Tag Archives: Refugees

Yasmin Kadi (interview)

Originally from Sierra Leone, Yasmin Kadi brings to the world fun loving beats with a layer of messages that resonate the importance of always being your true self. Having had to flee her home land at a young age Yasmin learned that the world can be a cruel place. She never gave up though and fought to do what she loved which was making music and helping others. I contacted Yasmin who was kind enough to tell me more about her upcoming album, her activism and some Sierra Leone music recommendations.

 

For those not familiar with your work, who is Yasmin Kadi?

I’m an Afrobeats/pop singer-song writer chosen by BBC Introducing as some of Londons best new music. And I’m originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa.

How did you get into making music?

I’d always written songs from a very early ago and even though I didn’t produce beats then, I constantly wrote top lines and melodies.

How much music was around your youth? Did you grow up with a strong presence of music around you?

My dad was a huge music lover, and always played the likes of Bob Marley, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers etc. He used to play a whole mixture of generations and in every genre of music. Good music was good music lol.

“If musicians are looking to make positive change in the world through their music, I would say stay true to your own sound and who you are. Do not try and sound like the current and biggest selling music if that is not you. Diversity and difference encourages people, especially the young generation. It encourages them to be themselves and be OK with being themselves and feel they are good enough.”

In previous interviews you have spoken about having to flee your home country of Sierra Leone with your family when you were young. Do you direct those events and the events since then into your music or do you rather use the music as an escape from that? Or a mix of both?

It’s a mixture of both. As artists and writers, some of our work is biographical and some fictional. Mine is a mixture of both. Depending on what I’m feeling and issues that I feel responsible to highlight in my work. It also depends on the production and how I’m feeling in the studio or where ever I’m writing.

How much of your music and lyrics is direct activism? Do you prefer to partake in socially conscious activities outside the music?

Music is subjective, so I leave it to the audience to decide how they perceive my work. Because each listener has a different life experience to the next, every individual’s uptake or interpretation will be different to the next.

Out of my music, I work with a few charities that help some of the issues we face today like the refugee crisis and the mudslide and flood victims affected in Sierra Leone. So I’ve work with ‘Help Refugees UK’, ‘Women for Refugee Women’ and ‘Street Child’. I think my time is better spent doing something and helping organizations who are actually doing productive work, helping people and making good, positive changes, rather than ones who just shout and point fingers without doing anything.

Love You For Life

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

If I had a choice on how my work is perceived, I’d say it’s to give hope and highlight issues the underdogs in every walk of life faces. Highlight the issues in a fun loving criminal way.

What advice do you have for young musicians looking to change the world?

It depends oh how they are looking to change the world? Is it for the better or worse, to spread love or hate, to divide or unite people? If musicians are looking to make positive change in the world through their music, I would say stay true to your own sound and who you are. Do not try and sound like the current and biggest selling music if that is not you. Diversity and difference encourages people, especially the young generation. It encourages them to be themselves and be OK with being themselves and feel they are good enough. It also highlights that they don’t have to be like the boys and girls on TV – the unrealistic picture perfect images we get bombarded with daily.

What are some of your favorite socially conscious musicians out there, active or not?

I’m a fan of Billy Bragg. Google him. He’s great! I also like Alicia Keys. Apart from the fact that she is a great writer and vocalist, she is advocating and putting her money where her mouth is and showing that we don’t always have to cover our face in make up! Or war paint as I call it sometimes ha ha. That is a HUGE message and she is doing it by being a living example and not wearing makeup.

What should someone who knows nothing about the Sierra Leone music scene check out?

Sierra Leone music is a lot of fun. It’s a shame a lot of the artists don’t have the platform to be heard. I was very lucky and never gave up. If people want to hear more SL music, they should check out the likes of ‘Emmerson’. He is a Sierra Leonean artist that mainly sings in Creo/Patwa (our native language) but he is very socially conscious and not afraid to call out very high profile members of the SL community, who he feels are doing injustice to the people and the country as a whole. Just google Sierra Leone musicians, you might be pleasantly surprised.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is a lot of artist don’t have control on the work they put out. For me, I own all the rights to my work, I fund it with help from people who support and buy my music, so I can put out what ever I think represents me as an artist.”

Looking at the state of the world today, do you feel like musicians are using their voices to the maximum or do you feel there is a lack of awareness among musicians?

I honestly don’t think musicians are lacking in awareness on issues that we all face in the world today. What a lot of people don’t realize is a lot of artist don’t have control on the work they put out. Especially those signed to labels. Obviously some major artists have a lot of creative control but a lot more don’t. Its simply a business to a lot of the labels and they have to cover costs, overheads and big wages, so generally they have to put out what they think is going to sell the most. For me, I own all the rights to my work, I fund it with help from people who support and buy my music, so I can put out what ever I think represents me as an artist.

What is on the horizon for you? When can we expect a new album?

