Musical youth

Kendra Inman visits a project in south London where a project is
helping young people create a CD showcasing their own performance
and production talents.

While the producers of Fame Academy and Pop
were auditioning the nation’s wannabes this summer,
over in Lewisham, south London, young people were getting a taste
of what life in the music business is like for the industry’s
many foot soldiers.

Twenty-four people aged from 14 to 18 had the opportunity to
write, compose and produce music as part of a music production
programme funded by the Positive Activities for Young People
programme via the London East Connexions partnership. The
youngsters on the scheme have been in contact with the youth
justice system or have been disadvantaged in some other way.

The project is organised by 2 Deep Love Unlimited, described by
co-ordinator Michelle Gibb as “a social enterprise with a
commercial arm” that includes a record label. Over the summer the
youngsters tried out all aspects of music production with the aim
of producing a finished CD.

They came from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Gibb says:
“What they had in common was their commitment to the scheme. They
worked hard and stayed consistent and focused.”

It may sound like fun but there is lots of hard work involved,
says Gibb. “They have to think about what they’re doing after
they’ve left the studio. They have to talk to each other,
plan what they’re going to do and learn to work in

Gibb says 2 Deep Love Unlimited set out to develop young talent
and give troubled youngsters a means of self-expression, but at the
same time offer careers advice. The music production course covered
audio engineering, DJ mixing, voice building and vocal techniques,
lyric writing and recording sessions.

“Many people have hopes and dreams of making it in the music
industry. But not everyone is going to get to the top. Only a tiny
number do.” For the rest there are other opportunities. “There are
many roles in the music business. Everything from being a DJ, to
promoting gigs, booking acts for shows and being an agent. As well
as the production side,” she says.

“But for those who are serious about working, the scheme is a
way of getting them really focused. They have to learn to consider
other people’s talents and find out what they themselves lean
towards,” she adds.

Youth music is often criticised for the glorification of
violence and gun culture. And although 2 Deep Love Unlimited
specialises in urban and dance music, when it comes to writing
lyrics these topics are out. The group took this aspect of the
project one step further and produced a track called Stop the Wars.
“The track is really good and by producing it we encouraged them to
think about their lives from a different perspective,” says

The finished CD complete with pictures and credits may be put on
release to the wider community if funding can be found.

Connexions sent young people to interview the participants about
whether they gained anything useful from the scheme. The feedback
was overwhelmingly positive. With this in mind the team hopes to
take the summer programme a step further and is talking to
Connexions about the possibility of setting up a modern
apprenticeship scheme and further programmes so that more young
people can find similar inspiration in music.

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