Today multi-platinum singer/songwriter James announces his ‘Safe Inside’ campaign in support of mental health charity SANE and NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.
To encourage people to stay home and stay safe during this global health crisis, on Monday 18th May James will launch a campaign that includes specially recorded music, new videos and newly created ‘Safe Inside’ merchandise, with all profits from James Arthur and his record label from this merchandise and new music being donated directly to the NHS Charities Together and SANE. Monday is also the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week.
James says: “I felt the best way I could help is the only way I know how, and that’s through music. It just so happens I wrote a song a few years ago that lyrically felt very apt. So, I’m encouraging my fans to stay ‘Safe Inside’ and help save lives. With all profits going towards helping frontline workers and the mental health charity SANE.”
The campaign is focused around a newly recorded acoustic version of his 2016 single ’Safe Inside’, from his No.1 album ‘Back From the Edge.’ This acoustic version was recorded and produced by James in his at home studio during the quarantine and will be available for streaming and download on Monday. There will also be a beautifully designed lyric video launching on his YouTube channel.
Pre-save/ pre-add here: https://forms.sonymusicfans.com/campaign/ja_safeinside/ Listen here (Link active on release): https://JArthur.lnk.to/SafeInside
In addition, to help raise funds, James has created a special ‘Safe Inside’ hoodie that will be available for purchase on launch of the campaign.
Later in the week there will be additional content released including the launch of a ‘At Home Acoustic’ YouTube series, as well as a ‘Safe Inside’ themed phone video game.
For the latest updates on the campaign you can visit the new ‘Safe Inside’ landing page with information on both charities, new videos, links to buy clothing and more which will launch on Monday. Head to https://www.jamesarthurofficial.com/safeinside for full details.
All profits of James Arthur and his record label from the ‘Safe Inside’ merchandise or made through streaming of the ‘Safe Inside’ acoustic audio or video, as well as downloads, will be donated directly to NHS Charities Together and SANE.
Today, Adwoa Aboah’s mental health organization Gurls Talk releases a new episode of the second season of The Gurls Talk Podcast. The latest episode sees Adwoa in conversation with one of the defining young women of 2020, Dua Lipa.
On the heels of her number one album, Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa joins host and founder of Gurls Talk Adwoa to talk about a variety of topics including how she is coping with lockdown, her need to take a break from social media, the pressure of staying productive, and being a young woman in the music industry. In this episode, Adwoa and Dua reflect together on how vital creativity is in helping to process emotions and the importance of staying connected to one another at such an isolating time.
“I think collectively we’re going through quite a traumatic period. Just staying inside and doing your part is enough and I think more people need to hear that” – Dua Lipa
The Gurls Talk Podcast engages experts, activists, thought-leaders, and those with lived experience to create a new approach to mental health that’s inclusive and progressive. Season Two will see host and Founder of Gurls Talk Adwoa in conversation with the likes of Dua Lipa, Clara Amfo, Lucy Sheridan, Megan Barton-Hanson and Gurls Talk’s Chief Clinical Advisor, Dr. Ciara Dockery, amongst others.
Speaking on the launch of the new season, Adwoa explains:
“We are launching our new season of the Gurls Talk Podcast during an uncertain and scary time. Now, more than ever, it is important to create safe spaces that encourage open and honest conversations about mental health with no judgment or shame. I hope this season provides a good mix of resources, support, and entertainment to all those out there navigating their mental health journeys and helps listeners feel less alone.”
The Gurls Talk podcast is presented by NIKE. Episode 4 of Season 2 with Dua Lipa, out now. Listen here.
Four episodes of The Gurls Talk Podcast will be released each month.
Gurls Talk always wants to hear from the community and encourages submissions including photography, poetry, essays, paintings, illustrations and much more. Community submissions are featured on @GurlsTalk as well as on every podcast during our #GurlsShare segment.
