Homegrown rising DJ & Producer Ryussi, real name Zoe Thorpe, is set to make waves at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Luton on the Introducing stage later this month.

But Zoe didn’t get this gig by chance. We discovered that being a former student at Luton Sixth Form played a key role in her journey to this incredible opportunity.

Inspired by her story, we took Zoe on a trip down memory lane, taking her back to her former college to help inspire the next generation of music students.

During the visit, Zoe bumped into old faces left and right. From a catering assistant who recognised her as a former classmate of her son, to former classmates now working at the college, and even one of her music tutors.

She told us how Luton Sixth Form played a key role in getting her music out there.

“I remember back in Luton Sixth Form College, BBC Three Counties set up a careers day stand. After class, I went to speak to Gareth Lloyd and asked him how I’d be able to get the music I was uploading heard. He responded, ‘just keep uploading it and someone will come across it’.”

Zoe Thorpe, Ryussi

We set up a Q&A session with the college’s music students, where Zoe shared tips from her own journey and how she scored the Big Weekend gig.

A heartwarming moment happened when Zoe mentioned the name of one of the first people to play her music. Plot twist – his son was a student in the room and shouted, “That’s my dad!” Everyone was delighted by the connection, and he added, “My dad recently spoke about you with the whole Big Weekend thing, and I hope to follow in your footsteps.” How’s that for a full-circle moment?

“It’s important for our young people to see that dreams can be achieved here in Luton. Seeing someone who has walked in their very footsteps, studied in their colleges and has lived in their hometown is powerful. Zoe is just one excellent example of homegrown talent we need to shout more about!”

Anisah Akhtar, Step Forward Luton Ambassador and Head of Student Experience and Corporate Communications at Luton Sixth Form

To cap off the inspiring session, students were treated to an exclusive preview of Ryussi’s upcoming DJ set at the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Luton.

“We were delighted to welcome back our alumni Zoe. Our students were left inspired after hearing Zoe’s journey and were keen to follow suit.”

Altaf Hussain, Principal and CEO of Luton Sixth Form College
ryussi at luton sixth form

Catch Ryussi performing on the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend Introducing stage later this month on Saturday 25 May, at Stockwood Park.

For more of the latest Big Weekend Luton news and content, visit our Big Weekend page. 

About the Author
Laura Redmond

Laura is a passionate supporter of the Step Forward Luton campaign and a Place Activation and Marketing Coordinator for Luton Council. Armed with a journalism degree and unwavering love for her university town, she often pens positive blogs that spotlights the best of Luton. From charity work to market management, Laura's professional journey has explored every corner of Luton. And when she's not busy being a marketing maven, she's out on a culinary adventure, unearthing the town's hidden foodie gems.