Wired for Sound - Southern Africa Mobile Recording Studio

Wired for Sound on Chicafrican


As in most of Africa, music is the lifeblood of Malawi and Freshlyground’s innovative Wired for Sound project aims to take it to the world.

When the sun sinks into Lake Malawi, it splatters a light so radiant the water seems to be ablaze. Like the flames of a fire. In the Chichewa language, this is called Malawi and it’s how the smallest, but most densely populated country in southern Africa, got its name.

In July of this year that magnificent setting could be the backdrop to a truly original hit single.

Wired for Sound is a mobile, solar-powered recording studio, created by Freshlyground’s Simon Attwell and Julio Sigauque, and radio producer Kim Winter. Mid-year they plan to take it to Malawi for the second edition of their highly successful talent search.

Their simple idea of combing some of the continent’s lesser-explored places for musicians, and recording them, is rooted in a far more intricate project, which partners with community-radio stations to create sustainable sources of sound where there was once only silence.

“The community stations are our ‘in,’ to the talent in an area. We partner with them, host a show on air and a few workshops and they recommend musicians to us to record,” Attwell explains. “But we also go out into the streets, market places, playgrounds, wherever, and see what we find. We don’t turn down anyone who wants to sing or play for us.”

Many of the musicians Wired for Sound works with have been performing for years but have never heard themselves doing it. “The look on their faces when they experience that for the first time is priceless,” says Winter. “But it’s also important to hear their stories and understand why and how they make music.”

Freshlyground chose Mozambique as the place to start discovering those tales because Sigauque is from there and he wanted to explore a part of his country he’d not visited. “The north of the country gets overlooked but it’s full of amazing things,” says Winter. Like the dry riverbed in the Niassa Nature Reserve where Wired for Sound recorded, with elephants as part of the audience, as well as in an abandoned military airfield in Tete and a mango grove in Catandica.

They anticipate finding similar stories and locations in Malawi where, as they’ll be visiting in the aftermath of devastating floods, they hope to be a source of some upliftment. They’ll be enlisting the assistance of a crowd-funding campaign in their partnership with four radio stations and hope to hear fireworks to accompany the dazzling scenery in a country they simply can’t wait to get to.

By Firdose Moonda for Chicafrican