When Contemporary Music student Jerome Blazé found out applications for the LA Experience had opened, he jumped at the opportunity to apply. He got it in and just a few weeks later found himself in Los Angeles, at the University of Southern California’s Thornton Music School with his peer, jazz guitarist, Samuel Killick. The LA Experience is an annual program run by the school, inviting students from partner institutions, such as Sydney Conservatorium of Music, to join local students in a busy, week-long program of lectures, masterclasses, tours and concerts, largely funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Global Mobility Scholarships and the Conservatorium.
“The LA Experience was about bringing musicians from all over the world together to collaborate and learn from the incredible experts at USC Thornton. There were people from Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Finland and us Aussies! The skill level in terms of song writing and general musicianship was incredibly high – everyone had something different to offer and getting to know the group was incredibly inspiring. Not only the vibrant LA music scene, but the diverse cultural backgrounds within the group was the perfect combination to shatter our worlds and open us up to new ideas and perspectives.”
Each morning during their week abroad students got together for breakfast followed by artistic masterclasses and ‘Career Building’ sessions, focussed on subjects ranging from producing an album to performing and touring. “We attended classes including vocal workshops, production talks in which we shared our music and received expert feedback, guest lectures such as a career talk from jazz musician Jacob Mann, Afro-Latin jazz band rehearsals, and a pop performance class run by the legendary Patrice Rushen, known for her 80s hit ‘Forget Me Nots’.”
“We also went to a bunch of gigs such as the neosoul group KNOWER’s collaboration with the Thornton Jazz Orchestra, conducted and arranged by the legendary Bob Mintzer. It was absolutely unforgettable meeting and learning from such experienced and wise musicians!”
“In between everything we worked on writing songs in small groups, culminating in a recording session at the iconic EastWest Studios in Hollywood. The studio has had countless legendary artists move through it, including The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Madonna, you name it. The particular room we worked in was known for being home to Frank Sinatra’s late big band recordings, and the desk we were recording into was commissioned specifically for Michael Jackson’s Thriller album… Crazy!”
We received so much valuable industry advice over the week, and just being in LA surrounded by musicians was super enlightening regarding how things work over there in the commercial music scene. It’s the sort of practical industry knowledge that we’ll carry with us forever!
When asked what he learned on his trip Jerome said:
“Too much to say! Things like the vocal workshop were particularly useful for me in sharing the tools to communicate with vocalists effectively as a producer.”
“We received so much valuable industry advice over the week, and just being in LA surrounded by musicians was super enlightening regarding how things work over there in the commercial music scene. It’s the sort of practical industry knowledge that we’ll carry with us forever! Working in EastWest was awesome to see some very experienced engineers at work, and to have an idea of how things run in a very top tier studio.”
“You’ll meet teachers who have had mind boggling careers in the music industry. Not only that, the skill of the students you’ll interact with will inspire you beyond belief. Especially for students undertaking Contemporary Music Practice, this is a once in a life time opportunity to not only be immersed in a city that lives and breathes music, but to do so through a program that facilitates amazing and life-long connections with local experts and international guns alike!”
While still completing his honours year in the Bachelor of Music (Contemporary Music Practice) at the Con, Jerome is working full time as a music producer, which involves closely collaborating with other musicians to realise the vision for their respective projects.