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Member Spotlight: Mentoring Class of 2021

This month’s Member Spotlight features some of the 2020/21 mentee alumni to inspire future mentees to join Co-Pilot: the Musicians’ Mentoring Network.

To celebrate the launch of Co-Pilot, a new mentoring programme brought to you by The Ivors Academy and Help Musicians, we’d like to introduce you to some of last year’s mentees. Mentee applications for this year’s programme are now open for songwriter and composer members of The Ivors Academy, apply by 15th October at 5pm.

Natasha TL Norman

Natasha TL Norman is a London based songwriter and producer with Trinidadian roots.

Growing up in the Notting Hill Carnival environment she was surrounded by music, particularly Soca, performing as a Carnival Queen. As a songwriter, Natasha TL was influenced by the sounds of Soca, Pop & R&B, and has written for SunDivas who performed “Magnificent” at Abbey Road Studios for Notting Hill Carnival Online and Japan’s Ann G for the International Soca Monarch held at Trinidad’s Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Natasha’s production journey began with the Salute Music Makers’ competition where her last minute creation was selected in Salute’s Top 100 and later, by GirlsIRate for their Get Heard competition, selected to be heard by a music industry panel out of 2000 tracks.

This prompted Natasha to seek further development through Precision Productions “Audio Essentials” and The Ivors Academy where she was selected to be an Ivors Music Creators Mentee.

The mentorship covered various areas, from brand visibility to production and sync. This led to the creation of an instrumental licensed by French Artist C-Ago for the Summer Mixtape “Waters”. “Breaking the Ice” (Mixed by Vaz Studio) is currently most popular on C-Ago’s Spotify profile.

Listen to Natasha


Paul Russell

Paul’s background is playing in breakcore and punk bands.  His main project is composing and leading the 26-piece orchestral supergroup Human Pyramids. (Three Mile Town Records / Ricco Label)  Alongside this, he plays the guitar in experimental rock band Axes (Big Scary Monsters) and composes for short films, documentaries and theatre.  His immersive 360° VR Documentary “Crackle Pop” was premiered at Raindance Film Festival and nominated for a UK Music Video Award.

The mentorship program has been a life-changing experience for me.  Working with Justine Barker has encouraged me to broaden my horizons, write music for new mediums and think about how I present myself digitally.  She introduced me to new team members and was an invaluable sounding board, providing me with clarity and purpose on what at first seemed like chaotic and unrelated thoughts.  As a direct result of the program, I have also been taken on as Assistant Composer for the BBC medical drama Casualty.

Listen to Paul



Born in Chennai, Surya trained in Carnatic music but took to western pop. Relocating to London at age 10, his interest in R&B and Hip-Hop multiplied.

While a student, Surya self-released his first album Adolessence, handling the writing, production and performance himself. With all tracks being played on BBC radio, Surya was named one of the best new artists of 2018 by BBC Introducing, featured on the Introducing Mixtape and invited for studio interviews at several BBC radio shows.

He was then selected into Ivors Academy’s Music Creators Mentoring Programme, MAS Records’ talent development programme and Young Creators UK, a London based creative collective.

This January, Surya released a single, U ME WE. In this track, he wrote about his upbringing, turbulent relocation to London and unwavering ambition. The song and its music video was featured on Spotify’s editorial playlist, BBC Introducing, GUAP, TRENCH, among others.

Surya released his second project, Collage, in March. Inspired by mixtapes of the old convention, this project saw him reimagining a selection of Hip-Hop & RnB instrumentals with new melodies, lyrics, and arrangements. Within days of release, the mixtape received coverage from a number of esteemed music outlets including Rolling Stone and Earmilk.

Listen to Surya


Kemi Sulola

Kemi Sulola is a singer songwriter from London. The soul singing songwriter brings that feel good vibes to her listeners with emotive and jazzy melodies. She has put out her own projects such as her first Fallen For You, which gave her her first step into the industry. Sine then she has put out more music and collaborated with many other artists around the world from Canada, Dominican Republic, Kenya and America. Some of which have gained credibility on places like the RNB Amzazon charts ( her duet on Real Love with Tru Soul Davis). She has performed in and around London supporting international acts such Teedra Moses and locals such as Stormzy. She has also been awarded by her peers by receiving awards for her artistry. As such she is a member of many great organisations for uplighting and supporting other artists. She has received ration support from BBC, Capital Xtra Represent and multiple local and community radios, an artist for wide audiences but one who also connects with her local community.

Listen to Kemi


Alex Luke

Alex Luke is a soulful Singer – Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Manchester, UK. Influenced by Soul, Blues, Jazz and Pop, with sounds similar to the likes of Hozier, Michael Kiwanuka and Joy Crookes. He takes his approach to song writing with his heart on his sleeve and the voice of an old soul. After Alex’s brother passed in 2015, he turned to his music for solace and took his brothers middle name ‘LUKE’, a means of keeping his memory alive.

