In February and March 2018, Music In Detention (MID) delivered a Community Exchange project with a series of 12 participatory music-making workshops for detainees at Campsfield House IRC and participants from the My Normal Music Project, an inclusive music group for LBGTQ+ and Disabled young people based at the Ark-T Centre in Cowley, Oxford.
Oliver Seager and Anna De Mutiis from Music for Change facilitated the workshops, bringing their respective skills in singing, song writing, drumming, rap, spoken word and production to the project. They were supported by MID volunteers Max Cohen & Imogen Flower.
Anna and Oliver spent afternoons at the IRC working with detainees before going on to Ark-T in the evening, to work with the young people. Musical and lyrical material produced at each location was taken between the two groups by the artists, enabling participants to share messages of mutual support, understanding and compassion.
Lyrics, melodies and grooves travelled back and forth between the IRC and Ark-T, and the two groups created new material inspired by each others' ideas: for example the young people wrote powerful lyrics about feeling marginalised, as well as writing messages, encouraging people to think before using certain phrases or words that might be hurtful. Detainees then performed some of these ideas brilliantly, translating them into a rap form. One detainee even translated an entire chorus into Kikuyu, his mother tongue. Other times the young people recorded some of the melodies and grooves that detainees had come up with in previous sessions. This was done in the small, but amazing recording studio at Ark-T. Both groups shared ideas about solidarity, hope, freedom, affection, mutual help and understanding and reflected on how everyone is on a personal journey to achieve these things. Both groups also contemplated the fact that not being treated as an equal has an impact on their, and consequently everyone else's, mental health.
The project, which culminated in a live performance to the local Cowley community as part of a Camerados Neighbourhood Kitchen event at Ark-T, has encouraged and inspired participants from both groups to continue creating lyrics and music.
Album recorded and produced by Oliver Seager & Anna De Mutiis
All tracks created by detainees at Campsfield House IRC and Minty, Jamie, Rosie & Sarah from The My Normal Music Project.
Artwork by Minty
Layout design by dB Masters