Gurls Talk is a community-led organization dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent gxrls and young womxn. For more information visit www.gurlstalk.com . Follow Gurls Talk here.
Responding to the worldwide Covid-19 emergency, ‘Songs For The National Health Service’ is a one-off compilation album of exclusive, unreleased tracks by some of the biggest names in indie, with all proceeds funding specialist PPE for hospitals and NHS key workers.
Foals, Wolf Alice, Baxter Dury, The Vaccines, The Big Moon, The Wombats, Sports Team, The Magic Gang, Spector, Swim Deep, The Orielles, Nilüfer Yanya, Alfie Templeman, Oscar Lang, Pixx and Jessica Winter have all come together exclusively for the album, with a mix of special covers, remixes, live tracks and demos not available anywhere else, the majority being made available for the very first time.
Songs For The National Health Service is working in partnership with Dr. Natalie Watson at University Hospital Lewisham, as she launches the Hoods for Heroes campaign. Our initial target of £30,000 will provide enough ‘PAPR’ (powered air purifying respirators) to help fully stock Lewisham Greenwich NHS Trust (site of the UK’s first confirmed Covid-19 patient), Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust and University Hospital Crosshouse, Scotland. All money raised beyond that will provide equipment for further hospitals and regions based on need, not only helping safely treat victims of Covid-19, but enabling NHS teams to restart time-critical head and neck cancer surgery.
The artists hope this album will not only raise funds, but also serve as a keepsake of our indebtedness to the NHS and its staff working tirelessly and courageously through this difficult time. In the future we must do much more to ensure they are funded and paid properly, and forever treated with the respect they deserve.
The record, featuring artwork donated by Tony Beard and taken at the birth of his son, is available to pre-order now.
With thanks to all featured artists, managers, record labels, the Blood Records platform, NHS staff and health care professionals everywhere.
Foals – White Onions (Live from Alexandra Palace)
The Vaccines – Internet Disco (Feat. Agent Emotion)
The Big Moon – Big (Demo)
Wolf Alice – Another Girl, Another Planet
Baxter Dury – So Much (Demo)
Swim Deep – Lexington Slowdown
Nilüfer Yanya – Baby Blu (Giles Peterson Remix)
The Orielles – Bobbi’s Second World (Demo)
The Magic Gang – Club Tropicana
Spector – Extra Life
Sports Team – Itchycoo Park
Alfie Templeman – Growing Up
Pixx and Jessica Winter – Summer Wine
The Wombats – Turn (Acoustic)
Oscar Lang – Always In My Head
Following a successful trial period the first direct arena are pleased to announce that accessible tickets are now available to purchase online.
Venue personnel have been working with official ticketing partners Ticketmaster to provide a solution that will greatly improve the options available to Deaf and disabled customers.
The service has been made available for all future events such as Pussycat Dolls, Stormzy, Craig David, Deep Purple, Rick Astley, Jools Holland, Dua Lipa and The Black Crowes and Genesis.
Speaking about this develepment first direct arena General Manager, Jen Mitchell, said that “We have been working on this behind the scenes for some time as we know how important it is to give equal access to tickets to all of our customers. As proud members of the Attitude is Everything Charter of Best Practice we are committed to constantly review and improve our services and we see this as a big step forward in that regard”.
Andrew Parsons, Managing Director of Ticketmaster UK, commented: “It is with great pride that we launch our online accessible ticketing solution with our friends at the first direct arena. We are both deeply committed to providing equal access to live entertainment and enabling fans to purchase accessible ticket online is a big part of delivering that.”
The venue is currently closed due to the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation meaning that sales from the arena box office are currently suspended. The lockdown is also impacting upon the serivce of their dedicated 0800 number, which is free to call from mobile and landlines. These services will be reinstated when events are being hosted again.
