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Alumni of the Month July 2009
Steve Mitchell (1987 Music & Mathematics)
How did you get to where you are now?
Truly? I don’t quite know, I guess I followed every lead available. When I left Keele I was really looking at an occupation as a music therapist, but at that point it was really hard to get into so I ended up working for The Yamaha Music Foundation teaching music, in a special school, again teaching music and subsequently in social services working with people with disabilities. I have had several ‘lucky breaks’ since then. One was being invited to musically direct a show in the Theatre Royal, which is now one of many strings in my bow. Another was being asked to compose over 150 songs for an Australian Television children’s show. As a composer, working with fellow Keelite Mike Stone, we somehow ended up writing music for a DVD by Philip Gardiner and got a distribution agreement through Reality Entertainment Records in the United States, yet another long and serendipitous experience.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
That’s a tricky one. I have been lucky enough to win several awards for directing films and theatres and featured on international television. The Australian TV was quite a big achievement and we also got permission to rewrite a Cole Porter musical, which would have been a huge coup but we couldn’t get financial backing. I guess record contracts are quite prestigious and one of my films is being distributed through Warner Brothers, which is a huge achievement.
And your biggest mistake?
I rarely see things as ‘mistakes’. For me every event and experience is worthwhile as a lesson in life if you like, so I rarely look back with regret. I like to think that I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t done what I had in the past.
What are your ambitions now?
At present I am working on a book, which would be great to get published, as well as some more films. I am also interested in alternative therapies and would love the archetypal cottage in the country with a therapy and retail business and plenty of time to write and film.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
The businesses I integrate in are so many and varied, including teaching, web design, film and music making but always its not what you know but who you know. I am busy now getting into social networking, both locally and nationally and this would be my main advice. Keep producing, keep working, don’t give up and blow your own trumpet to as many as will listen.
What made you choose Keele University?
I wanted to do a degree in Maths and Music and there weren’t many universities offering that combination. Keele was the overall choice if only for its beautiful location and recording studio facilities.
How has Keele influenced your life?
I met many good and interesting people whilst at Keele, some of whom I have been lucky enough to keep in touch with. The most precious of those I am lucky enough to call my best friends and a lot of them were and are excellent musicians who I have worked with in bands and many other projects.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Walking through the grounds and woods around the campus late at night after a recording session in the Clock House or early in the morning after a night stint at nightline – there is nothing sweeter than the first rays of sun accompanied by birdsong and a glorious view.
And your worst?
Walking around the campus late at night or early in the morning, desperate for my bed and sleep with a 9 o’clock tutorial looming.