Interview: Julian Altrock | ICMP Erasmus student

Berlin music student Julian Altrock tells all about his experiences as an exchange student with ICMP...


As a leading international music school, ICMP is proud to not only have a rich and diverse student population but enjoy great partnerships with many music education providers from all over the world. 

Berlin's SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HDPK) school is one of ICMP's partners and an establishment we run an exchange programme with. The school's popular music student Julian Altrock has enjoyed rich and varied experience within music so far and added to it by visiting ICMP earlier in the year.

He draws on a rich pool of influences to inform his variety of projects. Here we find out more about Julian's experiences with us and London... 

What led you to undertake the semester at ICMP? 

I think it’s important to always look for new ideas and inspiration.

Taking a step out of my comfort zone and moving to a new city filled with music seemed appealing to me. I knew a few artists from England and London but living is different from hearing about a place or visiting it. I wanted to experience a new city, meet new people and experience a different approach of studying music.

From all the partner universities in Europe, ICMP was my first choice, because the history of music in London really fascinated me and I wanted to inhale the spirit of the city."

Could you talk about your experiences? What were the highlights of your trip?

Well in an educational kind of way my highlight was the songwriting module. I really learned a lot and got heaps of new ideas by attending these classes. Being in a native English country was really helpful for English songwriting. But even without the language experience, the songwriting module was really well designed. 

I think it is especially difficult to teach something as vague as songwriting. It is more a discussion and exchange of experiences between the professor and the students rather than a strict lesson. In my class with Oli Rockberger I particularly felt that exchange and it was one of the best songwriting classes I’ve ever had. In a personal way, I primarily enjoyed the cultural scene in London. I went to bars with a big range of different musicians, visited museums, strolled through the city, Camden Town, Notting Hill and many more areas. London really is an amazing place and I enjoyed being its guest.

What were the most important things you learned from the experience? 

Well, I got the feeling that I still have to process a lot of the things I experienced, but I’m gonna name a few:

Never rent without a contract. When Covid-19 arrived in London and I got sick, my landlord kicked me out of my apartment. Up to today, she didn’t pay back the money I paid her in advance.

Don’t be shy. I am a little shy when it comes to talking to or playing in front of music students. Even though I made a lot of new friends at ICMP and got out of my comfort zone, I still think I have some room for improvement.


How was London's music scene compared to Berlin? 

London and Berlin are both cultural hotspots and in both cities, you can go to heaps of events. For me, the difference is in the style of music and live events. In Berlin, we have a lot of international acts, EDM music and famous clubs. In London, the music is still a little bit more handmade so to speak and I was really amazed by the live stages beneath some of the bars I went to.

In those bars, a singer-songwriter would play right after a metal band followed by a pop act. I really enjoyed this variety! Of course, we also have similar bars in Berlin, but in London, it is more common.

On the other hand, both cities have a big pop-music scene and many successful artists who live, work and get inspired by the vibe of these amazing places. I am really happy I had the chance to experience both.

Did you expand your network/undertake any collaborations while you at ICMP? 

Yes! I definitely expanded my network and I hope that a few collaborations will happen in the future. Unfortunately, my visit to ICMP got interrupted by the Covid-19 virus and I even got infected. Because of this situation, already planned collaborations and sessions were cancelled. But I’m sure in a few months from now after I am fully recovered, I will be able to approach some of the ideas we had. I’m planning on doing some collaborative writing sessions and some ICMP students were very interested in playing a gig in Berlin. So these are some postponed ideas for the future.

What's the best piece of advice you've received about working in music? 

It’s not really a piece of advice someone said out loud to me, but I think the most important things I’ve learned are:

Get out of your comfort zone! But be yourself! Stay who you are in your soul, but allow yourself to grow into who you want to become as a person and/or artist. It sounds cheesy but it’s true :-)"

What current projects are keeping you busy? 

Well, I’m not gonna lie to you guys. At the moment I am having a pretty difficult time. It takes longer than I thought to recover from Covid-19 for me and I had to postpone some projects I was really eager to work on. At the same time, I started to do some work from home and recorded guitar tracks for the new singles of a K-pop artist and this English singer Reuben Grey. That was kind of a new experience having the producer with me in the room over Skype while recording into my own DAW. The possibilities in the digital world are just crazy, but I’m really happy about being able to work during this difficult time.

Watch Julian perform with his vocal group EMMA.

Student Information Centre

ICMP is committed to helping you start your music career with confidence.

As a new member of the ICMP family, our Student Information Centre will give you all the information you need to know about starting your student experience in September.

If you have any questions, get in touch with our friendly team by calling us on 020 7328 0222, sending us an email, or using Live Chat on any page.

by ICMP staff writer
August 18, 2020
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