Jacob Adams, Head of Research and Campaigns for Attitude is Everything added “We welcome this development at Leeds’ first direct arena bringing the convenience of online booking to Deaf and disabled fans wishing to book access along with their tickets for the first time at the venue. We know that this is what many customers want in order to have an equal set of booking options. At the same time, we applaud the retention of free telephone and in-person booking options alongside the new online method, ensuring that whatever the preferred method of booking, Deaf and disabled people can book their access requirements with confidence.”
In our latest audio chat, we have a conversation with Frank Turner about his motivations, as well as his own definition of success alongside the importance of cats and self-care….
Have a listen to the interview below!
In our next in this series of Creative Spotlights, we chat to Hull-based photographer Joshua Elliot about his work and inspirations.
Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about what you do, please?
My name is Joshua Elliott. I’m a 19-year-old photographer and videographer that specialises in many fields. I’m both a hobbyist and professional, meaning that I do it for fun, and I do it as a job as well.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
Getting started professionally was a task that was hard at first, and still has its struggles. When you first start out in the creative industry, you have nothing to work with, no reputation, no portfolio, nothing. It can be tough to get those first few initial shoots to jump start your career. That’s why I love keeping it as a hobby too, I don’t have to worry about expectations from clients. My mental health also has a massive impact on what I shoot, and has at times made me consider giving it up.
When you live in a world where everyone knows everything about you, and can see your work 24/7, it can sometimes be overwhelming for me knowing that I have expectations to provide a high quality service to both my clients and followers. It makes me doubt my skill a lot of the time. Luckily, I have people around me that support my journey, and leave positive feedback, and even constructive criticism so I can constantly strive to improve.
What kinds of things motivate you – people, places or games and music?
Getting out and doing photography for fun is one of the many ways I motivate myself. Getting out and doing it is the best way in my eyes. I also love taking a scroll down the feeds of other photographers on Instagram and down pages on Facebook to see what other Togs have done/are doing.
Even though it may seem that I only do photography, I’m also a gamer, I love taking days off just to play on my Switch, PC or Xbox One. Having a wide variety of genres helps to keep me occupied and prevents me getting bored. It’s similar to photography actually, as I don’t just stick to one thing, I play anything from shooters and racers, to RPGs, platformers and adventure games. I have a small passion for music as well. I don’t listen to mainstream music, even though I don’t have an issue with it. A lot of the music I listen too actually comes from YouTubers. One of the albums I’m in love with at the moment is called Flashdrive, made by Will Ryan.
What have been a few career highlights?
There has been quite a few so it’s kinda hard to narrow them down haha. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be my first exhibition. Taking place in 2017, I submitted a photo that I took during NCS in the summer of 2017. It was of a house across the lake from where we was staying during the first week at the Lake District. It was easily one of the best photos I had taken at the time. Seeing the photo on the wall in an actual exhibit was weird and surreal considering that I had only being doing photography under a year at that point. It made me realise that I had a talent for photography and that I wanted to keep going with it. And here I am in 2020, three years later and I’m still doing it. Another highlight I must mention would be starting up my photography Instagram account. While it doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment to most, to me it signified the start of my portfolio and journey. If you scroll down my feed and go to the first photo, it’ll be from April 2017, only improving from there.
What does success mean to you?
Success can be interpreted in many ways. for me, success is can be successfully working with a client and having them be satisfied. Success can be going out on a shoot with other photographers. Success can be just editing a good photo and being proud of it. It could even be just having one comment from someone saying the photo is good. It can come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re all as equally important.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a career in photography with a disability or mental health issue?
The best piece of advice I can give to anyone who wants to start a photography career, if they have mental health issues or any disabilities, would be to work for free at the very start. I get that this seems backwards, I mean you’re working and putting time in, and your time is worth money, so what gives? Well, at the start you have no experience or portfolio to show a client your skills. And if they’re not impressed or have nothing to look at, they’re not going to want to put money into you. I suggest finding what genre of photography you want to work in, contact people who would need that service and offer it for free. After you’ve done it for a while and have a few good shoots under your belt, then you should start charging. I know some people will disagree with this, and thats fine, but this approach has worked, and still does work for me and many others.
