With or without EU: SAE Oxford Audio students immerse themselves in musical collaboration with SAE Paris

24 Mar 2020

As part of their Advanced Specialised Projects, SAE Oxford Audio Production students Harry Gledhill and Aidan Barnes are creating music with two students from SAE Paris, Iulian Popovici and Antoine Barbe. 

The main aims with this project are for the group to be able to collaborate with like-minded people in a different country, and to find new ways to produce and create music. Aidan and Harry said: “We have different influences and cultures, which we all bring to the table when creating and producing music.” 

Iulian and Antoine said: “We’re really excited, it’s the first time we’ve worked with overseas artists on an artistic project. Harry and Aidan are not only two musical heads, they’re from a country which means a lot in music history. Their cultural heritage can only be a strong foundation.” 

The ability to collaborate with other campuses across the world is one benefit of choosing to study at an international institution like SAE, which has campuses across the globe and an alumni network of over 15,000 members. 

So far, the group has primarily been communicating through Google Hangouts and through a Whatsapp group chat, which is where they post links to the GoogleDrive and reference tracks. Iulian and Antoine said: “We met on video calls and quickly got on very well. We discovered we shared a lot of tastes, so the idea of blending post-rock and experimental electronic music appeared very naturally. Very quickly a superb atmosphere has settled between us and things started to happen on their own.” 

The communication across the English Channel hasn’t been without challenges, though. Harry and Aidan said: “Not being able to be within the same campus has made it a big challenge, as we can’t easily communicate. Due to the hour time difference, we need to work out exactly when to contact each other, as we are all very busy with our studies/work etc.” 

Iulian and Antoine said: “The only regret we have is that we’re far from the other team. Working in the same room would certainly be the ultimate point of creative stimulation, it would allow us to quickly catch floating ideas and print them down while debating and demonstrating them all live.” 

At the same time, the long-distance nature of the project has helped the group develop their communication skills, which are vital to a successful career in the international music business. Harry and Aidan said: “This project has given us an insight into working across international borders, this is the direction of where I can see the industry going, especially with the current political climate, we don’t know what will happen. Working like this doesn’t restrict us to having to travel to work, we can do work from our homes and communicate through the internet.” 

In the future, Harry wants to work in the recording industry as a studio engineer, and Aidan would like to work as a producer/engineer. Antoine and Iulian both want to work in the music industry as producers/engineers in a recording/mixing studio environment. They're both passionate about writing, arranging, recording & producing music.

For both groups, the collaboration has been an opportunity to explore musical genres and methods of composition outside their usual comfort zones. Both Harry and Aidan are guitarists, who both like recording band set-ups, especially the drums. Harry creates punk and alternative music, and Aidan creates shoegaze and indie music. Iulian and Antoine said: “Harry and Aidan feel more comfortable on the recording field and get particularly creative when they hold instruments between their hands, while we are more in a full-computer style, creating and writing sounds completely in the box. As a consequence, the results we get are quite different, and it’s very stimulating because the blending of it all is providing unique results.”  






At the moment the group are still in the writing and production phase, and next will be a recording phase that will be rich with experimentation. The group has been developing their recording and composition techniques, especially with an interesting recording set-up for drums, with a microphone halfway up the staircase behind SAE Oxford’s Genesys live room. 

Iulian and Antoine said: “We are truly grateful to be part of this project, we’re dedicating ourselves a lot to it and can’t wait to hear the finished product!” 

The staff overseeing the project are SAE Oxford’s Audio Production lecturer Mike Holloway, and SAE Paris’ lecturer Mehdi Fekkar. 

Mike said: “Collaborative working using the internet to connect geographically distant engineers, producers and artists creates endless possibilities for our students and staff. Here at SAE Oxford, we are excited to be part of this pilot project with our friends in SAE Paris and can’t wait to see where our students take this next. ” 

Mehdi said: “This pilot project opens new horizons for the students as well as the school. As fibre-optic connections become a standard, more people will be able to work from distance and tools are flourishing in the domain, which is very exciting for all of us. We're all really happy to have the opportunity to share this experience with our friends from SAE Oxford.”