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A collage of images of students and graduates from dBs Institute
Chris MackinDec 19, 2023 10:34:55 AM7 min read

Our favourite success stories from the dBs Community in 2023

We’re incredibly proud of the myriad of achievements from both our students and alumni in 2023. We look back on some highlights and what exciting plans await them in 2024.

Anaïs Jan signs exclusively to Hospital Records

dBs Bristols Anaïs Jan signs to Hospital Records [Featured Image]

Announced with an unforgettable sky-diving video, BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering graduate Anaïs signed to the iconic Hospital Records in June 2023. Her signing came off the back of an incredibly successful time on Hospital’s ‘Women in Drum & Bass’ mentorship scheme, in which the highly-praised ‘Ultrasounds Vol. 3’. 

Anaïs 2023 continued to grow from strength to strength in the wake of her signing, seeing her take to stages across the UK and European festival circuits, receiving the ‘Best Newcomer’ nomination for the Drum and Bass Arena Awards 2023, and graduating in style. 

Anaïs is ringing in 2024 with New Year’s Eve shows at The Vaults Cardiff (Invicta Audio NYE)  and Hospitality Bristol NYE at Motion and already has shows lined up in Germany and Croatia. 

Ben Cross (Crossy) supports Andy C down under

dBs student Ben Cross (Crossy) heads out on tour with Andy C [Featured Image New]

Crossy’s career in the electronic music scene has been incredible to watch. A student with dBs since 2019, it’s been a pleasure to see his passion and ambition realised in what has blossomed into a promising career as a performing artist. 

The cherry on top of his year was being invited to support Andy C on his tour of Australia in September 2023. Speaking about the moment the offer came in, Crossy said, “Honestly, I was completely taken aback when I got the call. It's one of those things that feels like it's just always going to be a dream scenario that won’t ever become a reality. It still doesn’t feel real to be honest…”

Not only did Crossy also receive a nomination from the Drum and Bass Arena Awards 2023 for ‘Best DJ’, but you’ll also find him performing alongside Anaïs at the Invicta Audio NYE party in Cardiff. 

He will be heading back out to New Zealand in 2024 alongside a TBA lineup. 

Emma Abrams wins an award for her score on ‘A Ghastly Murder’

A Ghastly Murder Image 1

Graduating in 2022 from our BA (Hons) Music and Sound for Film & TV degree, Emma Abrams accepted the ‘Best Music in Short Film’ award at the Canadian Bridge Fest. 

The silent film, which originally had another composer attached, was brought to Emma after the director felt the music needed a new direction. Building from the foundations of what was written before, Emma rewrote the score, utilising a mixture of instrumentation to edify the horror of the film. 

Receiving the award was quite a shock, recalls Emma. “I was not expecting it at all. This film was one of my first ever paid jobs! When I heard the news, I was like, ‘That's not true. That's not right,’ but it was! There was a showing of it in London that I went to go and see and it was insane hearing my music in a little cinema…It made me a little bit emotional.

Alongside her award win, 2023 also saw Emma composing the score for the short film, Lady Clytemnestra, directed by Phaedra Crowe.

dBs Institute students, staff and alumni appear at Machina Bristronica 

Dan Legg, Phin Head and Stuart MacVeigh at Machina Bristronica

Dan Legg of Fully Wired Electronics (left), with Phin Head (centre) and Stuart MacVeigh (right) of Stochastic Instruments

After a tumultuous few years in the wake of the pandemic, we were so pleased to see the return of Machina Bristronica - organised by our good friends at Elevator Sound - and were overjoyed to see our students, staff and alumni there as well. 

MA Innovation in Sound student Nell Wayman was joined on-stage by Plymouth tutor Phin Head for a talk about her ongoing project, which seeks to teach young children music through the use of modular synths. 

