Game Changers #3: Mrisi

Continuing our Game Changers series, we have the influential Brighton artist Mrisi.

Mrisi spoke to us for an in-depth interview, touching on growing up Black in Brighton, musical influences and access to music for young people. The multi-faceted artist has recently set-up his own studio, while continuing to create with fellow musicians from Brighton and beyond.

First things first, introduce yourself in your own words…

My name’s Mrisi. I’m a musician, rapper, singer, pianist, producer… general music guy.

Tell us about your experience growing up in Brighton?

It was a good place to grow up in a lot of senses, creatively it’s great. It’s a safe city, there’s a lot going on for young people and always has been. In terms of my experience being Black in Brighton, it was hard at times because I was one of not many Black people. In my age group, at the primary school I went to, I was one of two mixed-race kids in my class and then in secondary school, in my whole year group there were four mixed-race boys.

So that obviously has an effect. People would say things about my race growing up, I had verbal abuse and attacks on the street. But I think the worst kind of racism is institutional and not feeling that people understood me within the education system. That was a problem, but I learnt to deal with it. I learnt to move in this ‘Brighton kind of terrain’.

Did you have any black role models growing up in the city…

The elders of the Brighton Black community were around. My Dad was always around and he was always involved in music. Again, there weren’t many Black people growing up, but the older Black community were my role models.

For my generation and my group of friends, we had a group of mixed ethnicities that came together at around 14 and 15 years of age – AudioActive played a big part of that – we used to get together at basketball as well. We were a tight group. Black kids, Arab kids, Asian kids, white kids a mix of young people that were friends, that was cool.

Last year you released the track West Baby, which is explicitly about your heritage. How does your background influence your art?

I think it’s always had an influence on my music. My Dad is a musician, my Mum is a poet, so that plays a big part. Speaking of role models again, a lot of the people I look up to are Black musicians, so that’s part of what made me want to do this as a career.

Even the fact I wanted to do music was down to seeing the representation of Black people in music. I could see people on TV that look like me so, even in a city full of white people, I saw guys like me with the same hairstyle as me, which makes you realise you can do it.

In my sound, I always wanted to mix the South African sounds with a more hip-hop one, but it’s only recently I think that I’ve proper found that sound and feel comfortable with it. My next release is a big nod to heritage, it’s called Venda which is my Grandad’s tribe, so my heritage definitely informs my music a lot. I learnt a lot about music through reggae and a lot of reggae is about roots, so that knowledge of self element has an influence too.

Give us a song that has inspired you…

Peter Tosh has a great song, African. “If you’re a Black man you are an African.”

He lists all these countries and says basically, wherever you are, if you’re Black you’re African. I think that’s important, even in a time where so much light is put on Black history and Black issues, there is a lot of self-hate in the Black community. There are people that don’t even associate themselves as being Black, associating more with the culture of the part of the world that they are in. Part of me shouting out about my heritage is trying to make people proud to reclaim their identity, that’s not just important for Black people but for others who can relate to that.

What projects do you have going on at the moment?

My own studio, MMW Studios. I’ve always worked with a lot of other artists and shared a studio, even at my Mum’s house back in the day. It’s been a natural progression and in terms of renting the space, everyone is welcome. I love the togetherness that music brings. I love working with artists, especially when they come up with an idea and we work with that here.

I’ve got lots of music. A collation of tracks that are traditional stuff. Some jazz numbers, some blues numbers, hip-hop. I’m collaborating with loads of artists and producers too both as an artist and a producer. I’ve also been writing with the band, too.

Tell us about some good initiatives you know of in Brighton’s Black community…

There are so many people.

MOSAIC is great for a great organisation for children. Nexus is an amazing arts organisation ran by Jenni Lewin-Turner They’re doing great stuff with Black people not only in Brighton but also in the diaspora, Barbados, South Africa. There is the BME heritage network.

There’s also the Writing Our Legacy that do work around Black poetry, artistry and writing.  BMEYPP is a great organisation. Bobby’s doing great things behind the scenes for the Black community and I’ve got to shout out Wayne from Afro Hair Academy. He opened the first black barbers in Brighton.

Are enough Black young people finding these community spaces?

I think now, with funding cuts and the way the Black youth in Brighton are so scattered, they are hard to reach. When I was younger, the Black community was always closely knit. I think now because more Black people are arriving as students, they are not necessarily connected to the existing Black community, which can make getting people to these services harder, since they don’t know they’re happening.

