City alumni Adele Cutting née Kellett (Music, 1995) started her student career in a music course with the dream of being in sound post-production. At the time City offered one of the most advanced music courses in the country allowing Adele an opportunity to work in a recording studio and do technical modules which interested her the most. In addition to technical skills, Adele’s dedication allowed her to learn skills that would become hugely successful in her later career. From City, Adele moved on to the National Film and Television School. The connections and recommendations she acquired there scored her a job at EA (Electronic Arts), one of the largest games companies in the world, to work on cutscenes for one of their games. Through perseverance and hard work, Adele managed to go from having a temporary role at EA to becoming a Senior Audio Director and working on the Harry Potter franchise.
In 2011 EA Brightlight closed its doors, as part of a company-wide restructure. For Adele, this end of a chapter opened up a new opportunity – she started her own company Soundcuts Ltd to provide across a wide range of industries. In nine years she has been able to introduce junior talent into her team and offer a platform for young sound specialists to put their talents to use in incredible projects for TV, games and installations which have won her company several awards.
Find out more about Adele and how her hard work allowed her to create a successful and innovative business below:
Can you tell me about your time in City?
When I started at City, University of London, I knew I wanted to be in sound post-production. The University landscape was quite different then and there wasn’t a wide variety of courses available specifically to study that area as there are today. City was the best course for me, primarily because it had a recording studio and the recording tutors were employees of the BBC. The course also had other technical modules that really interested me but was balanced with the more traditional music subjects. I also really wanted to be in London, so my choice of City, was perfect for me.
I really enjoyed my time at City, I loved being in London, enjoyed the music course and liked mixing with people from other courses, one of my best friends today is a girl I met from the nursing course. The performance aspect – something I was anxious about – helped me in my current job with presentations and speaking at events. I loved being in the orchestras and ensembles, but I didn’t want to be the ‘soloist’, I much preferred to blend into the background.
You’re very busy, when you’re on the Music course, as not only have your academic work, but you also have to be involved in lots of instrumental groups and performances. I was also fortunate through an academic to find great work experience which ultimately enabled me to start working in an industry I love.
What happened after you graduated?
After graduation I decided to apply for a position in the National Film and Television School, they required letters confirming my work experience. So the experience I gained at City was invaluable, plus lots of other work experience I applied for myself during my university holidays.
As part of my course at the NFTS I started a work placement at Reelsound, a post-pro company based in Pinewood, and before even finishing my course the company offered me a contract – It was a great opportunity, so I managed to negotiate working to finish the course and start my first professional job.
Whilst at Reelsound, Electronic Arts (EA), contacted the film school to ask if anyone was interested in working on their cutscenes for one of their games, and the head of audio contacted me. I thought it was an interesting proposition, as I didn’t – at that time – know much about computer games, and once I’d visited the studio I thought it was a creative opportunity. So I accepted a short contract, then returned to films before EA offered me a full-time role. This was a pivotal time for games development. The PlayStation 1 was new, and new audio technology was being created to playback audio assets in-game. So being able to help shape this technology was incredibly exciting.
Every time a new project started a huge leap forward in technology was made. I started at EA as a Junior Sound Designer and worked my way up the ranks – eventually becoming Senior Audio Director working on the Harry Potter franchise. I really enjoyed my time at EA, it was a fabulous audio team and we won 2 BAFTA’s during this time.
The EA Brightlight studio finally closed its doors in 2011, after several waves of redundancies. I had always considered opening my own company but I had previously had a great position with job security. I understood audio but had a big learning curve ahead on what goes into managing your own business. I decided that this was the perfect time to give it a go.
In 2011 my company Soundcuts Ltd became official. It started off as just me, but as I gained more and more work I started growing the team, many of which were my colleagues during my time at EA. Although, as we’ve grown we’ve introduced new junior talent to the team. The team consists of less than 20 people but we have worked on some amazing projects like voice direction for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (UK/Athens), the music for a Netflix show Pinky Malinky and sound design and music editing for a James Bond cinematic installation in the Alps, plus involvement in various other games such as Quantum Break, The Room Franchise, Planet Zoo and some fabulous Indie titles.
One of the huge bonuses of owning my own business is that I get to build a team of people who are super talented and respect each other and create the companies identity. We’re a close-knit team, yet we also get to experience so many different companies and see different office cultures. Working across a variety of different formats (TV/Games/Installations) keeps the work fresh and brings the challenge of learning new pipelines and technology as each project is different. Plus, currently, we work remotely which is good for a work-life balance and was one of the key factors when starting the company with two small children.
Everything has been so incredible to be honest, we’ve worked on some amazing projects and I have been able to meet fantastic people.
In 2017 we won the Develop Award for Audio Creative Outsourcing and have since won another two awards (Develop and a TIGA), which has given us some great validation for the work we are doing, all of which I’m incredibly proud of, it means so much when it’s a company you’ve started from scratch. Another was being named in the GIBiz ‘Top 100 Influential Women In Games’, which was a massive surprise.
Another brilliant experience was when Austin Wintory, an accomplished composer, had a ‘BAFTA – Conversations with Screen Composers’ event at the Royal Albert Hall and wished to do an interview with someone who understood interactive music. I was called and asked if I could host the interview. I was terrified and honoured at the same time. It was a completely new experience for me, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What has been the most challenging experience for you?
Being a working Mum can be challenging! I’m very lucky to have a super supportive husband! When I started Soundcuts both my parents were seriously ill in hospital, my youngest had just started nursery (and was NOT enjoying it), and my eldest had just started primary school…So this was a very emotional time for me.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Work Experience – Make sure to get plenty of work experience as early as possible, that’s one of the main ones!
Network – Networking is not about thrusting your business card or showreel upon someone you’ve never met before. Actually, try to get to know the person and their work and show genuine interest in them and learn something from them.
No Ego – Teamwork is very important to me. We quite often work to tight deadlines and stress levels can be high. So it’s important that you’re working with people who you like and are professional and personable, no egos allowed!
Lastly, a lot of CVs look exactly the same, you should be determined to be different, go the extra mile.
To view further work Adele’s company has done check out their Souncuts Portfolio.
You will be able to contact and follow Adele on Twitter!