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gary-thatcher=the-journey-to-bimm-in-birmingham
Gary Thatcher - The Journey To Bimm

Hi, I'm Gary Thatcher now performing as thatch and I began my journey as most people do in the year prior. I grew up in Bournemouth and played guitar in a group formed from friends at school. We had some success with the band in a local competition performing our own songs which gave me the momentum to continue focus on songwriting. We got to the stage of recording our own EP and when the recordings were in the mix I realised that this was something that I wanted to be able to do.

gary sobo signSo I began to review my options, I attended an open day at the local university where they appeared to have some studios which were about to move to their new buildings and got myself an offer here, however the universities with industry background really appealed to me, so I was also looking into other options. I looked into Point Blank music school, and BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music Institute). In this period rumours of a strange virus in China began to be making the national news, little did I know how much this was going to change school and then university.

It was 23rd of March when the country went into lockdown, the Prime Minister announcing the first lockdown in the UK ordering people to stay at home. This meant that I got to spend time at home rather than go into school, it also made it difficult to make the choice of which University to attend. I'd looked at BIMM in Birmingham, I have family in Coventry which would give me the freedom of going away to university but I could also spemd more time with my Coventry family than I had been able to have previoulsy.

Borough of Bournemouth SouthbourneI needed to perform an audition for BIMM to stand a chance of attending and in lockdown 150 miles away this would be different, I prepared for my audition as I had been told that I would audition over zoom and perform from my bedroom in Southbourne, Bournemouth to see if I met the standards required. I had spent some time watching Ski Oakenfull deconstruct Blue Monday, one of the most iconic songs of all times so decided to use Ableton to provide my support and play live on my Electric guitar mimicing Bernard Sumner by performing the lyrics over the top, All quite tricky on a zoom call with the bandwidth shared with a working from home parent.

Well it must of ticked the boxes at the Audition as I now had an offer at two universities, I got the feeling that my parents were keen on the safe option of local university which would keep things simple but I recognised the benefit of a university dedicated to Music and networking opportunities with like minded people. 

The First Year of University

The first year at university. is where you arrive at university as a fresher, ready to take on the world, or at least a round of shots, or that is how some people have experienced their first year. Unfortunately, I had to experience the impact of COVID-19, this meant that even visiting the university was difficult with the country in lockdown. The weekend before decision day (I had options) I still hadn't viewed BIMM or even taken a look around the local area.

I had my interview over Zoom where I performed my version of New Orders Blue Monday, playing the guitar and singing live over the top of an Ableton set that I prepared earlier. I had to make do with the great information on the BIMM website to understand what was on offer and where, here is a virtual tour of the Digbeth facility which was similar to what I was using to help me make up my mind.

StudioSo I jumped into a car with my parents and made the 160-mile trip up to the West Midlands. We arrived having made a comfort stop on the motorway and went straight to the developing, bohemian district known for street art, Digbeth, is the location of BIMM Institute some of the areas looks run down, but there are some shining lights, especially close to Gibb Street and the Custard Factory. (which used to manufacture Birds Custard).

Getting out onto Floodgate Street, even at the end of the lockdown was strange, you could feel the creativeness of the area the minute you arrived, it was quiet but everywhere you looked there was a story to be told, there is some fantastic graffiti art to be found underneath the arches. I liked some of the images so much I have used them around the site as a theme.

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