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A former University of Chester student, who now works at the institution, has found a creative way to cope with the pressures of social isolation and offer words of reassurance to current students.

In the same week that international stars joined forces in the One World:Together at Home concert, Ben ‘Sven’ Stafford has written and produced his own potential hit from the confines of his house.

Sven, originally from Glossop, studied Popular Music at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University. He has created a song titled ‘Temporary Virtual World’ with an accompanying video, which he has uploaded to YouTube, to help people through social distancing and the lockdown period.

Sven graduated in 2018 and now works full time as a Technician in the Music, Media and Performance Technical Team at the University’s Kingsway Campus. He said: “I was discussing the current situation with Ben Broughton, Head of Music, Media and Performance at the University, and trying to find something positive we could do at a time like this as musicians. At the worst of times, technology has worked hand in hand with entertainment to bring us all closer together. I hope my song will provide some light relief and reassurance for students who might need to see a familiar face. It’s tricky to say what impact rapping about loo roll and zooming in to your boss’s bald head might have, but hopefully it will just let them know that we are here for them!

“The song started with the bass line and was my third attempt at writing a song for our students. Ben and I both felt this one captured the transition from physical to virtual learning, and when he heard it, he wanted to play guitar on it! After many lectures from Ben over the years on music, it was great to work on something with him.”

Ben Broughton, Head of Department for Music, Media and Performance, at the University, also contributed guitar to the song and features in the video with a guitar solo. He said: “Sven is a fantastic member of my team and, as you can hear on this track, a massively talented musician and songwriter. It was great fun to play guitar on this song, and to work together in this Temporary Virtual World!”

Sven added: “As we’ve seen in the past few weeks in the media, professional actors and presenters have become their own producers and camera operators, and singers have become their own sound engineers. We wanted to put something together to show students what you can do with limited technology, in my case I was trying to green screen – I had to improvise and use a red bedsheet!”

Drop-in sessions are currently still running virtually on Wednesdays for Music, Media and Performance students. Staff aim to support students who are currently using their own resources and equipment, but welcome new ideas and technical conversation.

Sven said: “The virtual equivalent of these sessions has shifted in content and delivery but I’m hoping that this element of improvisation will lead us to some very unique and exciting work this year! Thinking creatively about technology can contribute enormously to people’s understanding and progression within their discipline.”

The YouTube video includes drone footage captured by the University’s very own AV (Audio Visual) team. You can view the video here.


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