For more information visit Temponics.
After taking hit reality TV show ‘The Voice’ by storm, Kenza Blanka continues to dominate in the limelight, currently working on a new album titled “I am what I am” which has already received praise on both ‘BBC Radio’ and ‘BBC Introducing.’
Blanka originally appeared on the UK’s version of ‘The Voice’ in 2019 as part of the ‘Blind Auditions’ in week 6. Since her incredible performance, which
wowed judges Olly Murs and will.i.am as she performed in 3 languages whilst donning clothing from her own brand, Blanka is now using her extraordinary talents to bring awareness to mental health and wellbeing.
Trained as a mental health nurse, Blanka’s music is naturally focused on positivity around mental health, self-love, self-expression, identity, and race, all whilst incorporating Arabic, French, and English languages and unique influences from Arabic/African sounds.
But Blanka offers much more than just her famously high-pitched vocals and her style, as she recently took part in a TED Talk and is producing a 5 part short film series, both focused on the growing issues surrounding mental health awareness, self-acceptance, identity, and race.
It’s hardly surprising this 34-year-old has been catapulted into the limelight. From a musical family and having studied at the National Youth Music Theatre and Sylvia Young Theatre School, Kenza has used her influences from the likes of Labyrinth, Professor Green, Ghetts and Wiley, to create a truly unique, new genre of music.
Kenza Blanka is on a mission to spread her unique music, clothing and messages surrounding positive mental health, self-acceptance and self-love to an audience far and wide – a refreshing change in the increasingly generic world of fame.
Hull hardcore punk four-piece Smiling Assassin have announced their debut record, ‘Plight Of The Millennial’ to be released in Sunday, May 31 via Warren Records.
The record which was mixed and mastered by The Graves Brothers at Innersound Studios (Asking Alexandria, Glamour Of The Kill) is a statement of intent from one of the freshest alternative acts to emerge from East Yorkshire in the last decade, challenging the effervescent punk energy of Fever 333 and the vitriol of Amen with the genre-defying metallic sounds of Pitchshifter, Smiling Assassin will doubtless be one of the main voices for the voiceless in the UK in 2020.
On ‘Plight Of The Millennial”s message and mission, Vocalist George comments:
“With this album we’re trying to put a breath of fresh air into the modern punk scene and shed light on the real issues and difficulties our generation face today…”
Smiling Assassin is: George Garnett (vocals), Robbie Johnson (drums), Casey Stead (bass) and Josh Rogerson (guitar)
The first track from the record is called ‘Coping’ and deals with mental health awareness, and aims to promote discussion.
For more information visit:
In our latest Artist Spotlight, we talk to Leanne Beetham (who has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita) of LippyArt about her work. Leanne is a member of Association Of Mouth And Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), and has been building incredible works of art for years.
Can you talk to me about your goals, and what you want to achieve with your work?
Through my art, photography, videos, and live demonstrations, my mission is to educate the world on the importance of both disability awareness (with emphasis to ability), and wildlife conservation. I endeavour to break stereotypes, challenge perceptions, push boundaries, & inspire others to create.
The term “disability” is too often confused with “inability”; it’s not that we cannot do things, just that we sometimes need to innovate, take a different approach to the norm, and do things in a different way.
I want to encourage people to talk openly about disability, and raise awareness of what is possible, but also of issues in which our world is currently lacking – unnecessary barriers hindering or preventing people with physical and/or mental disabilities from being able to participate in activities many take for-granted. Common sense things, such as basic wheelchair access, should – in my opinion – be commonplace among public services and businesses in modern times. Also, companies should be hiring people with physical and mental disabilities to do the assessing (not just following a minimum government guidelines checklist, which has proven itself limited at best). Although we are slowly improving, we still have a long way to go before society as a whole can be considered truly inclusive.
