Sounds Phenomenal - A History
In the beginning
Sounds Phenomenal begins
The Free Big Week Thingy
Industry Conferences, live events, technology skills workshops, recording
opportunities - since its birth in 1996, Sounds Phenomenal has been many
things to many people.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
daily workshops that were run included:
Guitar and keyboard
Rap and slam poetry
MC and DJ workshops
Visits to and a session
in a local studio
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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