This week our SEK Spotlight features Izaak Spencer. Izaak has supported the SEK programme through participation and assisting at our 2018 workshops. He is a third year music student from Falmouth University who enjoys learning multiple instruments and hopes to pursue a career in teaching.
Izaak Spencer, Workshop Assistant
Describe your current involvement with music:
Session musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer and teacher. As well as current 3rd year Popular Music Student at Falmouth University. Working with a multitude of people from inside and out of the university.
How did you achieve a career in music?
I didn’t really do the ‘band-thing’ like everyone else when they were young, possibly played in one or two when I was 15 but nothing serious! Living in the middle of nowhere (the Yorkshire Dales) meant I lacked musical stimulation from other artists and live gigs, but I always wanted to do more, so I taught myself guitar and most of my theory knowledge. I never thought I would go to University, I thought it was always something for people with more money and those who wanted to study things like Maths and Sciences. But I found out there’s no stigma with background when applying to University and you can get all the funding you need to afford it and so I followed my dreams, 400 miles down to the lovely and much more musically vibrant Falmouth. Since arriving I have spent more time on my own skills, learning as many instruments as possible to fill any possible gap in any band.
Who are your musical idols and why?
Where to start! I suppose the first person to make me want to pick up a guitar was James Hetfield from Metallica. When I was 14, I just thought he was the coolest person in the world; standing on stage in front of thousands every night and loving life. I learnt as many Metallica riffs as I could. As I got older I found Matt Bellamy and Muse, which just opened my outlook as to ‘what a guitar can be’! He made me buy as many pedals and effects as I could, but also realise the beauty and emotion that can be created though intricate compositions and experimenting with different instrumentation. It really opened my mind to accepting different music to the stage I am at now, where I will just listen to anything that is thrown at me. A typical journey in the car will consist of Spice Girls, Alter Bridge, Bruce Springsteen, some classic motown and jazz, ABBA, and just about anything else. I take a lot of influence in my compositions from what I am currently listening to.
I’m really into a band called ‘KeroKero Bonito’, a fantastic London-based Indie-Alternative-Pop band who’s lead vocalist is half Japanese, bringing her background to the songs and giving everything a fantastically fun J-Pop vibe, but with crushing guitars. Good times, I recommend!
5. What are your future music aspirations?
I hope to carry on teaching; it’s something that I really do love doing. But I do want to keep as much of my session work and composing work on the side as possible. I suppose I just want to keep being creative and inspiring people to be creative.
6. Why do you think the Scratch Electric project is beneficial to young musicians?
Coming from a background myself where I haven’t had the chance to meet and play with other musicians, I saw this project and immediately saw the positives. With Cornwall being so large, it can be difficult for players to meet and network with each other, but SEK provides a platform for players to explore music in a whole new context; an ensemble. I learnt myself from working in a guitar ensemble at Falmouth University, that you pick up so many skills that you never would in a band. Skills like intense listening, professionalism, improvisation and learning pieces. These are skills that transcend traditional music making in bands and prepare students for a career in the wider world. It’s never too early to learn and develop these skills.
7. What advice do you have for young musicians wanting to pursue a career in music?
Never give up. Sometimes it might seem like you are going nowhere, but with the right amount of passion and drive you can achieve your goals. Don’t be scared to collaborate and network. You will always doubt yourself; the best of us do, but always remember where your passion lies and where it can take you.