Alex has currently seen support from the Ivors Academy, selected as a mentee in their Mentorship Programme. The past few years has seen Alex gain a full band, perform in some of Manchester’s most well-known venues, perform at Dot to Dot festival 2018 , support Mamas Gun, Jahméne and sell out his last headline show in Manchester.

Alex latest single ‘Hideaway’, portrays his development as an artist while giving a hint at the future direction of his music.  Alex is now set to take his story further than ever before within a new era of music. His personal songs and natural aura on stage has earned him a following of lovers of Joy Crookes, Tom Misch and Loyle Carner.

Listen to Alex


Fast Trains

Fast Trains is the award-winning solo project from Portsmouth based songwriter and producer Tom Wells.

Combining inventive alternative pop with a cryptic visual space known as ourWorld, the project has received backing from BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music, and its videos have been shown at film festivals all over the world.

Key to Fast Trains is the desire to remain as DIY and self-sufficient as possible. This is typified by Wells writing and recording all the music himself, coupled with a strong focus on a direct-to-fan relationship via the official website and social media channels. All Fast Trains music is exclusively available on YouTube, Bandcamp and the Fast Trains website.

Latest EP ourWorld Volume 1 was well received for its direct tackling of controversial topics such as men’s mental health and the malpractices of certain British tabloid newspapers. The EP campaign received funding from Help Musicians, plus support from The Ivors Academy and the Featured Artists Coalition.

Listen to Tom


Rachel McFarlane

Hailing from Manchester, Rachel started singing at the tender age of 12 years old, at her local church. She came to the fore as the vocalist for local Manchester bands- MC Buzz; Family Foundation, 808 State; Loveland; N-Trance; Urban Cookie Collective, with Champagne Supernova; K-Klass. Rachel released her first self-penned single, Lover, which provided her first top 40 hit and a major club hit to date.

Rachel developed Graves Disease and was unable to perform, She turned to teaching music workshops to young people. After this bout of sickness, she was approached by LMC to record ‘Take Me To The Clouds Above’, that reached Number 1 for two weeks in the charts.  She also received a Brit Nomination for Best Single and a Silver Disc.

She later released her single, ‘Let Nothing’ with fellow Mancunian, DJ Nick Hussey on Defected Records.

Rachel has completed her first solo album, ‘Evolution’, celebrating her gospel roots.  Her first single, ‘PRAISE HIM’ was self released on December 11, 2020. With the help of IVORS academy mentorship programme she was able to make the transition to a new genre. The single peaked at No:2 in the UK Christian charts (astepfwd).

Listen to Rachel


Lindsay Wright

Lindsay is a versatile British composer combining contemporary classical instrumentation with electronic production, utilising her skills as a performer and her experience with music technology to blend traditional practices with experimental techniques. She recently scored the HBO/BBC feature documentary The Mystery of D.B. Cooper with Tim Atack and the BBC documentary series Inside Monaco. She wrote original music for the upcoming short drama Mudlarks starring Mirren Mack (Sex Education); the BFI-backed coming-of-age short drama Pop starring Stephen Graham (This Is England); and BAFTA-winning director Caroline Bartleet’s short drama The Bind for BBC Films starring Lorraine Ashbourne (The Crown).

Other work for screen includes major advertising campaigns for British Airways, Hewlett Packard and Rightmove, as well as writing additional music and music editing on high profile projects such as Netflix’s The Crown; Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel; and Amazon Studios’ The Feed. She is currently scoring the drama feature Sabattier Effect and feature documentary The Adventures of Joan Collins.

As an artist, Lindsay’s latest EP LINES was created during the nationwide lockdowns in 2020-21, exploring evolving motifs, cinematic electronics and fragile strings through the lens of sustaining human connection in a world of isolation.

Listen to Lindsay



MEI, who Complex hail an ‘R&B Wonder’, is a South London vocalist, songwriter, producer and bassist with a unique blend of R&B, rap, alternative and electronic elements combined with soul-baring lyrics. She creates a sound that she describes as, ‘honey for your ears, medicine for your fears’. MEI has crafted a distinctive sonic world that develops with each release, showcasing her commitment to growth and discovery.

Continually garnering key support from the likes of Wonderland, The Independent, Rolling Stone India, Clash Magazine, Complex, Notion Magazine, CMU, Gal-Dem, Earmilk, Record of the Day, The Line of Best Fit, Noctis Magazine, Equate Magazine, and many more, MEI’s trajectory is elevating further with every release. With her most recent EP ‘The Hard Way Around the Sun’ making it into Jamz Supernova’s EP Top 5 on BBC 1Xtra – and with support from BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music too, MEI’s music is continually finding itself shared amongst the best tastemakers in the industry.

