Surrey Student Interviews

SUBCULTURED caught up with some of the University of Surrey’s creatives to ask about their passions, inspirations and life as a student.

Isaac Francis

Isaac Francis

Tell us a bit about what you do creatively. How did it come about? How did you discover you were passionate about it?

Coming from a musical background, my creative endeavors lie in competition and creative writing. Music composed to accompany any medium of art is of interest to me. This began as an enjoyment of film and video game soundtracks and became a desire to create my own narratives, scenarios and concepts which could lend themselves to music.

What inspires you to create?

I find inspiring concepts all over, including news stories, philosophy or even dreams. I’m also inspired every time I hear an artist with something new to offer – it goes to show that there are still things to be said in the creative world that haven’t been said already and that is exciting.

What course do you do in university? How do you balance uni life with your creative passion?

I study Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister). While the course is based mainly on math and physics, it centres in essence around the context of music and sound, so it’s hard to feel that it separates me from what I enjoy creatively. I have a certain amount of free time outside of my studies and, if I have creative ideas, I work on them; if I don’t, I make sure not to try to force myself.

Are you in touch with other artists? How do you find the artistic community in the uni?

I don’t have much knowledge about the entire artistic community in the uni, but I am connected with the musicians through my course; I find there is a lot of talent and variety. I am also in touch with musicians I’ve met during tuition, mainly those I’ve had the pleasure to study with through South West Music School.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to do what you are doing? (What sort of obstacles may they have to overcome and how can they do it? What steps should they follow?)

It’s easy to understand why practicing an instrument will make you good at it and it is obvious that you need to practice if you want to get better. The same goes for creativity. You might know what you want to say, but finding the words to say takes a lot of patience, practice and badly-written songs with a lot of corny rhymes (at least in my case).

What is the biggest thing that has happened to you this year because of your creative activities?

The band I play in, the Ben Cipolla Band (look us up!). We recently completed a ten-day tour around the South of England – it was a massive success and lots of fun to boot.

Chris Edfi

Chris Edfi

Tell us a bit about what you do creatively. How did it come about? How did you discover you were passionate about it?

I am a photographer – the best form of creativity there is. It came about when I started realizing that it was a shame how I’d dress nicely every day, but there wouldn’t be anyone there to capture the outfit. I feel like great things deserve to be appreciated.

What inspires you to create?

My art is completely internally driven. 

What course do you do in university? How do you balance uni life with your creative passion?

I study mechanical engineering. I believe there’s always time for everything; just do the right thing at the right time.

Are you in touch with other artists? How do you find the artistic community in the uni?

Yes I am! There’s lots of potential in the artistic community and I have definitely discovered many artistic people through SUBCULTURED.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to do what you are doing? (What sort of obstacles may they have to overcome and how can they do it? What steps should they follow?)

Mostly I’d advise to just follow your heart and don’t let other people’s opinion get you down!

What is the biggest thing that has happened to you this year because of your creative activities?

I think I have gotten better at understanding myself.

Where are you going from here? Do you have any future plans or aspirations?

I aspire to go everywhere possible – I want my art to have no limits.

Finally, since we have many fashionistas in the magazine, I need to ask: are you interested in fashion? If so, how would you describe your style? Do you have a staple wardrobe item?

I’m really interested in fashion. You should be asking me if I even have any more space in my wardrobe.

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

Tell us a bit about what you do creatively. How did it come about? How did you discover you were passionate about it?

I compose and play music. I’ve been playing music instruments since I was young – the first one I was taught was the violin. Composing didn’t occur to me until I was about 14. Now I use Ableton Live and make jazz-influenced electronic music. My other main musical activity is DJing. You can find me playing a lot of hip hop and beats music whenever Stag Radio has a slot on the patio.

What inspires you to create?

Anything can inspire me, from a traditional jazz tune I might study in a lecture to something like a cool noise that the dishwasher makes.

What course do you do in university? How do you balance uni life with your creative passion?

I am at my 2nd Year in Music and Sound Recording. I don’t really have to struggle balance uni work and creative work, because so much of my course includes things I do creatively. It can be helpful to have an academic focus to give me incentive to finish making things, but it can also detract from the enjoyment if it seems too much like normal work.

Are you in touch with other artists? How do you find the artistic community in the uni?

Yes, all the time. I live with 3 other music students, and the music department and School of Arts covers such a wide range of disciplines. Also being a member of the Gospel Choir really helps as well – I get to meet creative people all the time.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to do what you are doing? (What sort of obstacles may they have to overcome and how can they do it? What steps should they follow?)

Start. Just find a way to start making music or playing music, and don’t fake anything. Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not, just be you. Also, have patience. It’s not going to happen overnight – I’m still waiting for ‘it’ to happen to be honest.

What is the biggest thing that has happened to you this year because of your creative activities?

I starred in a music video for my good friends Private Agenda, a disco band based in Berlin. I met them through the musical activities I was involved in last year. It was great fun, and will probably be out in the next few months. 

Where are you going from here? Do you have any future plans or aspirations?

I have no idea where I’m going from here. It depends a lot on my placement next year, which isn’t secured yet!

Finally, since we have many fashionistas in the magazine, I need to ask: are you interested in fashion? If so, how would you describe your style? Do you have a staple wardrobe item?

I am really interested in fashion. I take a lot of ideas from hip hop artists and record labels like A$AP Mob, BMC Paris and Yeezy. However, buying the real pieces is something I can’t afford, so I try my best with high street shops and vintage clothes. My staple items at the moment would be my vintage Washington Redskins bomber, my ripped super-spray black jeans and my BMC Paris Classic long sleeve.

For more on creative Surrey students, check out our digital magazine, to be released on April 26 via https://issuu.com/

Interview by Alice Vily.