Issues surrounding subjects like accessibility are one of the many reasons I started my “Fur, Feathers, & Wild Endeavours” and “CONQUERED!” (Aka. Challenge) projects (see my website for details). I don’t like being told I can’t do something on account of my disability, and I especially don’t like the thought that someone else might be told the same, and potentially be prevented from doing it because they believed those words. Never accept that answer. Always research, plan, invent if necessary, never be ashamed of asking for help, and most of all – enjoy the journey; don’t be so focused on the end result that you forget to appreciate how far you’ve come and those who have helped you.
Where does your primary inspiration come from?
Everything around us has the potential to inspire; though, my personal favourite subjects are animals and nature. Our world is a beautiful and fascinating place, if you take the time to stop and truly experience your surroundings. I also enjoy photography (using adapted equipment), which helps me gain reference material for my pieces.
I encourage anyone to make a point of paying attention to the things most pass by without a second thought: the striking iridescence of a starling, a crooked old tree battered by the elements, even how light reflects through a glass tumbler, etc – everything is a potential lesson and source of inspiration worth taking note of. Even if we don’t paint them, our real-life observations can apply to anything, even works of fiction. It’s what makes them believable.
Most recently, I started working with the Sumatra Camera Trap Project, which is a wildlife conservation effort based between Indonesia and the UK. This project uses camera traps strategically placed throughout the Sumatran rainforest to observe wildlife. They have provided me with so much amazing material to work from, I am both overwhelmed and grateful for their partnership. It means my work can actually help and raise awareness for the animals I feel so passionately about.
What would you say that your biggest challenges are on a day-to-day basis?
It’s always the unnecessarily difficult things with simple solutions which frustrate me most.
Presently, I would say my biggest challenges are access to the things most people can do without thinking (e.g. travel accommodation), and public perceptions of disability – though, the latter, in recent years, I feel has greatly improved. Don’t get me wrong, I still occasionally get the patronising tones, or patted on the head like a toddler, but it’s much less common than it used to be.
I travel throughout the UK with my career quite regularly, and I find it increasingly frustrating that basic hoist facilities (an essential for myself and many others) are not available in the majority of hotels. Personally, I am fortunate in that I have a fold-up portable hoist, which has been amazing – but even so, it’s a 3 ft x 4 ft cumbersome piece of equipment. When you have a physical disability, it’s near impossible to travel light anyway, even for a 1 night stay. My basic equipment includes: my wheelchair, pressure-relief mattress, bed-raiser, elephant-feet, various chargers, even a small portable toilet – because many hotel bathrooms are too small for a standard wheelchair, assistant, and free-standing hoist to fit into. Obviously, I have regular items to pack on top of that, and – of course – my art equipment. Consequently, a hoist in the disabled room would make this whole experience unimaginably easier! It’s truly amazing what a difference this one piece of equipment makes.
According to a 2017 study conducted by Trailblazers Muscular Dystrophy UK, almost 80% of disabled people have been unable to go on holiday – within the UK – due to a lack of hoist facilities in hotels. According to CHUC (Ceiling Hoist Users Club), there are currently only 18 known hotels – within the whole UK – offering ceiling hoist facilities (7 of which are in London). From personal experience, I can also confirm that the majority of those hotels only have – on average – 1 or 2 accessible rooms available, are expensive, and do not offer family rooms, discount carer rooms, or the option of double or twin beds. This really needs to change.
In the past, fighting for the care hours I require to enable me to live a normal life often felt like an uphill battle, and was a very challenging time for me. Many assessors seem to be very much focussed on basic needs; the bare minimum you need to exist. There is a distinct difference between existing and actually living, and I wish this was acknowledged in the assessment process. Keeping someone physically healthy does not guarantee good mental health. All people – regardless of their disability – need freedom of choice and to be mentally stimulated.
