“As a working-class kid growing up in Liverpool, music was a door opener,” said Carl Hunter, bass player in The Farm and senior lecturer in media, film and television at Edge Hill University.
“So it wasn’t just about music…it was a way of getting into clothes, into politics, into art and into music itself. Buying seven-inch records by The Jam or The Clash or The Buzzcocks or The Undertones…those bands were important to me and they spoke to me.”
In terms of giving students professional experience in all the creative industries associated with music, something of that ethos is behind Edge Hill’s The Label Recordings.
Set up by Mr Hunter and fellow Edge Hill film lecturer Clare Heney two years ago, it is an independent record label without contracts that aims to promote new music and to give students industry experience.
Graduates include Chester band Hooton Tennis Club, who put out their debut single on The Label as unknowns, then signed to indie label Heavenly Recordings.
“And now Hooton Tennis Club are probably the coolest band in Britain, I’d say,” states Mr Hunter. “They’re never off [BBC] 6 Music.”
The whole project has “been incredibly successful”, he said. “Every record we’ve released has had national airplay – [on the] BBC; they’ve all had international airplay as well.”
After art school and touring the world with The Farm – who had top 10 hits with All Together Now and Groovy Train in 1990 and are still playing – Mr Hunter started a new career as a director and producer in film and television (he co-wrote and produced the 2007 film Grow Your Own).
Seven years ago, Mr Hunter started teaching at Edge Hill, whose campus is in Ormskirk, close to the pop powerhouses of Liverpool and Manchester. Looking at the students, he contrasted their interest in music with that of his own growing up. “I thought, well how come there aren’t that many bands here? Or why aren’t people more engaged with music?”
So he and Ms Heney pitched to Edge Hill the idea of setting up a university record label. The idea was to not just focus on “finding new and exciting music”, but on “identifying young graphic [design] students who have an interest in art direction and in design” to produce artwork for singles, “film students who have an interest in shooting music videos” and “production and management students who are interested in gluing all this managerial headache together to make it happen”.
Mr Hunter said that “it’s not a student-led record label; it’s an industry-focused label”. The idea was always to “run it as the industry would run a small, independent label” while also to “mentor students all the time”.
He called The Label “a fantastic bespoke work-placement programme”. Being able to say that they have worked with an act featured on 6 Music, or in the NME, or with 10,000 views on YouTube gives students “cool, interesting, fairly high-profile additions to their CV”, said Mr Hunter.
“The university is fantastic to work with on this project,” he continued, describing “a slight Factory Records mentality in the way it’s run" (referring to the famous Manchester record label that signed bands such as Joy Division and New Order). “The university isn’t interested in recouping any monies from the bands or from any project,” Mr Hunter said.
All rights to recordings stay with the acts, he added. What the university does want is to raise its profile “in terms of its engagement with popular music and art and culture”, said Mr Hunter. “And equally, making sure our students achieve something that’s incredibly difficult to do – which is to improve your CV with some pretty good and pretty powerful additions, whether it’s making music videos, record sleeves or films.”
He called The Label “a massive cultural statement. What it’s actually saying is, ‘We recognise as a university that pop music and alternative music is dead important.’”
He described the experience of Edge Hill students who shot a video for Oranj Son’s Psycho Disco Face, The Label’s latest release, as well as for Liverpool band The Sugarmen (it was Mr Hunter who told the students that they were seeking someone to make the video for their latest single).
“If you put yourself in the position of those three students now, 14 days ago their CV was empty. Fourteen days later, they’ve shot two pop videos back-to-back. How good’s that? People leaving film school after three years, you could never say that.”
2 – the number of years that The Label Recordings has been up and running
University of Essex
Plans have been submitted for a £13.7 million teaching centre for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students at the University of Essex’s Colchester campus. The building will include a 180-seat wet lab for biological science students, a 200-seat exploratory learning space and interdisciplinary teaching facilities. The Higher Education Funding Council for England awarded £5 million to the project, while the rest of the money will be paid by the university.
Imperial College London
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University of Central Lancashire
Mike Thomas has been appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, having served in the role in an interim capacity for eight months. Professor Thomas, who served as deputy vice-chancellor at Uclan after a variety of senior leadership roles at the University of Chester, succeeds Gerry Kelleher, who stepped down in March for personal reasons. David Taylor, pro-chancellor and chair of the university board, said that he would “look forward to working closely with Mike as he...makes significant positive change at Uclan in the coming years”.
University College London
Americans do not have better teeth than the British, medics have found. Contrary to the seemingly popular belief in the US that the British have terrible teeth, a study by researchers at University College London and Harvard University found those in the UK had significantly fewer missing teeth. Higher levels of social inequality in the US may explain the worse state of their citizens’ teeth as poorer people tend to have lower levels of oral health, the study published in the British Medical Journal suggests.
University of Sheffield
Researchers at a UK university have discovered why birds never appear to “go grey”, paving the way for the creation of paints and clothes that won’t fade over time. Academics at the University of Sheffield studied jays and found that the birds use well-controlled changes to the nanostructure of their feathers to create vivid colours. “This discovery means that in the future, we could create long-lasting coloured coatings and materials synthetically,” said Andrew Parnell, from Sheffield’s department of physics and astronomy.
University of Brighton
A south coast university has set up a £250,000 air quality monitoring station that it says is the first of its kind in the UK. The University of Brighton project will be able to detect “ultra-fine particles” – nanometre-sized pollutants that can get deep inside the human body and damage health. Poor air quality kills about 50,000 people a year in the UK, Brighton researchers said, and lowers life expectancy across the European Union by an average of nine months.
University of the West of Scotland
A university has dropped plans to move one of its campuses to a motorway business park. The University of the West of Scotland had been considering closing its Hamilton campus and moving to an industrial estate off the M8, east of Glasgow, but this attracted widespread opposition. The institution’s court said that its preferred option was now to move to Hamilton International Technology Park in the town.
A new full MBA scholarship has been launched by a university thanks to a company run by one of the institution’s alumni. Essentra, a supplier of plastic and fibre components based in Milton Keynes, is backing the scholarship at Cranfield University, which is open to applicants who ideally come from either a manufacturing, operations or sales and marketing background. Colin Day, the firm’s chief executive, was an alumnus of the Cranfield MBA. Those completing the programme through the Essentra scholarship will also have an opportunity to work with the company.