We can expect an album in the next few months and it is going to a lot of fun. I’m a bit of a workaholic and have work extremely hard on it, with a lot of passion and love and I’ve worked with some of the best producers who have produced for the likes of Stormzy, Rihanna, Emile Sande, Arian Grande, Wretch 32 etc. So I’m super excited and proud that I stayed true to my self and made the type of music that I wanted to make!

Thank you for participating and for the music you make! Anything else you would like to shout from the rooftops?

Thank you very much and feel free to stay tune on my work, life and the new album via my socials below. Lots of love and God bless.

 

You can check out Yasmin’s social media below:

http://www.yasminkadi.com
https://soundcloud.com/yasminkadimusic
https://www.youtube.com/user/yasminkadi
Instagram: @yasminkadimusic
Twitter: @yasminkadimusic

Folk Of The World festival event

Coming up in the beginning of February is a music festival called London Remixed Festival which is an annual melting pot of music and performances. Part of the festival this year is a side event called Folk Of The World which will act as a fundraiser for, and in association with, the UK based Refugee Kitchen charity.

The before mentioned concert aims to celebrate the diversity and rich cultural heritage refugees and asylum seekers can bring with them crossing the borders of this world. A part of the concert program is a group of musicians who call themselves Everyday People and who share the experience of having to leave their home in search for safety. Everyday People is a project by the Music Action International charity and it includes musicians from Syria, Iraq and Turkey. The project helps teenage refugees break out of their often isolated and bleak circumstances through making music and motivating creativity.

 

I contacted Dila, who co-produces the event along with Joe Buirski, and asked her a bit more about the event and their background. She told me that both her and Joe’s roots are in music and production. She is in two bands, Dila V and the Odd Beats and Band of Burns and Jow plays the double bass in a band called Cut A Shine as well as managing Two For Joy, a production company. Both of them organize festivals and music events around the UK.

“We got invited to host a room at London Remixed Festival together and our main aim was to celebrate the beauty of refugee cultures arriving to this country and allow people to celebrate them.”

 

I asked Dila what was the best part of being part of such an event and festival and she told me it was both the healing and the unity the music provided, not only to the audience but to the refugees as well that get to express themselves in new ways. “Often audiences come up to us and ask what is this music, never heard anything like it before, that is my biggest reward when I get to present them with eastern or african music that they’re experiencing for the first time.”

When asked if she wanted to shout something from the rooftops Dila responded: “Come to our event, show solidarity in these difficult times, let’s change perceptions and celebrate the new arriving cultures rather than alienate them!”

London Remixed Festival will take place 2nd and 3rd of February and tickets are available through Eventbride.

LRF-FOTW2018(1)

Andy White (interview)

From Belfast comes Andy White who has a love for music and strong opinions about the societies he lives in. We contacted Andy and learned more about his music and about his future plans of wearing sunglasses more often!

 

First off, for those not familiar with your work, who is Andy White?

He’s an Irish songwriter/troubadour from Belfast City. He writes words. A lot of words. Sings, plays the acoustic & electric in public. Bass, piano in private. Knocked on the door with ‘Religious Persuasion’ some years ago, and his new album is ‘The Guilty & The Innocent’.

“Growing up in Belfast it was obvious that someone had to say something. Making something beautiful out of chaos is what my Mum taught me.”

How did you get into making music and especially protest music?

My grandmother played the piano, taught the piano, loved the piano. I listened to The Beatles, T Rex and Bob Dylan on my Dad’s Pye Black Box record player. Scribbled poetry. Knew during punk that anyone could do it. Growing up in Belfast it was obvious that someone had to say something. Making something beautiful out of chaos is what my Mum taught me.

Are you a part of a strong, like-minded scene in Belfast? Or do you feel alone at times and that more people need to use their voices responsibly through their music?

I played at Tom Robinson’s Power In The Darkness 40th anniversary show last week. I had been at the first as a schoolboy. It was like when the Sex Pistols played Manchester – everyone at the gig went and formed a band, started to write music, or ended up in rock’n’roll.

There are no rules of art, and ‘responsible’ doesn’t feel right – though it should just ‘be’. Use your own instinct to select. Do what feels right and watch out for what’s not.

Can you share some of your favorite political/socially conscious/protest bands or musicians, current or not?

Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett, Tom Waits, Sinead O’Connor (always). John Cooper Clarke, Billy Bragg and Tom Robinson. The Streets.

Do you partake in other activist activities outside the music?

Demonstrations.

What do you think you’d sing about if the world was all of a sudden kind and full of empathy between all people and animals?

Ha ha dream on!

How do you feel people are receiving political music these days?

With earbuds.

What is on the horizon for you?AW_LP1_04PhotoSquareNoType

Wearing sunglasses more often! Touring this album, I want people to hear the songs.

(insert from Shouts: Apparently when one writes ” 8) “, as in the question number, in the chat on Facebook it automatically changes it into a sunglasses wearing emoji.)

😎

Thank you very much for participating and for the music you make!

Thank YOU!