I wanted to live the way I want, on my terms – like everyone else. I wanted to decide when I went to bed, toilet, outdoors, etc. I remember one assessor actually telling me that if I needed the toilet during the hours my assistants were not present, I would have to sit in my own waste until the next one came on shift, because I wasn’t getting more hours, and that was the “sacrifice” I made by refusing to live in a care home. Seriously? How can we think this is ok? Needless to say, the fight ahead was brutal, and I did eventually have to acquire legal help, but I finally got my 24/7 care – of which I am eternally grateful and use to the full!
For me, this care brings the ultimate freedom. However, each year, even though my disability is diagnosed as incurable, I face the anxiety of reassessment, in which I must re-justify every hour of care I receive. I genuinely hope this whole approach changes. People shouldn’t have to fight for something so basic; nor should it equate to your perceived financial worth. We are not “financial drains” or “burdens on society”, we are human – with the same needs and desires everyone has. I strongly believe that if everyone is given the correct tools from the start, they have the potential to do amazing things and make a positive contribution to society.
We do a lot of work around mental health awareness on WARO, and I wanted to ask do you have any coping mechanisms or motivators for any bad days that you might experience?
I give myself a break. We all have bad days (sometimes weeks, months, or years), and sometimes the best approach is to first acknowledge that it’s ok, and then plan a positive change. I try to make a routine of doing something for myself. I often find doing the opposite of what my regular day is can help greatly – if I’ve been constantly around people and talking, I treat myself to some alone time; if I have been stuck indoors, I go outside; if I’ve been generally busy, I do nothing; if all of my recent paintings are commissions, I make time to create something for myself. Furthermore, I take the time to appreciate the little things – a cuddle with my dog, a movie, music – it really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you make the time to treat yourself well, even if sometimes you only get 30 minutes to take a nice deep breath.
On that note, I just want to add that many of us feel this need to take on a lot of responsibility. We don’t like the thought of letting people down or declining anyone. Make sure you add sufficient time to your deadlines (if you have them), to allow for things like bad days, pain days, mistakes, even a little time away from the piece you’re working on, etc. Don’t break yourself for anyone, and don’t be afraid of turning down work that doesn’t feel like a good fit for you. I had a bad habit of this at one point, and the thing is – it’s not just you that suffers, the quality of your work does too. If someone wants your best and respects you, they’ll understand and wait. Taking care of yourself is the most intelligent thing you can do.
What advice would you give to artists who take inspiration from your work, on how to get noticed?
Never give up – there will be times when things come surprisingly easily, and others where you will have to fight, and perhaps even face harsh criticism. Art is subjective, not everyone will like it, and that’s ok. It takes practice and determination – not all of your art will be masterpieces, that’s not the aim. Successful artists are never the “perfect” ones; they’re the ones who made mistakes, but never gave up, and kept putting themselves out there. You can’t fail if you keep going.
Also, get this idea of “bravery” out of your head, it doesn’t exist. I hear too many people say “I’m not brave enough to try that” – neither am I! But I face it head-on and do it anyway. The thing is, avoiding the thing you are afraid of won’t solve it or enrich your life. Whether it’s public speaking, heights, etc – tackle it. Build up gradually if you need to. More often than not you’ll find you surprise yourself and even enjoy it; if not, no losses, cross it off the list. However, by saying “I wish I could do that” and then not ever trying, or giving up because your first attempt wasn’t perfect – it’s a waste of a good opportunity. The stark truth is, we have one life, with an unknown time limit, and should be living as best we can, in the present moment, and in whatever way we choose. Those things won’t be given to you freely, you have to make the first move.
For more on Leanne’s work visit:
Bespoke instrument builder, Philip Catterall discusses his aims to inspire and motivate people with disabilities to think differently about how they can create music.
Talk to us about the biggest challenges you have faced in building this project?
Convincing able-bodied people that creating/being involved in music for people with impairments is “do-able” with inexpensive open source devices. In reality I’ve found people who have to rely on assistive technology cotton on more quickly than able-bodied people.
What’s the process like from start to finish when someone comes to you looking for a bespoke instrument?
