Wired for Sound – How does it work?
Who We Are:
The Wired for Sound (WFS) team consists of Freshlyground founding member Simon Attwell and radio producer Kim Winter, in collaboration with Freshlyground guitarist Julio Sigauque. We are a mobile recording studio, designed around a 4×4 vehicle with battery system and solar panel, which means we are equipped to record pretty much anywhere. Recording environments are chosen based on the style of music being recorded, and quirky aesthetic visual appeal and/or unusual acoustic quality of locations.
OSISA and WFS spent a year brainstorming the best way to access young musicians in remote areas, not only creating opportunities for young talent to record and collaborate with more established musicians, but also to explore the realities of youth culture through expression in music- and the stories behind the words using interviews, radio debates and radio documentary.
Road trips and Radio:
Most young musicians in Southern Africa have limited access to professional production and recording platforms, let alone instruments or music education and performance venues. WFS works with community radio stations and local musicians, young and old, who are keen to create and collaborate, with a long term view to shifting this reality. We workshop and record the music and organize photo shoots, after which the radio station hosts a live discussion, plays snippets of each recording and interviews all involved about the music, and the artists thoughts and aspirations.
Each musician receives a copy of their own recording to use as a demo, both the rough demo and the finished product. Wired for Sound takes the tracks back to South Africa for further collaboration with established musicians, mixing and mastering – and the end result is a full album, the proceeds of which go towards creating basic recording and production facilities at the community radio stations.
It made sense for us to partner with community radio in Southern Africa in order to enrich the WFS vision and outcomes. As radio enthusiasts, we feel strongly about opening up ways in which quality content can be generated by community members, and content that finds a home beyond community stations, but on international platforms too. WFS compiles two radio documentaries – one for local dissemination and one for international syndication – detailing our experience of the road trip as a whole.
We arrive back in Cape Town with a huge amount of material: music, photos, footage and interviews. We work for about 5 months to produce the final products: an album, two radio documentaries, a short video promo and a selection of photo essays – all housed on www.wiredforsound.co.za. WFS successfully captured the imagination of more established musicians, and the postproduction phase involved inviting recording artists from Mozambique and SA to collaborate on the recordings. In addition the project allows us to deliver feedback to OSISA regarding the lives of young people in specific places, and the status and challenges of community radio in the areas we have visited. This inevitably raises the question of sustainability.
Recording and production facilities in the areas we visited are seriously limited or entirely absent. Good quality microphones, recording gear and editing suites are pretty much non-existent, even at community radio stations, despite the enormous talent available of journalists and musicians alike. So, given an opportunity to record a demo and have it played on air has been a big win for everyone involved.
However, there remain tough questions about how people’s lives can be changed or improved through WFS – how we can make this kind of project continuously work for the communities involved. Here’s the plan: revenue generated from the album is used to fund permanent production facilities at each community station. Our good relationships with community radio station managers, combined with generous equipment sponsorship from Marshall Music Cape Town and AKG, puts us in a strong position to make this a reality. We also hope to stimulate further work for the musicians we worked with on the road – assisting them to set up Tunecore accounts and promoting their profiles; you can find current profiles and audio tracks featured on this website.
Exchanges: one really exciting aspect to emerge from the pilot project is the possibility for cultural and musical exchange programs: The John Issa band, who we recorded in Lugenda in Niassa, has been asked to go to Denmark on a music and culture exchange (all expenses paid) for two weeks. This is the first time the band will have left Mozambique. We have been approached by various organization and cultural departments from around the world to set up similar exchanges and we hope we can build these partnerships into the project for the musicians we meet and record with on the trips to come!