Asher Kosher and Jaden Bonsu make up The Silhouettes Project, a collective aimed to platform and highlight jazz, soul and hip-hop artists on the rise, that are often overlooked by the industry. Having successfully released an album featuring the likes of ENNY, Bel Cobain, Lex Amor and more, The Silhouettes arrived at UD’s Talent House to give a Masterclass on building and thriving within a community. Kat Friar reports…
Root73 – their studio where it all takes place – was built ‘from the ground up’. Taking a grassroots approach, the community arts organisation was birthed in Hackney, to benefit the local community of artists and creatives. Their belief is that there should be more access within the music industry – a common belief between Root73 and UD – and thus offer free creative services for young artists and musicians who aren’t able to afford them. Asher Kosher co-founded Root73 with Maya Diaz, giving their community a home in the heart of Hackney.
After introducing The Silhouettes Project and Root73, they defined the meaning of community and began to explore aspects within it, and that when building, it’s okay to “carpark” your ideas, to not rush your to do lists and to enjoy actually getting things done – enjoy the journey.
The powerpoint slides had a list of in-depth questions under a main umbrella, the first one being “What is my role in community?” To answer this question, they explained that you first need explore other factors such as your strengths, what you bring to the table, and what you’re good at, while also examining what you want to be good at and who does it well (plus, how you can learn from them). They used the example of how a manager’s skill set will differ to theirs and how having a team is vital because you’re all bringing something different. They stressed the importance of knowing your own skillsets and strengths to be able to establish what you need from the people around you.
The next big question followed, “How to build my community?” Asking smaller questions like, ‘who your network is’, ‘what skills they have’ and ‘what their roles could be in developing further with how’, you could work together and fill the gaps in skills that you don’t possess. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re able to build a community you can thrive in. It’s like anatomy; you all have to work together to succeed the same way your organs do in order for your body to work. It’s important to establish roles and skillsets to outline what you can do and what you’re missing that someone can fill in. Following on from there, we examined “What is the vision?” Tackling various elements such as ‘what are the issues you want to address’, ‘who can support you’, ‘what barriers does your community face’, ‘who’s your audience’ and ‘how do you want to communicate the big picture’ – how do you want the audience to receive the work?
From there we can ask the final question – “How do we create action?” They encourage you to figure out the starting point and ponder whether there’s something you can test out. It’s important to figure out what you need to put in place and how you can bring your community together – what do you need to do to achieve bringing your vision to life? And how do you unite people within your community to work towards a common goal? They also focused on the space at UD, and the various memberships UD has to offer; you’re able to give your community a home in the co-working space, enhance your knowledge with their masterclasses (like this one!) and of course use their state of the art studios and rehearsal space.
We caught up with some budding artists in attendance to see what they thought…
What did you find valuable about the Masterclass?
ABBY ASABEA: Hearing more about community, and the focus on that. It’s a bit different to what you usually hear from the music industry. Usually everyone’s talking about how to make it. If you don’t care about that, you [can] build a community of musicians. It’s nice to hear people expressing that.
What did you learn and enjoy?
LDEEA: I think one thing that I learned is to never give up because I think The Silhouettes Project & Route 73 – just the story of how it all came together, shows when you’ve got an intention and you believe in that intention, things are gonna come together. Even when you’ve got those downfalls where you think “Where are we gonna go from here?” As long as you’ve got that belief, things will always work out. I think for me, I’m at point where I’ve got a lot that I need to do. Coming here today has given me so much clarity. It’s given me so much inspiration. I feel ready to just conquer all of my dreams and my goals. What these two guys have done is absolutely amazing and I think their love for the community in helping uplift grassroots artists is so needed. It’s so needed, ’cause there is a lack of that, so to see that people are doing it and they’re doing it with authenticity and it’s from a genuine place with pure hearts, it makes me very happy.
We also caught up with The Silhouettes Project themselves…
UD: How did you guys enjoy presenting the Masterclass?
Asher: I think I’m coming into this like a little bit more fresh than Jaden. I think Jaden’s more used to this ’cause of his background in youth work, but I’m really enjoying it. I Iove it. It’s nice to cause an impact in the community.
Jaden: I think it’s dope, I think it’s cool. I didn’t know that the young people really hadn’t been here before, so it was quite interesting to me that we’re all new to the space… It was nice to free up the ting a little bit.
UD: Do you think you’ll do more of these Masterclasses with other young people in the future?
Asher: Yeah, definitely. I’d love to. This is the second one we’ve done. We’re still getting used to the fact that we can actually give Masterclasses as well. For a long time we felt like we were still the ones with something to learn, and we feel like we’ve got something to give now.
UD: What’s been the biggest lesson have you guys learned through your journey?
Jaden: What I’ve learned is everyone’s winging it, so just do it. Just do the ting!
What I’ve learned is everyone’s winging it, so just do it. Just do the ting!
Words & photos: Kat Friar Kat is a freelance journalist, DJ and photographer with a passion for music. She likes to cover all bases regarding music so whether it’s a new album, a rising artist or a gig, she’ll be writing about it.
Tickets are on sale for Masterclass 004 with ShezAr and Masterclass 005 with Kevin Christian-Blair now. £5 or free to members! Visit UDTickets.com