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Creating our 18-month long artist mentoring programme

Two artists performing on a stage inside a venue

Future Proof and MoYah

Earlier this year we launched a flagship artist mentoring program Future Proof and have been working with nine of Bristol’s promising up and coming talents with the help of lead facilitator MoYah.

We caught up with the multi-faceted rapper, as he took time out from inspiring the next generation of talent and preparing for a set at Bristol Takeover, to find out how they’ve helped to create Future Proof with us.

MoYah

Music artist and lead facilitator of Future Proof

My name is MoYah, I was Born in Mozambique, Southeast Africa, and raised in Lisbon, Portugal before moving to London. Music has always played a very significant role in my household, cultural landscape, and identity.

My father used to be a singer back in Mozambique he loved Afro-Latin Ballads and love songs. During my childhood, my mother would always have Afro-Portuguese music blasting through the speakers of our front room. Music was how we expressed love, celebrated life, and came together.

From a very young age I realised that music could be used as a powerful tool for self-exploration, empowerment and artistic expression, this led me to start writing poems initially which eventually turned into Rap.

Person wearing a traditional African garment holding a microphone and pointing towards themselves
Photography by GIulia Spadafora | Soul Media

Inspired by Hip Hop culture and artists like Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifa and later artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Common, Dead Prez, and others I used Rap to address issues relating to my identity, social injustices around me & explore themes of belonging from the perspective of a child of the African Diaspora.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I’ve been developing my artistic identity as a Rapper, Artistic Curator, Workshop Facilitator and award-winning Interfaith Arts Programmer.

I’ve had the honour of travelling the world with my music, I have performed in almost 20 countries and have curated projects for marginalised communities with the aim to amplify their voice, process trauma, disintegrate stereotypes & encourage more community cohesion.

I moved to Bristol just over a year ago and shortly after my move I was invited to have ‘The’ meeting at Bristol Beacon that I was telling you about earlier on.

“What excited me most about this 18-month mentoring programme was the vision to ensure that Future Proof was completely tailor-made for the next generation of musicians and artists who would participate.”

A group of young people sat around a table eating lunch and talking
Person wearing headphones and a durag sitting at a desk working on a computer

A creative and supportive environment

We wanted to create a programme that was completely centred around each member of the cohort, taking into consideration their individual needs, acknowledging where they were in their personal creative journey, understanding what they wanted to achieve and the most effective way they could access the support they needed to reach their goals.

After thoroughly reading through around 50 applications for the programme, conducting individual interviews with potential candidates & multiple discussions between the team: Owen Parry (Creative producer), Alex Lupo (a talented musician and qualified music therapist), Sophia Allison (A powerful Spoken word artist, DJ, artistic curator and creative producer) and myself, we finally selected 8 artists for the programme.

This included UK Drill & Hip Hop artist KDogg KT, Spoken word poet & singer Yiska Multi-faceted performer Jazpa-One, Filipina RnB singer-songwriter Xyzelle, left-field Electronic producer & performer Melissa Fear, UK Garage Producer x-o1, Enigmatic producer BAST and Bi-lingual Rapper B3nji.

From the very beginning, it was crucial that we received as much input from the collective as we could; this really helped shape each monthly session as well as their personal development plans.

How are the sessions structured?

So far, each group session has been completely different from each other, some sessions have been focused on exploring their artistic identity, whilst others have been more hands on like the weekend spent in Gloucester at Music Works, a specialist Music studios hub designed by young people kitted out with a huge range of musical instruments, with multiple studios and spaces such as a podcast room and a sensory room perfectly suited for neurodivergent individuals.

At the end of that creative weekend, more than 10 songs were recorded including some great collaborative tracks between the collective. This was an epic moment for the project because as much as we want to encourage the development of their artistic identity as individuals the role of collaboration, working collectively and cultivating creative community is equally as important, particularly with art forms outside of their chosen genre.

Attending gigs and conferences

We have also attended some great live gigs in Bristol a stand out gig was definitely seeing Nile Rodgers, an iconic musician who has been able to remain relevant over decades and through various phases of musical history. We also attended an all day professional Music Industry Conference at the O2 in London. In our next session we’ll be hosting a business support workshop covering everything from intellectual property to copyrights and royalties, from contracts to branding, PRS, Musician Union and more to ensure we balance the creative aspect with the business side of the industry, knowledge that many artists and musicians don’t have.

In addition to monthly group sessions we’ve delivered one-2-one sessions with each member of the cohort to explore the support they felt they needed before pairing each participant with an experienced industry professional who will mentor and support their development during the programme from the beginning of 2023.

A musician wearing a white suit plays electric guitar on a large stage in front of a large crowd.

What does the future hold?

Next year we will turn up the heat even more! Each participant will receive a creative grant and an additional seed funding to assist bringing into fruition some of their creative ideas which will be presented at the reopening of Bristol Beacon so I hope to see you there to celebrate Bristol’s Musical Future.

It brings me so much joy and fulfilment to be part of a project that equips young musicians and artists with the skills and support that I didn’t have as an artist at the beginning of my journey.