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Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Change Creators: XLR Collective Prep for Their Graduation

The XLR Collective were back this week for another session of prep for their Campaign Celebration which will be on Monday the 25th of September. It’s hard to believe that the course is nearly over but with so much hard work put into the project there’s much to be excited about.
After recording the majority of their EP last week at dBs Music College the team took this week’s time together to organise the workings of what their graduation celebration will look like. Still having a few bits to record to polish off their EP the group took turns to record with James here at KWMC as well. I remained with the majority of the collective and facilitated the planing session that allowed the team to work out everything that needed to be thought about regarding the event.

The great thing about this week’s session is that the team came in fully prepared. A member of the group had drafted a PowerPoint document that outlined almost everything that was needed for the content of their presentation. After giving it a read the team then divided up the work load of typing up the stats they had collected over the past few months.
Another highlight of the night was at the end when James played everyone what had been recorded of the EP over the past week. Smiles were left on everyone’s face at the end, a beautiful sense of accomplishment in the air. Less than two weeks to go for this cohort of Change Creators:XLR Collective, exciting times ahead!

If you would like to attend Hack a Heckle’s graduation you can sign up here!

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Change Creators: XLR Collective Rehearsal

This week the group sat down and talked through what we have all been doing the past week. We also had a small brief about how life coaching will work and our commitment to it. The group also did a value excise where each member wrote down 1. what they value about themselves/ what they think they are good at and 2. what they value about the person sitting next to them to the right. So we each went round and said out loud what we had written and gave the other person the sticky note to keep. The idea was to get us to pin point what we feel we are good at and to think how we can use that more for this project. It was also a nice reminder to each other that we all appreciate the talents that each individual in the group has.

With the other half of the session the group recorded draft versions of our songs so we have references for when we record them properly. Also the two members of the group who produce sat down and shared their work with the vocalists and got some ideas going ready to record on Friday.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

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Change Creators: XLR Collective Gig Prep

In this week’s session, we reviewed our original pieces that we performed at Bristol Harbour Festival to see what we could make even better. We set up [a] stage in the main space [at KWMC] so every little detail was exposed.

Beth’s “Not About That” had slight adjustments to the second half of the chorus, making it more soulful with a variation with the vocals that the guitar follows. We kept the edgy verses which amplify the message of the song.

Our song “Lady” took a few steps down tuning-wise so Millie could really achieve her range without busting her voice. Down-tuning actually gives a more mysterious vibe as well as keeping the jazz influences in the melodies.


Courtney smashed “Take Back the Night”. Only a few adjustments were made to make this punch more hard, mostly to do with adding more drums!

We also began working on a new song together around Milo’s hip hop idea. Milo started to demonstrate his rap and an improvised jam blossomed into a song. Beth got in with some backup vocals which help add depth to the song. We now need to confirm the structure to get this one rolling.

We also ran [through] the details of the upcoming At-Bristol gig on Sunday 6th August: we still had to source performers and practice our own sets as we decided to split into more individual performances. The band songs will come [in] useful later on, whether that’s for recording or performing at another gig together – tonight was all about getting us on the same page musically and we’re happy to say that we’re getting there!

Written by Molly Perryman

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Change Creators: XLR Collective Coaching Session

This week the group had a refreshing session about coaching. We had some guests sitting in with us whilst we did some activities that involved learning how to actively listen, filling out the wheel of life and learning how to respond in conversation to empower the other person.

It was really interesting and highlighted a lot how important it is to to allow space whilst conversing with someone and to focus less on your response and more on how your response can empower the person – rather than just telling them what to do and force opinions onto them. It’s about allowing the space for people to make their own decisions and you being a support.

Towards the end of the session the group went over our new structure for our campaign. The campaign is beginning to take a different shape and our roles will shift again so we spoke about what we want from the campaign in our last seven leadership sessions and how ​to take over the social media and decision making. [We] all agreed the focus for the next few weeks is the recording and producing tracks for our EP.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

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We Can Make: Making Natural Dyes

Over the last few weeks artist Alex Goodman has been collecting leaves and plants from across Knowle West to create a range of natural dyes. The dyes will be used to decorate and furnish the interior of a new home currently under construction in Knowle West as part of the We Can Make Homes project. Find out what Alex has been up to and the huge variety of plants she’s discovered in the gardens and hedgerows…

Alex’s blog

As a friend and collaborator of Charlotte Biszewski I’d heard a lot about the We Can Make Homes project at Knowle West Media Centre and her door knocking cyanotype escapades. When she told me about the second phase of the project, involving designing the last parts to fit out the TAM building [the first prototype We Can Make house] and make it into a home, I was pretty excited about the possibilities.

