The following post was written by MP&E major and guitarist Mert Ozcan of Ankara, Turkey, who was among a group of students selected to visit two London recording studios: Abbey Road and British Grove Studios.
A month before the semester was over Berklee gave me the best going away present it possibly could. I was taken to London for a week to spend two days at Abbey Road and three days at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios. The experience was amazing to say the least—and I mean the word in its literal sense, not like when someone calls a basket of chicken wings amazing.
Mert on Pro Tools at Abbey Road
When I first got the email from Dan Thompson, assistant chair of MPE, with the subject line “Congratulations” I don’t think I fully comprehended the situation. I was working on my final production for MPE and a couple of freelance gigs so I didn’t have time to really think about what was going to happen, but the moment I stepped outside the plane at Heathrow it all became very real. To be in London and to be working with these legendary producers at these legendary recording studios is like our wildest dream. And it actually came true.
Students and faculty at Abbey Road
Just as if it wasn’t enough to be there to take it all in we actually got to get involved and contribute to the sessions. Daniel Bitran Arizpe and I were Pro Tools operators for David Hentschel at Abbey Road on our second day. Twice I captured a performance when the musician wasn’t aware that we recording, and he was just trying different things. Both of those times David asked me if I had it and I was able to say yes. That felt pretty good because it’s really hard to recreate a performance that happens accidentally. The sessions at British Grove were even more inclusive: Hugh Padgham was open to all of our ideas and we all had some input in the production. On top of that we got to perform on the tracks as well; Chelsea, Brad, and Annette sang background vocals, Andy played percussion. The experiences we had and the things we learned by working with these iconic producers at these top of the line studios were invaluable.
Producer Hugh Padgham (center) with students
Apart from the sort of professional experiences, if you will, the personal experience of just being in London was also incredible. It was my first time going there and I don’t think I would have been able to go there for a very long time if it wasn’t for this trip. I tried to get the most out of the city and the culture by going to a new place every day and doing something different. We hung out with the artists after the sessions as well and built a relationship. I don’t think anybody on this trip is ever going to forget about it or lose touch with anybody who was involved.
This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have been a part of it. The fact that this is going to be an annual trip is incredible and I’m so happy for whoever gets to be next.