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GAME CHANGERS #2: Miri FLC

Continuing our Game Changers series, we have an interview with Miri FLC, as the Brighton artist gives us her perspective on life in Brighton as a Person of Colour.

At 17-years-old, Miri has already gigged across Sussex and in the summer of 2020, could be heard speaking in front of thousands at The Level, as part of Brighton’s Black Lives Matter protests. She told us about growing up in Brighton, the preconceptions people have about her and how it feels to have a new-found Black community around her.

First things first, could you introduce yourself in your own words?

I’m Miri FLC, I’m a musician and… a college student I guess? That’s kind of it.



What was your experience like growing up in Brighton?

I’ve loved growing up here because Brighton is a very fun and lovely place to grow up. It’s big, but it’s also really small. You always know people everywhere. But it’s not the most racially diverse place. I think people always say it’s so diverse and that’s true in terms of LGBTQ+, which is so great. But the other part of me is like, I don’t see people that look like me. It’s difficult, but it’s good.

What role models have you had to look up to in the city?

‘I definitely would say Mrisi. So cool and so talented, my parents knew him before I did. Seeing all the things that he has done and is still doing is inspiring. Also, seeing Normanton Street play. I remember seeing them when I was younger so, knowing the guys now is something really cool for me. I’m also really close with Phonetic. She’s the best, especially as we’re both gay and both mixed. It’s really nice to have someone to talk to who is that similar to me – I didn’t have that at school or growing up.

During the Black Lives Matter marches in Brighton this year, many people saw you stand up and share your experiences of growing up in Brighton as a Person of Colour. Tell us a little more about those protests…

That was crazy. I think I spoke at two or three of the BLM marches. Being around really good influences and people who make me feel so safe was special. Those marches were so emotional. You’re there because you’re fighting for something that’s important, but to be surrounded by so many People of Colour at once is amazing. I’ve never had a community around me that’s solely POC before and I’ve got one now.

I don’t how I did the speeches. There was one where there was so many. People there. I was like shaking, but anytime I thought about the fact I was shaking I’d probably mess up so I had to just keep going.



One thing you spoke about in your BLM speech was the preconceptions people can often make about you and your music…

The one that always makes me laugh is that in music, some people just immediately assume that I do rap or grime or whatever. Which is funny because, I play drums, piano, guitar and I sing.

I write slow, sad love songs… so that preconception always makes me laugh.

You’re a regular at Equaliser, AudioActive’s all-female music production sessions. What keeps you coming back each week?

I’ve been going for a while, most of this year. It’s weird because I’ve been doing some work with everyone at Equaliser for so long that it feels like I’ve been going forever. I love that it’s such a supportive environment and that everyone is so nice. There aren’t many production experiences and opportunities for me that are all female, they are normally male-driven. Which is fine, but it can be intimidating – especially as I’m not that good at production, I find it really hard.

What projects have you got ongoing at the moment?

It’s crazy at the moment. I’m getting asked to do a lot of stuff related to race, It’s cool that more projects are opening up to talking about it. It’s kind of weird, I haven’t had an influx of work like this before.

I’m doing a documentary with Marlborough Productions at the moment about LGBTQ+ POC, and talking to the older generation. That’s been so cool. I’ve been talking to a guy called Mark who is in his sixties and hearing about his experiences, being a black guy in the AIDs crisis, it’s so interesting.

I’ve been lucky to do some stuff with Aflo the Poet as well who is amazing. She’s so inclusive and is always asking me to do stuff, which I’m really thankful for.



And finally, you recently played at our Kustom Vibes event and you’ve played all over Sussex. But what’s your best gigging experience so far?

It’s weird with Covid-19 at the moment, I wish there could be more stuff going on. I’m excited for May to come around, I miss gigging and playing live. I’ve been playing gigs around Brighton since I was 14, but I still get very anxious so I want to practice I’m eager to get back in.

One of my biggest gigs was a church in Worthing – it was around 250 people and I was so scared. Also, festivals like Tarner Festival, I looked into the crowd and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man was there. I was like, oh, okay… now I really have to play well. I was kind of fine beforehand and then I saw him and I was so nervous. I tried not to look at him but he was the front, in the middle… I couldn’t really miss him. But he’s lovely so it’s okay.


Follow Miri FLC on Instagram and Soundcloud

Read our previous Game Changers interview with Bobby Brown here

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AudioActive’s Schedule

AudioActive projects are going back to face to face sessions as of April 19th, doing so in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.