Like Charlotte I come from a print-based background but in the past few years my work has begun to explore processes that get me out of the studio and into the garden, park or any bit of derelict land where wild plants grow. Being a countryside dweller and daughter of a gardener it was inevitable that my work would eventually turn towards the leaves and this project was no exception.

Charlotte and I sat down and talked about what makes a home, what objects are important, what aspects of home decor and adornment could we look at and create in our own way. We looked at the cyanotypes she’d created with inhabitants of Knowle West and thought about that process: [the] images were drawing pictures of home with light.

I had a little look into cyanotyping as a process and it came to light that the man responsible for inventing the beautiful prussian blue process was John Frederick William Herschel who also invented anthotypes, which is a similar technique that takes a lot longer but uses plant-based material. Anthotypes are cyanotypes’ non-toxic plant-based counterpart: [it] involves juicing natural materials then coating paper in the liquid and then exposing the photograms for a long length of time to the sun, bleaching away the colour exposed and leaving what is covered.

As part of my practice I’ve been investigating and developing ways to incorporate plant-based processes into my work from herbalism to natural dying. Inspired by Herschel’s anthotypes I wanted to get out into the leafy green streets of Knowle West to be find some of the colours hiding in the local plants.


Armed with a long list of dye plants that could easily be found in the local area I went out to inquire where and who might let me snip a few leaves for the dye pot to extract some local colours. Scrambling up the Northern Slopes up to Knowle West with a rucksack full of bags ready to find local plants I wandered up to The Park Local Opportunity Centre. After a conversation here with secateurs in hand I snipped away some leaves from the ash tree and some purple buddleia. It has begun!

[With] two very different yellows sorted now I needed to seek out some oranges, reds, greens and pinks. I walked and chatted and collected different plant material from blackthorn, nettles, cherry leaves, willow, lavender, sage, plums and rosemary from across Knowle West. Getting to know the local flora and those who tend it was a real treat: there are a lot of keen gardeners in Knowle West and it was really wonderful to hear people’s trials and tribulations in digging and nurturing their little patches of ground. With my many bags I trudged home to the kitchen to pop the ingredients into pans and gently let them simmer to extract their colours.

With the colours sorted I now needed to find and make my mordants to fix the dyes into the fabric. A mordant helps to create lasting dyes and also, depending on what you use, it can adjust the colours. I went for two different mordants: one being a mix of rusty metal I’d picked up on a street corner mixed with vinegar and oak gauls (because of their high tannin content) and another using alum. The alum brightens the colours and often exaggerates the yellows in the dye as the rusty tannin dampens and darkens them, creating silvery greys and blues.

My technique isn’t an exact art and there is a lot to learn about natural dying – you can easily get sucked into the chemistry of it – but personally I prefer more of the folk method or ‘witches brew’ style. It’s exciting to experiment with different materials and some of these plants I haven’t used before and others I know well look totally different to when I’ve used them in the past.

The idea behind collecting  these dyes from the local area was to create a palette of colours that came from this landscape, from its very fabric. From this we’d make our designs and incorporate these colours, celebrating the shades that Knowle West harbours, hidden in its leaves and rusting away in skips.

Alex Goodman is an artist, writer, and performer who makes work investigating how stories and relationship to landscape reflect the navigation of our everyday lives. Originally from Cornwall she recently moved to Bristol and has lived and worked in many different places in various forms of shelter including sailing boats, caravans and temporary spaces in Cornwall, Scotland and London.

Through performance, installation, events and page based media Alex’s work is seeks to create a visual and audible poetry. She weaves together narratives of journeys with striking lino-cut prints and collage to create images and and stories that invite the audience to step inside. She specialises in lino-cut printing and teaches simple printmaking for beginners.

Change Creators: Hack a Heckle Campaign Launch

On 22nd July the Hack A Heckle campaign officially launched at Bristol’s Harbour Festival! Catch up with Collective blogger Olivia to find out more:

We were very excited and anticipated this moment for months. Beforehand we were organising, practising and refining our music for our 1 hour set on the Bristol Plays Music stage and couldn’t wait to share it with our community!

On the day of the launch the group had a meeting and organised our plan of action for the day. We began by surveying people in our immediate environment around the stage. We were asking the passing public specific gender harassment questions and had an amazing time connecting to people who were sharing their stories.

