Student Spotlight – Matthew Duncan
Tell us about your current projects.
Currently, I am heavily invested in 3 projects. The Complainers are a 4-piece indie rock outfit originally started by myself and, fellow Riverside Music College student, Jay Malley. We began in our early years of high school, and very slowly, but surely, began congregating at local youth centre Universal Connections in East Kilbride to write and record our own original music. We have been actively performing in and around Glasgow for a year, having played at renowned venue King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, and recently making our first appearance in Edinburgh.
I have also recently been working very hard with band Sherbet Starshine, formed by myself and fellow Riverside Music College alumni Blair Ross, Kaleigh Howden, and Darren Mulligan. We are an Alternative Rock/Shoegaze outfit that is quickly breaking through into the Glasgow DIY scene and beyond. This project has led to some of the work I’ve been most proud of being involved in as a musician so far. I must give special thanks to Monique Maurel for their guidance in this area, it has been very helpful to us.
Recently formed experimental/noisy project Sludge Puppy finds me exploring my absolute physical limits as a drummer and experimenting with technology such as drum machines and synths. This opportunity was presented to me by my great friends among the performance course Gemma Wallace, Darren Mulligan, Blair Ross, and Jasmin McGurran. The vibrations produced by this band are the most brutal, loud, and disgusting thing I’ve been a part of, and I’m very excited to explore the heights my physical ability and sonic experimentation might reach.
In the background, I’ve been consistently joining Jay Malley in his solo project performing drums live. This project has a lot of potential but has been recently put on hold for us both to channel our collaboration into The Complainers. Moreover, I’ve had the pleasure of working with other students in the mandated Live Performance Skills module, and in the studio, assisting them with their own original compositions in the form of writing and recording drums and other various percussion elements.
Tell us about your own musical background/influences
My introduction to being a musician was founded by various styles of electronic music through my finding and enjoyment of mini-DAW applications on my tablet as a young boy. I would spend countless hours experimenting with the likes of harsh noise in the form of what is known as dubstep and drum and bass. This era of my life would go on to foreshadow my current obsession of the 80s/90s alternative scene, and the many acts I follow now in a wild array of genres undeniably inspired by this era. Through high school I found a liking in many styles of rock music, primarily metal, however my taste has forever remained diverse dabbling in the likes of rap music, electronic, and other forms of popular music.
Why did you want to study at Riverside Music College?
Music has forever held a special place in my heart from when I began playing drums. As an existentially paranoid teenager in high school, I felt lost in choosing a career path, as most of us did, I’m sure (I hope). I initially discovered Riverside Music College at a careers fair within the school. It immediately caught my eye being interested in music and having a burning passion for playing the drums. Through my research on their website and the information provided at this event, I found that Riverside obviously had a lot to offer to young people aspiring a career in music, from the amazing knowledge shared and opportunities provided by the lecturers, to the hands-on experience they provide through the high-quality equipment and facilities they permit their students to use on a regular basis.
How has the Music Performance course helped you – which skills/ knowledge/classes have been the most useful for you?
This course has completely transformed my outlook on music and being a musician for the better. The very fact I can meet, get to know, and work with experienced musicians in the industry and like-minded aspiring musicians with a passion for music has alone skyrocketed my progression practically and within the ever-evolving industry. What has particularly interested me is the music theory oriented aspects of the course and the music theory module itself. This is something I had never envisioned myself to be so fascinated by, but it has taught me a lot about the subject, and a lot about learning in general. I have been provided the opportunity to take a full course on ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory to sit the exam, which I passed, by Lecturer Kevin Kerr. His commitment to teaching and patience with us is very inspiring and I commend him for his ability to manage this course and for his help that was always there when any of us requested it.
The practical side to this course within the Live Performance Skills, First Instrument Study, and Session Skills modules have been tremendously vital to improving my practical ability. The link between the Sound Production and Performance courses provides great experience in working with sound engineers and working with musicians as a recording artist. It has improved my confidence in performing due to the nature of recording sessions, and the pressure it puts on a musician to perform as well and as accurately as possible. This provided me with an outside view on my preferences in arranging and writing music as these experiences have opted me to focus on the very specifics of my playing at times and why, in certain situations, it might be beneficial to let go and output my raw energy into music, as it is ultimately an art and form of expression as a whole. No matter how far my efforts in music may go, Riverside has been the hub and root of finding myself not only as a musician, but as a person. I will forever value the experiences and knowledge I have gained from this course.
What has it been like working with other students on showcases and projects?
Working with other students on showcases and projects has been a transformative process for me. I have gained the confidence and desire to put ideas to action more than I ever have before. The events hosted by the college and other showcases that have come about because of the college has taught me to socialise very well, providing me with the confidence to share ideas and form bands with the amazing personalities and talents that I have met through these events. Building a brand from scratch with these projects and outputting art has become a very satisfying and fulfilling process, that has proved to be a great output for all the ideas pent up in my mind and supplies great room for collaboration.
How does the student experience compare to working and playing professionally?
I find that the student experience that Riverside provides is a great entry into the live music scene of Glasgow and Scotland as a whole. It prepared me very well on the basic level of overcoming performance anxiety, and on the deeper levels of the intricacy involved in promotion and networking. The professional experience is as expected, far more complex, and you find people who are far more invested, that’s for sure. There’s less room for error, and it requires a lot of effort and an extensive knowledge of the system, that without my time at riverside, I would not have.
What are your future plans?
Specifically, in the near future, I would like to expand my experience in teaching music practically, to share the knowledge I have gained. My plans aside this involve continuing to channel my passion for music into the industry, and devoting most of my time to it, if not all of it. I would like to explore as many areas as possible of working in music that I can. I believe the confidence I have gained through Riverside in diving into a subject and developing an interest for it quickly will assist me greatly in exploring all areas of this.
Show Your Support...
You are one click away from beginning your
journey at Riverside Music College
Extracurricular Project Development Programme
Employers and Universities already view our students in the highest regard in terms of their skills, knowledge and professional attitude – RMCplus+, our extracurricular project development programme, aims to take this to the next level and gives our students an even greater advantage in this competitive industry.
We are unrivalled when it comes to practical learning!