BIMM – in case you haven’t heard of it yet – is the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. First opening as a music college with a mission in Brighton, UK in 2002, they seemed to have nailed things from the word go…Although there’ve been plenty of music colleges and music courses going on, BIMM has a great philosophy, a great attitude, and a thorough understanding of what up-and-coming musicians – and others who want to work in the music industry – need.
Such was the success of the concept that they expanded from Brighton to open schools in Bristol, London, Dublin and Manchester. And now, as of 1st October 2015, in Berlin too, where they’ve partnered with Noisy – long known in the city as a central musical meeting point, with its rehearsal rooms, shop and Noisy Academy.
Despite having some 7000 students on their books in the UK, BIMM Berlin is starting off with just 60 students – sure to expand. To help open the place – as well as to celebrate it – a bunch of BIMM people from the UK came to town for the opening party in Fluxbau on Thursday, so as well as the new Berlin BIMM students we got to check out a few bands made up of UK BIMM music students and chat to some of the people running the show.
Below is our conversation with Anthony Giles, head of promotional events and admissions, a very nice young man from England who’s come to set up BIMM in Berlin with a load of experience not only as a touring musician but also as promoter, booking agent and music journalist. And a degree in playing bass guitar. I kid you not.
(Watch this space for our interview with BIMM partners and established Berlin music dudes Noisy who we talked to on the same night!)
indieberlin: So Anthony Giles: You’re Head of Promotional Events and Admissions for Berlin…How did you personally get involved with BIMM?
Anthony Giles:I went to BIMM in the first year that it opened, in Brighton back in 2002, so I went there and got a degree in bass guitar…
indieberlin: You have a degree in playing bass…?
Anthony Giles:Yes! I have a degree in bass…So that’s how I first heard about BIMM. I studied there for three years, then I went away, and I was performing and touring in UK and Europe and I ran a small promotions enterprise in Brighton, as well as writing reviews and articles. Then I thought I’d like to get into education and careers advice as well, and so here we are.
indieberlin: So tell us, what do people actually learn at BIMM?
Anthony Giles: You’ve basically got a set of degree courses that reflect what the music industry is like in the real world, so you’ve got performance degrees, songwriting degrees, music busines, events management, music production.
I think that we have the philosophy that music is the foremost thing, you never give up your passion and creativity, but you also have to understand that this is an industry that you’re entering into, so it’s about keeping the two sides of the equation.
With changing in technologies and so on, music changes so rapidly that you’re always playing catch-up in a way. So getting the education that we can give you puts you right up there with the knowledge that you need to succeed today.
It’s about each person individually, seeing what makes them tick, so you can support them in the things they’re good at and also help them to achieve the stuff they’re not so good at.
Here in Berlin we’ve got 60 students starting this year, in the UK we’ve got about 7000 students across the different colleges at the moment and they work in groups, but every one of of those students is an individual with their own needs and ideas, so we have tutorials and career advice that helps each person on their own. So we encourage them to work together and to push each other.
indieberlin: Do you have mainly English teachers or…?
Anthony Giles: The core staff who have set the college up have come over from the UK, but we’re employing more and more people and we’re starting to look at people who are from here more, but in terms of the teaching staff, the number one thing they have to have is real world experience, and to be currently active in the music business, so that means that the tutors teaching from Berlin this year are from all over the place, we’ve got soem native German tutors, we’ve got some from America, Australia, the UK…
indieberlin: I find that really cool, that they’re all currently active, so you don’t get people teaching you stuff that might have been relevant years ago…
Anthony Giles: Exactly. So they have to be doing it now, not ten years ago. They’re all busy performing and playing, and know what the state of things is as of this morning.
indieberlin: Like Budgie, your head of drums that we interviewed recently…
Anthony Giles: Yeah, he’s actually going on tour over the next few weeks, so we’ve got someone else teaching until he gets back. And that’s the other thing, we know our tutors are working musicians, so we support them in their project work while they’re also part of the faculty.
indieberlin: Do you also do workshops who aren’t in the school?
Anthony Giles: The only ones we’ve done here so far have been more promotional events, but we do do masterclasses that we invite the general public to, we did for example the Night of Guitars, at Just Music, who have been helping us a lot as well as Noisy.
indieberlin: So there are some possibilities for the general public to check things out, to come along and do a workshop or something?
Anthony Giles: If anyone’s interested, their first point of contact is generally myself, and I’ll take them around and give them a tour. When we have an open day, or if we do masterclasses for people to come to, obviously we let as many people as we can know about that. We’re very excited to be in Berlin and we’re looking forward to welcoming a whole lot of young musicians through our doors!
Interview by Noel Maurice / Pictures by Mia Morris