An exciting collaborative project for Croydon musicians will culminate in a night of performance at the Scream Lounge on Friday October 27.
Croydon Composers has been running over the summer, pairing up ten musicians from different genres, and asking them to compose an original piece together.
The project is the brainchild of Croydon-based musician, producer and composer Shri Sriram, and music business consultant Michael Fuller.
When we meet, Shri is warm, friendly and obviously passionate about music, collaboration and composition. It’s clear from the long list of artists and directors he has worked with that his enthusiasm is infectious, and his work highly respected. One of the best things about this project, for him, has been the opportunity to encourage musicians to take a leap into composition, and to try something new.
He said: “I felt quite strongly about it being composition. Composing creates a legacy. Some participants have come back and said ‘I never had the guts to write a track, but now I’m going to write songs’, which is job done.”
He provided guidance and mentoring through the project, but was keen for the artists to find their own way of expressing original ideas, without borrowing too much from external influences.
While the featured artists have deliberately been chosen from different musical backgrounds, Shri is not keen on the term fusion when discussing the project, or any musical combination of genres.
“I call it creating a new vocabulary,” he said. “I’m from Bombay, I speak English and I speak Hindi. If I spoke a sentence in English and then a few words in Hindi then that’s fusion, I’m showing you where I’m from.
“But I just have an Indian accent, that’s a new vocabulary. And there are certain terminologies that would not be common to London and I use them. In the same way, with the project, you don’t see the original parts, it just needs to be a new sound.”
Shri lives in East Croydon and runs his company Drum the Bass with his wife of 19 years, Shirin. The musicians taking part in Croydon Composers, including a Turkish drummer working with a spoken word artist, an Indian classical singer paired with a keyboard player, and a jazz singer composing alongside a rapper, all had to be based in Croydon, in order to display the diversity and creativity of the community.
He sees this cultural diversity as an important part of the project: “It’s making your culture relevant. We live in England, and if your culture’s not English you don’t feel very relevant a lot of the time. Some English people don’t feel very relevant in a place like Croydon, so it’s to make it all relevant.”
The way he speaks of musical teamwork could be extended to working together in society as a whole.
He said: “Musical collaboration is about a compromise, but it’s a positive compromise, about coming to the middle and building something bigger than yourself. And I think that’s the aim.”
This focus on the Croydon community led to both Croydon Council and Arts Council England to support the project, and Shri is delighted that their input has made this project possible. He emphasises the importance of being able to pay musicians for their time – not something that is always offered.
Not only have the musicians been given the chance to perform in two showcases (the artists previously performed at the COLORS Croydon International Mela in September), but they have also received guidance and mentorship from Shri and Michael Fuller, who has offered his expertise from many years in the business side of the music industry.
The organisers have a three year plan to follow from this project, hoping to grow it year-on-year and eventually run a festival of Croydon musicians collaborating on new works.
Shri’s love of the project is clear, and he explains that it’s been greater for him than he ever imagined.
He said: “I was never so keen on doing community projects, because I had so much interest in what I was doing myself, but this has really opened my eyes, I just feel like a proud father. I was quite surprised what happened to me through the project!”
But he won’t be drawn on which track he likes most out of the five that have been created: “I don’t have a favourite, each one is so unique in its own way. All of them are heartfelt pieces. I can see in their eyes they are getting excited about it. Some of them, having been musicians for a long time, won’t show the excitement – but I can tell!”
The musicians will perform at Scream Lounge in South End, Croydon at 7.30pm on October 27. More details available on Croydon Composers’ Facebook page.