is needed most.”

Smoke Rainbows is released on Friday 17 May and can be bought here.

Find out more about the BA Music Production degree at York St John University here.

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