For our Music Made Us campaign, Sky-Maya Groom, who studies Music Production in Birmingham, explores her musical journey. She tells us about being homeschooled, listening to Napalm Death aged four, getting inspired and changing the industry for good.
I was home educated for most of my childhood. During this time, I met many interesting, extravagant, and inspiring people. This included full-time artists, musicians, and freelancers from all over the world, living the creative lives of their dreams. These people (including my parents) are a significant source of my inspiration, even now.
One person from the home-ed community who I find inspiring is Bobby Bird. I’ve known Bob for many years. His child Robyn was home educated at the same time as me, and I was the first home educator they met. Robyn is now the violinist and synth player in our band, DandelionSquash.
When I was a kid, I would go over to their house for the Summer Solstice or the Winter Equinox. I remember having a fire in the garden and listening to his music over their incredible speakers. I loved it. Before I even knew I wanted to be a musician or a producer or even picked up a guitar, I looked up to Bob.
He made fantastic music – like nothing I had ever heard before. There were no lyrics and sometimes little to no harmony or melody, but it was interesting to listen to; it hooks you in. You just have to know what sounds are going to come next. His music is ambient and electronic – I love his use of synths and his use of silence. It’s trippy and so well executed.
Scylla Magda, Robyn’s mother and Bob’s partner, is also a highly inspirational creative – both musically and visually. I recommend checking out their work, such as Higher Intelligence Agency, Oscillate, and Jotik.
“The music I listened to as a child influences the music I make now.”
The first memory I have involving music is listening to the albums we had in our car with my dad on the way to pick up pigeon corn every Saturday morning when I was about four or five years old. We had The Doors, Napalm Death, The Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Bob Marley, and Carcass. I still enjoy these artists now, and the music I listened to as a child influences the music I make now.
One of my favourite albums is Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. I honestly think it’s a masterpiece. Every single instrument has its place. It all sounds so clean and well put together. Nothing gets lost. Everything has its purpose. I can’t listen to even one of the songs off Time Out and not want to be making music afterwards. It really is a big inspiration for me.
“I enjoy hearing about people who broke the rules regarding music, people who found new ways of doing things.”
Teo Macero was the producer of that album. His production techniques were highly innovative for the time, which I think I admire most about him. I enjoy hearing about people who broke the rules regarding music, people who found new ways of doing things. That inspires me.
Alternative Sources of Inspiration
A visual artist I gain inspiration from is Shayna Klee (aka Purple Palace). She creates very whimsical sculptures, paintings and short films that are a significant source of motivation and inspiration when I’m not feeling my best. Her work makes me feel nostalgic and creative.
“It’s the act of creation that means the most to me.”
Authors such as George Orwell, Andre Aciman, JRR Tolkien, and Enid Blyton are also big inspirations. I enjoy the creation of worlds, things that aren’t real but are told as if they are. The feeling books give me almost always equates to some form of musical creativity. All these different influences inspire me to do whatever I want with my music without fearing others’ judgment. I don’t care if people like my art. It’s the act of creation that means the most to me. They inspire me to live life for myself.
Finding Creativity in Digbeth
I’m only in my first year at BIMM Institute, yet I know I made the right decision coming here. I’ve already met so many amazing people. Every week I’m in the studio recording someone and something new. And the facilities are just outstanding. Never in a million years would I be able to afford to use the kind of equipment I get to use at BIMM – it is still quite surreal to me.
And Digbeth. It’s just covered in art – it feels industrial yet unimaginably creative. One of my favourite times of the week is my walk to BIMM. I love feeling the fresh air on my face and admiring all the art scattered across the street walls and the canals – you feel a want to create whilst strolling through Digbeth.
I’m proud of the amount of different music that comes out of the UK, especially Birmingham. It’s so diverse, engaging, and accepting. I’ve lived in Brum my whole life, and all I can say is that it’s full of inspirational people and their artwork – you just have to look for it.
Women in Music Production
I’ve never seen myself as a female music producer. I just see myself as a music producer. I didn’t even really realise I was going into a male-centric industry. The first time I ever really thought about it was when a teacher said that it was amazing to see more female representation within the Music Production course.
“Gender doesn’t come into it for me.”
Being a girl hasn’t been an issue for me yet. I’ve recorded, mixed, and jammed with both males and females. And not once have I ever been made to feel uncomfortable or lesser than I am. I ultimately think that the music scene I’m currently involved in is very accepting. People are just doing what they love with other people who are also doing what they love; gender doesn’t come into it for me.
I think the industry has changed over time; I mean, hasn’t every industry? Women didn’t work at one point. Now we do. I guess I’m just lucky to have been born in the time that I was. This world is ever-changing. Maybe one day, you’ll be asking male music producers if it’s tough for them going into a female-centric industry.
Our Music Made Us campaign is told through the students, graduates, journalists, experts and passionate people who have been shaped by music. Discover their stories here.