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Update: Frank Turner & JSF Mobile Studio in Sierra Leone

The mobile studio that the Joe Strummer Foundation and Frank Turner raised funds for has been a great success

Our studio is enabling WAYout to go to places with a lot of unemployed and street youth who stand no chance of getting into a studio but who have a lot of talent. The towns we have been to so far do not have a studio even if the musicians had money to pay for one.

WAYout Update from Hazel Chandler

The first town we went to is called Tombu, 2 hours outside the capital Freetown. A resident gladly gave up his bedroom to turn into a makeshift studio and Producer Kaikai and studio engineer Gibo spent two Saturdays recording beats and two recording vocals and recorded ten tracks in all.

Songo is further outside Freetown and takes nearer three hours to get to. We did our first session there on Saturday and young people from five different villages had travelled in hoping to record. There were just too many so they worked in groups. One group said they had been saving their money from carpentry for many months hoping to save enough to travel to Freetown and record a track but it was still an unreachable goal so the studio coming to them, and being free, is a dream come true.

Unemployment in these small towns and villages is even higher than it is in Freetown at 70-75%. We have the only mobile studio in Sierra Leone so this opportunity is both rare and extremely welcome.

The number of tracks we can do is limited as we only have two studio engineers to do the recording, mixing and mastering and if they are out on the road then the main studio suffers. We are hoping to get some of those who have been training in studio two out on the road and use other producers like Solo more but we have to pay them.

The mobile studio is also going into the men’s prison at Pademba Road which is overcrowded, disease-ridden and there are no beds and only one plate of food per day. Getting permission to go in is quite an achievement and has taken time to negotiate. Until now they have only allowed church groups in but there seems to be a growing awareness of the positive effect of engaging inmates in arts especially music so they are giving it a go.

We have a very real opportunity here to show the value of engagement with music and arts although I doubt there are other groups willing or able to go into the prisons.

People can find themselves locked up in there for months just waiting for their trial. They may be there for a serious crime or just for loitering. WAYout members frequently end up in there simply for being on the streets at night. The mobile studio was again received with great enthusiasm and far too many wanting to record. We can manage 4 or 5 new beats at each session and had 22 waiting.

We will go in every Thursday, recording new beats on two Thursdays of the month and vocals on the other two. It is great for inmates to be involved in something positive and creative which they can continue when they get out. They want to work towards an album. We will also be taking the studio into the women’s prison next week on Friday. Sadly we are not allowed to take photos inside the prisons.

Overall that means we will be using the mobile studio every Saturday in the provinces and every Thursday and Friday in the prisons. It’s a great pleasure to work with it for the engineers and producer because of the enthusiasm they are met with. The danger at the moment is that we will end up with too many tracks to mix and master and the main studio will suffer.

Regarding the vehicle – we are still looking and without one it will be difficult, but not impossible, to get the border regions of the country, but for the moment, hiring a taxi seems to be working.

The Joe Strummer Foundation studio goes from strength to strength and is constantly in use. There is some fantastic music being made there.

Check out tracks from the Blackstreet Family and Mash P below:

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

Without People You’re Nothing – Joe Strummer

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