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Keep On Fighting

Keep On Fighting

During the months of September and October 2015, MID ran its second Community Exchange project connecting young people attending the Fusion Café at the YMCA Hayes, West London with immigration detainees being held at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre just down the road. 

Following the great success of the first project with the YMCA Hayes back in March 2015 feedback from the young people asked for one main thing: more! Oliver Seager from Music for Change returned to run this second project following popular demand from the young people and was joined by highly skilled fellow Music for Change musician Shammi Pithia.

Having engaged young adults between the ages of 18-25 in the first project this one sought to engage younger attendees aged 11-18. A couple of participants from the first project took on mentoring roles, using their previous experience of working with our artists to help bring out the best in their younger peers.

Shammi and Oliver travelled between Harmondsworth IRC & YMCA Hayes passing messages, lyrics and beats between the young people and detainees. The aim of the project was to create music that included input from both groups and that was inspired by the stories of the individuals taking part. A nice example of this can be found in the song ‘Keep on Fighting’ which emerged as a backing track during a jamming session with detainees. This was taken to the YMCA where artists worked with the young people on writing lyrics to go on top. After hearing the detainees’ stories, the young people found ways to empathise, give support, advice, and encourage detainees to stay strong. One brilliant piece of advice from an 11 year old YMCA participant was: “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Listen to the song below:

173 plays

Keep On Fighting

Hip hop, freestyle. rap

Reflecting on the themes of 'home' and 'family' the young people were asked to think about what it might feel like to have these things taken away, of course for some of the young people attending the YMCA these thoughts were based on lived experienced. This next song was the result of these discussions:

68 plays

Stronger than a Prayer

Hip hop, reggae

The next track was created by Summey at the YMCA. Summey had a very clear vision of what he wanted to create in a song. He wrote and recorded lyrics and instrumental accompaniments with the help of Shammi and Oliver. 

253 plays

Summey's Song

Rock, rap, hip hop

The fourth track on the album is centred on the detainees’ chorus “I want to know how you’re feeling out there” – an invitation to the other side to express how they are doing. One detainee took the opportunity to sing about a loved one he missed and couldn’t be with. One of the young people wrote a rap to open the track with, introducing himself and wishing the detainees well.

62 plays

If Loving You...

Pop, ballad

The next song was inspired by the initial communications between detainees and young people, where questions were recorded and sent to the detainees to find out more about them and their lives. The song began in the YMCA, where guitar and cajon parts were recorded and lyrics written. The young people wrote their raps based on what they had learned so far about the detainees, building sympathy with them, and also considered their own ambitions in life. “The paths are turning; choose the right one. Try and make sure you don’t get hurt; don’t hurt no one.” Edison, a detainee from Harmondsworth, answered the young people’s questions, and the detainees also contributed a piano part and chorus to the young people’s song.

63 plays

We Are All The Same

Questions and answers, rap

Fondly dubbed 'MID's first dance track' Living the High Life created following a discussion about what participants wanted for their lives and how they identify in relation to others. It started life in the YCMA where participants wrote the lyrics and one participant recorded the guitar part. The track was taken to the IRC where detainees their own material over the top, including an electric guitar part, bass line and conga part. Detainees also recorded their own version of the chorus to be added into the mix.

59 plays

Living the High Life

Dance, electronic

During the project both groups learnt skills in music technology, in this track the young people at the YMCA sampled a recording of a detainee singing that they had received from the IRC, and built the rest of the song around it. They wrote lyrics about their own ambitions and how they identify; all YMCA participants recorded verses on the track and added production on top.

53 plays

When I Get Older

Electronic, indie, hip hop, rap

The last track on the album is a cover of a classic recorded at Harmondsworth IRC. Edison played keyboard, Yaw played bass, and Tom played guitar and sang the solo vocals. It was a fun song that everybody knew, welcome as an alternative to freer jamming, which took up of most of the IRC sessions. The chorus was recorded separately in choir formation.

49 plays

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Folk rock

Through sharing their thoughts, both groups were able to learn about each other and understand one another’s lives in a very direct way. The result is a beautifully true album expressing the thoughts of young people living in the Hillingdon community and adults held in immigration detention nearby.