Earlier this week, the young musicians and creatives taking part in this year’s Change Creators programme spent an amazing three days in Barcelona to learn more about gender equality initiatives in the Catalan city and use their creative skills to develop new music in response to their experiences.
The packed programme included meeting gender equality activists, taking to the streets to research people’s opinions about gender stereotypes and sexism, and writing and recording two original songs – which were broadcast on radio less than 24 hours later!
As well as helping the Collective to consider how they could use music to tackle issues relating to gender inequality, the delegation visit gave them plenty of opportunities to test their leadership skills and work together in small teams – two key elements of the seventh month programme.
Read on for a full write-up of their trip and follow them on Twitter at @change_creators. We’ve no doubt you’ll be hearing much more from them as the programme develops…
The 11 members of the Collective – Beth, Bex, Courtney, Jay, Jerome, Maya, Molly, Millie, Milo, Olivia and Will – were at Bristol Airport bright and early for their flight to Barcelona. Unfortunately, brightness didn’t extend to the weather, as heavy fog over Bristol caused a 2.5 hour delay.
Upon arrival, the group headed straight for their accommodation. But within minutes of embarking on the train into central Barcelona, the two themes of their campaign – music and gender inequality – were brought into sharp relief as a group of male musicians busking in the carriage began blowing kisses at the female passengers and giving them unwanted attention.
The group’s first full day began by meeting Elena Tarifa, a journalist, feminist and social activist who is part of the Barcelona en Comú municipalist platform. She explained that the city recently elected its first female mayor and detailed some of recent campaigns to promote gender inequality and combat gender violence. During the question and answer session Elena discussed a range of issues with the Collective, including: perceptions of feminism in Barcelona, ‘macho’ culture, the impact that Spain’s economic crisis has had on men and women, and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes in the media.
The Collective’s next stop was Antoni Gaudi’s breath-taking Sagranda Familia. The group admired the soaring, twisting towers and took a selfie (or ten!) before heading into the nearby park to chat to tourists and locals. As well as asking them about the local music scene, the Collective were keen to find out if people thought men and women were treated equally where they lived. They also photographed billboards and adverts they felt portrayed men and women in stereotypical ways or as sexual objects.
After being split into two teams, the Collective got to work on writing two new songs in response to everything they’ve heard and seen so far – both in Bristol and Barcelona. With the support of sound engineer Marcel at music studio BCN Tracks, the Collective recorded two original pieces. The first team, led by Will, created the ‘t(r)opical hip hop‘ tune ‘Philosophy’, with vocals by Bex, rap by Jay, drums and soundscapes by Jerome and Olivia, guitar by Molly and Will on bass. While reflecting on the same experiences, the other team chose a different sound, creating the acoustic ‘Let Me Be’, featuring vocals and harmonies by Beth, Courtney and Millie and guitar by Milo. Will lent his support on bass, while producer and team leader Maya oversaw the writing and rehearsal process.
To round off the day, the Collective visited an open mic night. After watching some of the other acts – including a comedian whose jokes made the group even more certain that gender equality should be the priority issue for their campaign – Millie took to the stage and performed two numbers with the house band!
Another beautiful morning and another busy day! The Collective made their way to The Basement to make use of their open-plan space for their morning workshops. KWMC’s Communications Officer Rachel kicked off the session and supported the group to reflect on their mission and start drafting the framework of a strategy to communicate it. Following up on their last session, Rachel invited the two teams to quiz each other about their values, inspirations and songs in preparation for their first live radio interview later in the day.
Videographer and former Change Creator Jay Carter-Coles then helped the group come up with ideas for music videos to accompany their songs. After a detour to see the magnificent Arc de’Triomf, the group recorded some footage for their films in the winding alleys of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
The last stop on their tour of Barcelona was Barcelona City FM to meet DJs Jim Kent and T-Bird. Both teams were interviewed live on air, sharing the story of the programme so far and telling listeners of the English-speaking show what inspired them to create their songs. Rounding off the visit to the station was a workshop about gender and the media with DJ Michelle Hardiman. Michelle shared some hard-hitting statistics that highlighted the disparity between the number of men and women working in a range of roles in the radio, music and film industries. She also shared some ideas of what could be done to change things.
Over dinner that evening the group had the opportunity to reflect on what they’d learned and the direction they might want their social action project to take when they return.
KWMC would like to thank all of the organisations that took time to meet with the XLR Collective and share their experiences and expertise. Watch this space to see what’s next for the group!