Ben McAvoy

Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Production)

Year of Graduation: 2007

Top Career Highlights:

  • Attending the BAFTA Film Awards in 2013 with the nominated film “I Am Nasrine"
  • Attending the BAFTA Television Awards in 2017 with the nominated television documentary “Behind Closed Doors”
  • Working with a 16 piece string orchestra for an entire album of our own music.  

We met up with Ben McAvoy (BA Music Production 2007), Director at WMP and Leeds Conservatoire alumnus. Established in 2007 WMP provide bespoke music composition and sound design and audio for moving image projects. Taking some of the conservatoire's ethos, they are “driven by musical collaboration, innovation and appreciation.”

Ben set up WMP in 2007. He is passionate about creating evocative, well-produced music and audio that builds an emotional link between the audience and the subject. Originally a pianist, he brings an instrumentalist’s ear to his production and is a versatile composer across a range of styles.

What was your earliest musical experience?

My earliest experience was probably starting to learn the cornet at six or seven. This combined with literally breaking my Dad’s Sony record player and listening to artists like Sky and Peter Gabriel on repeat (without him knowing obviously). I didn’t go to any gigs until I was much older but I do remember when I was little, creating my own mix tapes from the radio and listening to them…a lot.

Who/what motivated you to pursue a career in music?

Many things motivated me, and still do. There definitely was an element of wanting to prove to myself that it was possible to earn a living from a composition/creative job in the industry. Two things really stick out though, firstly that I wanted to look back and say “well I gave it a go” even if it didn’t quite pan out the way I wanted, here I am ten years later. Secondly, I fell in love with the combination of moving image and audio, I’m still in love with it, it’s such a powerful medium, when people get it right.

Who’s your greatest inspiration?

I am obsessed with Nils Frahm. Modern classical, post-classical, whatever you want to call it. They have something unreachable, something so deeply creative that although we get asked to reference them or write something similar, particularly for ads, it almost seems like an impossible task but at the same time a challenge I relish.

My clients inspire me, on a daily basis, they blow my mind with some of the work they are involved in, even when we aren’t a part of it. I am, I think, fairly unique in the fact that if we lose a pitch or a project to someone that then comes up with something that is inspired, of the moment and incredible, I am the first to hold my hands up and say “that’s amazing”, and text or email our clients to say how great we think it is. The thing is, I really mean it, it keeps us going.

What is/was your favourite thing about living, studying and being a musician in Leeds?

I love living in Leeds, I have a better way of life here, a house, a family etc. Working here, there is a definite challenge of the music industry still being incredibly London centric. You can make it work but you need to travel and a lot of the music orientated decisions, especially those that will earn you a living, are made down there. It can be turned into an opportunity though.

Who/what would be your dream collaboration?

Nils Frahm, without a shadow of a doubt.

How has your career developed since leaving Leeds Conservatoire?

Well I had no career when I left Leeds Conservatoire and it’s now developed to the point where it supports me and my family. It’s been a very long, steady process of getting better at what we do and building relationships. There has been a lot of hard work involved but it definitely now feels like we’ve crossed a bridge where we don’t need to fight quite so hard for each opportunity that comes our way. Our clients trust us that we are always going to do the best we can and develop a high end product. One thing that has definitely developed is the team, there are now five of us instead of just me, it’s not just become about me anymore which is fantastic, I wouldn’t change it for the world. We have developed a brand, a reputation, a company and a professional way of doing things.

How has your study at Leeds Conservatoire aided your career so far?

In terms of practical stuff the production course has really changed my work, not just financially, but there are tools and techniques that we use every day which is the foundation of what I built my business on that I wouldn’t have as in-depth knowledge of if I hadn’t done my course. The Music Business modules were essential, I wouldn’t even have considered setting up my own business and focusing on music if I hadn’t had that guidance.

There is definitely still interest in what we’re doing, and keeping in touch with Jez, Craig and Danny has really helped in a way, they really care about what has happened to students, they want to know what students are up to. It’s definitely changed through being post grad to being alumni to being friends with the tutors now; they’re not teaching us now we’re helping one another out. We’re growing the industry in the city.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Career wise, we wrote the soundtrack to a feature film called “I Am Nasrine” which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2013. Then in 2016 we wrote the soundtrack to a television documentary called “Behind Closed Doors” which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2017. Attending the BAFTAs twice in five years is pretty incredible.

This is going to sound ludicrously cliché but every time we work on a project it is our greatest achievement, we are always striving to make sure that what we work on is written and sounds better than the last thing we wrote.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years time, I would like to be looking back on us having done something disruptive, something to change the industry for the better, that helps both composers, sync supervisors and film makers alike.

WMP’s composition team (Ben, Kamal, Will, Pete and Sam) are instrumentalists as well as composer producers. They all work from their four studio, 1000 sq ft complex in Eiger Studios and are accustomed to writing to picture and specialise in writing to brief across a range of genres and styles. They also regularly collaborate with a range of musicians and songwriter on a freelance basis including the undeniably brilliant Peter Darling.

Find out more about what our successful graduates have been up to in our Alumni Profiles

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