All Saints' Academy Sixth Form alumni Charlotte Lewis, 24 (left) and Jo Oliver, 26 (below) have been busy since finishing Sixth Form. We caught up with them following their band's latest EP release.
What were your next steps after finishing Sixth Form:
Charlotte: After sixth form I did a range of jobs including customer support and IT work. I’m now currently studying at the University of Gloucestershire studying Creative Music Technology.
Jo: I studied Media & Communication (Television) at Birmingham City University where I gained a 2:1.
What job/career are you currently pursuing?
Charlotte: I’m currently trying to get our band, Down Not Out, to a point where we’re able to perform at bigger venues such as 02 academies across the UK, however I also have an interest in doing live sound engineering for musicals.
Jo: I'm currently undertaking an MA in Creative Music at University of Gloucestershire with a view of doing something within the music industry, if not with the band then A&R or social media management are appealing.
What advice would you give to our Sixth Form students?
Charlotte: Make the most out of your sixth form experience. Teachers told me that I would miss it once I had left, and I now frequently remember the days of sixth form fondly and memories made there. Work to the best of your ability and use all of the support to your advantage because it will really help in the future when it comes to university and applying for jobs.
Jo: Take every opportunity to gain experience in things you're interested in (as well as some stuff that is just useful or will look good on your CV!) Take advantage of resources you may not otherwise have access to (especially things like the recording studio or the music making software if you're a music student because those things are expensive to do externally).
What made you want to form your band?
Charlotte: A lot of people won’t know this but myself and Jo made friends on our first year of sixth form (truth be told we’re still not sure how it happened) we used to play guitar together and ended up forming a little band in sixth form which was a bit of fun for us at the time. Throughout the years we both continued to play music individually and still loved it as much as we did in sixth form. Last year I decided to form a cover band, Jo stood in for me as a favour for one of the members not being able to make it and had such a bond with our drummer that she ended up becoming a permanent fixture. We moved members around until we found a format that worked for us and that’s how Down Not Out came about. We worked really hard for it and it’s a creative way to express ourselves on a daily basis.
Jo: I've always enjoyed writing lyrics but didn't enjoy playing music solo so much, especially live, so finding like-minded people who wanted to help take the songs to a higher level was fantastic. No longer did my songs sit collecting dust on the shelf and the pride of playing them live and having other people enjoy them is amazing. On top of that I get along really well with my band members which really helps keep me motivated as I want to make them proud and write things they will enjoy playing.
What advice would you give music students looking to form their own band?
Charlotte: My personal advice would be to practice, practice and practice some more. Film yourself playing songs and listen back to them to see where you can improve and work on doing that. If you want to find other band members use websites like joinmyband.co.uk which is where we found all of our band members. Most importantly don’t give up because if you work hard enough, you’ll get there.
Jo: Find people who are as motivated as you are! Trying to make things happen in a band where others aren't enthusiastic is exhausting, and that energy could be used writing songs, getting the band's name out there and any other number of things that are actually productive. Also, know it's more work than a lot of people think, it isn't just writing and performing, there's a lot of things that need to be done behind the scenes to get things rolling that many people may never know or appreciate, so try not to be worn down by this stuff, remember why you're doing it!
How did All Saints’ help you in reaching your goals?
Charlotte: The support I received was outstanding from teachers. To name a few Mrs Austin, who was my music teacher from Year 7 and refused to give up on me. She constantly encouraged me to be the best that I could be and it certainly developed my confidence and has had a huge impact on who I am today. My form tutor also took the time to talk to me to ensure everything was okay on a regular basis. All of the teaching staff were supportive but those are the two members who really stood out and made a big impact on my life.
Jo: The access to the recording studio and the music department in general gave me the opportunity to really improve my music skills, from singing to songwriting and especially the support and freedom given to me by Mrs Austin. I also was able to channel my love for film and television into something I could actually gain qualifications for with the guidance of the media teachers such as Mr Wright.
What is your favourite memory of your time at All Saints'?
Charlotte: I have many fond memories of being in the music studio with Jo and Jake Sheppard. We spent a lot of time recording songs in there and giving each other feedback as well as recording many, many covers. Outside of that, most of my memories come from being in classes with friends such as media and music and just having a good time whilst learning. I made some of my closest friends through sixth form and we still speak on a regular basis.
Jo: There are so many to name, but filming a promotional video for Cheltenham Borough Homes was a really fun day that sticks with me. We also had a lot of fun helping out with a talent show to raise money for Children In Need. Not to mention the many, many laughs had in music lessons/studio sessions.
Where can we find your latest music?:
We recently released our debut EP “Worse For Wear” on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp. You can find our Spotify link here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1KYJjRvyRRZpwoUW34dt7p and you can also find all of our music and social media platforms (@DownNotOutBand) on our website which is https://downnotout.co.uk/