Music alumnus Ross Flight graduated with a degree in Creative Music Technology with Digital Arts in 2005, and has been working within the arts industry ever since.
We were delighted to meet up with him as he returned to Hull to work on an exciting new theatre installation, which is running as part of the UK City of Culture 2017’s ‘Freedom’ season of events.
We asked Ross a few questions about his career so far and the impact his degree had on his ongoing success.
Without revealing too much, can you tell us a little bit about the project on which you are currently working?
'One Day Maybe' is a performance installation by theatre company DreamThinkSpeak. The event draws on the democratic uprising in Gwanju, South Korea in 1980 and is a comment on the commercialisation of the city in the last 20 years.
I first came across DreamThinkSpeak in London a few years ago when they presented 'In the Beginning was the End' at Somerset House. It was one of the first large scale immersive theatre pieces I'd experienced and was blown away with the way you were encouraged to explore the space as an audience member. I was lucky enough to meet the artistic director whilst working at the Barbican in London and stayed in touch, leading onto the role as Sound Designer for ‘One Day Maybe’.
Tell us about your career since graduation – do you have a memorable career highlight so far?
I began working as a technician at an HE / FE college near Brighton where I lived for a few years. I was looking after a large studio complex, so I was always improving my technical skills and learnt a lot about equipment and studio design.
I moved to London in 2010 and started working as technical co-ordinator in the creative learning department of the Barbican Centre. It is a well-renowned venue with a fantastic program of music, arts and theatre so I was able to try my hand in a few different technical areas of production.
During my career, I have mostly worked four-day weeks, which has given me the time to start working with other theatre companies on my days off. I also produce my own music, which has taken me to some random places (I was once flown out to play a gig in the back of someone's shop in a small town in Canada called Kelowna).
My work in theatre sound design started increasing and I decided to take the plunge and go freelance in 2014. It was quite a big step with a few lean years financially while I was building up my portfolio of work and clients but I have not looked back. Freelance work can be a rollercoaster, going through very intense busy periods of work, as well as quieter times hunting down new work.
I currently work with around six or seven different theatre companies that are starting to take sound more seriously since I’ve been working with them, often now contributing myself to the devising process when making new work with them. It is nice to be a valued part of small teams where you can influence the work and get your own creative ideas across.
A highlight from last year was flying out to Bogota, Columbia working with nine local artists and performers to create an immersive theatre performance in an old children's home. I had never been to South America before so was an exciting experience.
How did the University, and your degree in particular, help you in your current career?
The Creative Music Technology (CMT) degree at Hull felt very different from other music production courses I have been involved with or heard about. I really valued the critical analysis side of music and some of the theoretical / conceptual ideas about aesthetics. It really changed the way I understood and appreciated music at the time.
Learning interactive software Max/MSP at Hull has proved incredibly useful in my career. It has given me a niche when working with clients and creating new ways to interact with sound. It also sparked my interest in interactive music systems, which I have pursued since studying. The CMT degree definitely laid down the foundations for that which I really appreciate.
What advice would you give to students thinking about coming to Hull to study Music?
Hull seems to be thriving now (people also seem incredibly friendly in comparison if you have come from London!). The facilities we had years ago were fantastic, and I know they have been developing further over the past few years.
Do you have any advice for our recent Music graduates?
Do work for free, but don't work for free for too long. Try to make up your own job and if you enjoy it, it will feel like you are never really working. I am working towards this and it feels like a pretty great place to be.