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Sounds Phenomenal Recordings

Peace Not War Japan


Sounds Phenomenal - A History

In The Beginning 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Credits


In the beginning

Sounds Phenomenal begins

The Free Big Week Thingy

Music Industry Conferences, live events, technology skills workshops, recording opportunities - since its birth in 1996, Sounds Phenomenal has been many things to many people.

Two messages have emerged from its lifetime that remain strong and clear. The first is the importance of the role played by the arts in a community, by giving value and a sense of worth to individuals, and providing an opportunity for expression that can transcend circumstance.

The second is the value to musicians of ‘helping them to help themselves’. With, for example, the Music Industry Conferences, musicians have found that meeting representatives from the industry to which they aspire to be a great opportunity to gather useful information, network with professionals, and investigate areas of the music business of which they had no knowledge.

To explain how these two distinct values have emerged, a little history is in order. This will by no means be an exhaustive history just yet, more the seed of an archive that will grow organically, as extra material is added and as new events happen under the Sounds Phenomenal banner. In the meantime…

In the beginning…

The Hangleton & Knoll Project is a pioneering community development project, servicing the twin estates in West Hove, Sussex. By pooling its community workers with a team of detached youth workers, it can provide an umbrella of support for the range of the community’s needs.

Detached Youth Work involves meeting the young people of the community on their territory and under their own terms – taking place on the streets of the estates, in the pubs, or in local parks. Their needs will often be requests for specific advice, e.g. benefits, housing, or employment and training issues. There are also other times when young people express frustration at the lack of facilities in their area. This is where the detached youth workers can begin to develop new pieces of work with them, with the intention of allowing the participants to take ownership of their ideas and eventually manage their own groups.

A youth music initiative emerged from these early interactions with the local young people that was funded by the East Sussex Substance Misuse Panel and Hove Borough Council. Three young women and four young men formed the KTF Rappers. They recorded material together in a professional studio and, alongside other young people, performed at a BBC Children in Need fundraising event in Brighton at Christmas 1996.

Three of the crew later attended an Artswork conference on ‘Young People At Risk’, in London, which led to Hangleton & Knoll becoming one of four national target areas for the YPAR scheme and the giving of an initial grant of £1500. This went towards new music projects in the area that were run under the moniker ‘Sounds Phenomenal’ (as a multi-agency partnership between the Hangleton & Knoll Project, Brighton College of Technology, the Youth Service and the Hangleton & Knoll Community Festival).


Sounds Phenomenal begins

Sounds Phenomenal was set up as a result of twelve young people who began meeting in June 1996, and who decided to have a public meeting to get a project up and running. Its aims were to give young people the opportunity to channel their energies into (then) non-mainstream art forms such as rap, drum & bass, techno, graffiti and slam poetry. They would meet regularly to explore ways forward, to get involved in the traumas of fundraising, to negotiate space to practise and perform, but mostly to sing, make music and have a good time. The group adopted their constitution at the launch party, which was held in October of that year and attended by 80 people.

Other events soon followed, such as a ‘Party In The Park’ held at Knoll Recreational Ground and attended by 200 people, and an invitation to Raw Material (a London-based music technology and production company) to run music workshops on the estate, in areas such as sampling, scratching, singing and DJing. The work with Raw Material ultimately led to ‘The Free Big Week Thingy’, a mix of workshops and live events held during the February half term of 1997.

The Free Big Week Thingy

The daily workshops that were run included:  

·       Street dance

·       Graffiti workshops

·       Guitar and keyboard sessions

·       Drum workshops

·       Singer/songwriter sessions

·       Rap and slam poetry

·       MC and DJ workshops

·       Visits to and a session in a local studio

Tutors were used in all of the workshops, comprising trained and experienced facilitators from across Brighton and Hove and local musicians as volunteers who also brought along their own equipment.

The young people who attended gained much from the experience by having something positive to do every day, raising self-esteem, acquiring new skills, working co-operatively, making use of the community centre and feeling a sense of motivation and accomplishment.

A performance party was held as the culmination of the week’s events, with people performing music they had written, graffiti art produced at the workshops going on display, a young people’s café project selling refreshments and members of the community both young and old coming out to support the event. Overall, almost 200 people attended/benefited from the week.

It also received positive coverage in the local press and footage was even broadcast as a feature on a community cable TV station, creating a sense of achievement for the young people involved and reaffirming a sense of belief in their abilities.

The KTF crew and two other local musicians, with the help and support of Sounds Phenomenal, performed at that summer’s Hangleton Festival, which generated more interest in the project.

MusicZone, a local Music Technology & Production company, took over where Raw Material left off, also working with a local female vocal group called Tenacious, who initiated and organised the Sounds Phenomenal Christmas Showcase.

Funding for the Christmas Showcase was granted from the Arts Trust of Brighton & Hove and The Hedgecock Bequest. Professional flyers and posters were designed, printed and distributed for the first time. Live music was provided by singers, bands, and drum & bass/hardcore DJs and MCs. Over 90 young people and parents from the estates and surrounding areas attended the event, with a recording made of the whole evening that was produced for release.


© Sounds Phenomenal, 2003