Tens of thousands of spectators, 2.5 months on tour alongside Tom Jones, multiple venues such as an old Roman quarry, a castle, a festival and a racecourse - Neil McClafferty’s summer story is unlike most others.
Neil, an HND Sound Production student from West College Scotland, was lucky enough to secure an internship with Into The Ark, a soul band who reached the finals of The Voice UK and went on to support Tom Jones on his 2018 European tour. Neil’s main role was to mix the sound for Into The Ark during their performances on the tour, each one of which was showcased to tens of thousands of people. This size of audience was a far cry from any other sound work Neil had done, with his biggest audience previously being a few hundred people.
Neil says of his experience:
"Mixing in 10,000 capacity venues and festivals every few days taught me that I could not afford to make mistakes and I had to work at the highest standard and level in live sound mixing. The band had to sound at their best for every performance and it was my job to ensure that I could interpret the band's vision of how they wanted to sound to the audience."
It is clear that Neil is a strict professional and is truly passionate about the music industry. Having previously worked as a full-time musician, Neil decided to join West College Scotland to hone his skills in audio production, recording and live sound. Describing his time at West College Scotland as “a great experience” Neil says that the “great studio facilities” and “knowledgeable lecturers” were two of the aspects which particularly stood out for him.
On completion of his HNC in Sound Production, Neil had the opportunity to participate in an end of year exhibition with the creative industries department. It was this event which allowed Neil to showcase his skills, and he was quickly snapped up by Into The Ark after a recommendation from one of the event’s attendees. Neil jumped at the chance and spent two and a half months on tour with the band, receiving mentoring from Tom Jones’ sound crew in the process.
Neil’s professionalism and work ethic undoubtedly led to him being selected, as well as the knowledge and skills he had acquired and honed at West College Scotland:
"All of the skills that I had been taught on the course were very relevant to the job, i.e. sound engineering and mixing skills, personal skills such as communication, organisation, planning and IT skills."
Ian Campbell, Neil’s Curriculum Enhancement Lecturer, says:
"What makes Neil’s story so remarkable is that he went from doing a few very small live sound events to mixing in arenas and festivals overnight, something which is unheard of in the live sound industry."
With his overall aim being to own a studio, it is evident that Neil is doing everything in his power to get there. We wish Neil the best of luck on his HND and in his future career.
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