Creative Careers Spotlight: Skip Curtis from XY&O

Part of our mission as a network is to raise awareness among arts and education professionals as to what creative careers the young people they work with could pursue. This is why, in January 2018, we hosted a Creative Career Choices event to highlight the diverse, and sometimes hidden, roles that exist in the creative sector.

Over the coming months we will be shining a spotlight on people from Wales who have pursued a career in the arts, and we are pleased to begin with Skip Curtis – who grew up in Newbridge and Abercarn.

Skip is a record producer, songwriter, mixer and multi-instrumentalist, and the lead singer of Cardiff-based band XY&O – who have been streamed more than 30 million times on Spotify and played the BBC Stage at Glastonbury in 2016. He also lectures at the University of Wales, and has visited schools and universities in the UK and Europe to talk about working in the music industry, and the wider creative sector in the UK.

We caught up with Skip and asked him a few questions…

Which school did you attend?

I went to Newbridge Comprehensive School and then Crosskeys College.

When did you first get interested in music and composition?

I was always interested in listening to music and making up songs from a young age. My parents musical influences were the main contributor I guess. My Dad particularly is a huge fan and brought me up listening to a really diverse range of music. I started writing more focused songs when me and some school friends started a ‘proper’ band when we were all about 14. We got our first play on BBC Radio One when I was about 16. I was on the bus home from college and got a phonecall saying, ‘Your demo is being played on BBC Radio One tonight!’

Were there any teachers who inspired you in school or college? If so, what did they do that was inspirational?

I didn’t actually study music in school or college as it happens, but I remember we had one Maths teacher in Newbridge school that most of the kids were scared of. He had a reputation for being strict and bad tempered. Then I found out that outside of school he played trumpet in a couple of jazz bands around the area. He became a lot less scary and the surliness made sense – it just turned out he was a super cool jazz player!

What advice would you give young people looking to get into the music industry?

The music industry in 2018 is in a really exciting place. The growth of streaming has brought more diversity, interest and money into the industry and there are increasing amounts of jobs and opportunities. Not just for artists, there are plenty of other career paths on the business side of the music industry not just the creative side.

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