Here at Sound and Music, and particularly on the British Music Collection, we feel it is important to capture moments in our history; to create a space to reflect, and to celebrate and amplify individual voices.
In February, the British Music Collection, in partnership with the LGBTQ+ Music Study Group launched a programme of interventions and activities to mark LGBTQ+ History Month, a month-long celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, nonbinary and queer lives, culture, history and activism.
As part of this work, we ran an open call for new sonic works celebrating queer histories, sound and stories on the British Music Collection.
Our aim is to increase the number of LGBTQ+ identifying composers and music-creators represented and celebrated within the collection, and to make this online space a safe, more diverse and relevant place to discover new music.
The grant winners are Ellie Showering, Lunatraktors, Precious Oni, and Ruari Paterson-Achenbach and Sophie-Marie Niang.
Once completed, their new works will be uniquely hosted on the British Music Collection online platform and shared via our social channels and newsletters over the coming months. Get to more about the winners and their projects below.
Ellie is a Bristol based singer, performer and composer. Their collaborative performance work has ranged from intimate shows designed for an audience of one to sold out theatre tours across the UK and Europe. Ellie has worked with many amazing artists and companies including Verity Standen, Jocelyn Pook, Laila Diallo, Bea Roberts, NIE and Tobacco Factory Theatres.
Ellie’s compositions have been played on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Bristol and can be heard in theatre shows throughout the South-West. In their work Ellie is constantly looking for new ways to explore the human voice and they are absolutely delighted to be writing a new piece for the British Music Collection.
On top of their work in music and theatre, Ellie recently co founded Queer Space Bristol CIC – an organisation dedicated to programming creative workshops and events for LGBTQIA+ folks in the South West.
The project: “Christianity has been policing the bodies and sexual expression of queer people for centuries. This year the Church of England is reassessing how it treats the LGBTQIA+ community...but what about the legacy the Church has left us? A Mass for the Masses is a vocal A-capella piece written for queer people (but applicable to anyone who has felt controlled or sidelined by the Church). With dissonant, rich harmonies, combining contemporary classical and traditional plainsong styles, this piece is a celebration of humanity, self expression and loving who you are with an open message for those the Church has left behind.”
Lunatraktors are choreographer and percussionist Carli Jefferson, and nonbinary vocalist and composer Clair Le Couteur. Their 'broken folk' sound strips trad folk back to rhythm and voice. Clair's overtone techniques and four octave range combine with the hybrid of tap and body percussion that Jefferson developed after touring with Stomp. The pair turned heads in 2019 when their DIY debut This Is Broken Folk – recorded live in a viaduct arch by Ramsgate harbour – made it onto MOJO Magazine's Top Ten Folk Albums.
Jefferson’s compulsion to dance while drumming prompted Lunatraktors to put together a tonal percussion kit, providing both rhythmic and melodic elements to their sound. A double act in the old fashioned sense, Le Couteur’s channeling of multiple tragi-comic characters matches Jefferson’s hyper-expressive performance style. Reimagining British folk through a shared teenage absorption in flamenco, post-punk and trip hop, Lunatraktors have built up a passionate fanbase through performances at festivals, art galleries, museums, theatres and queer cabarets.
Recent commissions include contemporary folk songs commemorating Britain’s earliest female saint for Folkestone Museum, exploring a Roman ‘Lar’ statuette for Guildhall Museum, and a performance for a hoard of Bronze Age artefacts. Their new album The Missing Star releases on the Summer Solstice, 21.06.21.
The project: “Stamping and clapping breaks silence: anger, anxiety and grief become uplifting, energising. With two body percussionists, a vast polyrhythmic space opens. In overtone singing, one voice produces multiple tones. When two overtone singers work in reverberant space, eerie ‘lost voices’ appear. Now The Time is composed in relation to Anglo–Irish folk traditions, particularly keening and the neglected body of songs in 5/4 time. It addresses the gap in the folk music archive where trans and queer narratives should be. It is an act of mourning for silenced voices and stories, transforming erasure and violence into acceptance, transcendence and power.”
Precious Oni who musically identifies as MÉLOMAN3 is an alternative urban-jazz artist who experiments with Soul, Afro, Asian, British and R’N’B sounds. She grew up in South London and Portsmouth where she was raised on the sounds of Sade Adu, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes and Ms Dynamite. Often described as a lady with a “je ne sais quoi” feel she has aims to sweep her listen off their feet and into an alternative reality.
The project: MÉLOMAN3 aims to take listeners on a journey of connecting the mind, body and soul. After going through was she articulates as a spiritual awakening she shares subliminals of the connection of being, and expresses her experiences within her sexuality, Self-love and discovery.
Photo Credit: @pwrmagazine Creative Director- Jedidah M, Art Director - Rema Kahsay, Stylist - Stephanie Humphrey, Photographer - Esi Mongo, Makeup Artist - Angela Joao, Production Asst./AD - Olu Boyejo.
Ruari Paterson-Achenbach and Sophie Marie Niang
Sophie Marie Niang is a black feminist researcher and a member of the iris collective, a queer worldmaking collective, with Ruari Paterson-Achenbach. Her interests lie in cultural studies, black feminist thought, blackness in Europe, abolition, and worldmaking. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge, funded by an ESRC studentship, in which she uses an approach anchored in queer theory/queer of colour critique to study the lines of flight traced by black worldmaking practices in contemporary France, focusing on art, activism, and popular culture. She is also the features editor of Bad Form, an online and print literary review by and about Black, Asian and racialised community writers. She writes, often, and in different ways, and tries her hand at other creative practices, especially if someone will show her how to get started. Recently, this has been sound-making as part of the iris collective, and it has been very joyful. She is currently working on her first novel.
Ruari Paterson-Achenbach is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher. Their work engages with experimental sound practice to think about memory, resistance and the radical potentials of social life. With Sophie Marie Niang they are a member of the iris collective, a queer worldmaking collective. Together they are always looking for new ways to make and be with each other outside of the frameworks of capitalism, white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity. Ruari was recently a ‘New Creative’ and has produced works for the ICA and BBC. They have performed in spaces such as Tate Modern, London Contemporary Music Festival and the Heong Gallery. Ruari’s interests as a researcher and activist include Abolition, Queer Utopian thought, Anticolonial Praxis, and Sound Studies. Everything they do is indebted to Black Feminist thought, Queer of Colour Critique and Crip Interventions. Ruari is also 1/2 of experimental sound-making duo the mermaid café with Joanna Ward. They love to find joy and beauty in the everyday.
The project: “Any form of queer worldmaking starts with a recognition that the world is not enough. As a collective, we’re always looking towards otherwise and elsewhere, to spaces where we feel truly free. Where our bodies feel held and unencumbered. Where we can make without fear of failure or destitution. We’re constantly trying to find this space, uncovering its surfaces and edges, carving it out in our shared lives. For this project, the iris collective made a commitment to always embody this utopian ethos in the way we create – to always make in and for the space. We’re experimenting with forms of making sound and text which are generative without relying upon defined end-goals. We’re harmonising and looping together. We’re sharing songs and sounds we love, then destroying and remaking them. We’re writing letters to each other. We’re singing and cooking together. We’re concerned with process rather than outcome. We capture moments as we go, a form of messy archival practice and a reminder that time is not linear, that the future we desire is already emerging now. We’re sitting with the nourishing, affective parts of creating, and following them wherever they lead. And wherever that is, we want to take everyone with us.”