Listen to MEI


Joe Galuzka

Joe Galuszka is an emerging British composer, conductor and instrumentalist, hailing from a brass band background and has written a number of works for chamber groups, brass bands and independent films. His score for the Australian wildlife documentary ‘Firekeepers of Kakadu’ won the London Independent Film Awards in October 2020, and received a Bronze Medal at the Global Music Awards 2021.

Amongst his works for brass band, his tuba quartet ‘Pandemic’ claimed 1st Prize in When Tuba Come One’s International Composition Competition. Joe is set to release his first EP in 2021, as well as a new work for string octet ‘The Liberation of Auschwitz’. He has also been commissioned by Arts Council England, to write a new work to celebrate 100 years of the Bristol-based Longwell Green Orchestra, ‘Centenary’.

Inspired by listening to his grandfather play the organ from a young age, Joe entered the world of music during school learning the trumpet, whilst also teaching himself piano. Upon leaving school, Joe went on to enrol at Canterbury Christ Church University where he gaining a 2:1 in music, having studied under composer Paul Edlin, Paul Patterson and the late Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. With his work for string orchestra ‘Adventures’ premiering in 2012, Joe went on to form and conduct the University Brass Ensemble; and composed and arranged music for the bi-annual graduation ceremonies at Canterbury Cathedral.

Returning to education in 2017, Joe later enrolled at the University of Bristol to study his MA in Composition in Music for Film and Television, studying under eminent composers for television, Martin Kiszko and William Goodchild, and is currently studying with the composer for the BAFTA-award winning Netflix series ‘The Crown’, Martin Phipps. As an instrumentalist, Joe freelances across the south-west of England; having performed with the Bristol Symphony Orchestra and the Flowers Band in Gloucester. He is a tutor and mentor with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.

Joe has benefitted in mentoring during the pandemic from the award winning video games composer Chris Mann.

Listen to Joe


LEKIDDO – Lord of Lobsters

My fabulous Mentor & The Music Creators Mentoring Programme focused my mind on my business plan, especially marketing strategies; expanding my online presence & brand awareness, as well as my creativity readying me to tour in 2022.

My mentor challenged me and helped me be more effective.  I really valued his careful attention and support.  In that time I’ve been creating my new album, “#Lobsterliciously”.  The first release is a 2 track single “When We Return To Dance”, capturing the zeitgeist for those of us who can’t wait to …return to dance!

Delighted we’ve received national radio airplay from Tom Robinson BBC6Music: ‘Astonishing Glastonbury Festival & BBC Introducing artist LEKIDDO – Lord of Lobsters! has done a song about when we return to dance. When lockdown finally ends and people get back to dancing and his question is: “What will we groove to When We Return To Dance”?

… Just stick LEKIDDO into your search engine & you’ll find a whole beautiful rainbow wealth of music & fun.’

Listen to Lekiddo


Dominique Levack

Dominique is a composer and songwriter, receiving The PRS John Lennon Song writing Award at 20 she spent several years writing music, touring Europe and playing Festivals including Glastonbury. Living and working as a composer and DJ in the UK, Hong Kong and Spain, world music is her passion. A musical time traveller she especially enjoys working with voices, mixing up genres and music from other centuries. Dominique has released 2 albums, The 6 Betweens, a Tibetan cross over chill out soundtrack with spoken word and The 9 Orders of Angels, a song based trip hop urban soul journey. In 2020 Dominique was runner up of Metapop Womex Remix Competition and The Ivors Academy partnered Dominique with John Truelove as part of their Mentorship programme. May 2021 she released of a collection of contemporary piano chill out tracks titled ‘Improvisations’, which builds a world of contemporary piano with Gregorian chants, and electro soundtracks. As well as being a composer Dominique works within music therapy, having trained at Nordoff Robbins, London in 2016. Experienced working with clients across the autistic spectrum, PMLD, Downs syndrome and selective mutism, Dominique meets the person ‘in music’ and seeks connection through it.

Listen to Dominique


Utkucan Eken

Utkucan Eken is a London-based composer and music producer who works primarily for screen and interactive media. He composes and produces music within electronic and digital environments in a diverse variety of genres. His musical education started at the Fine Arts High School in Turkey, where he studied piano and cello. He continued his education within the field of music technology and completed the Design of Audio Arts Programme with honours at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul. Following his BA (Hons) degree, he went on to graduate with distinction from the MA Audio Production programme at the University of Westminster, London. During his time there, he was awarded the 2016 John Leckie Award for Innovation in Audio Production. Eken has collaborated productively in a variety of innovative interdisciplinary projects and has composed music for film and TV.

KERAK: Heroin, My Brother and Me” is a documentary about the heroin trade in Iran and Afghanistan. It was produced by David Modell Productions for the US Channel Vice. I have collaborated with Andy Price in scoring the original music for the documentary.

Listen to Utkucan


Don’t forget to apply if you’d like to get involved in mentoring this year.


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