Our merchandise for the day was a great help: we had cupcakes thanks to Cakeshop, which were a great way to catch people’s eye and to thank them for stopping to chat with us! We also gave out leaflets which gave them a valuable point of access to follow us on our social media pages, visit our website and tell others to share their stories through our online survey!

It was amazing to speak to so many people and gain so much more insight into their experiences. The group was really inspired by the stories shared and were really thrilled to connect to so many people who care about gender harassment and want to see it stop.


Around 3pm we began our 1 hour set on Bristol Plays Music stage. We had some amazing advice from Eva Lazarus beforehand about song arrangements for our set. This was incredibly helpful as she gave us ideas on how we want our set to flow from start to finish.

We wanted to begin our show with a powerful introduction to our music so we chose our song ‘Lady’ to be first followed by a cover. We then wanted our acoustic slower piece ‘Hide‘ to be mid-set: this is our debut single and is available to download. This was followed by U + Ur Hand and then our speech and electronic track ‘Emily’.

We had a guest spoken word artist Bex Dudley who spoke some powerful words, and this was followed by some more of our music, then ended with a powerful cover of ‘NO’ by Meghan Trainor. This left our audience with a memorable last message and it tied our set together with a high energy outro. The group learnt a lot that day and it was an amazing launch and experience for future events!

Overall we got more than 80 surveys completed which was an amazing number to reach and we would like to thank every single person for stopping and playing such an integral part of raising awareness of this issue! It was amazing to share our music with you and to get the ball rolling! We have so much more planned: our next performance will be At-Bristol on Sunday 6th August from 1-5 pm where we will be performing, speaking and having special guests perform during our 4-hour set.

So keep up to date with our movements on our social media and website and get your friends and family involved by filling in our survey or sharing your specific story.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis
Facebook: Hack A Heckle
Twitter: @hackaheckle
Instragam: @hackaheckle

Change Creators: XLR Collective meet Life Coach Sam Holman

This week the XLR Collective looked beyond the launch of their campaign to challenge gender harassment, Hack a Heckle, to consider their hopes and fears for the future.  Campaign Leader Will explains more…

17th July 2017, KWMC

This week’s session started early, with three of the collective meeting Daniel (Communication Coordinator for the Young People’s programme) for a chance to plan the social media strategy for Hack a Heckle. Our primary sites are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but we will also be utilising Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube throughout the campaign. The four of us agreed on things like tone of voice, post frequency, and different types of content.

We were then joined by Euella from Rife Magazine and we explained about the Collective and what we had done so far during the course of the leadership programme. We spoke about the [Hack a Heckle] campaign in detail and what we wanted to achieve at the end of it. Ella was really interested in what we were saying so she decided to record an interview with us and we hope to partner with her and Rife more during the campaign.


After the rest of the collective joined us at the Media Centre, we were greeted by Sam Holman, a life coach and careers advisor from Holsam Life Coaching. She spoke to us about letting go of internal fears and visualising success. Sam taught us an alternative to SMART Goals which allowed us to think deeply about what we want to see, hear and feel when the campaign is over. It also made us think about any negative effects, either personal or professional, that success can create and how we can limit these during the campaign itself.

Using a piece of string to represent our life, Sam then made us pinpoint different stages of life and think about what our fears are at present, where they may have originated from and what advice an older version of us would give. This definitely gave an alternative way of looking at our current situations and has given the group some fresh ideas of how to move forward with the campaign and where it might go afterwards.

Written by Will Sissons

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Check out Holsam life coaching here:

Change Creators: XLR Collective meet Eva Lazarus

This week the XLR Collective had an inspiring session with Bristol-based singer and MC Eva Lazarus. KWMC Communications Coordinator Daniel explains what they got up to…

10th July 2017, KWMC

Bristol based sensation gets comfy with XLR’s newest collective. Last night was an exciting night of development for Hack a Heckle (HAH). The group sat down with Eva Lazarus, who is perhaps best known for being the lead singer of Bristol born bass-music band ‘Dub Mafia’. Having learned from their previous experience with Kaptin Barrett from Boomtown Festival, the collective organised themselves before their session. They delegated who was going to give the newly refined ‘elevator pitch’, what questions they were going to ask and what they were going to ask from Eva at the end of the night. From the very beginning, the attitude and energy of the group was shifted into a position of coming to get what they needed to make this project the best it possibly could be.

