This year's Music Producers Guild Prize has been awarded to James Mellor, confirming him as the most promising student to graduate from The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) Sound Technology degree programme.
Launched in 2010, the MPG Prize gives winning students from LIPA an opportunity to work alongside some of the UK’s top recording professionals. Prominent MPG Awards winners continue to be very supportive of the initiative, which also brings sponsorship opportunities from companies such as Avid and a bursary to help with expenses from PPL.
MPG chairman Steve Levine and MPG education representative Tony Platt presented James Mellor with his prize during LIPA’s annual graduation ceremony, which took place on 31 July, 2014. Also present was LIPA lead patron Sir Paul McCartney.
The aim of the Music Producers Guild Prize is to recognise the student who, in the opinion of his or her tutors, has shown the most exceptional talent, initiative, commitment, and consideration to the art of music recording and production.
Jon Thornton, who heads LIPA’s three year BA (Hons) Sound Technology programme, says: "Throughout his time studying with us, but most especially during his final year, James has proven to have that 'special sauce' of attributes – technical skill, creative thinking, attention to detail, and an interest in pushing the boundaries of what is achievable. I'm sure that he will make the very most of the opportunities that this award will open up for him."
James Mellor's early interest in music led to him experimenting with many different instruments before he finally settled for the guitar and started playing in bands with friends. Studio experiences with these bands gave him a taste for technology and a desire to know how to operate the equipment he found there. He applied to study at LIPA and has since worked with many local bands including Go Fiasco, with whom he has engineered and produced an entire album, Meet My Mystery. This project took eight months to complete and involved recording, producing, and mixing 10 tracks in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound.
Mellor has also been helping out at Liverpool-based studio The Motor Museum and was recently appointed house assistant/engineer.
"Over the next few months I hope to develop my skill set further and am honoured to have the opportunity to do so by learning directly from industry professionals whom I greatly admire," he says. "I am extremely grateful to both MPG and LIPA for everything they’ve done to help me grow as a professional and look forward to the next year with great anticipation."
Commenting on the Prize, Tony Platt says: "Supporting, nurturing, and encouraging young engineers and producers is a vital part of what MPG does and very important alongside the work we do under the auspices of JAMES. Gaining qualifications is only a small step on their journey and our aim is to enable standout students to be able to put their accomplishments to work as soon as possible so they can fully engage with the significant contribution that the UK makes to the global music industry."
Winning the MPG Prize will give James Mellor the chance to develop and explore the recording techniques he has learned at LIPA and make valuable contacts within the professional sound industry. In addition to a one year associate membership to the MPG, Mellor will also have the opportunity to shadow this year's MPG Producer of the Year winners Alan Moulder & Flood at Assault & Battery Studios. Mellor will also attend an orchestral recording session with award-winning engineer Haydn Bendall and a mastering session with John Dent, winner of the MPG Mastering Engineer Award 2014. Added to this will be opportunities to shadow Guy Massey, MPG Engineer of the Year 2014, and Dan Cox, MPG Breakthrough Engineer of the Year 2014. Studio experience will be provided by RAK Studios, winner of the MPG Best Studio Award 2014, while Mellor's technical expertise will be enhanced by a day at Avid’s UK headquarters where he will receive in-depth tuition on Avid’s flagship controller, the ProTools S6.
PPL has offered to contribute towards the cost of Mellor's travel and accommodation expenses while he is taking up these opportunities, and throughout the year he will be mentored by various MPG members including Steve Levine, Nicky Graham, Tony Platt, and Mick Glossop.