Creative Minds: Beyond Robert Gordon's College

The last few years has seen a rise in the number of our pupils who venture into the world of the Arts after leaving school. We caught up with two former pupils to hear more about their creative journeys.

Katy Johnston (Katy J), Class of ‘13, is a Scottish radio DJ and broadcast journalist based in Glasgow.

She hosts Capital FM Scotland’s popular drivetime show, ‘Getting Scotland Home’ every weekday from 4-7pm and has interviewed everyone from the First Minister to the winner of Drag Race UK! Recently named one of the Radio Academy’s ‘30 Under 30’, Katy has gone on to do some great work since leaving RGC in 2013.

After leaving the College, Katy went on to complete her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and credits Gordon’s for nurturing her creativity early on. Taking English and Drama to Advanced Higher and participated in many school shows and Chamber Choir concerts. Following her studies, the now radio DJ went on to complete a postgraduate degree in Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University before landing her dream job in radio in 2019.

Since taking over at drivetime, Katy has consistently delivered engaging and compelling radio across the Capital network, and it is something she is extremely proud of! During the pandemic, Katy provided listeners across Scotland with both essential updates (including an hour-long special with Nicola Sturgeon) and escapism (light-hearted interviews with the stars of Line of Duty, Love Islanders and Drag Race Queens). A key example of this is Katy’s interview with Dr Alex George during Mental Health Awareness Week where the pair discussed the impact of Covid on the mental wellbeing of young people, signposting listeners towards vital support available in Scotland.

When talking about her time at the college, Katy said: “I loved my time at Gordon’s. The friends I made at RGC are for life and the skills I developed at school gave me the confidence to pursue my dream career. I’m so grateful!”

Daniel Kemshell, Class of '14, is a guitarist and composer based in London.

After obtaining his BMus(Hons) Jazz Guitar with First-Class Honours from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, he went on to complete a Master of Music in Jazz with Distinction at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance. Focussing on the fields of improvisation, composition and contemporary music on guitar, he has been described as “a very promising soloist” (London Jazz News) and “an impressive young guitarist with a lovely tone” (Birmingham Jazz).

To date, he has worked as a collaborator in an eclectic range from Standard repertoire to electronic music–performing and recording with a variety of artists including Xhosa Cole, Olly Chalk, Jasmin Kent Rodgman, Hansu-Tori and Roman Lewis. Last year, Daniel was the guitarist in ‘Dreamerfly, and other stories’–a 45-minute experimental film combining contemporary music with animation by Shiyi Li. The work premiered at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (Coventry) in March 2021 and toured the UK in the autumn season.

More recently, Daniel spoke with Advanced Higher Music pupils at RGC who thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his musical journey since leaving the gates of Gordon’s.

Daniel said: “It was an honour to meet virtually with the AH music students at Robert Gordon’s College. It was an opportunity to provide insight into topics like composition, nurturing creativity and managing a career as a self-employed musician. Much of my early artistic development is owed to the vast opportunities for activity with the school Big Band, Choir, Ceilidh Band and Concert Band. I’d like to pass on my thanks to the Music Department staff and peripatetic tutors for their inspiration, and to the wider Gordonian community for the diverse educational experience I received during my time at RGC.”

Read Katy and Daniel's full spotlights on page 6 and 7 in the Pelican Magazine below: