STARMAKER Eliot Kennedy has developed some of the biggest names in pop. Now he’s about to launch a new Academy to turn out even more chart-toppers up north, as Graham Walker found out.
Grammy Award-winning producer Eliot Kennedy knows a thing or two about developing talent – the walls of his world famous Steelworks and now The Foundry studios in Sheffield are testament to that.
Gold, platinum and silver discs, marking tens of millions of sales, sparkle with some of the most iconic names in popular music over the past 21 years.Bryan Adams, Aretha Frankiln, Celine Dion, Donny Osmond, Take That, Blue, Atomic Kitten, SClub7 and more take pride of place.
There’s a signed presentation by The Spice Girls – he helped to produce and write hits in Sheffield for their first album, Spice, which sold 28 million copies, including their first number one single, Say You’ll Be There.
They even moved into his home as he helped to develop them into a global phenomenon.
More recently, as producer for artist development on 2011’s X Factor, he helped Little Mix to become the next big thing as the first group to win in the programme’s history. They affectionately call him ‘Uncle Eliot’.
Now he is turning up the volume in a bid to make some real noise with a project to firmly establish Sheffield and his studio as a world centre for artist development.
He’s set to launch Eliot Kennedy’s Steelworks Academy, or EKSA, which aims to help transform today’s talented newcomers into tomorrow’s pop superstars.
Eliot, aged 43, is throwing open the doors of his studios to would-be candidates for the first time ever to see what’s on offer this Saturday, at noon.
But entry will be by appointment only, by emailing email@example.com or calling the studio on 0114 2720300.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our chat with Eliot as he explains more about the Academy.
Eliot told how EKSA will help to develop up to 10 students on each three-month course and arm them with all they need to launch a music career.
They will work closely with Eliot and the Steelworks team on vocal coaching, image styling, marketing and online presence, to sound engineering, post production editing techniques and audio mixing.
Students, who will leave with three songs recorded during the course, will also be set a challenging task every week – such as performing on stage as a special guest for a major artist.
It’s only aimed at those with a serious ambition and the entry application form asks, what makes you different and why do you deserve a place on EKSA?
There’s also a course fee of £10,000, but record labels, who have been known to spend 10 times that on new artists, see it as value for money and scores of people have already registered an interest.
The fees also include an Apple MacBook, loaded with software, headphones and a video camera to begin blogging and showcasing their talents.
There will also be professional audio recording equipment in their rooms, so they can continue perfecting their craft outside the studio.
They will also get to share a house in Sheffield – just like a TV reality show, but with nobody voted off and no cameras watching their every move. Though that may change, with TV bosses now taking an interest.
Eliot said: “It would make great television. But we’re not doing it for that. This is about helping to develop new artists and give them all the advice and new skills they need to make it in the industry.
“Nothing can prepare you quite like the real thing.
“These days you need to be able to do more than sing. You need to know the recording process, how to promote and market yourself, using online and more.
“Steelworks Studios is a buzzing hive of musical activity which always inspires.
“Surrounding themselves with real artists and being central to the production of world-class records is an experience that money hasn’t been able to buy.
“We believe this is a unique opportunity, with nothing else like it, certainly in the region and probably anywhere.
“I’ve always developed artists. It was my role on the X Factor.
“Now we’re offering a structured three-month course for the first time, here at the Steelworks.
“We cannot promise success but what we can do is equip students and prepare them in the same way that I have primed many successful artists.”
For more details visit www.eksacademy.com.