We’re delighted to be back and are looking forward to carrying on the momentum and the music made during our online sessions. Due to limited numbers, Young People attending MUST sign up in advance using the form below. Those who are not exempt from doing so must be wearing a face covering while in attendance and all of our sites will have hand sanitising stations – please use them before you start making beats!

As always, everything on offer is absolutely free to join and open to all under the age of 25. If you’re not sure what to sign up for, our SESSIONS workshops on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be a good place to start, covering production, rapping and live instrumentation in that order.

Elsewhere, our all-female music production space Equaliser is back at Bottega Rooms on Thursday nights with Cate Ferris and Bobbie Johnson, and our men’s mental health initiative, Room to Rant will be back in person, too. 

In the event that a workshop has to be postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we will be running further online alternatives with invites sent out in advance via Zoom, Discord and other platforms.

Sign up for any of our projects below and feel free to send any questions to info@audioactive.org.uk.

As of April 19th, here is AudioActive’s current schedule:

Monday

SESSIONS @ Bottega Rooms (Music Production)

Tuesday 

SESSIONS @ Bottega Rooms (Rap)

Wednesday

ROOM TO RANT

Thursday

EQUALISER @ Bottega Rooms

SESSIONS @ Worthing (Live sound and music production)

 

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Introducing our new EMERGE artists…

AudioActive is pleased to announce the two artists chosen for EMERGE, it’s artist development programme.

dereck d.a.c. and Casper the Ghost have been chosen as the successful applicants for 2020/21, following a competitive series of interviews and live try-outs that showcased the potential of the Brighton and Sussex music scene.

Funded by PRS Foundation, the programme gives these two young artists the opportunity to work with AudioActive mentors, make the most of the organisation’s connections with the music industry and, receive financial backing for what see fit at this exciting turning point in their careers.

Casper the Ghost

Casper (Ellie) is a 20-year-old singer, songwriter, rapper and producer from Brighton.

Their haunting vocals take inspiration from the likes of artists such as Biig Piig, Spooky Black and Ama Lou. Casper’s music is an eclectic mix of lofi, hip-hop, trap, and trip hop, creating a sound that is truly her own.

A regular attendee of Equaliser, AudioActive’s music production sessions led by and for women, Ellie is eager to grow her musical arsenal further with equipment and lessons. With a debut EP in the works, Casper has received attention from some acclaimed magazines and blogs already. We’re looking forward to helping her hit the ground running.

Follow Casper on Instagram and Spotify.

dereck d.a.c.

At 23-years-old, Brighton rapper dereck d.a.c. is a young veteran of the city’s underground hip-hop community.

Having built up the confidence to perform his self-reflective lyrics in AudioActive’s rap sessions, dereck has gone onto to perform at major venues in both Brighton and London.

Dereck De Abreu Coelho’s music takes influence from his upbringing in Brazil and Barcelona, where he lived before moving to the UK aged 8. With two EPs under his belt, including the 2020-released blue that helped him sell out a batch of cassette tapes, d.a.c.’s D.I.Y approach massively impressed our judges.

Follow dereck d.a.c. on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Spotify.

 

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WATCH: What does Artist Development look like in lockdown?

Like everyone else, our hard work has not stopped during Covid-19 as we try and make sense of what people are calling the ‘new normal.’

Our EMERGE project is about supporting emerging artists through whatever challenges they may be faced with in their pursuit of the music industry and while not many people saw the lockdown coming, it’s time to react to it. We recently hosted a Zoom panel talk with several talented individuals from different corners of the industry, as we consider what next for artists and artist development in the current climate.

Watch the full panel talk here:

 

Emerge is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner in association with Youth Music.


Who’s On The Panel?

Phonetic (artist)

One of the artists funded by Emerge, Phonetic’s mastering her craft ahead of some major releases.

Bklava (artist)

The London-Brighton DJ, singer and artist has been busy with new releases during lockdown, as well as regular radio shows for the likes of Platform B and Rinse.

Chris Headcount (record label manager)

Chief of Brighton indy label Headcount Records, ‘Chris Headcount’ will be giving his perspective for the future of the music industry during and beyond COVID-19.

Rob Brown (manager / A&R)

Having worked with Celeste, Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn and more, Bobby will give us insight from the business side of the music industry.

Osoje Eigbadon (The Brighton Cypher)

Osoje runs a platform for emerging talent himself, so how has lockdown affected his work and how will it continue?

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