Audio

GRASSROOTS: Christian Duell

During late August, I hosted the first GRASSROOTS event in my backyard. GRASSROOTS is a community building music & arts project where I feature Iceland-based artists and musicians.

At every GRASSROOTS event, I will facilitate a series of community-building activities such as dinners, facilitated dialogue, arts and crafts workshops and sharing exercises.

The three goals of GRASSROOTS are:
1. Bring the community together in intimate spaces
2. Showcase the work of talented artists and musicians
3. Share the vision of Saga Fest

The first concert was small (about a dozen people), about six attendees were from Iceland and the other six were international visitors or residents. This is similar to the demographic makeup of what I’d like to see at Saga Fest.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 Audio, Thoughts No Comments

Listening and Imagining

Most people in the Western world have some idea about Japan, even if these ideas are largely imagined. It’s where people are stuffed into trains with the same intensity you use to desperately jam yet another outfit into an already over-packed suitcase, but it’s also the place where an endless horizon of mountains stoically rise above the clouds. It’s home to a vibrant youth culture where fashionistas stomp around the streets of Tokyo in combat boots, a Lolita-esque dresses, fake eyelashes and purple pigtails, but where you can also see a woman rushing to catch the train while making sure she doesn’t trip over the elegant folds of her kimono. Home to both samurai and to Pikachu, Japan can easily be imagined as a land of contradiction: a place where visions of an ancient past and a futuristic dream world coexist in the present.

Fashion in Harajuku, one of the best spots in Tokyo to get a glimpse of youth culture and Tokyo’s incomparable street fashion.

Nothing, and no one, but mountains as far as the eye can see. The Hachimantai Mountains, on the border of Akita, Aomori, and Iwate prefectures in northern Japan.

These contradictory, nearly competing histories are rather interestingly bound together by a singular notion of Japanese identity. In other words, the past, present, and future of Japanese society may be drastically different from one another, but they are linked by a general idea of “Japaneseness,” and perhaps what it means to be Japanese in contemporary Japan. But if these are all imagined ideas, in what way do they gain meaning, and how are these identities negotiated?

This blog explores the relationship between imagination and music. I believe that the deep connection shared by music and society is one of the most important avenues for people to imagine, and identify who they are. Music is a sonic imagining, a soundtrack that reveals a society’s collective unconscious, to borrow an idea from Carl Jung. From each society’s unique conception of beautiful music to the way that people listen to music, and to the way that music challenges listeners, music is capable of being historical, present, and progressive all at the same time. There is music from multiple eras floating around any society at all times, with each genre holding meaning to whoever listens.
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Friday, September 26th, 2014 Audio, Thoughts, Video No Comments

THE KINGDOM’S OTHER REFUGEES

(Non-Arabic speaking readers can access English subtitles for this video by using the “captions” button located in the bottom right corner.)

Better, together.

My colleagues and I reach the small, withered doorway of an old apartment building in central Amman after a precarious decent down a steep set of craggily concrete stairs. From outside we can hear a group of voices talking over the dim hum of a grainy radio, though access to the building is obstructed by a canopy of wet, drying clothes strung about a low lying chain of crisscrossed metal wires.

Inside, surrounded by the building’s unfinished walls, fifteen or so men are gathered around the makings of a modest dinner. Though they have little – just black beans and rice – they are quick to invite us for supper. We politely decline and instead ask to see the rest of the two-bedroom apartment that the men share.
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 Audio, Thoughts, Video 11 Comments

PA’ PICAR 010 – BOGOBEATZ

Para leer en español, click aquí.

I’d like to introduce you to Steven, Franky, Jhon, Brian, Pedro, Diego and Angie, also known as the recently-incarnated music production crew Bogobeatz.

Since the New Year, I’ve been facilitating a digital production workshop series at la Fundación Familia Ayara, a Bogotá-based organization of “hip hoppers changing the world.” The objective of the project has been to provide the students with weekly music production workshops at no cost, focusing on utilizing free downloadable production software like FL Studio and compatible software plugins. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to break down the basics of music production into weekly components so that students can walk away with practical skills to work on their own original production projects from their homes or from wherever they can access a computer setup.
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Monday, May 12th, 2014 Audio, Video 11 Comments

Why You’ve Never Heard of Any Other Online Record Labels from Northern Ghana

The Internet doesn’t work in this part of West Africa the same way it does in the US. It is always slow, and pretty inconsistent. Even with disposable income and unlimited free time, trying to do simple things like checking email, not to mention watching YouTube videos or listening to streaming music can feel like an exercise in futility. As I’m sitting here at the Wooden Cafe—the only place in town with free Wi-Fi—a number of other expats sit around me, patiently trying to use the Internet. My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Karl Haas has been trying to open an email for about ten minutes. Not an attachment, just an email. So starting an online record label here is challenging, to say the least.
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Monday, May 5th, 2014 Audio 15 Comments

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