The Chronicle caught up with local performer Jinja Cat this week to catch up about the Soundsystem Project and the resulting song and music video that was produced from the youth workshop. The musiv video for the song, Anti-Lonely was premiered to audiences at the Old School Arts centre cinema last week.
Tell us a little about the project and what has been happening so far?
Formed in 2017 in Scotland, the Soundsystem Project is an initiative centred around engaging young people in musically-driven creativity and technical skills via the DIY soundsystem culture that originated from Jamaica. Participants work together to design build and operate their own transportable 12-volt soundsystem, and take part in DJing, MCing, Songwriting, Live Performance, Music Production & the creation of Music Videos.
Back in the summer of 2019 two facilitators from the project in Scotland -Tom Spirals and Anders Rigg – connected with their music network here in New Zealand offering the opportunity for their programme delivery during their next visit downunder and what eventuated was the Raglan Youth Soundsystem workshop 2020 with 18 of our local youth taking part.
Due to many people’s combined efforts (Auckland and locally) plus donations of equipment, and our funders backing the whole thing, our community was able to capture this unique opportunity.
Out of the process the Soundsystem Project NZ limb was formed, and which is now looking to continue on, localise and diversify the initiative here in Aotearoa.
The transportable 12v soundsystem, now dubbed the Whaingaroa Community Soundsystem, is also forging it’s own path forward into the future as a catalyst tool for further youth and community led initiatives (and good times dancing!)
It’s a system with a lot of heart and potential, and we envision it becoming a positive (and memorable) thread in the fabric of our town’s youth culture and musical character over the coming years. So watch this space.
The resulting release, Anti-Lonely, is an original composition. Can you tell us a little about the process that rangatahi went through to create this song and the resulting music video?
The song “Anti-Lonely’ was created and recorded collaboratively in one evening session of the workshop and the content was spontaneous and in the moment.
After deciding as a group what the tempo would be, the rangatahi split into two creative groups – one to craft the lyrics & set the chords, the other to develop the instrumental production.
The lyricists brainstormed topics and chose something everyone can relate to at times – feeling alone. A song structure and ‘story’ arc to run through it, were set and then individuals were designated their own part of the song to write for eg. Verse 1, chorus, or bridge. In the room next door the instrumental was being made, with the youth using drum machine pads, keyboards and recording their own ‘found-sounds’ into the DAW to experiment with. Once the development time was up the lyricists entered the instrumental den and were given the ‘thrown in the deep end’ news that they would be recording their written parts right there and then. Such great sports!
Overnight Anders & Tom tweaked the production and mix. The next day we got to listen to the track as a draft of the finished work, pending any changes if the youth really wanted that to happen. Everyone was buzzing on that first listen, it was such a brilliant moment. The song had a magic about it, authentic and rootsy Raglan. It was a crack up listening to a few of the rangatahi who were thoroughly shocked that they had made a song that sounded so good.
That next day the group kept up the pace and actually wrote a second song – Love Step – in the same process but with the two groups swapped around. That one was inspired by dubstep 140 tempo and is a great song too! However we chose Anti-Lonely for making the video.
The video ideas and story board were created by the group the next evening, and then after school the next day we set about the filming at the school and Kopua with the youth involved in all the elements – acting, filming, and directing. It was a huge achievement that day. Dominico Zapata, who was facilitating as head-cameraman, then did the video editing post-project.
The pandemic kicked in not long after, and so we waited until August to get everyone together again and give the rangatahi a private screening of their creation, as well as the doco on the project, before doing a community launch and public release.
What were some of the highlights from the project?
On the open day just before the project week started the soundsystem was brought into Volcom Lane and the youth got their first experience stringing it up, which basically means connecting up the battery to amp cable, and then the amp to speaker cables. They came in super keen, lining up and hungry to get hands on. It was a great sign of the week to come! Then we all carried it down to Bow St jetty, played tunes and hung out with friends. With the soundsystem being 12v transportable, running off a battery, we can take it anywhere.
The soundsystem ‘haul and string up’ relay race on the b-ball court was hilarious. The group split into two teams raced to see how fast, yet super carefully, each group could disconnect, transport to the other end of the court, and reconnect the amp and speaker stack. A bit of box girl and box boy training. The end of the filming day also felt really special. We were at the skate bowl filming the last scene that was of the crew dancing next to the soundsystem and a whole bunch of unexpected and fun extras joined in with us. It was a stunning golden summer sunset, the place felt alive with charge, there was a vibe! And it continued on with the soundsystem staying to play the music for a pop-up dance & circus collective performance taking place in the bowl that night.
How did the Music on the Big Screen night go?
We had a great turn out and response, and the cinema setting was impressive with the big screen and Dolby stereo sound providing excellent quality visual and audio impact for the music videos. There was some very satisfying sub-woofer moments! Thanks to the Old School Arts Centre for having us.The aims of this event were to showcase the ‘Anti-Lonely’ video to our community, inspire and educate the rangatahi with Raglan’s stellar homegrown musical talent in a unique way that also related back to their video making experience, and cultivate our Whaingaroa Community Soundsystem’s vision that “music brings everyone together”. It was a success.
Any thanks and or mentions?
Soundsplash, Creative Communities – Waikato Disctrict Council, Solscape & Rollercoaster – the funders for the February programme. Raglan Area School – for providing the venue and supporting all the way.Everyone on the organising and facilitating team – you know who you are. Ahurei Vibes!
‘Anti-Lonely’ by AHUREI VIBES (music video): https://youtu.be/i0zslh5Zrkk
Soundsystem Project doco: https://youtu.be/kDZirHDCdqc