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HSDC former student Laurel talks about her career with HSDC music students

March 3, 2021


Last autumn HSDC South Downs former student Laurel Arnell-Cullen released an exclusive video to Vero, making the transition from, according to GQ magazine, ‘indie darling’ to ‘synth-pop queen’.

Laurel visited with current HSDC students, albeit virtually, to talk about where she has gone since she left the College. The singer-songwriter and producer started to record songs, and had interest from many record labels before she left the College in 2012:

“I met someone named Simon through one of my lecturers Kev Smith (South Downs Campus), that’s how things kicked off. I’d been gigging for a while but hadn’t really had any contact with anyone in the music industry. I had interest from a bunch of labels and organised a day to go to London with my mum.”

Laurel spent most of the hour and a half session answering questions that had been submitted in advance. These ranged from coming up with lyrics to fit a melody,

“lyrics have always been the heart of my songs as I came from a ‘folky’ background. I have a method – my inspiration comes from other people’s texts. ​I even read poetry.

“You have to listen to yourself, you have to stop pushing, stop trying and do something different. It’s really good to break that creative time up and focus on more than one thing in order to be productive.”

Over the years Laurel has become more business savvy.

“The record label owns your master recording and your publisher owns your publishing recording unless you go out on your own. Everyone gives you a different payment – Spotify, radio – you need to know where your money is coming from.”

And Laurel’s advice for those wishing to enter the music business?

“You need to be business savvy and know what is going on. Dreams are like manifestations. If you can keep it in your eyesight, you are on your way already.”

To listen to Laurel’s latest single, go to

Click here to find out more about the music courses on offer at HSDC.

Photo: the cover of Laurel’s latest single “Best I Ever Had”.