After giving their pitch and showing Eva their passion for the cause they were championing, the session steered towards a sharing of experiences around musical street promotion and busking. After giving some practical advice Eva stated that “it discredits what you’re trying to do if one person can shake the rage out of you” – a valuable lesson in how to navigate through disrespect while promoting their cause in the city.

Having a short break to keep the energy in the room high, the session changed direction to music and the practicalities of their campaign launch on 22nd July. The collective shared their finished and in-progress songs and got feedback: having an accomplished singer, songwriter and record label owner praise them for their hard work and talent brought a real sense of unity and accomplishment to the room!

Next, the group moved from the music to the strategy for the set list: the group made the unanimous decision that it was best to start and end with upbeat music while having more low strung selections in the middle.

The end of the evening was perhaps the highlight of the session. Eva opened up about her personal experiences with harassment including a time where a man grabbed her while on stage then had no help from the venue security who witnessed the situation. It was evident that the collective had found someone who had a genuine heart for their cause. To finish off the night a member of the group who was quite shy about speaking to Eva regarding what the team wanted from her (at first), confidently articulated their requests and why they felt Eva was a perfect fit to partner with them. We’re all pleased to say that Eva proudly agreed – a successful meeting to say the least. Bring on 22nd July!

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Change Creators: XLR Collective visit Saffron Records

This week the XLR Collective visited the team at Saffron Records – an all female record label and music education platform based in Bristol. Collective blogger Olivia shares what the group learned and how they’re planning to put it into practice in their campaign to combat street harassment…

3rd July 2017, Saffron Records

This week we visited Saffron Records and spoke with Laura who is the Creative Director at the record label. She started the talk by getting to know more about our campaign by asking us key questions […] For example she asked us what our targets where and advised us to make small, achievable goals that we can set and achieve, rather than grand targets that overwhelm us as we are just starting off.

She gave us really useful ideas about how to collaborate with other campaigns such as ‘Cheer up love’ who fight gender harassment through photography. She also gave us great advice to just approach all like-minded artists and musicians we can think of and really use every possible link we have to contact them.

Laura had lots of amazing ideas that really got us thinking [about] how to move forward with this campaign and vital things to consider. She then got us thinking about crowdfunders and the group split off to research different aspects such as: possible funders, brands that match our target audience, targets and stretch targets. She also got us thinking what rewards we can offer people who donate to our campaign.

Towards the end of our visit she really helped our group set roles for each member. We [had] previously assigned roles for everyone in the group but over time we got into a bit of a grey area of who does what. Along the way we have had members leave [the Collective], which means we have a few roles to re-assign.

Laura was a fresh pair of eyes who really helped us in picking each person’s role, by going though each individual’s strengths and assigning a role that best fits their ability. This left the group feeling [we had] a lot more clarity about how to move forward. Overall the visit has given us a lot of ideas about what to do with the campaign and made us think deeper into ways to progress.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

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Insta: @xlrmusicuk

Change Creators: XLR Collective get stuck into social media

This week the XLR Collective did some serious social media strategising, as they prepare to launch their campaign to challenge sexual harassment on the street. Collective blogger Olivia gives a behind-the-scenes insight into their marketing plans…

26th June 2017, KWMC

This week’s session began with each member of the group discussing what they’ve done over the past week towards the campaign. We discussed these ideas and outcomes. We then discussed that tasks need to be fairly spread within the group [and] we created a list of all the aspects that need work, them being: busking, merch, [Bristol] Harbour Fest, festival POA, social media/website. We then went round and each group member said what tasks they will do for the upcoming week and by what date.

We are waiting for the branding […] to be finalised and then we can move on with ordering merchandise. We need to order t-shirts for the group ASAP and have a group photoshoot [in order] to have content for our introductory posts on social media. Our previous [photos] are not suitable due to members leaving [the programme]. We are contacting a photographer who has worked with us before and decided to have a day with them, going around Bristol taking photos to create some content. That way we can have a group shoot all in the same day. Dates for this need to be agreed and confirmed.

But for this week, the team is focusing on the social media and website content, busking locations and song lists, a finalised ‘elevator pitch’ and a disclaimer (to be genuinely used and especially needed for contacting artists, poets, spoken word artist, festivals and people we want to work with). We need to tie together the hashtag, slogan and main imagery we will use on our posters, flyers and social media as we want a current theme that our audience can recognise us with. We also decided what we would want to get out of having a space at a festival, so we can be clear [when] approaching events what we want and how we will do it.

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