Here at Sound and Music and particularly on the British Music Collection, we feel it is important to capture this moment and create a space to reflect on COVID-19 in a creative way. After a nation-wide call for applications, which saw over 150 responses, we're excited to announce the winners of the 'Interpreting Isolation' grants, who will be presenting new works that respond creatively to this unique moment in our history.
The grant-winners are: Guoda Diržytė , Douglas MacGregor with George Ramsay, Tina Hitchens with Sam Francis, The Keeling Curve, Amahla and Sans Soucis, and Koichi Samuels.
The 6 works will be launched and hosted on the British Music Collection online and shared via our social channels and newsletters over the coming months. Get to know more about the winners and their projects below:
Koichi Samuels is an electronic musician, label owner, event promoter and academic researcher based in Northern Ireland. He has released and performed under the aliases “Koichi”, “Spires” (Phil Kieran & Koichi Samuels), and recently in his forthcoming project, “Tall Trees”, on labels such as Soma Records, Planet Rhythm, and his own experimental electronic music imprint, Resist-AV. The ethos of Resist-AV is to combine visual arts and music, experimental forms and electronics, resisting categories and definitions, crossing boundaries through creating challenging multidisciplinary and genre-blurring music releases. Koichi also writes about music and social inclusion as an academic researcher.
Koichi's project: "I have devised a participatory music project working with Junior Academy of Music (Belfast) pupils of ages 11-18, looking at the theme of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals "Leave No One Behind". This participatory composition will capture the ideas and dreams of these young people on the world at this time, aiming to create something a little bit optimistic and hopeful. Belfast based visual artist Dervla Hillan is creating an abstract music video responding to this new ambient music work."
Koichi said: "This grant has given me the opportunity to take positive action using my creative skill and abilities at this time of crisis. I have found it empowering and inspiring to be able to hatch a project responding to and interpreting isolation in this pandemic situation."
Tina Hitchens with Sam Francis
Tina Hitchens is a composer, sound artist and improviser who often works with artists from other disciplines. She is interested in the peripheries of sound; texture, space and extremes. Tina plays with Viridian Ensemble and Halftone, and is a commissioned artist for CANOPY. Collaborations have included Grafted Chorus for Future Perfect, Supernormal Festival and Amalgams.
Sam Francis is an arts producer for festivals inc. Supernormal and Outlands and member of collective BEEF in Bristol. She is interested in sounds, images and words; observations, snippets and moments as a way to connect with place, space and spirit. Sam is part of sound performance duo Tapsew.
Tina and Sam's project: "Allowing the water to connect us during this time of distance, we will meet separately by the water sources nearest to our homes in Bristol and Weston Super Mare at the changing times of high tide. We will observe, listen, look, meditate upon and respond to the water, the environment and surroundings to gather sound recordings, video, text and voice to create a new at-distance collaborative audio-visual work."
Tina and Sam said: "We feel honoured to be selected for an 'Interpreting Isolation' grant from Sound and Music. Making music with others is such an integral part of life, and so much has changed over recent weeks. But this is an opportunity to keep our respective practices going - to see how work can develop within new restrictions, and to find ways to stay connected through this collaboration."
Amahla and Sans Soucis
Soul singer-songwriter Amahla is an artist on an exceptional trajectory. Amahla entered 2019 as the winner of the PRS Lynsey De Paul Prize, an award given out to one outstanding emerging songwriter across the UK, and ended it with critical acclaim for her unique approach to lyricism, bold addressing of sociopolitical issues and her exceptional voice. All this has culminated in performances at The Great Escape Festival, The Jazz Cafe and The Royal Albert Hall, in addition to selling out two headline shows.
A timeless and unique songwriting interspersed with melancholy and hope. Sans Soucis’ sound draws inspiration from a number of genre defying artists such as Laura Mvula, St. Vincent and Lianne La Havas, bridging the gap between the pop and jazz world, with an all-embracing soulful and folk flavour. Receiving glowing reviews from veteran broadcasters such as Tom Robinson (BBC 6) and Chris Douridas (KCRW), as well as critical acclaim from Bandcamp and The Independent, Sans Soucis notable live appearances include supporting London based pianist Ashley Henry at EartH Theatre for EFG London Jazz festival and Nabihah Iqbal at Bush Theatre.
Amahla and Sans Soucis said: "We’re extremely excited to be working on our first collaboration together! Receiving the support of The British Music Collection to give a voice to isolation is an honour and a great incentive for us to continue knitting our legacy as female composers and songwriters"
Douglas MacGregor with George Ramsay
Douglas MacGregor is a London-based composer and writer who explores the gaps between traditional, classical, and experimental music. His music grapples with themes of place, memory, loss and grief and he has a particular research interest in ritual music from around the world. He primarily composes for solo instruments and small ensembles and has frequently worked with poets, dancers, and filmmakers.
George Finlay Ramsay is a visual artist who works across moving image, performance, music, collage & poetry. For the past 3 years he has been working with active volcanoes bringing books filled with regrets to burn in their mouths.
Douglas and George's project: "This will be a collaborative work exploring the necessity/process of isolation for renewal presented as a short film with Douglas MacGregor composing a new work for solo electric guitar and with multidisciplinary artist George Finlay Ramsay creating the visuals."
Douglas and George said: “ We are so pleased to be selected for this grant which gives us the opportunity to bring a new work to people at this time when art seems so necessary in our daily lives.”
Guoda Diržytė (aka Gong Girl) - is a Lithuanian-born experimental musical instrument designer, composer and sound artist currently living in Glasgow. Her creative practice mainly focuses on sound exploration via experimental musical instrument design and its use for making an original sound composition. Alongside, Guoda is creating short sound films and compositions for audio-visual material that focuses on self-identity and state of mind in contemporary society. For the ‘Interpreting Isolation’ project she will try to merge these two parts of her practice.
Guoda's project: "I will go in to total isolation, including from the internet, while making music using my own made instruments in order to explore how my mental state shifts during complete self-isolation."
Guoda said: "Knowing how difficult of a time it is, I feel nothing but grateful to be given the privilege of not worrying about paying my bills and rent. Sound and Music grant plays a big part in making this happen."
The Keeling Curve
The Keeling Curve is a recently formed electronic music duo comprising composer Will Frampton and violinist Rhiannon Bedford. Their music fuses synthesizers, found sounds, improvisation and tape manipulation. Turpentine Tree, their first E.P., is a dark meditation on the history and impacts of climate breakdown. The final track incorporates a statement due to be given in court by an Extinction Rebellion protester. The duo also contributed a soundtrack to a short film as part of Whatstick Theatre’s ‘Isolation’ project.
The Keeling Curve's Project: "We will use the money to purchase some much-needed recording equipment, as well as a keyboard which will allow us more scope for using synthesizers. We have also been able to commission some beautiful artwork by the amazing Catherine Jack."
The Keeling Curve said: "We are excited to have been selected to be part of this project and have the opportunity to capture the unique and uncertain times we are living through. Having recently finished our first E.P, this commission will help us take the next steps as a duo in creating work informed by ecological issues."