Arts Emergency

Hali Santamas

PhD Student

My name is Hali. I’m a musician, photographer and PhD student and going to university to study an arts degree was the best thing I ever did. I’ve had a serious passion for music since I was young, despite having somewhat inconsistent grades at school (Music GCSE: A; Music A level: D. Whoops…) and a less than supportive family when I decided to do a Music Technology & Popular Music BA at university. My course was four years, three studying and one on a work placement at Radio Forth in Edinburgh (through which I got to meet lots of pop stars, actors and comedians, including Arts Emergency’s very own Josie Long!). I would be lying if I said it was an easy four years but despite the stress, I was still having fun writing, performing and recording music, making videos and learning new things about the music I love. At the end of it all I even managed a first and a music technology award (TAKE THAT, MUM.) and now I’m still at the same university a year after graduating, about to progress onto my second year of a PhD.

To me a potential career in academia is pretty much the dream: writing music, taking photos and learning for a living without having to worry about compromising my art to make money. Oh I forgot to mention, I even got to make my hobby of photography an integral part of my postgraduate research. Awesome. And that’s the great thing about a BA, MA or PhD: from your final year as an undergraduate you can make it what you want it to be. Love the mid 1980s Birmingham grindcore scene? You can write about that. Write anti-folk music? You can write an E.P. and get marked on it. You can do what you love whilst building a portfolio of stuff to send to record labels, publishers or employers. Through my time at university I have learnt so much not only from the lecturers but from friends and colleagues. I’ve amassed a pretty big portfolio including a tonne of bits of music, an audiovisual piece, some experimental text scores, performances reviewed in The Wire, an E.P. with a photobook and an album with a photobook amongst other things, and I still have two years to go. Looking to study a BA or a BMus in music? It’s doing what you love for three/four years. Who could argue with that? Oh there’s also some writing too, but if you’re vom-inducingly enthusiastic like me, that’s all part of the fun!