A lot of the “generic” devices can be used directly. For example, Electric Umbrella do group sessions, so “The Electric Breadbin” can do either percussion or instrumental. It was then used with some of the big buttons playing chords, or floor pressure pads to do drums. Some of the other base units and actuators were used by Macintyre MK.
Sometime serendipity plays a part. For example, the tone circle proved accessible to Electric Umbrella clients and whilst demonstrating open source music tech at Festive Road small children found they could walk on “Tone Circle” to generate sound patterns. Also at Macintyre’s, the Talking Table I created for a local holiday club was found to engage the interest of a client with early onset Alzheimer’s.
So what about bespoke. I’m a volunteer at the National Museum of Computing and meet up with various Makerspace folks, so I can tap into a lot of expertise, not to mention the likes of Adafruit and Sparkfun. So a bespoke example:
The MIDI drum kit. I had a request after the SIA article from someone who had lost the use of their legs and used to be a semi pro drummer. Creating a drum sound is easy using an Arduino as a MIDI controller and a Sparkfun Instrument Shield is straightforward. But how to trigger? First thought, try the type of accelerometer you find in your smart phone attached in a head band, but a drummer moves the body as well as the head, so other sensors and tons of software to pick out the relevant movement are needed so forget that. Ultrasonic range finders, similar issues, forget that. I also had a chat with my dentists dental technician. He showed me how to sandwich pressure sensors in sheets of dental plastic. Unfortunately teeth abrade that and leak saliva into the sensor and short it out, so forget that. Then serendipity kicks in. Whilst checking out some camera tech I spotted a tooth switch.
I used to sky dive back in the 70s and aerial photography was done by triggering cameras in flight. The modern equivalent was tooth switch, which give an “On” signal when bitten by your teeth. Job done. So bespoke devices happen every now and then. I do not charge but the time to me is valuable.
When, and why did the idea first come to you?
It starts out in the 80s when I’m playing flute in a barn dance (Ceilidh) band. The band leader was head teacher of a special needs school. We did a couple of barn dances a year for their students. It was very clear they perceived and enjoyed folk rhythms.
Move the clock forward to 2005. I changed career to work in day services mental health . My work focussed on “getting well be doing normal stuff”. A cupboard full of instruments came to light. So I started running music sessions. A friend of mine had simplified guitar music for children with Down’s Syndrome to play a guitar. So I learnt a chord a week (I play flute) and used this music in my group sessions. The basic concept was to a service user was that once you can play an ”A” chord” then you are a guitar player. This enabled people with depression to regain confidence in themselves. So fast forward to 2012. Paralympics. Just about to “retire”. I had the insight to come up with the concept of a “musical prosthesis”. 18 months later, I had various prototypes up and running. Basically combining two careers and a hobby.
Tell us about the reception your work has received, and the types of people who come to you?
At a conference at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney last year, the main speaker, Dr Wendy Magee said the assistive music community needed more technologist such as me. Pretty much on the whole very positive. But, I’ve had a range of apologies from folks who have lost budgets and staff, and can’t find staff time to try out experimental inventions.
We love the look of the NoteDuino, talk to us about the idea, and development of that instrument, specifically.
I’ve got into building what I call “concept challengers”. The NoteDuino was the first one. IT’s meant to demonstrate the use of opensource tech. It looks like what it does. Push a button, it triggers a sound. You can also plug in an actuators, to trigger a sound. As a course designer I created a step change in the 80s by adding pictures (visuals) to company training material. So I thought making a musical device look like what it does was obvious.
Is there a project you are most proud of and why?
Sound Blanket. It got broken. The parents asked if I could rebuild it. So I did.
What is the mission statement for the future of Accessible Music?
Sorry, I gave up on mission statements after leaving the corporate environment. But in reality, making music truly accessible for fun or therapy.
For more on Phillip’s work, visit: http://www.accessiblemusic.org.uk/