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Student project hits #3 on Australian iTunes music charts

When local Gold Coast radio personality Christo was challenged by country music star Casey Barnes to produce a country song in just three minutes, he turned to TAFE Queensland for help.

By TAFE Queensland

The 102.9 Hot Tomato breakfast show host collaborated with music and sound production students from TAFE Queensland’s Coomera campus to record the vocals, play instruments, and input creative direction to produce a high-quality track in one of the campus' recording studios.

Within weeks of it being officially released, the song titled ‘I don’t care (I want my dog back)’ hit #3 on the Australian iTunes country music charts behind world-class artists Keith Urban and Dolly Parton.

Eighteen-year-old music student, Taylia Puna contributed to the project with backing vocals and presented ideas for instruments to give the track a more country sound.

“It was such an amazing experience to see how a song can come together in such a short timeframe and it was rewarding to be part of a project from the very start to hearing the final track,” said Taylia.

“Before this experience I’d never seen behind the scenes of how a song is mixed, so it was eye-opening to comprehend how much effort is required to produce a song.”

The Maudsland teen, who is accessing the State Government's JobTrainer funding to study the Diploma of Music Industry (CUA50815) said the experience was inspiring and unexpected.

“I was surprised to get such an interactive real-world experience this early on in my studies. We were only a couple of weeks into the course but it really helped me understand more about the production side of music and taught me different tricks to help develop my skills,” she said.

Meanwhile, sound production student Nathan Bruen said he got so much out of the experience just from observing his teacher manage the project.

“I loved how Ben, our teacher and head producer for the project, included every student, listened to everyone’s ideas and trialled them. The way he nurtured Christo’s nerves on his vocal work while still teaching a class was absolutely incredible,” said Nathan.

“A good producer is so important and that was a huge lesson from this exercise, as it was up to the production team to mould and shape the original idea into a country song that reached its full potential.”

“Ben certainly demonstrated his industry knowledge and professionalism. He exposed us to his real world capabilities from his experience working with some of the country’s biggest names in music, yet he remained humble and took the time to explain the process to the class to enhance our own skills.”

“Overall, the exercise helped me with the psychology of the studio, producing the best performance from the client, managing client expectations, and all the technical aspects that come with it.”

The 38-year-old from Helensvale contributed backing vocals and some production ideas with guitars and said he was honoured to be part of it all.

“When I heard the final song for the first time I was so proud of what we’d achieved as a team and how well it all came together,” said Nathan.

“Having this experience so early on in the course was a massive learning curve and very inspirational for the entire class, we’re still talking about it weeks later.”

Nathan said having a song that he worked on aired on radio and in the charts, all before graduating, is a massive achievement and a testament to how well TAFE Queensland delivers training.

“I'm so proud that my portfolio of experience is so diversified just by being a part of this course,” he said.

“My experience so far has exceeded all expectations. It's been one of the best decisions of my entire life — I should have started this course a long time ago!”

After the success of the track, Christo returned to the Coomera campus to collaborate with TAFE Queensland’s screen and media students to produce the music video.

The two-day shoot took place at Warner Bros. Movie World with students provided access to costumes and locations around the park to use for the production.

Together with their teacher the students produced a 3 minute 40 second clip and Christo was blown away with the end result.

“It has gone way past what I thought might be possible,” said Christo.

“The clip is just great. For such a polished outcome you wouldn’t think the students only just started their screen and media course in January.”