Phin was also there as a representative of Stochastic Instruments, showcasing the SIG module which was beta tested by dBs Plymouth students. Alongside him was Dan Legg, a graduate of the MA Innovation in Sound degree and founder of Fully Wired Electronics

Virginia Leo joins a special panel at PAX West

dBs alumnus Virginia Leo prepares for special appearance at PAX West [Featured Image]

It’s been quite the year for Sound for Games & Apps graduate Virginia Leo. The composer and audio designer for viral sensation, ‘The Baby in Yellow’, her notoriety in the game audio world has snowballed and seen her receiving invites at various game conventions in America. 

One of which was the iconic PAX West, where she joined a panel of award-winning developers and built a game in one-hour in front of a live audience. Speaking about the experience, Virginia said, “It's still so surreal that we managed to create a game on stage in an hour in front of a big crowd! My team was absolutely incredible, and it was a really unique, chaotic, but mostly fun experience I would definitely do again!”

dBs students work behind-the-scenes at this years’ Bristol Harbour Festival

dBs at Harbour Festival - Students recount an amazing weekend working the fest (Featured Image New)

In spite of an unseasonably wet weekend in July, nine students from across dBs Bristol were able to get hands-on experience at Harbour Festival, working as stage assistants, zone assistants and artist liaisons. 

Facilitated by the amazing work of dBs’ Industry Liaison Officer, Adam Berwick, students from across our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees were able to put their skills into practice, earning £100 a day for their efforts. 

Looking back on the experience, stage assistant and dBs student Linda Engelova said, "I got a much better understanding of my own abilities, and I could see how much knowledge I acquired and where the gaps are. Also knowing I can handle myself under a huge amount of pressure."

For Zone Assistant and BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering student Martin Soutelo the experience made him “…more confident when speaking to all sorts of people: audience, traders, security and artists. I experienced that respect is key when you are working in a big team, from communication to understanding each other." 

dBs Plymouth’s Sammy Wightman opens Strobe nightclub

Matt Edwards (Left) and Sammy Wightman (Right) in Strobe [Photo credit_Katie Oborn)

Matt Edwards (left) and Sammy Wightman (right)
[Photo credit: Katie Oborn]

Plymouth’s nightlife scene has been enjoying something of a renaissance, with long-defunct spaces receiving a new lease of life as part of the city’s wider redevelopment. As part of this, Plymouth graduate Sammy Wightman and his business partner Matt Edwards joined forces to open Strobe; a new underground electronic music venue in the heart of Plymouth. 

“It used to be Cece's and then before that was Club R&R. Before that it was a club called Kukala,” says Sammy. “When we had a look at the venue, Matt had come up with the idea that we should go underground if we take it. It's never worked as a commercial venue before. It has always worked for a period of time, then they just dropped off the map so we have decided to go underground.

“We're going to cover all kinds of music. We're technically a house, drum and bass, underground electronic music venue - grassroots. We're trying to offer people something that's been missing from this area for a long time.”

In the 7 months since it opened, Strobe has become a firm fixture in Plymouth’s nightlife, with Sammy collaborating with dBs staff and students to provide a platform for budding performers to get stage experience. 

Connor Townsend (Velocetech) takes to the stage at Ministry of Sound

Connor Townsend Velocetech

Earlier this year, dBs Plymouth student Connor Townsend (Velocetech) performed at Ministry of Sound alongside a stacked lineup including Modestep and Borgore. A recent graduate of the BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production degree, Connor has been spending the last few years solidifying himself in the dubstep scene.

This year’s performance was actually his second time playing Ministry of Sound, the first coming through an unbelievable chain of events that began with a T-shirt competition. 

“I was scouring Instagram and I was promoted a T-Shirt competition they [Lost Woods] were running. I checked out their page and saw they organised Dubstep events in London, and despite usually having terrible luck, I entered the competition, which I ended up winning. 

“When they reached out to me, they commented on the music I was sharing on my profile and asked if I would share my details with them. A few months later they got in touch and invited me to play at Ministry. Interestingly, DNMO was also on that bill who previously studied at dBs Plymouth and we hit it off ahead of the show.”

2024 promises big things for Connor, so watch this space.

Inspired by our students' achievements? Take your next step towards a fulfilling career in the creative industries with one our degrees at dBs Institute.